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Telegraph stamps of Great Britain.

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Prices have been brought up to date, and are for stamps in 'average' condition.  
The currency is now selectable, the default is British Currency (£).
  I have revised Hiscocks' original listing, though leaving references to the original designations. 
The new designations have 'RH' numbers (Revised Hiscocks) to avoid confusion.
CheckList         Setup

 

The South Eastern Railway.

1st September 1860 until 1st February 1870

They first issued stamps, primarily to facilitate use by the Army near one of their new offices at Aldershot.
Designed and printed by Charles Whiting of Beaufort House, Strand, London.

The first series were Perf.9 in the values 1s, 1s6d, 2s3d and 2s9d. Most of these are extremely scarce, but the 2s3d seems relatively common.

Peter Langmead is acknowledged in Hiscocks' book for having checked his GB section.

The second series (Late 1862 / early 1863) were Perf.12 (actually about 11.9) in the values 9d, 1s, 1s2d and 1s6d.

Lastly, about 1868 according to Langmead & Huggins, they became a higher perforation for just the 1s and 1s6d values.
Langmead & Huggins give this as 12 x 12½, but I agree with Hiscocks that they measure 12½ (actually a bit over).
For the shilling values, this is control numbers over about 53000. Langmead & Huggins say it is for controls around 19000 on the 1s6d, but my measurements of controls 19003, 19006 and 19053 give me Perf 12.
It has to be said that most of these have poor quality, unevenly spaced perforations that can give different results depending on where you measure.

SER stamps from Grosvenor sale 21/4/2015
4 examples sold by, and courtesy of, Grosvenor Auctions for £1650.

According to Langmead & Huggins these were printed in sheets of 12 or 24 and the
Royal Philatelic Collection has proof sheets of 24 of the 1s in both black and the issued colour (imperf. No controls), together with a sheet of 12 of the 9d in red.

My reconstructions for the 2s3d and 2s9d show that they had rows of 6 stamps and were numbered left to right.

Shortcuts to different sections:
9d 1s 1s2d 1s6d 2s3d 2s9d Watermark Plate layout Perforations Continuing research Stationery

 

South Eastern Railway watermark
Watermark used (as viewed from back)
 
RH # Hisc. Desc. Rarity Mint Used
RH1 H1 9d red, Perf.9 Unlisted 900.00 750.00
RH1a H1a 9d red, Perf.12 (controls seen 3082 to 11477) R3 600.00 450.00
RH1b   9d red, Perf.12, without control R4 - -
RH2 H2 1s yellow, Perf.9 (controls seen 2374) R4 750.00 550.00
RH2a H2a 1s yellow, Perf.12 (controls up to 43007 ?) R3 450.00 300.00
RH2b H2b 1s yellow, Perf.12x12½ (controls ~ 53000 ?) R3 400.00 300.00
RH2c   1s yellow, Imperf, no control.   - -
RH3 H3 1s2d black, Perf.12 (controls 1995-2068) R3 450.00 450.00
RH3a   1s2d black, Imperf, no control.   - -
RH4 H4 1s6d lilac, Perf.9 (controls 188, 1264 and 7403 seen) R4 700.00 700.00
RH4a H4a 1s6d lilac to grey, Perf.12 (controls up to 16000's) R3 400.00 400.00
RH4b H4b 1s6d grey-lilac, Perf.12x12½ (controls ~ 19000) R3 500.00 500.00
RH4c   1s6d lilac, Imperf, no control.   - -
RH5 H5 2s3d red-brown, Perf.9 (controls up to 1400-1424) R4 350.00 350.00
RH5a   2s3d red-brown, Imperf, no control.   - -
RH6 H6 2s9d green, Perf.9 (controls 600-630) R4 500.00 500.00
RH6a   2s9d green, Imperf, no control.   - -

Look here for an explanation of the table.

 

Scans I have collected give an idea of relative scarcity.

Denom Perf. 9 Perf. 12 (about 11.9) Perf. 12½ Totals
9d Used -
Mint -
Used - 3082, 7605(29/5/64), 9267(P), 9507, 9527(15/1/65), 9984, 11477(23/5/66).
Mint -
Used -
Mint -
 
Total used: 0 Total mint: 0 Total used: 7 Total mint: 0 Total used: 0 Total mint: 0 7
1s Used - 2374(14/6/62)
Mint -
Used - 28322(14/12/64), 29567(2/4/65), 33399(2/7/65), 33505(28/8/65), 33509(28/8/65),
            33514(28/8/65), 33706(2/1/65), 39810(21/5/66), 43007(P, 8/8/66), 46462(1/12/66),
            51495(28/6/68)
Mint -
Used -
Mint - 53004, 53053
 
Total used: 1 Total mint: 0 Total used: 11 Total mint: 0 Total used: 0 Total mint: 2 14
1s2d Used -
Mint -
Used -
Mint - 2001(P), 2006, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021(L&H), 2067, 2068.
Used -
Mint -
 
Total used: 0 Total mint: 0 Total used: 0. Total mint: 9 Total used: 0 Total mint: 0 9
1s6d Used(lilac) - 188, 1264(14/1/62), 7403(2/4/63)
Mint -
Used(grey-lilac) - 11938(31/5/64), 11955(1/6/64), 14077(14/10/64), 16481(P, 17/7/65), 16795(28/8/65)
Mint - 19001, 19003, 19006, 19053
Used -
Mint -
 
Total used: 3 Total mint: 0 Total used: 5 Total mint: 4 Total used: 0 Total mint: 0 12
2s3d Used - 201(16/1/62), 924, 1066(24/1/63)
Mint - 1402, 1411(P), 1412, 1413, 1417(L&H), 1418, 1419, 1420, 1423,
            1424, 1468.
Used -
Mint -
Used -
Mint -
 
Total used: 3 Total mint: 11 Total used: 0. Total mint: 0 Total used: 0. Total mint: 0 14
2s9d Used -
Mint - 604, 608, 613, 619, 620(P), 629, 630, 675.
Used -
Mint -
Used -
Mint -
 
Total used: 0. Total mint: 8 Total used: 0. Total mint: 0 Total used: 0. Total mint: 0 8
Totals. 7 19 23 13 0 2 64
  9d Proof 1
  Total 65

Note that 'P' in brackets indicates that they were in lot 1021 of the Phillips auction of the John Lowe collection.
This was 2 November 1990 when lot 1021 consisting of 6 stamps went for £240.

 

9d

South Eastern Railway 9d - 3082. South Eastern Railway 9d - 3314.
3082 - RH1a - 9d, Perf. 12 3314 - Proof of RH1 - 9d, Perf. about 10.7
Image courtesy of Roger de Lacy-Spencer. Image courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

 

South Eastern Railway 9d - 9984. South Eastern Railway 9d - 11477.
9984 dated 6/4/65 - RH1a - 9d, Perf. 12 11477 dated 23/5/66 - RH1a - 9d, Perf. 12
One of mine. Courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

The stamp marked 'Proof' deserves a note. It looks very suspect on very white, presumably un-watermarked paper
with intermediate perforations and a control number smaller and slightly different in style to stamp 3082.
However the marks above 'No' at top left look like a fresher, though over-inked version of 3082, suggesting
it is an earlier print from the same plate using non-production paper, perforator and (arbitrary) numbering.
I invite you to compare it with the example of the scarce RH1b (proof without control) shown on the Distant Writing website.
I could be wrong of course.
I am informed by Dr Iain stevenson FRPSL, that the original copper die for these stamps is in the RPSL Museum.

 

1s

South Eastern Railway 1s. South Eastern Railway 1s.
Tall serial No. 2374 dated Jan 14 1862 - RH2 - 1s, Perf. 9 29567 dated 2/4/65 - RH2a - 1s, Perf. 12 (I think)
Image courtesy of Steve Lawrie. Source: Andrew Higson.

The differences in control numbers together with the differences in date can give a guide to the rate of use.
In this case, 27193 in 38½ months, or about 700 per month.

 

South Eastern Railway 1s. South Eastern Railway 1s. South Eastern Railway 1s.
33509 - RH2b - 1s, Perf. 12x12½ showing reversed watermark. 33399 - RH2b - 1s, (showing inverted-reversed watermark) 33505 dated 28/8/65 ?   RH2b - 1s, Perf. 12x12½
Image courtesy of Philangles Ltd. One of mine. Courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.

 

 

1s 2d

South Eastern Railway 1s2d. South Eastern Railway 1s2d. South Eastern Railway 1s2d.
2018 - RH3 - 1s2d, Perf. 12 2020 - RH3 - 1s2d, Perf. 12 2067 - RH3 - 1s2d, Perf. 12
Image courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson. Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

 

 

1s 6d

South Eastern Railway 1s6d. South Eastern Railway 1s6d.
1264 dated 14/1/62 - RH4 - 1s6d, Perf. 9 7403 dated 2/4/63 - RH4a - 1s6d, Perf. 12
Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

 

South Eastern Railway 1s6d. South Eastern Railway 1s6d. South Eastern Railway 1s6d.
11955 dated 1/6/64 - RH4a - 1s6d, Perf. 12 16795 dated 28/8/65 ? - RH4a - 1s6d, Perf. 12 19006 - RH4b - 1s6d, Perf. 12 x 12½
Image courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson. Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

Between controls 7403 (2/4/63) and 11955 (1/6/64) there appears to be a quite drastic change in shade !
It would be nice to try to narrow down when this happened.

 

2s 3d

South Eastern Railway 2s3d. South Eastern Railway 2s3d.
201 dated 16/1/62 - RH5 - 2s3d, Perf. 9 1066 dated 2/4/65 - RH5 - 2s3d, Perf. 9
Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

 

South Eastern Railway 2s3d. South Eastern Railway 2s3d. South Eastern Railway 2s3d.
1402 - RH5 - 2s3d, Perf. 9 1413 - RH5 - 2s3d, Perf. 9 1468 - RH5 - 2s3d, Perf. 9
Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie. Image courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.

 

2s 9d

South Eastern Railway 2s9d. South Eastern Railway 2s9d. South Eastern Railway 2s9d.
608 - RH6 - 2s9d, Perf. 9 613 - RH6 - 2s9d, Perf. 9 629 - RH6 - 2s9d, Perf. 9
Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie. Image courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.

 

Watermark:

The watermark (shown above) is most clearly visible on the 1s stamps.
it can be seen in various orientations.

Orientation Qty 1s Controls
Normal 5 2374, 29567, 33399, 46462, 53004.
Reversed 3 33505, 33509, 33514, 33706.
Inverted 0  
Inverted-Reversed 1 28322.
Unknown 3 39810, 43007.

The normal ones are spread over a wide range of control numbers, but the reversed ones are probably from the same sheet.
75% of the 1s could be determined from scans. Though the other denominations are less easy to see, the proportions are probably similar
These figures though are heavily influenced by the close numbering of the reversed ones.

On the 9d stamp scans, 9984 and 11477 can be seen to be normal, but the other 4 are uncertain.
That makes 4 normals and 2 unknowns (629 and 630).

On the 1s6d (with enhancement) I can see a normal watermark on 188, 1264, 7403, the lilac ones, but really can't be sure on the (7) later grey-lilacs,
though the last two, 19003 and 19006 look like they may be reversed.

On the 2s9d, 608 and 613 can be seen to be normal. 619 fits under 613, and 620 fits 619, so they must also be.
That makes 4 normals and 2 unknowns (629 and 630).

Similarly, the 2s3d is helped by 1419 being visibly normal and fitting into a block with 1417, 1418, 1420, 1423 and 1424, so that they must also be normal.
924, 1402 and 1413 can just about be seen (with enhancement) to be normal, making 9 normals and only 3 unknowns (201, 1066 and 1411).

On the 1s2d scans, I cannot make out even a hint of a watermark.
Unusually, pairs 2017/2018 and 2020/2021 only fit together numbered right to left.
2017, 2018 and 2020 are shown on this page, 2021 is illustrated in the Langmead & Huggins book.

 

Plate layout:

South Eastern Railway 2s3d block.
The above is a digital reconstruction from 4 separate 2s3d stamps. It indicates that there were 6 stamps to a row with left to right numbering.
Number 1417 is from Langmead & Huggins' book (colour plate 2), courtesy of the Great Britain Philatelic Society.   Numbers 1418 and 1420 are courtesy of Stanley Gibbons,
1419 is courtesy of Steve Lawrie,   1423 is owned by Mark Gibson and   1424 is courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.

 

South Eastern Railway 2s9d pair.
This pair courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson shows that their horizontal numbering was left to right.

South Eastern Railway 2s9d pair. I expected these two to fit together in the same order :
South Eastern Railway 1s2d pair.

Surprisingly, they fitted together like this:

South Eastern Railway 1s2d pair.
This is a digital reconstruction from 2 separate 2s9d stamps.
It indicates that there were 6 stamps to a row.
Number 619 is courtesy of Stanley Gibbons,
and 613 is courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
Unusually, this digital reconstruction from 2 separate 1s2d stamps indicates that they were numbered right to left.

Number 2017 is courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions ,
and 2018 is courtesy of Mark Gibson.

 

Here are the 5 scans I have from the row fitted in right to left order (half size, click it for a larger image).
Though the perforations fit together quite well, the stamps are not well aligned vertically, perhaps explaining why well-centered examples are scarce.
South Eastern Railway 1s2d strip of 5.
2020 is courtesy of Steve Lawrie, 2021 is from Langmead & Huggins' book (colour plate 2), courtesy of the Great Britain Philatelic Society.
2017, 2018 and 2019 are courtesy of Dr. Mark Gibson. Anyone have 2016 or 2022 ?
2068 has selvedge at the top. This helps to determine the number of rows of stamps in the sheet.

 

. South Eastern Railway 1s. South Eastern Railway 1s.
South Eastern Railway 1s.
33505 dated 28/8/65 ?   RH2b - 1s, Perf. 12½ RH2b - 1s, Perf. 12½ (showing watermark) RH2b - 1s, Perf. 12½ (showing watermark)
Courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson. Courtesy of Steve Lawrie. Courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.

Looking at the three above:

The two on the right are the only ones of these I have seen with selvedge.
They are also the only mint 1/- stamps I have seen.
It is interesting that the perforations run through to the edge of the sheet
leaving the top of the stamp imperforate. The Perf.9 2s3d control 1420
has selvedge and perforations all around, and reconstructed blocks show
6 stamps per row.

These two stamps do however represent a rare opportunity.
I always like to know the sheet formats, how many rows of how many stamps on the sheet. I have not been able to find this information for the South Eastern Railway in the works of other writers, although Langmead & Huggins refer to
"proof sheets of 24 (4 x 6)" and "a sheet of 12 of the 9d red".

These stamps give a clue, but I need a starting assumption:
That the control numbers are consistently applied to the stamps starting
      with number 1, and running left to right, top to bottom.

There are certain conventions about how many stamps in a sheet, chosen to make accounting easier.
The stamp on the left, 33505, is clearly not on the top row since it shows part of the stamp above, so what size sheets would put number 53004 and 53053 on the top row but 33505 not, given my assumption ?

I made a 'widget' to decode sheet-position and block position from the control number.
Click on 'popup' to open it in another small window.


Calculator with adjustable row and column sizes.

Enter a Control number to check  

       
Sheet (1+) Rows Columns Block-size Position
     
stamps per sheet.position of 53004 in its sheet. position of 53053 in its sheet. position of 33505 in its sheet.
10 4 3 5
12121 1
15 9 13 10
1612 13 1
18 12 7 7
204 13 5
2412 13 1
25 4 3 5
3024 13 25
3212 29 1
35 14 28 10
3612 25 25
404 13 25
4812 13 1
504 3 5
6024 13 25
6412 61 33
8044 13 65
1004 53 5

The combination of these 3 constraints, seem to make it impossible to find a conventional sheet size.

Either the sheet size is unconventional or my starting assumption is wrong.

 

 

 

Perforations.

South Eastern Railway 1s2d-2068. South Eastern Railway 1s6d-19053. South Eastern Railway 2s3d-1420. South Eastern Railway 2s9d-675.
1s2d,  2068  Courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions (Ex. I. Stevenson). 1s6d,  19053  Courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson. 2s3d,  1420  Courtesy of Stanley Gibbons. 2s9d,  675  Courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.

These four are perforated at the top, though the 1s values shown above are not.
Examples with Selvedge are useful in confirming how many stamps per sheet.

 

Lastly, "about 1868", they became a higher perforation for just the 1s and 1s6d values.


This is where things become a little unclear.

Hiscocks says several things about the South Eastern Railway stamps that beg a question.

  • Perf. 9, 12 or 12½. Controls in black. All colours vary in shade.
  • Use was small with only two printings amounting to 25,000 stamps in all.
  • Two or three different perforations are known and these probably correspond to the two printings.
According to Distant Writing Perkins, Bacon & Company did not get a perforator until June 1860.
I am not sure when or even IF Charles Whiting had his own perforating machine.

Langmead & Huggins say that the perforations for the 1s were:
9, 12 on controls to 43007 and 12 x 12½ to around control 53000.
They also add the very helpful information that Charles Whiting was
"also printing stamps of Prince Edward Islands at the time
and the variation of perforation are similar."

The web-page above specializing in the perforations of the stamps Charles Whiting sent to the Prince Edward Islands
lists the following:

January 1, 1861. Perforated 9.0 x 9.0

1862.  Perforated  11.5  to  12.0  
1862. Perforated 11.0 x 11.5-12.0
1862.  Perforated  11.0  x  11.0  

1863. Perforated 11.5 to 12.0

December 15, 1866. Perforated 11.5 to 12.0

1868. Perforated 11.5 to 12.0

January 1869. Perforated 11.5 to 12.0
January 1869. Perforated 11.0 x 11.5 to 12.0

The next stocks were June 1, 1870. Perforated 12.0 x 12.0 from British American Bank Note Co, Ottawa.

I can see that the initial Perforation of 9 increasing later to (about) 12 matches, but what about the later increase ?
In fairness, Hiscocks and Lister both gave the same measurements that Langmead & Huggins repeat.
It seems reasonable that the South Eastern Railway stamps normally quoted as perf.12 are actually perforated 11.5 to 12.0
but it does not cover the later ones quoted as perf.12½ or perf.12x12½.

The stamps above have perforation varying between very crisp and very ragged.
It can be hard to measure the perforations accurately on the ragged ones, and dates in the cancel can be helpful in deciding.


Widgit.
I like widgits, they take a while to make, but then then make life so much easier.
I don't have any of these stamps myself, I only have scans kindly provided by others.
It seems that not all scanners are entirely accurate (try scanning a ruler and see how many dpi you get).
Sometimes the aspect ratio is wrong too. I have tried to get these images to scale at 300dpi.

For me though, it was still painstaking to try to work out the guage of these stamps.
I created a widgit to help. Now if you click on one of these stamp images in the main section, you can check the guage for yourself.
It does require a browser that properly supports HTML5 though.

If the image doesn't load first time, try again. Not sure why, working on it.

 

 

For the sake of interest
London, Chatham and Dover Railway 3d.
The 1892 South Eastern Railway cancel used for railway letters and telegraphs.
Image courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer

 

Stationery.

This is a form dated 1856. Form number 191c
LCD form of 1856
This is courtesy of Steve Lawrie. Click image to see larger version.

Another form, with changed font (form 211a), dated 1861, this time showing front and back - Front.
LCD form of 1861 front

Back
LCD form of 1861 back
This is courtesy of Mark Gibson. Click image to see larger version.

The front of another similar form dated 1865, without a visible form number.
LCD form of 1861 front
Image courtesy of Mark Gibson.

 

 

Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.
Contact:   Emale
Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.
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Last updated 16th. Sept. 2017

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Permission is hereby granted to copy material for which the copyright is owned by myself, on condition that any data is not altered and this website is given credit.

 

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