General Telegraph 6d

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.
_

 

The English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company.

Incorporated 1851 as the 'Magnetic Telegraph Company', being re-named the 'English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company' in April 1852 .
I am not sure when these stamps were produced, L&H agree with Hiscocks that they were printed by Mawdesley & Co. of Liverpool
but while Hiscocks says in 1853 (echoing Philbrick & Westoby (1881), which would make them about the first),
L&H say "1857(?)" (presumably quoting Raymond Lister).
Steven Roberts on the Distant Writing website estimates 1854 or 1855.

L&H say that they are "not thought to have been used although an example of the 2s6d (C04341) is known
I have only seen one telegraphically used one, but a few with 1956 postal cancels.

 

These can have control numbers in black, which can be about 3.5mm or 4mm high.
The control numbers are prefixed by a letter that corresponds to the face value of the stamp.
A = 1s, B = 1s6d, C = 2s6d, D = 4s, G = 5s. The jump from 'D' to 'G' is interesting.
The 4/- is also known with control number 40889, but no letter (used).

My rough calculations suggest that the indicated numbers of stamps were only about enough for a years supply,
suggesting 1856 as being the earliest possible. Unless the stamps were only in use at a few of the offices.

 

Imperf, Black controls or no controls.
All are without control unless otherwise stated.
The varieties (except tête-bêche) probably all exist with control numbers. Morley says they are worth about 50% more.

Images courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company pair of 1s.
Pair of 1s   Hiscocks H1 showing numbering and margins.

 

Shortcuts to different sections
Scarcity Value varieties Examples Remainders tête-bêche / blocks Flaws & varieties Used ? Stationery Evidence Research

 

RH # Hisc. Desc. Rarity Mint Used
RH1 H1 1s black with control. R2 45.00 -
RH1a WM 1s black, with control error '|ELEGRAPH' Unlisted 130.00 -
RH1b WM 1s black, without control Scarce 20.00 -
RH1c H1a 1s black, without control Tête-bêche vertical pair Unlisted 250.00 -
RH1d SP 1s black, without control Block of 4 Unlisted 100.00 -
RH1e WM 1s black, without control error '|ELEGRAPH' Unlisted 60.00 -
RH2 H2 1s6d mauve with control. R2 30.00 -
RH2a WM 1s6d mauve, without control Scarce 15.00 -
RH2b SP 1s6d mauve, without control Block of 4 Unlisted 75.00 -
RH3 H3 2s6d blue with control. R2 30.00 -
RH3a L&H 2s6d blue, with control error '|ELEGRAPH' Unlisted 80.00 -
RH3b WM 2s6d blue, without control Scarce 15.00 -
RH3c SP 2s6d blue, without control Block of 4 Unlisted 75.00 -
RH3d WM 2s6d blue, without control error '|ELEGRAPH' Unlisted 40.00 -
RH4 H4 4s red with control. R3 80.00 -
*RH4a SP 4s red with control number, but no letter. Unlisted 100.00 100.00
RH4b WM 4s red, without control Scarce 40.00 -
RH4c SP 4s red, without control Block of 4 Unlisted 200.00 -
RH5 H5 5s green with control. R2 60.00 -
RH5a SP 5s green, with control error '|ELEGRAPH' Unlisted 160.00 -
RH5b WM 5s green, without control Scarce 30.00 -
RH5c SP 5s green, without control Block of 4 Unlisted 150.00 -
RH5d WM 5s green, without control error '|ELEGRAPH' Unlisted 80.00 -

Look here for an explanation of the table.
* I have added this, see Used ? below.

In the 'Hisc.' column, 'WM' indicates that it was catalogued by Walter Morley and 'SP' means that I added it.

Scarcity.

Perhaps a better idea of scarcity of the stamps with control numbers can be gained from this table of the ones I have scans of.

Denomination Qty stamps Largest multiple Lowest control Highest Control Sheet numbers represented Qty TB Qty rem
1/- 25 2 A02619 A02898 26, 27, 28. 5 32
1/6d 60 9 B02523 B05779 25, 26, 27, 28, 55, 56, 57. 0 54
2/6d 48 9 C02116 C04492 21, 22, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44. 0 32
4/- 12 1 40889, D12373 D12491 408, D123, D124. 0 18
5/- 20 2 G01570 G01870 15, 16, 17, 18. 0 15

Surprisingly, with control numbers, the 1/- stamps are nearly as scarce as the 5/- though many of the 1/6d and 2/6d are in the form of long strips.
The last two culumns is the tête-bêche pairs and remainder quantities.
This last is an estimate based on the ratios in two collections for which I have complete data.

Morley suggested that control letters 'E' and 'F' were reserved for more of the 4/- and 5/- values respectively.
I suggest that they were both reserved for the 4/- values, as the control numbers run much higher for the 4/- and there is plenty of alphabet left after 'G' anyway !
It should be noted that there is a used 4/- stamp numbered 40889 with no letter.

 

Variations in the added face-values.

Since the values were entered by hand onto the plate, there is some variability in size, style and position.

EIM value tablets-1s-1 EIM value tablets-1s-2 EIM value tablets-1s6d-1 EIM value tablets-1s6d-2 EIM value tablets-2s6d-1 EIM value tablets-2s6d-2
EIM value tablets-4s-1 EIM value tablets-4s-2 EIM value tablets-4s-4 EIM value tablets-5s-1 EIM value tablets-5s-2 EIM value tablets-5s-3

The 1/6 has sometimes been read as 7/6.

 

 

Interestingly, the sizes of these stamps are not all the same!

valuewidth (mm)height (mm)
1s 35 43.2
1s6d 35.3 44
2s6d 35 43
4s 36 44
5s 35.25 43.5

 

There appears to be some variation between stamps of the same value also.
Try measuring the heights of the two in the Tête-bêche vertical pair shown lower down with a ruler.
I make about 1.4% difference.

 

Examples.

Images: courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s6d and 2s6d.
1s6d.   Hiscocks H2 2s6d.   Hiscocks H3
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company strip of 1s6d x 6.
Strip of 6 x 1s6d   Hiscocks H2 showing numbering and margins. The value was inserted by hand and varies.

 

Here are two strips of 9 courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
The images are split in two for ease of display, but the actual strips are each in one piece.

English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company strip of 1s6d.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company strip of 1s6d.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company strip of 1s6d.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company strip of 1s6d.

 

Images courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 4s. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 5s.
4s.   Hiscocks H4 5s.   Hiscocks H5

 

A pair of the 5/- also courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company strip of 1s6d.

 

 

Remainders.

These exist without control numbers and with broad margins top and bottom.
These were at one time thought to be proofs, and that the ones with controls shown above were from sheets with rows closely spaced.

I contend that this was not the case.
They were in fact all printed on the same sheets, but had the control numbers added and rows trimmed
to a standard hight (about 1¾ inches) before use, probably to fit a dispenser of some kind, as there is
evidence the strips were joined to make (the first ?) coil stamps.

The ones without controls were thus remainders.
For anyone interested, I present the evidence on a separate page.

English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s6d.
1s. no control - 'remainder' of H1. 1s6d. no control - 'remainder'of H2.
 
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 2s6d. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 4s.
2s6d. no control - 'remainder' of H3. 4s. no control - 'remainder' of H4 (Source: Andrew Higson).

 

English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 2s6d. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 5s.
2s6d. broken 'H' in 'ENGLISH' - 'remainder' of H3. 5s. no control - 'remainder' of H5 (Source: Andrew Higson).

 

Tête-bêche pairs and blocks.

Vertical pairs or blocks of these are very scarce, even without controls. Note the variability of the sizes of these stamps, try measuring with a ruler.

Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s tête-bêche pair. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s tête-bêche pair.
1s. no control tête-bêche pair 1s6d. no control block of 4

 

English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s tête-bêche pair.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 2s6d bottom margin. -----------------------------
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 5s bottom-left margin. -----------------------------
At the top is a 1s. no control tête-bêche pair H1a (Image courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson).
Below that is a 2/6 (courtesy of Martien Blank) from the bottom of the sheet. Note the large margin, about 48mm.
At the bottom is a 5/- of mine from the bottom-left of the sheet. Note the large margins again.
These cannot be from a sheet printed in the same format as the 1s above.

 

Flaws and varieties.

Langmead and Huggins mention a flaw seen on the 2s6d value where the 'T' of 'TELEGRAPH' is missing the crossbar.
They say it is constant and occurs only once in the sheet, so presumably they have seen more than one, and quote C04384 as being the serial on one.
It is therefore possibly also present on any of these stamps (any denomination) having a serial number ending with '84'.


Pages 55-57 of the Telegraph Stamps of the World, self-published by Walter Morley in February 1900 lists a number of varieties of these.
These varieties were glossed over in Raymond Listers' book of 1961 and disappeared with the exception of some misconceptions in Hiscocks' book.

The misconceptions involve the tête-bêche pairs, and are almost certainly due to the rather ambiguous and fragmentary writings of Morley.
Stanley Gibbons (1899) say that some sheets had 50 stamps and some 100, and that the sheets of 100 had two panes of 50 inverted relative to each other creating tête-bêche pairs in the middle.

Walter Morley writing in "The Fiscal Philatelist" March 1893 said "I have before me what is probably an entire sheet - 100 stamps - formed by 10 rows of 10,
measuring 16½ x 19 5/8 inches from outer edge to outer edge of the stamps, the distance between each stamp being ¼ inch."

He was talking about stamps without controls. Unfortunately he did not trouble to say what denomination stamps these were.

In his 1900 catalogue he lists:

1/- black (50 types to sheet)
1/6 lilac (100 types to sheet)
2/6 blue (100 types to sheet)
4/- pale red (50 types to sheet)
5/- green (100 types to sheet)

His use of the word 'types' begs explanation. My interpretation would be that all sheets from the printer had 100 stamps.
Some were 100 slightly different stamps, since the values were inserted into the plate by hand.
Some were 50 slightly different stamps, plus another of the same 50 printed upside down, with the intention of guillotining down the centre to make two sheets of 50. slightly different stamps
That would imply only the 1/- and 4/- could exist as tête-bêche pairs. His catalogue in fact only lists the 1/- as tête-bêche pairs, and then only without controls.

I will put the facts straight as (implied) by Walter Morley and drop 2a, 3a and 5a from Hiscocks listing.
I will also make it clear that H1a and H4a refer to examples without control.

The variety mentioned by L & H above is listed by Morley for the 1/-, 2/6d and 5/- values, but only without controls. The 2/6d with control of L&H (C04384) is new.
I have only seen three examples. The first was this poor scan of a 1s without control, but then Steve Lawrie's example on the 2/6d with control C04434 (50 stamps after C04384),
and more recently I bought C4144 shown below.
The last one adds complications which required a re-think to resolve.

English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company I for T on 1s.     English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company I for T on 2s 6d.     I for T flaw
I thought at first that it was likely on all 2/6d stamps with numbers ending with 34 or 84.

It should exist on the 1/-, 2/6d and 5/- values only as Morley catalogued them, it is not on these two however:
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company 1s.  English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company best 5s.
Courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

 

An error listed by Morley for the 2/6d is described as 'double printed'. I have not seen any that look like they have truly been through the press twice,
but I have seen quite a few that appear to have had a 'double touch' with the plate.
English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company Double-Touch.
Perhaps due to a turbulent air-flow or bad handling, portions of some stamps appear to be doubled.


Another important flaw is this one:

EIM-flaw-5a
It is pesent on about a quarter of stamps with controls ending with '5' on the 1/-, 2/6 and 5/- values.
I call it the '5' flaw (there are others, but this is the most notable).
For anyone interested, my tentative attempt at plating can be seen here.

 

Used ?

Here are some interesting stamps:

English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company used 2s6d. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company used 4s. English & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company used 5s.
2/6d in a rather pale shade of blue   -   4 AU 56
(from top row, column 4, pane 1)
4/-   -   29 SP 56 5/-   -   4 AU 56
Image courtesy of Mark Talbot. I do not know where these are now, I would like to hear from the owner/s.

These appear to be used at Totton, Southampton in '56. They have no control numbers.
There are also 9d and 1/- Bonelli's Telegraph stamps with similar Totton postmarks,
one of which still has full gum, so was presumably cancelled by favour. I do not know if these three still have gum.

These are presumably postal cancellations of 1956.

 

4/- 40889
This seems to be genuinely used, it has no gum, and is thinned at the bottom on the back.
It is the highest number I have seen but has no control letter !
It may be that the 4/- was the first to be used and control letters added only later when there were more values.
There are characteristic flaws common to the 1/-, 2/6 and 5/- suggesting they were made 'as a batch'.
The 4/- is different to these and also to the 1/6 which I suspect was made last, due to the relatively few flaws and uniform nature of the face value.
Another interesting feature is that the control is much more accurately placed than most of the others.

 

 

Stationery.

Received Message form of 31/10/53 - courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
EIM Received Message form


Received Message form of 1/3/54 for London (front and back) - courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
EIM London Received Message form - front

EIM London Received Message form - back

 

 

Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.
Contact:   Emale
Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.
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Last updated 1st. Sept. 2015

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