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 General Telegraph Company Limited.

I can now show you five examples, plus one strangely different.

General Telegraph - Grosvenor General Telegraph - Spink General Telegraph - Steve Lawrie
Hiscocks H1 - courtesy Grosvenor Auctions. ('GA' example)
Now owned by Mark Talbot (ex Conrad Graham).
Hiscocks H1 - Courtesy of Spink and Son. ('SA' example)
This sold for £320 (October 2015)
Hiscocks H1 - courtesy of Steve Lawrie. ('SL' example)

 

General Telegraph - L&H General Telegraph - A.J.Lowe General Telegraph - Steve Panting
H1 - from Langmead & Huggins Fig.59  ('LH' example)
Courtesy of the Great Britain Philatelic Society.
Hiscocks H1 - From A.J.Lowe collection.
Courtesy of Phillips, Son & Neale. ('AJL' example)
RH1a - my example. ('SP' example)

Whilst very similar, the last one has some strange differences. The 'SL' and 'GA' examples are much finer impressions and more of a grey-black,
in addition to which they are perforated.
The 'SP' example looks almost like a rough copy in more intense black, perhaps slightly over-inked and imperf.
The 'GA' example, recently sold by Grosvenor Auctions for £150 is very similar to the SL example.
The SA example shows some additional spattering as well as the scratch.
The 'LH' and 'AJL' examples, though poorer images, the ribbon can be seen under the value (see below).

 

General Telegraph - Grosvenor
There are a few very specific flaws on both the 'GA' and 'SL' examples.
 
  Rough Perf. somewhere around 13 to 13½.
RH # Hisc. Description Rarity Mint Used
RH1 H1 6d black R4 150.00 -
RH1a - re-drawn - - -

Look here for an explanation of the table.

 

Here are some close-up comparisons:
Steve Lawrie - detail C   Steve Lawrie - detail C   Steve Panting - detail C
'SL'/'GA' shows part of the ribbon under 'SIXPENCE', 'SP' does not.

Steve Lawrie - detail B   Steve Panting - detail B
In 'SL', the wings appear to extend further on the left, in 'SP', further on the right and 'C' of 'Co' looks very 'wobbly'.

Steve Lawrie - detail D   Steve Panting - detail D       Steve Lawrie - detail E
On 'SP', there are a couple of 'ink splashes' ? 'SL' and 'GA' have a scratch through the first 'E' of 'GENERAL' that is not on 'SP'.

Steve Lawrie - detail A   Steve Panting - detail A
The 'SL' example has a long scratch mark clearly visible.
'SP' just shows remnants of this, mostly under 'T'.

This would seem to be a strange thing to (partially)
copy manually, but the 'missing ribbon' implies it
was not just a simple lithographic transfer.

To me it looks like 'SP' was produced from the 'SL'/'GA' type
by litho-transfer + touch-up.

However, I am no printing expert.


The one illustrated by Steve Hiscocks is the 'GA' example, then owned by Dr. Conrad Graham.
John Barefoot illustrates the 'SP' example, as does Steven Roberts (though photoshopped to remove stains).

 

No such company was ever registered.

Only the 6d value is known and was considered by Morley in 1897 to be bogus.
Thick wove paper, no watermark. Rough perf.13 or imperf.

However:

Francis Whishaw, formerly of the Electric Telegraph Company was promoting the 'General Telegraph Company' as a Sole Trader in October 1848.
His intention was to provide general telegraphic equipment be it electric, hydraulic, pneumatic or mechanical.

He opened showrooms at 9 John Street, Adelphi, off the Strand in London.
This became a partnership when he was joined by Nathaniel Holmes who left the Electric Telegraph Company in 1849.
The East India Company invited the General Telegraph Company to submit proposals for a telegraph system for India and its construction, in September 1849.
This proposal was never taken up, but the prospect may have prompted consideration of forming a Limited Company and issuing stamps.

I originally thought that this could have been a proposal for the first Telegraph Stamp.
However, it has been pointed out by Steven Roberts of distantwriting.co.uk that the inclusion of the word "LIMITED" in the design places constraints on dating it's origins.
The Limited Liability Act allowing the formation of Limited Companies in the UK was enacted in 1855.


Given the Electric Telegraph Company’s patent monopoly throughout Britain the partnership of Whishaw and Holmes had little business.
In 1851, about the time Whishaw started to become ill, Holmes left to work in Glasgow.
Francis Whishaw died in 1856 after a long illness.1856 is the same year as the Joint Stock Companies Act allowing limited liability.

If this stamp does relate to Whishaws company, it is very unlikely that he personally was responsible for it.
Somehow the design reminds me of a grave-stone, the 'angel wings' make me think of it as a memorial to Whishaw.

A more 'down-to-earth' explanation is given by Raymond Lister (1961), who considers:
"... it might have been an essay for a company that was genuinely planned, but never came to anything."

Steven Roberts on the Distant Writing website that I highly recommend has another theory.

We may never know the intended purpose of these. If it was bogus and intended to make money fraudulently, I would have expected
more copies to exist, and for there also to be different colours and perhaps values.
The second type also needs an explanation of purpose.

 

References:

http://distantwriting.co.uk/noncompetitors.aspx
http://atlantic-cable.com/CablePioneers/Holmes/index.htm

 

Anyone have further information or examples?

 

 

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Last updated 23th. Sept. 2016

©Copyright Steve Panting 2012/13/14/15/16 except where stated.
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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