General Telegraph 6d

Telegraph stamps of Great Britain.

Until recently, only the Post Office telegraphs were well known.
This is changing but the printed information is still out of date.
I hope to gather further information and present it here.

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General Telegraph 6d Electric Telegraph Submarine British English & Irish British & Irish LDTC UK Electric South Eastern Railway London, Chatham and Dover Railway
General Telegraph Electric Telegraph Submarine British Telegraph English & Irish British & Irish London District UK Electric S.E.R. L.C. & D.R.
 
Bonelli Universal Private Telegraph Company National Telephone Company Army Telegraphs-1 Army Telegraphs-2 Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s Post Office Telegraphs Unusual Unexpected Contributions
Bonelli's Universal Tel. National Telephone Army Telegraphs 1 Army Telegraphs 2 Railway Post Office Unusual Unexpected Contributions

 

Unexpected Telegraphic Cancellations.

Shortcuts to different sections
Conventional C.D.S. Exchanges Trading centres Threadneedle Street Telephone Rooms Commercial Sale Rooms Carlisle Military Hotels Coastal Edwardian Later

 

Here are some of the conventional Telegraphic cancellations in use.
many of them are often not recognised as such.

T.M.B. / G.P.O.
Boxed   "T.M.B. / G.P.O."     This on a Telegraph stamp, but this cancel is also found on the £1 brown postage stamp and later on the £1 green.

T.M.B is Telegraph Message Branch. There is a similar cancellation with   T.A.B. / G.P.O.  or   T.A.B. / EDINR.   for Telegraph Accounts Branch shown below.
T.A.B. / EDINr.

T.A.B. / EDINr.
Image courtesy of TONY BROWN STAMPS


This one with boxed T.A.B. / EDINR, together with a circular Greenock T O cancel.
T.A.B. + Greenock TO


This one with boxed cancel together with a blue Bristol Telegraph Dept cancel.
T.A.B. + Bristol Telegraph Dept.


This one is T.A.B. / G.P.O. LONDON in an ellipse, source: Andrew Higson.
T.A.B. / G.P.O. LONDON.


This one, courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson, has a boxed C.H.B. / G.P.O. LONDON in combination with a railway telegraph cancel (679 - Holborn).
C.H.B. / G.P.O. LONDON.



According to Langmead, cancellations like these were used on high values to prevent any possibility of re-use.
T.A.B. / EDIN.
Image courtesy of angellucia1


T.A.B. / EDIN.
Image courtesy of Andrew G Lajer.


Here is a boxed "T.C.B. / G.P.O" together with a "1116" Railway Telegraph cancel and crayon marks just to make sure.
Illustration source: Andrew Higson (I have reduced the size).
T.A.B. / G.P.O. LONDON.


This shows a boxed "C.H.B. / G.P.O" ("Clearing House Branch") on a piece roughly 'liberated' from a Telegraph form.
It is very unusual to see a halfpenny stamp telegraphically used
Illustration source: Andrew Higson (I have reduced the size).
T.A.B. / G.P.O. LONDON.

 

Boxed cancels

Andrew Higson informs me that Langmead in The London Philatelist of September-October 1982 (p.116) gives this list:

 
  • "C.H.B." stands for "Clearing House Branch".
  • "T.A.B." was "Telegraph Accounts Branch"
  • "T.M.B." was "Telegraph Message Branch"
  • "I.T.B." was "Inland Telegraph Branch".
  • "P.A.R. / R. & A.G.O." was "Pay and Accounts Branch /
          Receiver & Accountant General's Office".
 

"T.C.B." is not given, but Andrew suggests reasonably that it is likely to be "Telegraph Clearing Branch".

 

T.A.B. Regd. No. EDINBURGH.
This would appear to be more in the nature of a receipt handstamp for telegraph accounts, and thus fiscal usage. It is quite scarce.
Image courtesy of Andrew G Lajer.

T.M.B. with Crown.
This one courtesy Mike Carter of Shaftesbury Philatelics is similar to the above, but with T.M.B and an added crown.

 

There is an interesting new related article on the Perfin Society website.

 

C.D.S. Telegraphic cancels gradually became abbreviated.

Birmingham Telegraph Office   Southampton Head Telegraph Office   Manchester Telegraphs
Birmingham, Southampton and Manchester Telegraphs Offices.


Queenstown Tel. Office   Limerick Tel. Office   Queenstown Telegraph Office
Queenstown "Tel. Office", Limerick Tel. Office courtesey Nicholas Turner at Capital Collectables and Queenstown Tel. Office courtesey BygonesOfBridlington.

Birmingham-TO Cork T.O. Cardiff Docks TO This one courtesy of 1st4stamps
Queenstown Telegraph Office
with ebay listings and a website

(I bought off ebay and got a 10%
discount voucher for the website.)
Birmingham "T.O." Cork "T.O" courtesy of Andrew Oakley Cardiff Docks "T.O" Lincoln "T.O."

Abbreviated to 'Tel. Office' and then further abreviation to 'T.O'

Birmingham TO     Butter-Market-TO on 3d     Butter-Market-TO on 1s
More 'T.O' examples from Birmingham and 'Butter Market', a new commercial center in Hereford established 1860 in the old Butter Market.


Darlington T.O.     Belfast T.O. ?     Greenock TO
Darlington T.O. on a 3d, Belfast T.O ? a little unclear and strange on a ½d stamp and Greenock T O is an interesting possible.
The Greenock TO is courtesey of Stephen at Itforbiz Collectables.

I must admit that I had doubts about the Greenock one, but then I was shown these three:
Greenock T O   Greenock T O   Greenock T O
These examples, courtesy of Martien Blank, make it clear this cancel was used telegraphically.

 

Cardiff H.P.O.  T.O. Cardiff Docks T.O. FR-1 perfin
Cardiff  H.P.O.  T.O.  pair. Cardiff Docks T.O with perfin. F.R & Co. / C   perfin.
Courtesy of  Michael Bates Courtesy of Jeff Turnbull.

 

Or just 'T.'

Birmingham-T Birmingham-T. Hereford T.
Image courtesy Devlan Kruck. of empirecollectables. Image courtesy of Ray from wickham-stamps on ebay. Image courtesy of johnlam111 on ebay.

 

Finally just plain 'T'

Leicester-T Bristol-T Birmingham-T York T
Leicester T - one of mine. Image courtesy of Roy Dinsdale Image courtesy Richard Walker of 1st4stamps on ebay. Image courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.

 

Cardiff Docks T.O. FR-2 perfin
As evidence of these being Telegraphic, here is one on a part Telegraph form with an ' FRY ' perfin.
Courtesy of Jeff Turnbull.

 

It can be seen that some of the conventional Telegraphic cancellations in use, look a lot like postal cancellations.
It is worth seeing what the Stanley Gibbons website says about this.
(Three quarters of the way down.)

Just to complicate things though, Telegraph cancels were not always used only for telegraphs.
Registered cover with Telegraph Cancel
This might explain some telegraph cancels on low/strange value postage stamps.

 

 

Stock Exchanges (etc.)

Liverpool Exchange   Manchester Stock Exchange   Manchester Stock Exchange
The Stock Exchanges may well have provided a postal service, particularly registered, but I would imagine most of the stamps were used telegraphically.
How many stock exchange cancellations have you seen on a 1d stamp ?

Stock Exchange Forgery   The famous 'Stock Exchange Forgery' is a good example.
When a stamp was postally used, the philosophy was to 'obliterate' it.
Making sure it could not be used again.


For Telegraphic use, there was no point because in theory, the stamps
would remain in the possession of the Post Office until they were destroyed
along with the forms (the plan for making the fraud invisible).
There was a demand for 'neatly cancelled' stamps. This created a 'leakage' of telegraphic material.
Once stamps had been removed from the forms, their usage became uncertain.
This example has impossible lettering 'K S'

Illustration source: Andrew Higson.

 

The examples below (Courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions) has possible lettering 'E C' and 'F C'
Stock Exchange Forgery   Stock Exchange Forgery
The 1s 'stamps' are preserved on the Stock Exchange forms as they add to the value of the forgery.
The 3d stamp would normally have been removed and sold as postally used with a 'nice cds'.
All 3 examples are dated in July 1872, a good year for CDS's.

Stock Exchange Forgery - impossible lettering Stock Exchange Forgery - no overlap
This has impossible lettering 'EP'.
 
Stock Exchange Forgery - 2/- in Melville's book
With a 2/- as in Melville's book. Unusually this forgery is not overlapped by the other stamp.
These 3 examples (again all July 1872) are courtesy of Michael Driver.

The example with the 2s, and perhaps others were in Sale 36 Lot 25 of Schuyler Rumsey Philatelic Auctions.

The Telegraph System was the glue that held the British economy and indeed the Empire together. It was their lifeblood.
It was as indispensible to Victorian business as the computer is now. For that reason it was made available wherever there was a commercial need.

An interesting article can be found at VictorianLondon.org which lists telegraphic facilities,
The list is primarily for London, but also gives a few for the the rest of England.
There can be little doubt that all important cities and docks throughout Britain were suitably equipped.

Note: At the bottom of that page there is a (small) image. Click on it for a list of opening hours for some London Telegraph Offices.

 

On the basis of the information on that page, here are some more example of likely Telegraphic Usage.
Important trading centres.

 

Cardiff Docks Lothbury
Cardiff Docks Lothbury (Ex-Electric Telegraph Co. Offices)

 

Paddington Cornhill
Paddington, London St. Cornhill (Ex-Electric Telegraph Co. Offices)

B.O. Cancels (Branch Office) - In busy offices cancels were often used for purposes other than the intended one.
For postal and parcel use, policy was to obliterate the stamps, and this was sometimes done with great gusto.
With telegraph forms, this was not necessary since the stamps along with the forms would remain in the hands of the post office until pulped.
Hence the incentive to 'liberate' telegraphically used stamps, especially the more sought after ones.
For any given example, unless still on piece, it is not possible to say with certainty what the usage was, but for offices known to have telegraphic equipment
it is likely that nicely used examples could have been telegraphic.
See the Stanley Gibbons website
,   about three quarters of the way down.

 

Cardiff Docks Threadneedle St. Threadneedle St.
Cardiff Docks Threadneedle St. (Ex British & Irish and Submarine Tel.) Scarce Kempton Park Grandstand
Courtesy Mike-Holt.com.

 

Port William double circle on postage stamps on Telegraph from
Port William double circle used on Telegraph Form, Courtesy Spink and Son.

 

PO Telegraph form with 9 x 1s postage stamps
Edinburgh circle used on almost complete Telegraph Form, courtesy of Andrew G Lajer..

 

Threadneedle Street

It is known that Threadneedle Street Post Office used 'Registered' cancels for Telegraphic use
on values up to the £5 (Ref: www.stampboards.com for evidence and examples).
See also PhilatelicsAnnex.org
Threadneedle St.   £5 Orange with Threadneedle Street Registered cancel
10/- example courtesy of Steve Allen and £5 example courtesy of Andrew Lord.

It has been estimated that apart from a few philatelic items, the £5 was almost never used for postal purposes !

 

 

Telephone Rooms.

Courtesy John A. McCulloch, © 2010 ARR. One of mine.
Telephone Dept. H.O. Cork Telephone Room Belfast
The Telephone Dept. H.O. Cork The Telephone Room, Belfast

 

Courtesy John A. McCulloch, © 2010 ARR. Courtesy John A. McCulloch, © 2010 ARR. Courtesy of Ian Pinwill.
Telephone Room Belfast Telephone Room Newcastle Newpot Docks Telephone Exchange
The Telephone Room, Belfast The Telephone Room, Newcastle-on-Tyne Newpot Docks Telephone Exchange

 

Commercial Sale Rooms E.C

Located at 30 Mincing Lane, they provided general trade sales for empire/colonial and foreign goods e.g. ivory, leather, cocoa, cotton, feathers, and sugar.
(Information provided by Ian Pinwill who also observes that the cancel on Telegraph stamps is mostly on the 4d.)

Commercial Sale Rooms on 3s Commercial Sale Rooms on 2s6d
Used on a 3s Telegraph stamp
courtesy of ebay seller "reallyhelpful"
Later often found
on high value postage stamps.


Carlisle Military Telegraphs.

Carlisle Mily Telegs
A reconstruction by Ian Pinwill of four stamps (courtesy of Steve Amies).
Andrew Higson who has an example of this datestamp dated 14th January 1887, tells me that Fort Carlisle is located
on a promontary over the entrance of Cork Harbour, Ireland, which puts it close to Roches Point (see below).

 

Hotels

Westminster Palace Hotel had an office of the London District Telegraph Company as early as 1862.
There is an amazing amount of information at Distant Writing, including a list of 90 or so LDTC offices including this.

Westminster Palace Hotel 5s   Westminster Palace Hotel 5s
These two items are courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.
The vendor of the 9d pair included a 2s with the same cancel but did not consider it worth an image!

Post Office Telegraph 1d plate-2   Post Office Telegraph 1d plate-2
And of course the 1s value.   Example on Telegraph stamp courtesy of Sutherland-Stamps

 

 

 

Coastal telegraph stations

1s Post Office Telegraph Stationery   The Lizard Telegraph Office on 1d
Roches Point is not a good place for a post office being quite far from sizeable habitation, however it had been an important
Telegraph Station of The Electric Telegraph Company due to its' location at the entrance to Cork Harbour.
The Lizard in Cornwall at the Southermost tip of Britain was another excellent location for a telegraph office (courtesy of Ian Pinwill).

Telegraph forms using these embossed stamps were available 5th February 1870, the date plugs on this indicate
it was printed 3 months before the Post Office took over operations and was not used until nearly a year after.

Roches Point is now the site of a lighthouse and weather observing station.
The Lizard also has a lighthouse.

 

Edwardian

Such usage was not confined to the Victorian period but carried over into the Edwardian period also, but not always this obvious.

Southampton Head Telegraph Office 1s   Southampton Head Telegraph Office 2s6d   Southampton Head Telegraph Office 5s
Southampton Head Telegraph Office 5s
The £1 courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.

 

This part Edwardian Telegraph Form is interesting for several reasons.
Edwardian Telegraph Form
Firstly the boxed "C.H.B. / G.P.O." is often seen on high value Victorian postage stamps, but clearly may indicate telegraphic usage.
In addition, The oval Station cancels normally have the name of the Railway Company at the bottom. Here it has the Station name Porthcurno and "E.TEL.Co."
This is the Eastern Telegraph Company that in 1902 erected a Wireless Telegraph mast at nearby Pedn-men-an-Mere.
Porthcurno near Land's End, Cornwall was the terminus for submarine telegraph cables from 1870 to 1970, connecting with the Americas and India via Europe.
This Telegraph Station was once the largest cable station in the world, and also had a Telegraph training school.
Illustration source: Andrew Higson.

Here is another from Porthcurnow (note different spelling) dated Christmas day 1904.
Eastern Telegraph Company Logo
This is also courtesy of Andrew Higson.

 

 

Eastern Telegraph Company Seal.
Eastern Telegraph Company Logo

 

 

Later

There were still problems with the theft of used telegraph stamps for the philatelic market,
particularly from the private companies that still operated services to other countries.
After a number of trials in 1915 and 1918, clipping devices were sent out in 1919 to 30 telegraph offices (26 office in England and Scotland, 4in Ireland)
with instructions to clip stamps of 2/6d and higher values before affixing to telegraph forms. These instructions were often not followed correctly,
such clipped stamps are found on stamps used for parcel post and often stamps used on telegraph forms escaped clipping.

Clipped stamps

Richard Monteiro supplied these images and brought to my attention the article "Surreptitious Removal" by Les Wilkinson
that explains the reasons, trials and end results in great depths.

 

A number of 1964 forms have recently come on the market.

Clipped QEII stamps
This has the 2s6d and 5s stamps clipped similar to the above.

 

Clipped QEII stamps
The 10s stamp on this though has had the center torn out. This seems quite common.
I have another example from Bermondsey dated the day before with an intact 5s stamp.

 

Clipped QEII stamps
Though not obvious, the 5s stamp has been spiked after fixing to the form.

 

Clipped QEII stamps
On this, the 2s6d and 5s stamp have both been spiked through the form. There is a 6d on the back, pushed away when the 5s was spiked.

 

 

Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.
Contact:   Emale
Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.
Alternatively Yahoo Group   Yahoo-Group   is a forum.

 

Last updated 16th. Apr. 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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