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.
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The National Telephone Company Ltd.

Steve Hiscocks wrote:
Telephone stamps were introduced in 1884 because of the need both to keep a strict account of revenues (because the Post Office took 10%!) and
because the slot machines available at that time did not allow use by both the general public who had to pay for the individual calls and subscribers to the
company who did not. Tally sheets were therefore used in the call office on which subscribers simply signed their names (plus date and call duration)
while non-subscribers attached stamps to the value of the call. Around 1888 the use of these stamps was extended to the payment of subscribers'
accounts. Subscribers bought stamps in advance (to the obvious benefit of the company), stuck them to the required amount on the invoices and
returned them to the company. Although in theory all used stamps remained with the company large numbers of (threepenny!) packets of
complete sets were sold at international stamp exhibitions in Edinburgh in 1886 and 1890. The stamps were discontinued in late 1891 when the
availability of improved slot-machines made it no longer necessary to fight the vigorous opposition of the Post Office who strongly objected to a subject of
the Queen (the chairman of the Company, Col. Robert Raynsford Jackson) also having his head on a stamp. The initial printings were 1d—122,000,
3d—125,000, 1s—61,000, and, later, 4d—23,000. Further printings were presumably made. They were printed in sheets of 12 by Maclure,
MacDonald & Co. of Glasgow. A temporary shortage of 6d stamps in Dundee in 1891 resulted in the use of bisected 1s stamps.

My notes:
Incorporated 10th March 1881 from a merger of The Telephone Company Ltd (using the Bell patent, with the Edison Telephone Company Ltd.
Additionally merged with the UTC with the Lancashire and Cheshire Telephone Company in 1889.
Operated under license from the Post Office which charged 10% normally and 50% for use of their Trunk (inter-city) lines.
The Post Office took control of most of their operation at the beginning of 1912.

According to Langmead & Huggins, the cost of the subscription was £20 per annum, providing unlimited local calls.

A postcard of 1911 shown below gives a table of rates showing some cheaper deals, such as £4 per annum covering 300 local calls on a four party line.


Stamps: December 1884 to the end of 1891

These are of various shades on variously shaded paper. Issued in sheetlets of 12, Perf. 12
Printed by Maclure, Macdonald & Co., Glasgow. The 4d was produced later than the others, but apparently by 1886, for trunk calls.
The head on the design is that of the Chairman of the Company, Colonel Robert Raynsford Jackson.
According to Langmead & Huggins, "they were printed by the photographic gelatine process of collotyping".
L&H suggest that there were perhaps 9 sheetlets (3x3) on larger sheets that were then guillotined.

National Telephone Co. 1d. National Telephone Co. 1d. National Telephone Co. 3d. National Telephone Co. 4d.
1d - 2 shades. 3d4d

National Telephone Co. 6d. National Telephone Co. 6d. National Telephone Co. 1s. National Telephone Co. 1s.
6d - Myrtle green. 6d - Olive green. 1s - 2 shades.


Shortcuts to different sections
Bisects Cancels Miscellaneous Offices Sheetlets Stationery


Perf. 12

RH # Hisc. Desc. Rarity Mint Used
RH1 H1 1d black Common 1.50 2.50
RH1a H1a 1d black on grey paper Common 1.50 2.50
RH1b   1d imperf between vertical pair R3 30.00 -
RH1c   1d imperf between horizontal pair R3 30.00 -
RH1d   1d complete sheetlet - 12.00 -
RH2 H2 3d dull red Common 2.50 4.00
RH2a   3d complete sheetlet Common 30.00 -
RH3 H3 4d blue Scarce 4.00 6.00
RH3a H3a 4d blue on strongly blued paper Scarce 3.00 5.00
RH3b   4d complete sheetlet - 40.00 -
RH4 H4 6d myrtle green Scarce 4.00 3.00
RH4a H4a 6d myrtle green on green paper Scarce 5.00 4.00
RH4b H4b 6d olive green Scarce 6.00 5.00
RH4c   6d complete sheetlet - 380.00 -
RH5 H5 1s brown Common 2.00 3.00
RH5a H5a 1s brown bisected on piece R2 - 50.00
RH5b   1s imperf between vertical pair R3 50.00 -
RH5c   1s imperf between horizontal pair R3 50.00 -
RH5d   1s complete sheetlet - 15.00 -
Look here for an explanation of the table.

The sheet on the right shows
imperf-between pairs down the right side.

Courtesy of Martien Blank.
  NT Co. 1d sheet - imperf-between.


The 1s is known used bisected in Dundee. There are reports that these were a result of a shortage of the Shilling values in 1891.
However dated examples are generally late 1890.

National Telephone Co. 1s bisected 30/10/90
This one (of mine) is dated 30/10/90.

National Telephone Co. 1s bisected 19/12/90
This one (courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer) is dated 19/12/90.

National Telephone Co. 1s bisected 16/11/90 National Telephone Co. 1s bisected 27/11/?
An example courtesy of Alejandro Toledano on the left, dated 16/11/90. One of mine on the right, 27th Nov. but no year.


National Telephone Co. 1s bisected plus 3d.
Another (better tied) example used in Dundee with a 3d to make 9d. Courtesy Mark Bloxham.


National Telephone Co. 1s bisected on piece.
Another tied example used in Dundee.


Apart from 'Dundee' above, other types of cancel include the following :

National Telephone Co. 1d pair. National Telephone Co. - Arbroath. National Telephone - Birmingham National Telephone Co. 4d.
'Aberdeen' on 1d pair. 'Arbroath' on 3d. 'Birmingham' on 3d. 'C.G.M.'? on 4d


National Telephone Co. 3d. National Telephone Co. 6d. National Telephone - Inverness National Telephone Co. 6d. National Telephone Co. 6d.
'Edinburgh' on 3d. Munuscript 'Glasgow' on 6d 'Inverness' on 3d. 'Kirkcaldy' on 6d. 'Stirling' on 6d


National Telephone Co. 6d Subject to sufficient / Support being obtained cancel. National Telephone Co. 6d.
A curious example cancelled with 'Subject to sufficient / Support being obtained'. 'CERTIFIED' on 6d.


These last two appear to have been used postally !

National Telephone Co. 4d. National Telephone Co. 1s.
'London' CDS on 4d ?CDS on 1s ?

According to Raymond Lister (1961), "These stamps were withdrawn from use at the end of 1891 to avoid the possibility of their being used by the public as postage stamps".
According to L&H, the real reason was that improved coin-slot machines made them unnecessary. Raymond Lister gave the figures for initially issued quantities:

Initial issue according to Lister:

1d. - 122,196
3d. - 124,800
4d  -   22,800
6d  -   95,840
1s  -   61,032

Subscribers paying their bills with stamps
periodically probably mostly used 1/- stamps.
L&H show a portion of a call-sheet(Pg.41) of May 1890.
This has the stamps for 7 calls, of apparently 50 calls per call-sheet.
Of those 7 calls:
1 used 1 x 3d stamp.
1 used 2 x 3d stamps.
4 used 1 x 6d stamp.
1 used 1 x 1/- stamp.
This suggests that mostly 6d stamps were needed. The bisection
of the 1/- stamps from about October 1890 supports that.
In addition there were few 1d stamps used.
It is possible that one of the 6d shades
is the result of a later printing of the
6d due to the shortage.

Clearly dated examples appear to be scarce,
but I have an Olive green example dated 2/8/89
and a Myrtle green example dated 24/12/90.

NTC 6d Olive 2/8/89   NTC 6d Myrtle 23/12/90

An Olive green example dated 2/8/89 and a Myrtle green example dated 24/12/90. It is possible that the Myrtle green stamps were a later printing due to a shortage.

NTC 6d undated Ossett

This scarce example from Osset shows the space allocated on the call sheet for each call. Each space was numbered, but clearly not always dated.
Image courtesy of Darron Welsh.

Does anyone have dated examples of Myrtle green earlier than 24/12/1890 ?

In addition, the 4d was issued later than the others to simplify payment for Trunk calls. I do not know the date of issue, but according to Steve Hiscocks:
"Although Although in theory all used stamps remained with the company large numbers of (threepenny!) packets of complete sets were sold at
international stamp exhibitions in Edinburgh in 1886 and 1890." I think the 1886 Exhibition was opened May 15 (by Prince Albert Victor)
If these were indeed complete sets, then that implies the 4d was available by 1886. Other than that I have no idea when the 4d was issued.
Does anyone have dated examples of the 4d stamp ?


National Telephone Co. 1s variety   National Telephone Co. 1s proof ?
Here is an interesting pair of stamps, courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
The left stamp has a constant variety above the 'T' of 'TELEPHONE' together with a dot between 'SH' and 'ILLING'.
Another example can be seen on the sheetlet of 12 x 1/- below (4th stamp). It is not on all sheetlets though as multiple sheetlets were printed on a larger sheet
and susequently guillotined. It is thought that there were 3 x 3 sheetlets per large sheets, which would make one 1/- stamp out of 98 with this variety.

The right stamp is perhaps more interesting. It is arguably just about large enough not to be a cut-down perforated example, with rather unusual cancels for these.
It also seems to be a better quality printing compared to the one on the left with which it was scanned.
The scan was included among other scans of stamps that were Ex. Raymond Lister.



According the Langmead and Huggins the company provided services "only in Yorkshire, and a radius of twenty-five miles round
Middlesborough, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Nottingham, 20 miles round Leicester and in Belfast and the province of Ulster."

Used examples are known from Aberdeen, Arbroath, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Kirkcaldy, Leith and Stirling in Scotland
together with Birmingham, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester and Ossett (near Leeds) in England.
National Telephone Co. Area Map

The province of Ulster includes Northern Ireland together with the counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan from Southern Ireland.
In those days Middlesborough (now called Middlesbrough) was in North Yorkshire, but boundaries change.
It can be seen that some of the known used examples are from outside the areas they were said to have operated within.
The Wikipedia write-up goes some way to explaining this, listing a series of mergers.


According the Langmead and Huggins, The Post Office took over the National Telephone Company at the beginning of 1912,
except for the municipal systems of Kingston-upon-Hull and Portsmouth (which is also not on the list).



Complete sheets of 12 of the 1d and 1s are comparatively common, whilst sheets of the 6d are very rare.

3d, 4d and 1s. Courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.
National Telephone Co. 3d sheet. National Telephone Co. 4d sheet. National Telephone Co. 1s sheet.
National Telephone Co. 6d sheet.
6d Myrtle green. Courtesy of Victoria Lajer of Andrew G Lajer.




National Telephone Co. 1904 Bill - front.
A National Telephone Co. Bill for November 1904 (150dpi). 5½d of the 11½d is disputed and 5d paid, for which a reciept is glued to it.
The back of this, shown below, has the customer and return addresses, with an old ½d stamp over the new ½d for the return journey.
National Telephone Co. 1904 Bill - back.   National Telephone Co. 1904 Bill - .
(Left at 37½dpi and right at 150dpi)


National Telephone Co. Stationery.
National Telephone Co. Receipt of 26th. November 1909 - courtesy of Steve Lawrie.


Acknowledgment Card.  Acknowledgment Card.
National Telephone Co. Acknowledgment Card of 7th. April 1911 showing 'Measured Rates' of available services.



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Last updated 16th. Nov. 2018

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