General Telegraph 6d

Telegraph stamps of Great Britain.

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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
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Bonelli's Universal Tel. National Telephone Army Telegraphs 1 Army Telegraphs 2 Railway Post Office Unusual Unexpected Contributions


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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Shortcuts to different sections
6d details 6d varieties 1s details 1s varieties Printers imprint Watermark Colours Sheet Stationery


The Universal Private Telegraph Company.

Steve Hiscocks wrote:
The aim of this company was to set up private telegraph lines and rent them to their customers — presumably in the largest cities. It also owned the
"West Highland Telegraph" line from Glasgow to Helensburgh some 35 miles to the WNW and it was for paying the charges on messages over this
line that stamps were issued in 1864. There is some mystery over these stamps, firstly in that no used copies have ever been reported, although
there is equally no evidence for their not being used, and secondly in that records refer to four values — 3d, 6d, 9d and 1s — while only two, the 6d
and 1s, have been reported. The two known values are in fact fairly common and are found with controls in a variety of colours. Authorities differ on
the significance of these control colours but I have taken the view that all were issued rather than their being mostly colour trials because all colours
seem too common to be trials. The stamps were reportedly engraved and printed by Waterlow and Sons and it has been suggested, in view of the
rather poor quality of printing, that this was done in Glasgow rather than London. The company was purchased by the Postmaster-General in 1869 or 1870.

Registered on 20th. September 1860.

The business operated successfully in London, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and via the
West Highland Telegraph which they owned, the resort town of Helensburgh on the Clyde, 33 miles from Glasgow.

According to Steven Roberts writing about the West Highland Telegraph :
"Its lines ran from the centre of Glasgow along the north bank of the Clyde river to Helensburgh, Row, Roseneath, Blairmore, Cot House and East Craighead to West Craighead;
West Craighead north along the road around Loch Awe to Inverary and Oban; West Craighead south down the Cantyre peninsula to Ardrishaig, Campbeltown and the Cantyre Light on
the tip of the Mull; and from Cot House south past Holy Loch along the west bank of the Clyde to Dunoon, Toward, Ardrie Point, Ardbeg and Rothesay."
This used 4 submarine cables and involved 10 individual lines.
It should be noted that John Pender, the managing director of the Atlantic Telegraph Company and a director of the British & Irish Magnetic Telegraph Company,
had a country house on the line and helped financially to support the station at Minaird.

Everett Ramsey has pointed out a further source of information on the West Highland Telegraph at, which also shows a map.



According to S.E.R.Hiscocks, records refer to four values, 3d, 6d, 9d and 1s but only the 6d and 1s values are known today.

1s proof 1s specimen 1s specimen 1s controls
Proof of the One Shilling. Specimen with black control. Specimen with yellow control
(yellow 9863 is shown below).
Last control number.
Images courtesy of Steve Lawrie. Anonymous.

In addition these are only known unused, except for a couple I have seen put through the post in 1956.
Perhaps this is an indication that they were more successful at destroying used forms than other companies.
Alternatively, perhaps they were never used.

The specimens are interesting, anyone know if Waterlow & Sons used a 'SPECIMEN' overprint like this around 1864 ?
Are they specimens of the stamp or specimens of the control numbers ? These two have the 'correct' flaws expected for the control numbers.
Interestingly, 9863 with a yellow control and similar shade and centering can be seen below.
It is strange that they only used 4-digit numbers (+10000), you would have thought with a name like 'Universal' they would think bigger.

The company was bought-out by the P.M.G in 1869 or 1870 at which time remaining stocks of stamps came on the market.

The sheets of stamps consisted of 10 rows of 10 stamps each, bearing the imprint 'Waterlow & Sons, London'.
They were line-perforated 12½.
Minor varieties on each stamp show that there were five different ones printed twice on each row.
These were given control numbers in a variety of colours, starting with 0001 to 0100 for the first sheet, 0101 to 0200 for the next sheet up to 9901 to 10000
at which point the sequence started again, though perhaps with a different colour control.
Some control colours appear to have been 'Unknown' in Victorian times and 'Discovered' later.
Unusually, they appear to be unknown without control numbers.

UPT shilling stamps.

Hard to see, but these are also Totton Postal cancels of 1956, courtesy of Steve Lawrie.
They are unknown telegraphically used.


Perf.12¾ (Hiscocks says 13, L&H say 12½)

RH # Hisc. Desc. Rarity Mint Used
RH1 H1 6d brown, black control Common 5.00 -
RH1a H1a     'n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph' Common 6.50 -
RH1b H1b     'Telegraph' double Unlisted - -
RH2 H2 6d brown, yellow-green control Common 6.00 -
RH2a H2a     'n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph' Common 8.00 -
RH2b H2b     'Telegraph' double Unlisted - -
RH3 H3 6d brown, lilac control Common 6.00 -
RH3a H3a     'n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph' Common 8.00 -
RH3b H3b     'Telegraph' double Unlisted - -
RH4 H4 6d brown, blue control Common 4.00 -
RH4a H4a     'n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph' Common 5.50 -
RH4b H4b     'Telegraph' double Unlisted - -
RH5 H5 6d brown, blue-green control Common 3.50 -
RH5a H5a     'n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph' Common 4.50 -
RH5b H5b     'Telegraph' double Unlisted - -

Look here for an explanation of the table.

I have not seen any examples or illustrations of the 'Telegraph' double variety,
somewhat strange considering the low prices quoted!

Though the colour of the 1/- value is generally described simply as lilac, it is actually highly variable and sometimes nearer purple.

RH # Hisc. Desc. Rarity Mint Used
RH6 H6 1s lilac (shades), brown control Common 4.20 -
RH7 H7 1s lilac (shades), red control Common 3.80 -
RH8 H8 1s lilac (shades), lilac control Common 4.80 -
RH9 H9 1s lilac (shades), green control Common 4.00 -
RH10 H10 1s lilac (shades), deep yellow control Common 3.50 -
RH11 H11 1s lilac (shades), black control Common 4.20 -


6d Stamps.

On the 6d value, the word 'Telegraph' is variably aligned within the frame. Compare the letter 'T' between columns 1 and 2 (or 6 and 7) below.
In column 1 (6) the letter 'h' is shortened into an 'n'. The 5 known control colours are also shown here.
S.E.R.Hiscocks lists a variety with 'Telegraph' double, but I have not seen it.
I have recently added the varieties listed by Raymond Lister (1961).

6d Column 1, yellow-green 6d Column 2, blue 6d Column 3, black 6d Column 4, lilac 6d Column 5, lilac
6d Column 1, yellow-green
('n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph')

6d Column 2, blue (close 'T' + mark on 'n'
of 'Universal', no dot on 'i' in 'Private')

6d Column 3, black (scratched 'I' in 'SIX' + dot
before and thin line under 'U' of 'Universal')
6d Column 4, lilac ('y' of 'Company' broken +
broken serif of '1' in NW corner)
6d Column 5, lilac. courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.
Bulge in thick frame above 'ra' of 'Telegraph'
6d Column 6, yellow-green 6d Column 7-10, blue-green
6d Column 6, blue
('n' for 'h' in 'Telegraph')

6d Column 7, blue-green (close 'T' + mark on 'n'
of 'Universal', no dot on 'i' in 'Private')

6d Column 8, blue-green (scratched 'I' in 'SIX' +
dot before and thin line under 'U' of 'Universal')
6d Column 9, blue-green ('y' of 'Company' broken +
broken serif of '1' in NW corner)
6d Column 10, blue-green.
Bulge in thick frame above 'ra' of 'Telegraph'

6d Constant flaws.

* On column 4/9 stamps there is an additional mark in the second 'e' of 'Telegraph' on 9 stamps (out of 20) per sheet (according to Lister).
It can be seen above on 64, 74 and 94 but not 04, 14 or 54. It is also on 59, 69, 79 and 99 but not 29 or 39.

Using '*' to represent dots and 'o' to represent no dots, gives this table (so far):

Column 4:

04 14 24 34 44 54 64 74 84 94
o o     o * *   *


Column 9:

09 19 29 39 49 59 69 79 89 99
    o o   * * *   *

I could do with some help completing these.


On the 6d, Lister (1961) says "Additional varieties appear on Nos. 7, 19, 21, 26, 34, 52, 75, 77, 81 and 96 in sheet."
I have noticed an additional constant variety on 54.

'07' Blob under 'N' of 'PENCE'.
'21' Has the bottom of the 'n' of 'Universal' with the legs joined (see 7621 below).
'26'White marks top-left.
'34'Damaged frame at lower right side.
'52'Broken 'X' of 'SIX'.
'54' The diagonal stroke of the '4' (of 1864) is broken in the bottom-left corner (see 154 above).
'75' Has a broken 'C' in 'PENCE'
'77' Has a frame-break above the 'g' in 'Telegraph' and 'y' of 'Company'.
'81' Longer 'S' of 'SIX' and a dot over the 'v' of 'Private' (see 2381 below).
'96' Has dot over first 'E' of 'PENCE', no dot on 'i' in 'Private' (like column 2/7 stamps).

I would welcome scans of the missing positions.

  6d stamp 07, black
Stamp '07', blob under 'N' of 'PENCE'.
6d stamp 21, black
Stamp '21', bottom of the 'n' of 'Universal' with the legs joined.


6d stamp 26, black
Stamp '26', white marks top-left.
6d stamp 26, black
Stamp '34', damaged frame at lower right side.
6d stamp 52, black
Stamp '52', broken 'X' in 'SIX'.
6d stamp 54, black
Stamp '54', diagonal of the '4' (of 1864) is broken.


6d stamp 75, black
Stamp '75', broken 'C' in 'PENCE'.
6d stamp 77, black
Stamp '77', breaks above the 'g' and 'y'.
6d stamp 81, black
Stamp '81', Longer 'S' of 'SIX' and a dot over the 'v' of 'Private'.
6d stamp 96, black
Stamp '96', blob above the 'E' of 'PENCE'.



1s Stamps.

On the 1s value, the word 'Telegraph' seems fixed within the frame. However there does seem to be marks within the control tablets that are repeated similarly to the 6d.
Column 2 (7) has a small dot on the lower right and column 3 (8) has a scratch mark in the same place.

1s Column 1, black 1s Column 2, black 1s Column 3, black 1s Column 4, black 1s Column 5, black
1s Column 1, black
Mark bottom left of 'N' in 'ONE'
1s Column 2, green. Long left 'tail' to 'P' in 'Private'
Additional dot to right of control tablet
1s Column 3, yellow (scratch on right) 1s Column 4, lilac
line through frame below 'a' of 'Telegraph'
1s Column 5, brown (outer frame of
control tablet broken below 'N' of 'ONE'
1s Column 6, brown 1s Column 7, red 1s Column 8, brown 1s Column 9, green 1s Column 10, black
1s Column 6, brown
Mark bottom left of 'N' in 'ONE'
1s Column 7, red. Long left 'tail' to 'P' in 'Private'
Additional dot to right of control tablet
1s Column 8, lilac (scratch on right) 1s Column 9, green
line through frame below 'a' of 'Telegraph'
1s Column 10, yellow (outer frame of
control tablet broken below 'N' of 'ONE'

* On column 2/7 stamps the additional mark to the right of the control number is on 10 stamps (out of 20) per sheet.
It is on all the column 2/7 stamps of the bottom half of the sheet (52, 57, 62, 67, 72, 77, 82, 87, 92 and 97.
There is also a dot near the base of 'v' in Universal'.


1s position 11
Stamp '11', damage to second 'L' in 'SHILLING'.

One Shilling.

Lister (1961) says:
"Additional varieties appear on Nos. 11, 30, 41, 49, 78, 79, 80, 96 and 97 in sheet."
I have noticed an additional constant variety on 36.

'11' Damage to second 'L' in 'SHILLING'. (shown on left)
'30'Has a malformed bottom left leg of 'h' in 'Telegraph'.
'36'Top-right of 'N' in 'ONE' broken.
'41' Has a long broken scratch from below top-right corner down through 'N' of 'ONE'. (shown on right)
'49' Can be seen above with an extensive frame-break at the top. (shown below)
'78'Has a large inner frame-break by the 'h' of 'Telegraph'. Image courtesy Dr Mark Gibson.
'79'Has a large inner frame-break by the 'l' of 'Telegraph'. (shown below)
'80'Has an outer frame-break above the '8' in the top-right corner.
'96' Has a mark by the '8' in the top-right corner. (below, and can be seen in the block below)
'97' Has marks below 'C' of 'Company', above the 'e' in 'Private' and the 'g' in 'Telegraph'. (below)
1s position 30
Stamp '30', malformed left leg of 'h'.
1s position 36
Stamp '36' - Top-right of 'N' in 'ONE' broken.
1s Position 41
Stamp '41' has a rather spectacular scratch.
1s position 49
Stamp '49', has a large frame-break at the top.
1s position 78
Stamp '78', frame-break above 'h' of 'Telegraph'.
1s position 79
Stamp '79' - frame-break above 'l' of 'Telegraph'.
1s position 80
Stamp '80', frame-break above '8'.
1s position 96
Stamp '96', has a mark in the '8' corner.
1s position 97
Stamp '97', has marks by 3 of the letters.



Printers imprint.

1s Column 8, brown 1s Column 8, brown
1s Columns 5, 6 & 7 (red) showing printers imprint and flaw on column 7 (dot on right).1s Column 8 (yellow) showing scratch on right.



1s Column 8, brown 1s wmk 64
<— top   8918 (yellow) 8928 (yellow) 5212 (green)   top —>
Showing some of the watermark. Lister and Langmead & Huggins say 'T. H. Saunders / 1864'.
Hiscocks says 'G. H. Saunders in the corner of the sheet'.
This is the pair shown above-right, yellow controls 8918/8928, most stamps have no sign of a watermark.
The watermark on this is therefore on the right-hand 2 columns, top 4 or 5 stamps, reading upwards.
My thanks to Mike aka tdcpostal for pointing out that the watermark is not always in this position. See 5212 on right.
It remains to be seen whether this is due to rotation/flipping or variable cutting, or some combination.
It now seems that some sheets are without watermark. Sheet 72 (7201-7300) in yellow with only 4 stamps missing (7286/7 and 7296/7) is reported as being without watermark (for sale by Rarities Stamp Auctions).
Watermark '64'. Note this is reversed as viewed from the front.


A 6d block showing 'T H SAUNDE' and a 1s pair with 'RS'.

<— bottom   2644 (Blue-green) 2634 (Blue-green) 2624 (Blue-green) 2614 (Blue-green)  top —> 8604 (Blue-green)  top —>
6d Columns 3/4, Rows 2-4, Blue-green 1s Columns 3/4, Blue-green
<— bottom   2643 (Blue-green) 2633 (Blue-green) 2623 (Blue-green) 2613 (Blue-green)  top —> 8603 (Blue-green)  top —>


A 1s block showing '1864'.

<— top   6979 (yellow) 6989 (yellow) 6999 (yellow)  bottom —>
1s Column 8, brown
<— top   6980 (yellow) 6990 (yellow) 7000 (yellow)  bottom —>


Finally a 1/- corner block of 15, showing the complete watermark.

<— bottom   7160 (Brown) 7170 (Brown) 7180 (Brown) 7190 (Brown) 7200 (Brown)  bottom —>
1/- Columns 8-10, bottom, Brown
<— top   7158 (Brown) 7168 (Brown) 7178 (Brown) 7188 (Brown) 7198 (Brown)  bottom —>

My attempt to show what the complete watermark looks like.

My rendition of the complete watermark



The 6d is listed as Brown and the 1s as Lilac, though the shades can be variable particularly on the 1s value.



John A. McCulloch had the excellent idea of tracking control colours against control sheet-numbers.

To enable this, I have prepared the following tables and added the information that I already have, including the website and Mark Bloxham ebay store.
I have also found some at
Keep in mind that a number ending with '00' belongs with the previous 2-digit code. i.e '6800' is the last stamp of the sheet numbered 6701 to 6799, 6800.


6d   Yellow-green, Blue, Blue-green, Black, Lilac.

6d Second digit
First digit -yel-green, black, Lilacyel-green, Lilacblack  yellow-greenyellow-green   
1yel-green, Lilac blueLilacLilac, blue-green, yellow-greenLilac, blueblue-greenblue-green Lilac
2 blue-greenblue-greenblackblackblack, blue-greenblue-green yellow-green blackblue-green, black
3black, blue-green blue-green black, blue-greenyellow-greenblue-green blue-greenblue-green  
4blue-greenblueblueblue-green, Lilacblue blue blue  blue
5blue  blueblueblue blue-greenblueblue, black
6blue  blue blue-green blueblue-green, blue  
7blue-greenblue-greenblue, blue-greenblue, blue-greenblue-green, blueblueblue-green, blueblue-green  
8   blue-greenblue-green   blue-green 
9  blue-green blue-greenblue-greenblue-greenblueblue-greenblue-green black



1s   Red, Black, Green, Yellow, Brown, Lilac.

1sSecond digit
First digit -lilac, brown, yellow brown brownbrownbrownbrown, lilacyellow yellowyellow
1yellowyellow, redblack, brown, yellow black  lilac red, brownred brown
2brownbrownred brown lilacredyellow, redlilac, red
3lilac, yellowlilaclilac, red  yellowlilac, redlilac, redyellowred
4yellow, red red, green yellow, redred, green, yellow red red green, brown green, red
5 green, redgreen, black, redgreen, black, browngreen, black, redgreengreenblackblack black, red
6red, blackred, blackred, lilac, blackblackblack, brown black, lilacyellow, lilacyellowyellow, green
7brownyellowgreen, yellow, brownbrowngreen, yellow, lilacgreen, blackblackgreen, yellowgreen, lilacyellow
8 black, yellowgreengreen, yellowblack, greenyellowyellowred, black, yellowred, greenred, yellow, green
9greenyellow, green, redyellow, greengreen, redyellow greenyellow, greenyellow, green, brownyellow, green

Notice that for the 6d with first 2 digits '-1' we have yellow-green and Lilac. this is for '141' and '154' shown above.
I have highlighted the sheet numbers with more than one colour. Clearly these are not from the same physical sheet.


Langmead & Huggins list an estimate of the number of sheets of stamps represented by the samples they had seen.
This is broken down by the colour of the control numbers, and can be used to guage the relative scarcity of them.
I have added for comparison the data from our tables above.

According to Langmead & Huggins In our tables above (so far)
Six PenceOne Shilling
Control colour Qty. sheets Control colour Qty. sheets
Yellow-green 21 Red 21
Blue 11 Black 17
Blue-green 7 Green 17
Black 6 Yellow14
Lilac 4 Brown 9
    Lilac 5
Six PenceOne Shilling
Control colour Qty. sheets Highest Sheet #Control colour Qty. sheets Highest Sheet #
Yellow-green 8 14 Red 30 95
Blue 24 95 Black 19 87
Blue-green 35 96 Green 29 98
Black 11 99 Yellow 34 99
Lilac 8 43 Brown 19 98
      Lilac 15 78
Total 86   Total 146  

These quantities may not be proportional to those used. These are remainders,
large quantities of remainders for a particular colour may indicate low usage.

Why different colours of controls for the 6d and 1s values?
Why different numbers of control colours. It may be that there were other colours and some are very rare or no longer extant.

Our tables (so far) represent a few more sheets than estimated by Langmead and Huggins.

I have highlighted where we significantly exceed the L & H estimates. I have also highlighted where they saw significantly more than us.
To me, the fact that we have already seen samples of as many sheets as L&H with 2 rather large anomalies, suggests we both saw a small (and different) subset of the material.
I notice that on the 6d, our totals for yellow-green and blue-green are fairly similar, though individually they account for the biggest discrepancy.


The origin of these is controversial. Some of the commonest known now, were unheard of in earlier years.

Six PenceKnown by Author
Control colourNumber of
sheets known
Philbrick & Westoby 1881Stanley Gibbons
Walter Morley 1900Stanley Gibbons
Raymond Lister 1961S.E.R.Hiscocks 1982
Blue-green 37 - "Green" 1s9½d "Green" NP "Green" 6d   * NP £4
Blue 24 NP NP 1s 1s NP £3
Black 11 - - - - - £3
Lilac 8 - 1s9½d NP 6d   * NP £4
Yellow-green 6 - - - - NP £3.50
One ShillingKnown by Author
Control colourNumber of
sheets known
Philbrick & Westoby 1881Stanley Gibbons
Walter Morley 1900Stanley Gibbons
Raymond Lister 1961S.E.R.Hiscocks 1982
Yellow 34 - NP NP 6d   * "Orange" NP £4
Red 29 - 1s9½d NP 6d   * NP £4
Green 29 - 1s9½d NP 6d   * NP "Blue green" £3.50
Black 19 "Blue" NP 1s9½d 1s 1s NP £3
Brown 19 - 1s9½d NP 6d   * NP £4
Lilac 15 - 1s9½d NP 6d   * NP £4
Notes Total  232 Only Blue Set of 7 for 12s6d World Catalogue * listed as proofs or colour trials Also quotes 1s in Chocolate World Catalogue

NP = known but Not Priced.
The 6d with black control seems to have been discovered between 1961 and 1982 when suddenly it was common!
Only one shade of 'Green' is listed before Lister, who also distinguishes between 'Brown' and 'Chocolate' and calls 'Yellow', 'Orange'.
It is likely that both shades were known all along, but the difference was not considered worth mentioning.

Just for fun, I thought I would compare the digits of the 6d blue control (5866 and black control 2593 since they are similarly aligned.
black and blue comparison
The black controls (or at least mine) seem to be crisper than the other colours which probably accounts for them looking slightly smaller.
The style appears to be the same. I suspect that different colours emerged at different times because they were 'stashed' probably as sheets in different locations.
This might be an indication that the different colours were intended for use at different locations.




Reduced size complete sheet of 1/- stamps.
UPT eBay lot 254785095395

Majed Najjar has kindly made available an image of a complete sheet of the 1/- stamps.
This is a thumbnail of it, a 240 dpi image (10.7MB) can be opened in another tab by clicking here,
or click the image above to see the eBay lot.



UPT Receipt 1868

25 November 1868 receipt for 2/- courtesy of Jim Hammond.
Can anyone read the name of the station ?


29 July1869 Envelope (Charring Cross, London to Glasgow, half scale) - courtesy of Steve Lawrie.

UPT Envelope 1869 - front UPT Envelope 1869 - back UPT Envelope 1869 - seal

The embossed flap is probably not significant but may help to identify the supplier.



Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.
Contact:   Emale
Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 1st. February 2021

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