Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Development of British Definitives, 1840 to 2005"


Mr. Chris Moffat



On Friday evening, 1st November, the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society viewed an outstanding display presented by Chris Moffat of East Kilbride. His theme was "The Development of British Definitives,1840 – 2005".


He gave a wonderfully detailed description of the postal service before 1840 when mail was charged by mileage – costing much for long journeys – until, in 1839, the Post Office decided to charge mail by weight instead - 4d per ½ ounce. 


6th May, 1840 saw the invention of the postage stamps – the ‘"Penny Black", and "Tuppeny Blue" –  with the argument as to ‘who’ invented them!....Rowland Hill of England – or James Chalmers of Dundee? The use of the stamps proved that prepayment had been made for the posting of the letter and these stamps cost the same for mail delivered within the whole country. It took some months for the distribution of the new stamps to post offices through the country –it was haphazard until supplies were available. The payment by weight remained the norm for a while longer! Until 1854 the stamps were not perforated – the postmasters had to cut them apart with scissors!


Chris Moffat presented a wonderful display of stamps – from the "Penny Black" - with the image of 15 year old Queen Victoria – through the many variable and changing colours of the stamp; through the concern for security from fraud, which necessitated in the invention of the "Maltese watermark" – and later, the use of a small letter in the each corner of the stamp – this indicated which plate the stamps had been printed on. Further watermarks came into use through the years. In 1887, although the Queen’s image remained the same, the stamp design changed, in this year which marked the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.


The first printers of the stamps were Perkins Bacon; then De La Rue; and, later, Harrison & Sons. In 1847, higher values were issued 10d and 1/-; with further rates for the Parcel Service – stamps of 2/6, 5/- and 10/-. During King George V’s reign these values were given a new design –– Britannia driving a chariot pulled by three horses through a wild sea – and became known as the "Seahorses" issue. This design proved highly popular.


Chris continued with detail about the development of stamps through the reigns of King Edward VIII, George VI and the present Queen Elizabeth – changes of design; of paper type; of the experiments with phosphor bands and paper. In 1967, the "Machin" stamps were issued – depicting image of the Queen on a solid colour background – an issue that remains valid today. In 1993 the £10 stamp was issued – the highest value ever issued by the Post Office. Many, many interesting stamps, watermarks and covers were displayed.


Gordon Shepherd, led members in giving warm thanks to Chris Moffat for presenting such a wonderfully detailed, and outstanding, display.


Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton, is on Friday, 15th November, 2019, at 7:30pm when Alistair Burrow will present his display entitled "The Boys Brigade".


Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.