A look at the Postmark development of the Victorian Era
Postmarks where first used by Henry Bishop in 1661 to date cancel letters, as the postage system developed so did postal marks. When the Penny Black and Two Penny Blue were issued in 1840 it was all about cancelling the stamp to stop its re-use. This led to the development of postmarks as we know them today.
The Maltese Cross was the first postage stamp cancelling handstamp. 1840 GB 1d Black. The Ink used initially was red.
After a year it was decided that the 1d should be changed to a red colour and the cancelling ink should be changed to 'lamp black' as shown on this 2d Blue
The receiving handstamps were normally applied with a blue ink. However, sometimes the postal clerks would put the MX in the wrong ink and so we get a range of different colour inks to what was meant to be used. 1841 plate 26 with MX in blue.
Numbering of cancels told the Postmaster the Clerk or Time Period of when the letter was cancelled. 1841 1d Red with Maltese Cross with number 6 in centre used in the London Chief Office.
The London Offices got so big and busy they had to open up more offices to cope with the demand. In 1844 The London Two Penny Post became the London District Post. In doing so it created 50 new District Post Offices in London Boroughs. The Chief office and The Districts needed to be able to know where the letters came from so each got a number in Circle Handstamp. 1844 1d Red cancelled at the Chief Office on Letters for delivery within London.
For letters that were being posted out of London to the Towns and Counties Numbered Diamond handstamps were used. Inland number cancellation 10.
Towns and Cities outside London got their own 1844 type cancels. These all had numbers to tell where the stamp had been cancelled. ENGLAND & WALES Type. 1844 type handstamp numbered 475 of the town of Loughborough.
Plate 58 perf with 1844 Box type cancel of SCOTLAND
1844 Diamond type cancel of IRELAND
In 1857 Machines were being invented to take away handstamping to cope with demand. Experimental Machines were made by Pearson Hill, son of Sir Rowland Hill, Charles Rideout and JG Azemar. Experimental Azemar cancel 1869.
Trains even got their own cancels and the mail was cancel and sorted onboard to speed up delivery. 1881 Midlands T.P.O ‘From the South’ on 2½d Blue Plate 21
Each Town had their own numbered handstamps, but this was not enough. The Post Office wanted to know not only where items had been posted but also when the had been posted. Dated cancels soon started appearing across the stamps. Scotland’s 1844 type cancels were a box type. 1876 cover from Edinburgh, Time stamp 10am Code Z
The main Post Offices had to set up Branch Offices in order to cope with the demand for people wanting to use the postal system, these Branches got their own more detailed addressed cancels.
By the 1870's handstamp development was going at speed, various types for various uses appeared like (1) Newspaper cancels (2) Railway (RSO) cancels (3) Square Circles (4) 'Birmingham' types
Eventually every Post office and sub post office could be identified as the sender, the date and time of posting could be told by the handstamp. Registered items became trackable as each office had to handstamp an item as it came through its office. .....which was probably just as well by 1899 !! 2d Registered Envelope, uprated with 1d Lilac. Showing a total of 6 different office handstamps.