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Philatelic Collections: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Collection

This Collection was originally formed under an instruction from the Secretary of State for the Colonies on the 23rd April, 1890 issued to all territories under his authority. The intention was to have a record of all Colonial Postage and Revenue Stamps, Post Cards, Embossed Envelopes and Newspaper Wrappers.

St. Helena: 1961 Tristan Relief 5c.+6d., 7½c.+9d., and 10c. +1/- used on a postcard – for full story about this item visit Philatelic Rarities.

St. Helena: 1961 Tristan Relief 5c.+6d., 7½c.+9d., and 10c. +1/- used on a postcard – for full story about this item visit Philatelic Rarities.

The Collection, therefore contains single examples of the stamps in use at that time, some obsolete issues, and single copies, usually from first printings, from 1890. Important differences such as colour varieties and changes in watermarked papers are also included.

As it is a comprehensive collection of British Colonial issues it follows that a large number of rarities are present. A representative sample of these include the Bermuda 1936 King George V 12/6d Revenue stamp approved for postal use, Hong Kong 1874 Queen Victoria $10 rose-carmine fiscal stamp, Gold Coast 1889 Queen Victoria 20s green and red, Natal 1902-03 King Edward VII Revenue £20 red and green, Malaya - Perak, 1895-99 $25 green and orange, Nyasaland 1908-11 King Edward VII £10 purple and ultramarine, and Nyasaland King George V £10 purple and ultramarine.

There is also a full range of revenue stamps, as issued to the territories, for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II reigns. In addition there is an extensive selection of postage due labels. Many of the stamps in the Collection are further identified by a date showing when they were received by the Colonial Office, which can be a very useful guide for philatelic researchers.

The Postal Stationery part of the Collection is very extensive. As well as postcards, embossed envelopes and newspaper wrappers there are registered envelopes, air letter forms, reply postcards, and a few examples of paper money and postal orders. A large number of the postal stationery items are "specimens" and a large proportion of the Collection is from first printings. Many of the items are annotated with the date of receipt by the Colonial Office, and again this can be an invaluable aid to researchers. As many types of colonial postal stationery were issued in small quantities this part of the Collection also contains its share of rarities.

Under instruction the Collection was closed in 1992, at which time a decision was made to transfer it to the British Library, Philatelic Collections.

This article was first published in The London Philatelist July / Aug 1993 Volume 102


Philatelic Collections
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