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Tom Rielly Displays

89th Annual Congress Tom Rielly Display

Display by Stephen Weir

Firstly I would like to say that it is a huge honour to have been asked to put this display together in memory of the late Tom Rielly. I am privileged to have met and know about his involvement in Scottish philately from my many friends in both the Scottish and Edinburgh Philatelic Societies. My stamp collecting journey began when I was six years old when given a stamp album and stamps by my aunt and, after a few years away from it in my teens, restarted when I started my career with Bank of Scotland in Motherwell in the early 1980s. A stamp shop opened along the road from my office and spurred my interest again. Moving to Edinburgh in 1985 I began collecting seriously after joining the Edinburgh Philatelic Society.

The display features the classic and iconic stamps of Great Britain issued from 1893 to date, being the period covering the 125 years of the Scottish Philatelic Society. I have attempted to simplify the display by breaking each reign into one or more full frames. The first two frames cover the late Queen Victoria period, the third looks at King Edward VII, the fourth and fifth are given over to King George V, the sixth and seventh cover King Edward VIII and King George VI while the final three frames look at aspects of our current Queen Elizabeth II.

Frames 1 and 2 - Queen Victoria. The 1d lilac was the workhorse of this period with over 36 billion produced to meet demand. A range of shades appear including the sought after bluishlilac. Improvements to the production process resulted in three distinct settings and Control letters appeared in the bottom margin to assist Post Office accounting. Improvements also began in the cancelling of stamps and machine cancels appear in the form of 'Hoster', 'Bickerdyke' and 'Boston' cancels among many. Graceful high value denominations from 2/6 to 10/- were in operation for higher value postal and revenue purposes. The major series of this period is the bi-coloured or 'Jubilee' issue of 1887-1901 with values from ½d to £1. This is a hugely popular collecting area due to the wide range of shades, printings, settings and usages, including military use during the Boer War. Departmental issues were also in use with the 'Jubilee' series overprinted by several Government Departments. No official Post Office issues were prepared to commemorate the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilees, but private labels were produced to mark the latter.

Frame 3 - King Edward VII. A re-working of the 1887-1901 'Jubilee' stamps were issued with new low value stamps produced by Emil Fuchs and a wide range of proof material was prepared for the issue. Post Office stamp booklets appeared for the first time and the sought after 'St. Andrews Cross' label appeared for a short period when a ½d charge was levied for the booklets. The loss of the contract to print stamps by Thomas De La Rue & Co. in 1910 resulted in a period of provisional issues by Harrison and Sons Ltd. using the previous designs. Unable to produce the bi-coloured stamps at this time, Somerset House stepped in to print these. New high value stamps appeared by Emil Fuchs from 2/6 to £1, with Somerset House again stepping in to produce these from 1910.

Frames 4 and 5 - King George V. These two frames feature the stamps of King George V - the stamp collecting King. The first stamps of the new reign were widely ridiculed and attempts to modify the design failed, resulting in a new series from 1912. The stamps of the 1912 Royal Cypher and 1924 Block Cypher series are a very popular collecting area. The same designs were re-used with modifications for the 1934 Photogravure issue. A true classic and iconic issue emerged with the 1913 Sea Horse high values - the £1 green stamp being particularly lauded. This is another popular collecting area with changes to the printer in 1914 to Thomas De La Rue & Co. and then Bradbury Wilkinson & Co. in 1918. Despite opposition, commemorative stamps were issued in 1924 and 1925 for the British Empire Exhibition. 1929 then saw the issue of stamps for the Postal Union Congress held in London. This issue was unusual in that a £1 high value stamp was produced as a worthwhile gift for the congress delegates. This iconic stamp showing St. George and Dragon is now widely recognised as Britain's most beautiful stamp and is highly prized by collectors. 1935 saw a further commemorative issue for the Silver Jubilee of the King. This was a sleek design by Barnett Freedman and the source of another iconic stamp - the 2½d Silver Jubilee Prussian Blue. An error of colour of the issued stamp resulted in a different shade of blue and only three sheets are thought to have been printed.


Three iconic stamp designs - KGV 1914 £1 green by Bertram Mackennal, printed by Waterlow; £1 black, by Harold Nelson for the 1929 Postal Union Congress, London and QEII 10/- showing Edinburgh Castle, by L lamb with portrait by Dorothy Wilding. KEVII ½d green with St Andrews Cross label attached, ex stamp booklet, scarce and rare on card or cover, 1908. KGVI 1937 Coronation 1½d Cylinder vertical strip of 3 - Cylinder 4 no dot with ray corrected - one of only two known.

Frames 6 and 7 - King Edward VIII and King George VI. Frame 6 shows the stamps of King Edward VIII and definitive issues of King George VI. Only four stamps were issued with the head of King Edward VIII and were controversial in that they were later found to have been based on an essay submitted by student H. J. Brown. After the abdication of King Edward VIII and succeeded to the throne by his brother King George VI, the definitive series shows the King's head with the national emblems which remained throughout his reign. The high values featured a heraldic design and are, again, a very popular collecting area. New high values were issued in 1951 to coincide with the Festival of Britain. Frame 7 shows commemorative issues of King George VI starting with the coronation of 1937 - a single stamp printed from a large number of cylinders with an equally large array of Varieties. Both 'no dot' and 'dot' cylinders show multi-positive varieties, with the 'no dot' ray flaw on stamp 19/1 also appearing in a corrected state on some cylinders. This gave rise to one of the most coveted British stamps - Cylinder 4 'no dot' with ray corrected - with only three sheets believed to have been printed and only two cylinder pieces exist. A block of six and a vertical strip of three are shown in the display. All the other commemorative stamps issued during the reign of King George VI are shown.

Frames 8, 9 and 10 - Queen Elizabeth II. Frame 8 features the highly popular 'Wilding' issues named after Dorothy Wilding whose portrait of the Queen was used. Postal mechanisation was the order of the day and the graphite lined and phosphor banded issues are included here with special covers. Frame 9 begins with the 'Castle' high values and moves onto another classic, perhaps iconic, issue of definitive stamps using a design by Arnold Machin. Starting in 1967 with pre-decimal stamps, the series is still in use today - 50+ years and counting. This was an area collected by Tom Rielly and I am certain he would be relishing the challenge of this continuing series if he was still with us. Machin high values and variants are included to show the variety in this field of collecting. The 'Castle' high values were reprised in 1988 based on photographs by Prince Andrew and are included along with the fine £10 stamp of 1993 showing Britannia, including braille indentations for the blind. Frame 9 concludes with regional definitive stamps. Issued for the various regions of Great Britain, the display shows the pre-decimal Scottish regional stamps and a selection of Scottish Machin regional stamps, including the sought after Type 2 17p and 31p values. Frame 10 looks at the huge and diverse range of the Queen Elizabeth II commemorative stamps. The display looks at the themes covered by commemoratives, including Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Christmas, Paintings, Architecture and Landscapes, Flora and Fauna, Sports and the Millenium series. With 2018 also being the centenary of the end of World War I, the final two sheets cover the commemorative World War I Royal Mail stamps issued from 2014 to 2018.

This page was last modified on 14th September 2020

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