Postage Stamps and Postal History of Great Britain - Early 20th Century

Early 20th Century

When Edward VII succeeded to the throne, new stamps became necessary. The approach was very conservative however: most of the Jubilee frames were reused, and the image of the King was still a single profile. Edward's reign being fairly short, there were no major changes of design, but chalk-surfaced paper was introduced. (This type of paper can be detected by rubbing the surface with silver, which leaves a black mark.)

By contrast, the stamps of George V were innovative from the very first. The first issue made was of the ½d and 1d values, which were in the same colours as used in the previous reign. Although the main design feature remained the same – a central ellipse for the portrait, an ornamental frame, value tablet at the base and a crown at the top – a three quarter portrait was used for the first time. Subsequent designs reverted to the standard profile however.

The UK's first commemorative stamps were issued for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924. The pair of large-format stamps featured a lion in an imposing stance; they were issued twice, in 1924 and then in 1925, the stamps of each year being inscribed with the year of issue. A second set of commemoratives in 1929 marked the 9th Congress of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), held in London that year.

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