Monday, January 31, 2011

Clement Attlee

(Post 36)

Clement Attlee (1883-1967) was a British Labour politician who served as the Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951. He is considered to be one of the best British Prime Ministers of the 20th century.

The official site of the Prime Minister's Office provides the following biography:

...Attlee served in the Great War and was wounded at Galipoli. Returning to Stepney post-war, he was elected mayor in 1919.

His parliamentary career began when he was elected MP for Limehouse in 1922. He became Parliamentary Private Secretary to Ramsay MacDonald and served in both his administrations. In 1935 he became leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party (remaining in the position for twenty years) and was Leader of the Opposition until 1940.

He then served in the Churchill war coalition as Lord Privy Seal despite Parliamentary Labour’s strong pacifist contingent. In 1942 he was elevated to be Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for the Dominions effectively in charge of domestic matters while the PM was occupied with the war.

After the war, Attlee’s Labour Party was elected by a landslide – their offer to win the peace captured the national mood better than Churchill, promoted (justly) as the wartime hero. The Attlee government instituted a remarkable social and economic programme characterised by radicalism: the foundation of the National Health Service; the nationalisation of heavy industries and the Bank of England; a huge building programme; and a new national insurance scheme.In international affairs, the government oversaw the dismantling of Empire, the Berlin airlift during the Russian blockade of the city in 1948-9, and the formation of NATO.In 1950 Attlee found himself with a reduced majority, and his government suffered from the death of key figures, and from internal disputes and high-profile resignations. Attlee’s health was also beginning to deteriorate.

Despite winning more votes than the Conservative Party, Labour narrowly lost the election of October 1951.

Prime Minister Attlee

Prime Minister stationery
London Official Paid, July 27, 1948

Letter acknowledging correspondence to the Prime Minister.

Violet (Millar) Attlee

Violet (Millar) Attlee (1895-1964) was the wife of Clement Attlee and mother of their four children. A kind woman who was not, by her own admission, "a political wife", Mrs. Attlee assisted in personal matters for the children of her husband's ministerial colleagues. She was constantly at Clement's side at party conferences, at innumerable gatherings overseas, and in the detailed chores of his political career.

House of Commons stationery to Mrs Atlee [sic], December 4, 1945

December 4, 1945

Friday, January 28, 2011

1947 Royal Wedding
British and Canadian Commemoration

(Post 35)

The wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Philip Mountbatten on November 20, 1947, was commemorated by both British and Canadian Post Offices. Since the wedding announcement was made on July 9, 1947, the British Post Office did not issue a commemorative stamp because there was insufficient time to prepare an issue. Instead, a slogan postmark was made for use from November 20 to the end of November. The Canadian Post Office issued a commemorative stamp for the wedding, but only after the event, in February, 1948.

British Commemoration

The British slogan postmark was designed by R.H. Higgins, draughtsman in the Power Branch office of the Engineering Department of the Post Office. The British Postal Museum and Archive website shows the drawings submitted by Mr. Higgins in August, 1947. The slogan cancellation featured wedding Bells with a lovers’ knot enclosing the letters ‘E’ and ‘P’:

Lovers' Knot Slogan


Artcraft cachet, London, November 20, 1947

Edinburgh, November 20, 1947

Census Marking

A diamond-shaped mark was applied by machine to mail posted in Britain during the annual mail census.

Capel, Dorking, Surrey to Hemel Hempstead, November 20, 1947
Census marking with Lovers' Knot slogan applied to the back of the envelope:

OHMS cover from Cardiff, November 20, 1947

A selection of "Lovers' Knot" covers

Late Usage

The Lovers' Knot cancellation was to be used from November 20 to the end of November. The Haverfordwest post office cancelled the cover below on December 1, 1947.

Haverfordwest, December 1, 1947 

Canadian Commemoration

The stamp design was based on a photograph of Princess Elizabeth taken by Dorothy Wilding. The stamp was designed by Herman Schwartz, and the portrait was engraved by William Ford.

Photographic Essay

National Archives of Canada

Royal Wedding Stamp

Date of Issue : February 16, 1948

First Day Covers

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Local Posts
George VI Period

 (Post 34)

This article considers three "Local Posts" active during the George VI period : Lundy Island, Herm Island, and Shuna Island. These were private concerns that forwarded mail between their islands and the mainland postal administration stream. The local posts issued "carriage stamps" indicating payment of the forwarding service. Although philatelically inspired, the covers are interesting postal artifacts.

a) Lundy Island
Lundy Island is a small island located in the Bristol Channel between England and Wales, twelve miles from the coast of Devon. In the late 1960s, Lundy was given to the National Trust.

Origin of Lundy Local Stamps

The British Post in operation on the island from 1887 was closed in 1927. Mail had to be privately ferried the 10 miles to the mainland. In 1929, the island's owner issued his own postage stamps for the collection and transport of mail to and from Lundy and the British Post Office. The British Post Office advised that the letters entering the mail system from Lundy (Outbound Mail) had to have Lundy stamps on the back of the envelopes rather than the front. Lundy stamps could however be affixed to the fronts of letters from the mainland.(Inbound Mail)

Outbound Mail

Lundy stamps had to be affixed to the back of the envelopes.

Lundy and Atlantic Coast Air Lines Ltd.

Air mail service was provided between Lundy and Barnstaple via the Lundy and Atlantic Coast Air Lines Ltd. (LACAL) from the Barnstaple and North Devon Aerodrome.

The above letter was mailed from Lundy to Carmarthen, Wales, August 16, 1937. A Lundy "1/2 puffin" (1/2d.) stamp was affixed to the back of the envelope and cancelled August 16, 1937. LACAL stamp affixed and cancelled :

Aug. 17 1937

Lundy Island

The letter was flown from Lundy and entered the British mail stream at Braunton, August 17, 1937, for transmission to Carmarthen.

Air Mail Service Suspended
The aerodrome closed in the spring of 1940. An airfield for the RAF was built adjacent to the aerodrome.

The above letter was mailed from Lundy to Chattanooga, Tennessee, June 12, 1940. A Lundy "1/2 puffin" stamp was affixed to the back of the envelope.

The letter was flown from Lundy and entered the British mail stream at Instow, Bideford, June 13, 1940, for transmission to the United States.


Post War Outbound Mail

The above letter was mailed from Lundy to New York. A Lundy "1/2 puffin" stamp was affixed to the back of the envelope and cancelled October 23, 1949.

The letter was transported from Lundy and entered the British mail stream at Bideford, October 24, 1949.

Commercial Domestic Mail

The letter above was addressed to Lee & Cookson, Greengrocers, Wrafton (Near Barnstaple). Lundy Air Post cancellation March 23, 1951.

The letter entered the mailstream from Lundy at Barnstaple, March 25, 1951.

Inbound Mail

Lundy stamps could be affixed to the front of the envelope.

West Kensington to the Manager of the Gade Hotel, June 25, 1938
c/o Aerodrome, Braunton, N. Devon.
1/2 Puffin (1/2d.) Lundy local label affixed and cancelled at Lundy June 26, 1938.

Swansea to North Lundy Lighthouse (c/o North Devon Air port), June 15, 1939
LACAL and Lundy labels
Lundy circular date stamp June 16, 1939

By Packet

The cover below to Lundy was carried by the SS Lerina. Lundy packets faced a difficult challenge. They worked from mainland ports with substantial tidal rise and fall to service an island with no permanent landing facilities (until 1999).

Swansea to Lundy North Lighthouse, March 25, 1940

c/o Captn. Dank
 "S.S. Lerina"
Via Instow

2 puffin (2d.) stamp affixed
Lundy circular cancel, March 27, 1940

b) Herm Island

Herm Island is one of the Channel Islands, 3 miles east of Guernsey.

Herm Island postal service was started by tenant Major Wood in 1949. Herm Island stamps had to be affixed to the backs of outbound letters. In 1969, Guernsey began issuing its own postage stamps. A post office opened on Herm Island and local stamps were withdrawn.

The cover shown below was mailed from Herm Island to Bournemouth on May 27, 1953.

The Herm Island stamp was affixed to the back of the envelope. The letter was carried from Herm Island and entered the British mail stream at Guernsey where the stamp was cancelled on May 28, 1953, for transmission to Bournemouth.

c) Shuna Island

Shuna Island, located in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, is 20 miles south of Oban. In 1949, The island was owned by Viscount Selby (Gully family) and had a population of twelve.

The Shuna Island stamp was designed by Lady Selby and issued on October 11, 1949. The stamps and cover shown below were the subject of a New Zealand newspaper article.

October 11, 1949, first day of issue of Shuna stamp.

The Shauna stamp was affixed to the back of the envelope which was addressed to Christchurch, New Zealand. The letter was carried from Shuna and entered the British mail stream at Oban where the stamps were cancelled on Ocotber 11, 1949.

Oban, October 11, 1949.

Clipping from New Zealand newspaper:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Parcel to the Channel Islands (Sark)
Post-War Period

(Post 33)

Parcels addressed to the Channel Islands (Jersey, Guernsey, Sark and the adjacent inhabited islets were liable to customs examination at the port of arrival and the sender of the parcel was required to make a declaration of contents at the office where the parcel was posted.

The parcel piece with attached customs declaration form shown below was mailed from Salford to Sark.

Parcel (15 lb.) from Salford to Sark, after May, 1951
(Undated parcel cancellation; 2/6d. stamp issued May/51)
Registered + Express

Customs Declaration

Contents:  Holiday Clothing