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Great Britain

Czeslaw Slania has designed a number of stamps also for Great Britain on various themes, ranging from "Maritime Heritage", over "Postal History" and "Queen Victoria's Accession" to "Pioneers of Communication".  Further Slania has engraved a set of 5 stamps of what has become known as the Machin Head of the Queen and, finally, in October 2002 a new set featuring old English Mail Boxes will appear.    

1982, 1984          1987          1995, 1999, 2002          2002 Mail Boxes

Scott # 992

Scott # 993

Scott # 995

Scott # 991

Scott # 994

The set was designed by Marjorie Saynor. Engraved by C. Slania.  Printed in recess and photogravure. 
Date of issue 16 June 1982. 


In the late eighteenth century attacks on postboys were so common the Post Office advised customers sending banknotes "to cut all such Notes and Draughts in Half in the following Form, to send them at two different Times, and to wait for the return of the Post, till the receipt of one Half is acknowledged before the other is sent". 

The post boys were also slow taking forty-eight hours to transport a letter from Bath to London. In 1782 John Palmer, an owner of theatres in Bath & Bristol, suggested his plan for the night mail coach. The aim was to carry passengers and mail at faster speeds than the passenger service by day over the same route. Armed guards would provide protection and speed gained from lightweight coaches, more reliable post house services and experienced contractors providing fresh horses.  Palmer himself travelled around the country timing routes and checking distances.  On 29th July 1784 the Bath Chronicle stated that "the letters for London or for any place between or beyond to be put into the Bath Post Office every evening before 6 o'clock, and into the Bristol Post Office before 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and they will be delivered in London the next day". 

Few believed this possible but the 'first night' run of 2 August 1784 proved to be a complete success. During 1785 Palmer travelled 5,000 miles in four months and eleven mail coach routes were soon established.   SG1258 shows the original Bath Mail coach.  Mail coaches quickly gained a reputation for reliability & punctuality. As carriers of the Royal Mail they took precedence over other forms of transport. 

The Patent Mail coach designed by John Beseant had one very important innovation over the standard coaches of the time, a safety axle box. The standard method of fitting a wheel was with a linch pin which, even with regular greasing, would often shear off without warning. The safety axle was designed so that a metal plate prevented the wheel from coming off, while a groove on the axle arm allowed oil to trickle down on the bearing and metal plate. 

Coaches were owned by the Post Office and rented out to contractors who provided coachmen & fresh teams of horses along the route. The Mail Guard, unlike the coachman, was employed by the Post Office and was responsible for the safe keeping of the mail. He was issued with a blunderbuss, a brace of pistols and a military style red coat and cockaded hat. The mail was the Guard's first responsibility and after some accidents, or because of flood or snow, he would carry the mail on foot. 

SG1262 'The Edinburgh Mail Sowbound 1831' illustrates the story of the Edinburgh to Dumfries Mail which was brought to a complete halt by a blizzard on 1st February 1831 not far from Moffat. The guard and driver determined to push on with the mail. There bodies were discovered three days later. Their epitaph reads: 

"Sacred to the memory of James MacGeorge, Guard of the Dumfries and Edingburgh Royal Mail, who unfortunately perished at the age of 47 near Tweedshaws, after the most strenuous exertions in the performance of his duty during that memorable snowstorm, 1st February, 1831. 

In memory of John Goodfellow, Driver of the Edingburgh Mail Coach, who perished at Ericstane in a snowstorm in 1st February, 1831, in kindly assisting his fellow-sufferer the Guard to carry forward the Mail-Bags."  Travelling by coach was a major adventure. There were two classes of passengers, insiders and outsiders. The interior was without ventilation and extremely uncomfortable but at least secure - until the coach turned over. Outside passengers, though cold could at least breathe, but had to hang on, quite literally, for dear life and were not immune to attack by highwaymen or it seems lionesses.

SG1259 'Attack on Exeter Mail 1816' illustrates an incident recorded in the Bristol Journal of October 26 1816, in which the Exeter Mail was attacked by a lioness that escaped from a menagerie on it's way to Salisbury Fair. 

The five se-tenant stamps were designed by Keith Bassford and Stanley Paine, engraved by Csezlaw Slania. 

See also article from British Philatelic Bulletin 2005

Printed in recess and photogravure by Harrison & Sons Limited.
Date of issue 31 July 1984. 

Sources: 

1982, 1984          1987          1995, 1999, 2002          2002 Mail Boxes


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