Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "WELLS / S. 123" (and "WELLS / N. 122")

The “WELLS / S. 123” handstamp is known used from 1785 to 1787. The example below is unfortunately undated. The “S.” in the handstamp is for Somerset, to differentiate it from Wells in Norfolk (known as Wells-next-the Sea from 1955).

According to the BCC, Wells in Norfolk had two “WELLS / N. 122” handstamps of different sizes in use from 1786 to 1790.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "TAUNTON / 143"

The “TAUNTON / 143” handstamp is known in use from1785 to 1787.

The postal charge of 6d above is not correct for 143 miles to London as the rate from August 1784 was 5d for up to 150 miles and only 6d if over 150 miles. It is possible that the charge was made at 6d based on a corrected mileage from Taunton to London. A route from Taunton to Crewkerne and then up the Western Post Road is about 157 miles, while going via Bath and the Bristol Post Road is about 163 miles. In 1802 Taunton was issued with a “TAUNTON / 161” handstamp.

Perhaps there was a “typo” when the handstamp was made, misreading “163” as “143” ??

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "118 SHIPTON / MALLET"

The “118 SHIPTON / MALLET” handstamp is known used from 1790 to 1796. It is thought that it was issued earlier than 1790; there is only one handstamp known in use at Shepton Mallet prior to this, and that was known used in 1772, so there is plenty of scope for the mileage mark to be in use earlier than 1790.

Currently the item below is the latest known usage of the “118 SHIPTON / MALLET”, used in November 1796.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "135 CREWK / ERN", "FROME / 107"

The “135 CREWK / ERN” handstamp is known in use in 1784-1785. The example below is early, from 27th September 1784.

The “FROME / 107” mileage mark is known used from 1786 to 1788. The mileage “107” is in noticeably small lettering.

The Free Front above is franked "Boyle" which is the signature of Edmund Boyle, 7th Earl of Cork and 7th Earl of Orrery (21 November 1742 – 30 May 1798).

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "140 BRIDGE / WATER"

The “140 BRIDGE / WATER” handstamp is known in use from 1785-1786. A two-line “BRIDGE / WATER” handstamp is known used from 1783 to 1786, possibly in concurrent usage with the mileage mark though it may have been used before and brought back into use after the Bridgwater mileage mark.

I do not currently have examples of the “115 CASTLE / CAREY”, “144 CHARD” or “141 ILMIN / STER” marks, so cannot illustrate them here – please do send me an image if you have a copy of any of these marks (or let me know if you have a copy you would like to dispose of).

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Early Mileage Marks - "113 BATH"

In 1784 the Post Office introduced handstamps with the mileage to London on them, to aid post office clerks in determining the postal charges. These handstamps had a limited life as the mileage to London changed as the postal routes altered and after about five years the Post Office stopped issuing them.

By the end of the 18th century the Postmaster General had instructed John Cary, a map-maker, to prepare a survey of all the principal roads in the country under the supervision of the Superintendent of Mail Coaches. This was used in the issue of the second series of mileage stamps from 1801.

Cat No Type Handstamp Comments Size (mm) Colour Dates Rarity
SO 64
113 BATH single line, taller “3”
BATH / 110 figures 6½ mm, round zero
BATH / 110 figures 6½ mm, oval zero
BATH / 110 figures 5mm high
144 CHARD single line
FROME / 107
118 SHIPTON / MALLET issued earlier
WELLS. / S. 123
126 YEOVIL single line

As can be seen from the table above, extracted from the Somerset County Catalogue, while the majority of the marks (9) are of the form 'mileage town', the remainder (6) are two line marks of the form 'town / mileage'.

The original mileage to London for Bath, 113, was very soon amended to 110 (by 1801 it had changed again to 109 miles to London).

Despite what it currently says on the Postal Museum website, the 1784 mileage marks were not introduced because the postal rates of 1784 charged based on the total distance that the mail travelled – that did not happen until the introduction of the 1796 rates on 5th January 1797.  In 1784 postal charges were still based on the postal charge to London plus the postal charge onwards from London as two separate charges.  The postal rate change in January 1797, along with the survey of principal roads by John Cary, may well have been instrumental in causing the Post Office to re-introduce mileage marks in 1801.

The first mark above, “113 BATH” is currently the earliest known usage of an English mileage mark, on 14th September 1784 (again correcting the information currently on the Postal Museum website).

I have already posted on the "BATH / 110" handstamps here.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Drimpton (Dorset)

Drimpton post office was open for three separate periods; from 1852 to 1866, from 1885 to 1900, and from 1927 to 1994.  It has come under Crewkerne, Bridport and Beaminster.

The sheet below has an example of the Drimpton UDC in blue (one of two currently recorded examples, the only one in blue) from May 1853.  The UDC was issued in June 1852 under Crewkerne.  By 1856 Drimpton was under Bridport, but the 1853 cover below appears to have come under Beaminster, with a Beaminster barred numeral cancel and double-arc dated handstamp on the reverse.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Buckhorn Weston (Dorset)

Buckhorn Weston in Dorset initially came under Bath (30 miles to its north) before transferring to Wincanton (4 miles north west), and then to Gillingham (4 miles east) in Dorset.

The sheet below has a Parcel Post Label from 1901 when it was under Bath and a Climax rubber cancel from 1911 when it was under Wincanton.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Great Western Railway Bath

Here are two items of mail that were conveyed by the Great Western Railway before going in the General Post.  As such they paid an additional fee for conveyance by the railway of double the general post rate, hence the 2d charge for the railway with the 1d charge for the normal post.

This first item is from 1894, and has post office cancels (3-bar vertical oval duplex cancels) on both the railway and the normal postage stamp.

The scond item is from 1908, and has G.W.R. cancels on both the stamps.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Bath Parcel Post - by road

The item below is a piece from a parcel from Bath to Westbury in June 1904, with a "BATH" target cancel, a Parcel Post Label and a framed "COACH / ROAD BORNE" cachet.

In 1852 the Post Office contracted with the railway companies for the transport of mail by rail.  In 1887 the Post Office started running horse-drawn carriages where the cost was less than by rail (the first service was from London to Brighton).  From 1898 motor vans started to be used.

The "COACH / ROAD BORNE" cachet was used to distinguish between those parcels carried by rail (for which a fee was due to the rail companies) and those carried by Post Office coaches.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

East Anstey, Devon

East Anstey in Devon is four miles west of Dulverton and 13 miles north of Tiverton.  A post office is known from 1909 under Dulverton, where it remained until 1932 when it transferred to Tiverton.  The post office closed in 2000.

The top postcard below has an "EAST ANSTEY CAMP" skeleton postmark from July 1908.  It seems likely that East Anstey Camp came under Dulverton as the post office is known to come under Dulverton from 1909.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Milborne Port

The envelope below, addressed to Milborne Port, Somerset, has a cachet correcting the postal address.

Although Milborne Port is in Somerset, its correct postal address is Dorset (under Sherborne).

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Queen Camel in the Sherborne Penny Post

A Receiving House at Queen Camel was established in 1828 in the Sherborne Penny Post, and it was issued with a boxed "No.3" handstamp.  The wrapper below went from Queen Camel to Sherborne in 1832.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Dulverton "803" barred numeral cancels

Dulverton was allocated post office number 803 from 1844.  It was issued with two horizontal oval, one 4-bar vertical oval and two 3-bar vertical oval cancels.

This first sheet has an example of the second horizontal oval cancel and the 4-bar vertical oval cancel.

This second sheet has an example of the second 3-bar vertical oval cancel.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Commemorative cancels - Minehead, Shepton Mallet, Taunton & Bristol

Here are four commemorative cancels found at a recent local stamp fair.
 Minehead lifeboat dedication - June 1980

 Royal Bath & West Show - June 1978

Rural Post in Somerset - May 1981

50th Anniversary Bristol Airport - May 1980

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

New "WELTON / BATH" Skeleton

Below is an example of a skeleton from Welton, just outside Midsomer Norton, dated 2nd November 1907.  This is the first example of this skeleton recorded. 

The post office  is first known in March 1899 when a Climax rubber cancel was issued, and closed in 1913.  No example of the Climax rubber cancel is known; the post office became a Money Order Office in September 1899 at which time a steel cancel would probably have been issued and the rubber cancel withdrawn, so the probable period of use of the rubber cancel is short (6 months).

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Albino "TAUNTON" handstamp, 1743

The entire below has a partial albino "TAUNTON" handstamp and a manuscript date of 15th October 1743 ... it is difficult to see the albino handstamp , even more so via a scan !

The postal rate in 1743 was 4d for more than 80 miles and the entire has a manuscript "4".  However this has been crossed out and replaced by a "5" and there is a possible manuscript "1" on the reverse.  The "1" could be for local delivery at New Street End, Birmingham, making 5d in total.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Later date for "118 SHIPTON / MALLET" handstamp

The cover below has a "118 SHIPTON / MALLET" handstamp with a manuscript date of 17th November 1796.  This is later than examples previously recorded.

The contents are notable for the spelling.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

"311", "725", "777" and "862"

Post Office numbers were assigned to the larger post offices in 1844 when the horizontal oval barred numeral cancels were issued.  The numbers continued to be used, for example on instructional cachets well into the 20th century.

"311" was the post office number for Glastonbury.  The cover below has an example of the first horizontal oval barred cancel from 1845.

"725" was the post office number for South Petherton; the sheet below has examples from 1847 and 1848.

"777" was the post office number for Williton.  The first sheet below has examples of the horizontal oval cancel, while the second sheet has an example of the 3-bar vertical oval cancel.

"862" was the post office number for Milverton.  The sheet below has an example of the horizontal oval cancel.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Evercreech, Highbridge UDCs

The Evercreech UDC was issued under Shepton Mallet on 24th September 1844 and is currently known used from 14th August 1846 (the cover below) to 3rd January 1848.

This Highbridge UDC was issued on 22nd May 1846 and is  known used from July 1846 to May 1854.  A second UDC was issued in November 1848 and a third late format one was issued in 1858.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Edward St Maur, 11th Duke of Somerset

This free front from Newton Abbot to Reading was franked by the 11th Duke of Somerset in December 1832.  In 1808 he purchased a London townhouse on Park Lane which he named Somerset House.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Watchet - West Somerset Railway

This philatelic cover commemorates the West Somerset Railway, sent from Minehead to Watchet on the WSR in March 1989.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Bath: Items from 1776 to 1935

This first item from Bath in 1776 has a straight line "BATH" (30 x 7 mm, SO 55) which was previously only known from 1772 to 1775 - this cover extends the period of known usage.  The handstamp in use after this one is of a similar size (30 x 7½ mm, SO 60) but does not have significant serifs.

Next in this sequence of items from Bath is a Mulready letter-sheet from June 1840, with a red Bath maltese cross cancel.

The registered envelope below is from Glasgow to Bath in July 1896, and was then redirected to Combe Down with an additional three QV 1d lilac stamps to pay postage and registration.

This last registered envelope was posted from Cleveland-Place, Bath to Ewell in November 1935.  The envelope has been uprated from 2d by 1d (to pay the 3d registration fee) plus by 1½d to pay the inland letter rate.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018


Street, 2½ miles from Glastonbury, was a receiving house in the Somerton Penny Post from 1806, and in the Glastonbury Penny Post from 1826.  By 1855 the post office came under Bath and then transferred to Bridgwater in 1873.  In 1878 it became a "Sub-Office/Post Town".

Although Street was not under Bridgwater from 1878, the cover below, from Street to Bolton-le-Moors in September 1897, was cancelled by a Bridgwater squared circle.  There is also a "STREET / SOMERSET" single ring handstamp on the reverse.  This would seem to mean that in some regards Street was still under Bridgwater.

The registered envelope below is from Street to Berlin in October 1922, cancelled with "STREET / SOMERSET" single ring cancels.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Rimpton, Sampford Arundel, Wanstrow, Yeo Mill (Devon)

Here are a few more places I haven't covered yet, starting with a postcard from Rimpton in 1907.

This Parcel Post Label is from Sampford Arundel, in 1916.

The postcard below is from Wanstrow, and has an unreadable year in the cancel.  However as the message says "come over tomorrow, Thurs", it is likely that it was posted in 1908 when 18th November was a Wednesday (the next one being 1914).

This final postcard is from Yeo Mill in Devon in 1912.  Yeo Mill came under Dulverton until the post office was replaced by West Anstey, a mile to the north.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Bleadon, Brean, Buckland St Mary, Long Sutton

Some more places that I mostly haven't covered before, starting with two postcards from Bleadon, one from 1909 and the other 1930 (apparently using the same handstamp).

This next item is from Brean, under Burnham-on-Sea, in 1958.

This postcard from Buckland St Mary in 1910 is written in a simple substitution code.

Finally a postcard from Long Sutton, with the year in the cancel unreadable.  I have posted an item from Long Sutton before, here, with a self-inking datestamp.