Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Shepton Mallet - 1792 & 1793

Shepton Mallet as described in Pigot amd Co.'s National Commercial Directory of Somerset, 1844:
According to the British County Catalogue, the first handstamps for "SHIPTON MALLET" were albino strikes from 1721-1722, followed by strikes in black in 1772.  The first handstamps I have are of the "118 SHIPTON / MALLET" handstamp in 1792 and 1793.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Shaftesbury (Dorset) Penny Post in Somerset

Fifth Clause Posts from Shaftesbury (in Dorset) to Bruton, Castle Cary and Wincanton have already been covered in this blog.  This post is about the Penny Post from Shaftesbury that extended into Somerset, specifically to Henstridge and Milborne Port.

This first sheet describes the assignment of Receiving Houses handstamps.
In 1823 Henstridge was assigned a boxed "No.8" handstamp (I don't have an example of the pre-1923 "No.2" assigned to Henstridge).
Milborne Port was initially allocated the boxed "No.12" handstamp and then, from about 1835, the unboxed "No.10".
Here are a couple of examples of other Receiving House handstamps in the Shaftesbury Penny Post from Receiving Houses in Dorset.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Autumn S&DPHG meeting & Wells Penny Post

The Autumn meeting of the Somerset & Dorset Postal History Group on Sunday 21st October 2012 featured entertaining displays on "The Postal History of the City of Wells" and on "The Mulready envelope and letter-sheet", as well as a number of varied short displays by members on subjects of their choice.  The meeting was well attended with 19 members and guests, who sat down to the usual fine lunch.  Discussions on a variety of subjects, not all philatelic, were widespread and enjoyed by all.  

Some details from the display on the Postal History of Wells:
  • Wells was on a spur at Sherborne from the West Road to Plymouth.
  • Wells was on the first Cross Post from Exeter to Bristol, with a very rare "WELLS/X" handstamp.  The various "WELLS/X", "BRIDG/WATER X", "TAUN/TON X" handstamps are all only known used in 1709 to Plymouth.
  • Early Wells handstamps were albino, perhaps because the postmasters had to pay for their own ink so used very little or no ink at all.
  • "WELLS.S" (or ".SOM" etc.) handstamps were introduced to avoid confusion with Wells-on-Sea.
The Receiving Houses under Wells were as follows (according to Oxley and later research by John Millener):

Receiving House
Date Established
RH Number


Used straight line cancel
Rodney Stoke







In 1845-7 the following villages were under Wells as a Post Town: West Pennard, North Wootton, Rodney Stoke, Wookey, Westbury, Sidcote, Banwell, Worle, Cheddar, Mark, and Wedmore. In December 1853 Meare and Weare also came under Wells.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Pensford "001" and Hallatrow "011" Numeric Obliterators

On 21st September 1878 a series of numeral handstamps of the 3VOS type was supplied as follows:
999   Paulton                       Recorded only as 'philatelic use'.
001   Pensford                     Few examples known 1883 - 1886.
006   Temple Cloud             Uncommon. Recorded 1879 to 1921 (philatelic).
008   Clutton                       One example known from 1890.
009   Farringdon Gurney      Not recorded used.
011   Hallatrow                   Very few recorded from 1879.

At this time these numbers were vacancies in the numerical list for England and Wales offices.

Why did these particular small offices need to cancel their mail ?  They were all on the route of the Bristol and North Somerset Railway line from Bristol to Radstock, opened in 1873. The handstamps were probably issued in anticipation of these offices becoming Railway Sub-Offices (R.S.O.s).   When this did not happen, the cancellation of mail ceased, if it had ever started. The few examples recorded are possibly for abnormal use.

Here are examples from Pensford and Hallatrow.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

North Wootton - couple of Climax rubber cancels

According to Mike Welch's comprehensive set of articles in the S&DPHG Journal, North Wootton had five Climax rubber cancels as well as two rubber skeletons.  Here are a couple of them from 1905 and 1907.
I believe the 1905 cancel is catalogue number 2080 in Mike's list (it appears to be a slight later date than Mike has seen), while the 1907 cancel is number 2090.

Climax Rubber Date-Stamps were first issued in 1885 to small post offices that were not Money-Order offices, to date-stamp the recently introduced postal orders. Later, they were also used by these offices to date-stamp Parcel Post labels and ordinary mail. Although much cheaper than steel hand-stamps they were very much less durable, and from about 1916 they were gradually replaced by the more economic steel hand-stamps.  From their introduction in 1885, the rubber datestamps were necessarily used with a special violet water-based ink, because the normal post office black ink contained oil that would damage the rubber. In December 1910 a new black ink suitable for rubber handstamps, was introduced.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

North Curry

There does not seem to be an obvious way to sequence these posts so sometimes they jump purely based on the alphabet.  Here are a few items from North Curry, just outside of Taunton.

North Curry was a Receiving House under the Taunton Penny Post from 1829 with a boxed "No.12" receiving house handstamp.  Here are a couple of examples.
An interesting letter from 1847 with a North Curry undated cancel, being a letter from the Dykesreeves of the North Curry sewers to a solicitor in Wells.
And finally some postcards from 1909 to 1944 with a variety of North Curry cancels showing views of the interior of the local church and of the village.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

North Petherton

North Petherton and South Petherton in the county of Somerset are not adjacent, being about 20 miles apart by road:
According to Wikipedia (!), "North Petherton" may be derived from the area's location to the north side of the River Parrett, from the Latin Paradæ 'barge' and from the Old English nor tun.  "South Petherton" may come from the Old English word Pared meaning boundary and the Saxon word ton meaning settlement, forming ’Paredton’, with Sudperetone being the southern tun on the river Parrett (shown below).

Here is an entire sent in 1812 from Bristol to North Petherton and then redirected to London.
The entire has a manuscript "7" crossed out (Bristol to North Petherton is about 36 miles which would have cost 7d between 1812 and December 1839) and a manuscript "11" for the final charge of 11d for the total of 186 miles from Bristol to North Petherton to London.  The reverse has a red "BRISTOL / 122" handstamp that was only in use from 1812 to 1813.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

South Petherton Squared Circle

The entire shown below has a QV 3d jubilee cancelled with a "SOUTH PETHERTON" squared circle dated  was sent by the South Petherton Undersheriff to Winscombe R.S.O. via Taunton and Weston-super-Mare.

As it indicates on the front it is a Jury Summons for William Yatman Esq, for him to serve on the General Quarterly Session Grand Jury in April 1897 at the Wells Town Hall.

The entire has the handstamp of the "SHERIFF OF SOMERSET" on the reverse to authenticate it.

A Grand Jury was used to determine whether a criminal indictment would be issued.  They were first used in England in 1166, set up by Henry II and were employed in England until 1933.  A grand jury is so named because it had a greater number of jurors than a trial jury (also known as a petit jury).

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bath No.7 Receiving House

Another scan received courtesy of a new member of the S&DPHG, with detailed information supplied by a long-term member (it really demonstrates the benefit of joining such a group):

The Winifreds Dale Penny Post was established as part of the Bath 5th Clause Post of 1810  as a receiving house at Mr Turner's Shoe-Maker (above Winifred's Dale).  This is mentioned in a extract from the Bath Chronicle headed POST-OFFICE BATH dated SEPT.18th 1810 and then apparently closed in 1811 (due to lack of custom ?).  Just after this there was quite a row about the Bath Postmaster having a private arrangement with the citizens of Lansdown whereby he pocketed 5/- a year so that they could avoid the 1d Penny Post charge - so perhaps no wonder that not many letters came in !  No strike of this Receiving House has been found and we know little about it aside from the fact that it was situated somewhere at the bottom of Sion Hill.

The Post Office notice headed POST-OFFICE BATH July 6th 1804 has no mention of either Winifreds Dale or Sion Hill as Receiving Houses.

A Receiving House was apparently re-established at Sion Hill in 1818 as a foot post (seen in Post Office 1818 Penny Post Survey map) although it is not known when the Boxed No 7 Receiving House handstamp was introduced.  No unboxed number handstamp has been seen.

The earliest date the boxed No.7 has been seen is 12th March 1829 and latest was 18th July 1840 with a 1d Black (in Bath Postal Museum) until the letter above surfaced dated 13th June 1843.

Below is a photograph of the Post Office at Sion Hill taken in the 1960s. This building was used over a long period although there are suggestions that it closed now and again.  One can see from the faded writing on the wall that it had been a long established vegetable and fruit shop. The Post Office there finally closed sometime in the 1950s.