Smith Elder & Co Precancel

Precancels of Great Britain

This part of the web site is to consolidate information on GB precancels.

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Henry S. King & Co Precancel
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Smith Elder & Co Precancel Henry S. King & Co Precancel William Dawson & Sons 1st Precancel W. H. Smith & Son 1st Precancel Public-Precancel Frank-Precancel Times-Precancel Railway-Precancel Army-Precancel
Smith Elder & Co H. S. King & Co W.Dawson & Sons W. H. Smith & Son 'Public Precancels' Precancel Franking Newspapers Railway Precancels Army Telegraphs
Private Telegraphs Booklets T.O.6 obliteration ENT.O.1 Cancel Calendar Embossed Perfin Sloper Contributions
Private Telegraphs Booklets T.O.1 to T.O.6 Anomalies Time frame Embossed Perfins Sloper punch Contributions


Precancel Meter Franking

At the 1920 Postal Union Congress in Madrid, the use of Meter mailing was sanctioned for use throughout the world.
One condition was that they should be printed in red ink.
this came into effect on 1st January 1922 opening the way for use in the U. K. On the 5th September 1922,
the Prudential Assurance began using a Pitney Bowes machine. From then on there was progressively less reason to use precancels.

For examples see Jack Peach’s history of meter franking Part 3 available from the Meter Stamp Society in pdf format here.

Anyone have these meter marks on wrappers?


Arthur Wheeler & Co, Stockbrokers of Leicester already used franking machines, each capable of franking 250 items per minute
with marks as shown below (number 9 was also used).

Pitney-Bowes, Leicester-8

They also sent out circulars in envelopes with embossed stamps.

Because of the quantities involved, the Leicester Postmaster agreed to fund a couple of dies that could be used
in franking machines to Precancel the embossed stamps. These were in use by 1928, they had the date portion
as above but with the letters 'A' or 'B' breaking the bar at the bottom as below:

Pitney-Bowes, Leicester-A

For more information see Jack Peach’s history of meter franking Part 4 available from
the Meter Stamp Society in pdf format here.


I originally thought that the two items below might be a similar use of a franking machine.

Not Precancel

However Maurice Buxton informs me that:
Those actually aren't from meter franking machines, they're from the Post Office rapid cancelling machines normally used in black to cancel stamps.
The canceller die came in three sections (on this type) and for bulk postings paid in cash they were used with red ink and a Paid insert in the middle
instead of the usual wavy lines. This was easier than doing them by hand, especially as the machines incorporated a counter.

You also sometimes see them used where postal rates had increased, on stamped to order postal stationery envelopes.
Sometimes the user of the STO envelopes uprated them with adhesive stamps, and occasionally sent them back for an extra embossed stamp to be added
but these were presumably bulk postings (e.g. gas bills) and it was easier for the user to pay the difference in cash,
and for the Post Office to use the Paid dies to simultaneously cancel the stamps and show that the extra ½d or whatever had been paid.

Thanks Maurice.



Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Precancels' in the subject.


Last updated 31st May 2017

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