General Telegraph 6d

Telegraph stamps of Great Britain.

Until recently, only the Post Office telegraphs were well known.
This is changing but the printed information is still out of date.
I hope to gather further information and present it here.

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Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s
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General Telegraph 6d Electric Telegraph Submarine British English & Irish British & Irish LDTC UK Electric South Eastern Railway London, Chatham and Dover Railway
General Telegraph Electric Telegraph Submarine British Telegraph English & Irish British & Irish London District UK Electric S.E.R. L.C. & D.R.
Bonelli Universal Private Telegraph Company National Telephone Company Army Telegraphs-1 Army Telegraphs-2 Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s Post Office Telegraphs Unusual Unexpected Contributions
Bonelli's Universal Tel. National Telephone Army Telegraphs 1 Army Telegraphs 2 Railway Post Office Unusual Unexpected Contributions


Railway Telegraph Cancels.

The style followed that for the postal cancellations, with circular for England and Wales, rectangular for Scottish (except 40A in circle) and diamond shape for Irish.
In addition the numbering system was initially done alphabetically. Later additions were often done by using the closest existing number and adding a suffix in the form of a capital letter.

Shortcuts to different sections
England & Wales Scotland Ireland Table of numbers 1892 Type Red Herrings


England and Wales.

Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s   Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s

Langmead & Huggins in the section 'Other Telegraphic Cancellations' (page 45) state:
"The distribution of the railway station numerical cancellations over the current postage stamps of the period 1870 to 1876 covers all values up to 5s."

Above is an example of the 1878 10s (wmk. MX, 1043=Peckham) on the left and the 1884 type (403=Culham, Oxon) on the right courtesy of Steven Allen Stamps.
If you follow the examples downwards, you will see it goes all the way to the top.


Below are examples on the £1 Anchor watermark (Perf.14), courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.

Railway Telegraph cancel on £1  Railway Telegraph cancel on £1
321=Chester, 1553=Worcester.

The one below shows they were still using them later (the brown is 1888 orbs), courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.

Railway Telegraph cancel on £1 brown
855 Ludgate Hill.

Railway Telegraph cancel on £1 green
1515 = Wimbledon

Railway Telegraph cancel on £1 green - ebay item 180863113082
601 = Guide Bridge, Cheshire.

Railway Telegraph cancel on £1 green - 162
This is 162 (Crudgington, Shrop.) on £1 green, courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.

Railway Telegraph cancel on £5 orange - 270
The last 270 (Cannon Street, Middx.) on £5 orange, courtesy of John Horsey of courtesy of
This may be unique though, John says "I accumulated 3500 unique images of the £5 and this is the only Railway Telegraphs cancel I found."
This also has a boxed cancel of the G.P.O. Clearing House Branch.

The parallel-lines cancel appears to be an alternative to the Accounting Boxed Cancels. It is usually seen on high-values.
Parallel lines on 1119.
Not always though. Here on a block of four with the large 1119 circle of Radlett, Hertfordshire. Courtesy of Matthew Healey.

Railway Telegraph cancel 1469 on 10 x 1s stamps
1469 (Waterloo) on 10 x 1s stamps, Courtesy Spink and Son.

Railway Telegraph cancel 1469 on 12 x 1d stamps
151 (Birmingham, Canal Street) on 12 x 1d Plate 151 stamps, Courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
Notice that some on the bottom row, in isolation, could easily be interpreted as 131.

Railway Telegraph cancel 616 (Hampton) on 6 x 2d stamps
616 (Hampton) on 6 twopenny blues plate 13 courtesy of Stuart Tanner and now owned by  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
I am uncertain how this is distinguished from 919.

Railway Telegraph cancel 814 (Liverpool N & NW) on 4 x 6d stamps
814 of Liverpool (Lime Street, London & North Western) on 4 x 6d plate 9, courtesy of Paul Ramsay.

Railway Telegraph cancel 1438, Victoria (LB & SC) on 4 x 6d stamps
1438 of Victoria (LB & SC) on 20 x 1s plate 5, courtesy of Paul Ramsay. (Note that 'EC' is variety "Extended tail to 5 at right)


1518 on 1880 halfpenny
These cancels are scarce on halfpenny stamps before the introduction of Railway Letters (1st Feb. 1891), but were sometimes used in combination.
1518 = Winchester.

Railway Telegraph cancels seem surprisingly scarce on Post Office Telegraph stamps.
This one is clearly a railway cancel, even though the number is not so clear - courtesy Kevin Maunder.
Railway Telegraph cancel on 6d Telegraph stamp

Post Office Telegraph 1s plate-6 green Railway Telegraph cancel on 6d Telegraph stamp Post Office Telegraph 1s plate-6 green Post Office Telegraph 1s plate-9 green
This one with '154A' on 3d plate 5
This is Kilmalcolm, Renfrew (Scottish).
courtesy of Ian Pinwill.
This one with '1442' (Wakefield)
courtesy of Dr Mark Gibson.
This one with '1206' (Scarborough)
courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
'1015' is Oakley, but Beds. or Hants. ?
courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


Post Office Telegraph 1s plate-11 brown Post Office Telegraph 5/- Plate 2 Perf. 14
Later shilling with '679' (Holbeck, Yorks.)
courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
5s Plate 2   (Perf. 14)   with 1016 (Ockley, Surrey)
courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


These cancels were often used on railway letters that were delivered to another station then put in the post.

Railway example 2 Railway example
This one with '355', two similar types,
this is Cogham & Stoke d'Abernon, Surrey.
Courtesy of John A. McCulloch, © 2010 ARR.
This one with '535' (Filey, Yorks.)
courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


Railway Letter example
1484 of West Grinstead, courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.



Langmead & Huggins in the section 'Other Telegraphic Cancellations' (page 45) state:
"The distribution of the railway station numerical cancellations over the current postage stamps of the period 1870 to 1876 covers all values up to 5s.", however
the 'The Railway Philatelic Group' (RPG) in Volume 45, No.4 (September 2011) on page 180 illustrate a one Pound stamp (Maltese Cross wmk.)
with a Scottish 96 cancellation. Below is shown a 10 Shilling (STB SG131, Wmk. Anchor 1883) with the 223 of Perth.

Fred Taylor, long time editor of the RPG says that although the first Scottish cancels are in the London Proof books, many of the later (Larger) rectangular
handstamps were actually made by Kirkwoods, from whose records he obtained illustrations.

Post Office Telegraph halfpenny Post Office Telegraph 1s plate-6 green Post Office Telegraph 1s plate-10 green Railway Telegraph cancel on £1
102 (Eskbank, Edinburgh) courtesy
 Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
106 (Forfar) courtesy
 Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
165 for Ladybank, Fife
courtesy Kevin Maunder
223 for Perth,
courtesy Steven Allen Stamps


1s green plate-6 with 10 Violet Scottish 201 on 6d on 6d Violet Scottish 201 on 1s Scottish 256D on 2d
10 (Arbroath) courtesy Peter
(eBay plantpot47)
The Scottish 201 (Milliken Park, Renfrew) in violet was also
accompanied by a signature.
Scottish 256D of Strome Ferry, Ross
on 2d plate 14, courtesy Paul Sinyard.


Scottish Railway Telegraph cancel 270 on 11 x 6d stamps
270 (Winchburgh, Linlithgow) on 11 x 6d stamps, Courtesy Spink and Son.


Scottish Railway Telegraph cancel 73 on 16 x 1/- stamps
73 (Denny, Stirling) on 16 x 1/- stamps, Courtesy of Martien Blank.


Scottish Railway Telegraph cancel 166A on 10 x 6d stamps
166A (Lamington, Lanark) on 10 x 6d stamps, Image courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


RDS-Scot-19 RDS-Scot-113A
Two important items courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
This 19. is for Avonbridge. On 31 May 1878 a similar 19. inverted is shown in the proof book for Crathes and
a 61. inverted is shown for Auldbar.
113A is not in the proof book. Only scarce pairs like this can indicate where it was used.


Scottish Railway Telegraph cancel 114
A very informative strip of stamps courtesy of Matthew Healey. 114 was used in Glasgow, first at Buchanan St. and later at Gordon St.
Examples like this help to narrow the date ranges. Another example is dated 12/9/85.



Langmead & Huggins on the same page shortly before the quote above, state:
"Stations in Ireland received a diamond shaped handstamp, numbered 1 to 24 on 28 February 1871. No additions or replacements are recorded."
Stanley Gibbons (Specialised Vol.1, 15th Ed.) state:
"... numerals in diamond, numbered 1 to 28, were used at Irish Stations."

The '24' given by Langmead & Huggins must be a typo., since elsewhere Langmead states that 1 to 28 were issued on 28 February 1871
and his collection contained an example of number 26 attributed to Strabane. Fred Taylor told me that though the first 28 were recorded in the London proof book,
all for Northern Ireland, he suspects that the rest were in a proof book which was kept in the GPO headquarters in Dublin.
Unfortunately the Easter rising destroyed the building and all its contents. I have recently found though that the PO Circulars mention the opening of stations, sometimes giving the number.
Fred also told me "A telegram use at TREW & MOY has a double framed 'square' diamond with the number 62 so the number of Irish marks
obviously exceeds 62 but this must be limited as 'T' is well through the alphabet."

Since the Irish ones are so scarce, I will show the scans of images I have seen.

Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 8 on 3d Irish Railway Telegraph cancel on 3d Irish Railway Telegraph cancel on 1s Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 11 on 1s
Number 8, Carrick Junction
Courtesy of Martien Blank.
Number 6 or 9 ? Either way,
I do not know the location
Number 11, Dunadry
One of mine.
Number 11, Dunadry
Courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 13 on 3d Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 13 on 3d Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 13 on 1/- Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 22A on 1s Plate 14 Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 23 on 6d
Number 13, Hillsboro
One of mine
Number 13, Hillsboro
Courtesy of Martien Blank.
Number 13, Hillsboro
Courtesy of Martien Blank.
Number 22A, Unknown
One of mine.
Number 23, Unknown
Courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 26 on 1/- Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 26 on 1/- Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 26 on 1s Irish Railway Telegraph cancel on 3d
Number 26, Strabane
Courtesy of Martien Blank.
Number 26, Strabane
Courtesy of Martien Blank.
Number 26, Strabane
These 3 are all plate 5.
Number 30, 36, 3B ? Unknown
One of mine.

The 3d on 3d example above, although unclear, shows there may be more than the 1 to 28.
In addition the 22A in double-diamond strongly suggests that there were additions.
It has been suggested that the double-diamonds were made locally in Ireland and so were not in the P.O. record books.


Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 25 on 4 x 3d
This block of 4 x 3d is courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


Below a (rejoined) block of 24 x 1d plate 156 cancelled with the Irish 25, courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.
Irish Railway Telegraph cancel on 24 x 1d

Irish Railway Telegraph cancel 25 on 1d pair
Another example of 25 (plate 136) courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


I would like to hear from anyone that has any others above 28.



After the P.O. Telegraph stamps were discontinued, it was quite common to see 2 telegraph cancels plus pen or crayon on a stamp!
  TAB/GPO + 899 + crayon on 3d on 3dTAB/GPO + 572 + crayon on 6d on 6d   TAB/GPO + 529 twice + crayon on 1s
sometimes it got quite messy. It did not seem to be done in Scotland or Ireland.

The above has T. A. B. for Telegraph Account Branch. These have the scarcer T. C. B. thought to be Telegraph Clearing Branch

Railway Telegraph cancel 73
I would imagine that the person first involved cancelled them with crayon,
followed by the Station Manager, perhaps at the end of the day ensuring that they all had the Station identification
Then finally at the office receiving the forms they get T. A. B. or T. C. B. when the accountancy checks have been done.
Image courtesy of Matthew Healey.

The railway telegraph cancels were not always in black.
Black 93 on 1s plate 6  Blue 93 on 1s plate 13  Black 93 on 5d Jubilee
93 in black on plate 6 and blue on plate 13, then black again on 6d Jubilee.

Table of numbers


The new type of cancellation brought into use at railway stations from 1892.

Stanley Gibbons says "A notice to Postmasters dated January 1892 stated that the oval stamps were intended to replace the numerical type in use at some stations.
This followed the introduction, on 1 February 1891, of the Railway Letter Service."
They were not just intended for telegraphs but for Railway Letters and anything else that needed cancelling.

Railway Telegraph cancel on £1 green.
Maze Hill, S. E. Rlwy. On £1 courtesy of Longmead Philatelics

Midland Railway
Sandal & Walton, Midland Ry.
Railway example 2
Fittleworth, London, Brighton & South Coast Railway.
L & S.W. Railway L & S.W. Railway London and South West Railway 2d. South Eastern Railway 2d.
Micheldever, London & South Western Ry
on 10s courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.
Sway Station, L&S.W.Ry. on 10s
courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.
The cancel was usually in black, but not always.
Byfleet Station, L&S.W.Ry.
Bexley Station, South Eastern Ry.
Image courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.

Shipton G.W.Ry.
Shipton Station, G.W.Ry. on 8 x 1s., courtesy of Matthew Healey


Bridgwater Handstamp
Bridgwater Handstamp, Great Western Railway courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.


Use of this cancel on some other things:

Railway on various produce labels. Railway on Parcel Stamp.
Swinderby Station, Midland Railway on Corn Sample label Wryde Station, Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway
on Grain Samples label
Railway on various produce labels.
Rye Station, S.E. Ry. and Edenbridge Station,S.E. Ry. on S.E. & Chatham & Dover? Farm Produce label Pipe Gate Station, North Staffordshire Ry. on Parcel Stamp
Images courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer.


Here is an unusual usage courtesy of  Roger de Lacy-Spencer :
Oval cancel on Newspaper stamps
A press message for the Gazette at Ilfracombe with two 'Newspaper Labels' like the one below:
This was sent from Northoe station, Devon, on the London & South Western Ry.
Newspaper stamp
Speed was clearly of the essence and perhaps some leeway was granted.
the bottom image courtesy of

Derby Station
Derby Station on the Great Northern of Scotland Ry.
Courtesy of A. T. Robatto


Red Herrings.

London Diamonds
There were a range of marks used in London with variously large numbers in diamonds. When the outer parts are faint, they have sometimes been mistaken for the Irish Railway Telegraph cancel.
Some examples can be seen on page 8 of this book by Curt Fernau


The 2½d below has a 16mm circle but 2½d is a bit unusual for a Telegraph and what is the number?
Number? in circle on 2½d   1 in circle on 4d
The 1 in Circle certainly looks telegraphic but the circle measures only 11mm instead of 16mm.
There are a host of marks known as inspectors' marks. Is that what these are ?
Luckily I came across this item which led me to these:
2 in circle   49 in circle   5? in circle   62 in circle   69 in circle
These range in size from about 11mm to a little over 12mm, but I have seen some with 3-digit numbers that might be a little larger.
62 in circle on postcard
These are found on about half the postcards (and perhaps other things) destined for Belgium. My small selection are dated from 7/2/89 to 13/6/08.
They are applied to the card, but if a stamp arrives uncancelled, they could end up with these.
Anvers by the way is the French name for Antwerp, the Flemish name is Antwerpen.



What about these?

elliptical on 2½d elliptical on 2½d elliptical on 3d elliptical on 4d elliptical 346 on 1s
129 on 1881-3   2½d plate 23 129 on 1883-7   2½d
courtesy of Duncan Givans
105A on 1878-80   3d plate 20 91 on 1880-86   4d plate 17 (crown)
courtesy of Andrew Willsher
346 on 1887 'Jubilee' 1/-
courtesy of Matthew Healey

These oval cancels often occur in pairs, I thought at first that they were variations on the railway circle,
but the evidence says otherwise.
The right-hand stamp has a perfin "JO&Co" (Perfin Soc. Ref. J 5890.01) and the user was Joseph Oxford & Co, 5-6 Bury Court, London EC.
This is interesting in that it seems to have the suffix 'A' which was normally done when numbers represented places kept in alphabetical order.

The 2s6d below has an additional 'Registered' cancel so is unlikely to be telegraphic.
The blue crayon on the 5s below suggests that this may also have been a registered item.

elliptical on 2s6d elliptical on 5s
'333' the 3's can often look like an '8'.


Richard Swiecicki of Longmead Philatelics makes the important observation that "virtually all the ones I've seen have been on high value IR Officials."
This suggests that the 5/- stamp below-left (that sold for £71.41 in December 2012) may well have been genuine.

elliptical on 5s

elliptical 326 on 5s
elliptical on 5s
352 ? on 5/- 326 on 5/- 326 on 10/-
This has four cancels and the same corner letters as the 5/- above.
Courtesy of Peter from Bygones-of-Bridlington who warned
"The overprint may not be genuine." - I think it was.
One that I managed to get, 326 seems to be a (relatively)
common number on these.
The 10/- courtesy Longmead Philatelics has a 2008 RPS
Certificate stating it is Cobalt and has a telegraphic mark.
I respectfully suggest this is open to question.


elliptical on ½d elliptical on 1s elliptical on 2½d round 52 on 1s Railway 52
Another numbered 326 on a halfpenny,
courtesy of Steven Allen Stamps
326 on a shilling 345 (or 315 ?) on a 2½d 52 in 17.5mm circle 52 Railway in 16.5mm circle

The 52 in circle is interesting. It is different to the 52 in circle railway telegraph cancel.
The circle is slightly larger and the numbers taller. I have seen numerals 22 and 64 in a similar style before, but this is the first on what appears to be a genuine IR overprint.
I have to assume that these are inspectors marks, perhaps the series started circular and switched to elliptical when it looked like they would get into 3 digits.
The lowest number elliptical I have seen so far is 92.

Anyone ever seen a circular railway telegraph cancel on any stamp with any Official overprint ?

The earliest I have seen is the use on the 3d Plate 20 above (Spray Wmk.), used from about December 1878 to March 1881.
The latest known is the 2/6d above with a Registered 1891 additional cancel. I have not seen many examples however.

The only thing possibly inconsistent with them all being associated with The Inland Revenue is
the J O & Co perfin on the 3d and the cover below from Plaistow, London to Boulogne, France:
elliptical 184 on cover
This one (courtesy of Andrew G Lajer. is clearly not Telegraphic.
It is described as an 'Inspector's "184" oval handstamp' and a 'very rare London Examiner's mark.'

So does that make these all inspectors marks?
The numbers I have seen so far (look like)  91, 105a, 121(x2), 129 (x2), 150, 184, 326 (x4), 333, 345, 346, 352.

The next question is when were these used?
The 3d plate 20 looks like the earliest example that was likely used between 1878 and 1880.
The latest example is probably the 2s6d with a registered cancel of either 1891 or 1901. I have not seen an Edwardian example.

I would like to hear from anyone with more information on these, or examples.

These oval numerals above are sometimes referred to as an 'accounts postmark'.
I do not know the source of this opinion but it may relate to the following oval cancel:

Account Branch / P.O. Glasgow on 10s
10s (raised stop after 'R')
courtesy of Devlan Kruck.
Account Branch / P.O. Glasgow on £5
£5 courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions

This oval is quite a lot larger, I have seen it on I.R. Officials of 5s (x1), 10s (x5), £1 (x9) and two of these £5 for which there were no overprints.
Dates I saw ranged from 23/10/91 to 9/5/96.

I have also seen these circular marks:
Inland Revenue on 5s   Manchester Accounts on 10s
The 5s 'Inland Revenue' cancel of May 2, 1882 is before the I.R. Official overprints existed.
This later 'Manchester Accounts' 10s is dated 29/12/96 and I have seen it also on a £1  I.R. Official dated 3/12/01
These two images are courtesy of Grosvenor Auctions.



Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 28th. July 2021

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