General Telegraph 6d

Telegraph stamps of Great Britain

Until recently, only the items listed by Stanley Gibbons were well known.
This has now changed but some of the information needs updating.
This is an attempt to make a start on that

Further information is invited and welcome.

Railway Telegraph cancel on 10s
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Policy Statement:

Recent changes in the world have required changes to the website :
1) Certain Web Browsers, like Chrome, started bad-mouthing websites that were not secure. Even if they didn't need to be. Even if they required no log-in, collected no user data and
sold nothing they would warn people not to go there! Loads of money trumps being in the right every time, so I upgraded to a secure website.

2) The EU has brought out a "Cookie Law" which though more justified, appears to be poorly implemented. It requires websites to get consent from users before storing, using, or retrieving
their personal information. That has to be done without knowing what language they use and regardless of the fact that attempling to find out could be regarded as an invasion of privacy.
The ones I have seen have all been in English, the third most widely spoken (first) language in the world according to wiki, though the most widely used second language. I wonder what percentage
of people are fluent in more than one written language. I toyed with the idea of implementing it in Chinese, the most widely used written language, but I'm aiming at English and Spanish currently.

In putting together the Telegraph section of my website, I have drawn heavily on 2 sources:

  1. The book by Peter Langmead and Alan Huggins entitled "The Telegraph Stamps and Stationery of Great Britain 1851-1954".
    Due to constant repetition, I may abbreviate their names to Langmead and Huggins or even L&H, but no disrespect is intended.

    This book relates only to British telegraphs, it has strengths and weaknesses (as I'm sure this website does).

    1. It has brought together scattered information from long out of date sources that are not easy to find.
    2. It displays material previously not published, largely from their own collections.
    3. It has provided much background information on the purpose and use of the Military/Army Telegraph Stamps.
    4. It is currently available.

    1. Relying on previous work it may have adopted previous errors.
    2. Being a book, it cannot be easily updated with new information.
    3. Most of the illustrations are in black and white which is hard to see, for reasons of cost.
    4. It is not easy to reference the things that they list as there are few reference numbers.
    5. In discussing rarity, there is usually no distinction between used and unused.
    6. The rarity bands used tend to suggest some stamps as having equal rarity,
      when in fact one may be ten times rarer than the other.
    7. They ignore relevant information like use of 'Army Telegraphs' cancels on stamps of Transvaal and Orange Free State,
      and make no mention of the 'Army Signals' Cancels.
    8. Their book is £50 against a FREE website. This is not a criticism, but the facts of economics.

  2. S.E.R Hiscocks' book 'TELEGRAPH and TELEPHONE Stamps of the World, a Priced and Annotated Catalogue' (1982).
    Again it has strengths and weaknesses:

    1. It has described and numbered items making it easy to reference them in communications and comparisons.
    2. It treats mint and used items separately for valuation.
    3. It also brought together scattered information.

    1. In the attempt to cover the whole world, they had to rely on the word of many different authorities
      with often little means to check the information. This has led to errors.
    2. Although giving reference numbers for each Item within a section (Country or GB company),
      there is no reference designation for Country or Company.
    3. The policy of the book was to only list items INTENDED for Telegraphic (or telephone) use.
      It did not cover other items that were IN FACT also used.
    4. Again the images were necessarily in black and white, and reduced in size.
    5. The book is long out of print and not easily available
    6. Again it is not updateable.


I have more recently added a section on Telegram Seals of the World that used Hiscocks' book as a starting point.


When I am on the bus and look around, I see people killing time with MP4's, notebooks and electronic
devices of all descriptions, even young children are playing with devices smarter than the early mainframes.

Newspapers are few and far between and a book almost unheard of.
Books are rapidly becoming obsolete and the printed newspaper/magazine not far behind.

If philately and related hobbies are to continue into the next generation and beyond then
they need to move with the times and migrate onto the web.

It is hoped this website can be part of that migration.
I strive to make it widely available with selectable currencies and online translation.

I propose to combine existing sources, adding new material in the form of images gleaned from Auctions and my own
modest collection. This produces a starting point for a dynamic online catalogue, building with additional contributions.

Since starting this, additional images, many provided by contributors have enabled me to do
original research on the British Private Telegraphs, (and Colombian Telegraphs) particularly relating to plating.
I have also disproved a few long-standing myths.

I provide this information, together with the evidence, on these web-pages, and invite criticism.

I invite new information from organisations and individuals, and request scans in support at 300dpi or better.
Where possible I will quote sources and references.

I will also introduce new designations where I need to, and show their relationship to existing designations
Where copyright restrictions do not prevent it.

This was initially confined to the items that interested me, but I have gradually been expanding the scope
and I will happily link to others that wish to add their own interests.

For much of Hiscocks designations, little modification has been needed so far, though a few countries
needed a re-write, and I used a RH (revised Hiscocks) system to avoid confusion. This seems to work okay.
I had initially used a UDes system specifically for the UK, but this seems rather 'over the top' and I will revert to the RH system for these also, except for the Army-2 page that relates specifically to the used of Army cancels.

I have no intention of copyrighting any numbering system I devise as that would inhibit standardization.
Anyone is free to use it (or not) however they choose, but please reference this website to attract more information.

RH system: I will use my General Telegraph item as an initial example.

  • RH # . Denotes a Revised Designation. This may often be the same as the original Hiscocks designation, but allows for changes/additions.
  • Hisc. Indicates the original Hiscocks designation, more generally for other subject matter, a different authority may be referenced.
  • Description: face value, colour etc.
  • Rarity - at the moment this is taken from the Langmead and Huggins book.
  • Mint and used are the prices. Keep in mind these were originally prices quoted by Hiscocks in GBP as of 1982.
          they were useful for comparative valuation only. I am gradually going through and updating these.
          Additionally I am making the currency selectable.


RH # Hisc. Description Rarity Mint Used
RH1 H1 6d black R4 150.00 -
RH1a - re-drawn - - -

RH. = 'Revised Hiscocks'.

For the Rarity, L&H give:

R5 Only known in official collections
(including the Royal Philatelic Collection)
R4 Probably less than 10 copies exist
R3 Probably 10 to 50 copies exist
R2 Probably 50 to 100 copies exist
R1 Over 100 copies exist
S Scarce - not easy to find
C Common - easy to find

To put things in perspective, for anyone that uses ebay, it is clear that on that basis a
penny black would have to be classed as Common
and a penny black plate 11 might just qualify as Scarce
A VR Official would rate R1 or perhaps R2.

  Prices have been brought up to date, and are for stamps in 'average' condition.  
The currency is now selectable, the default is British Currency (£).

This is displayed on pages where it is true.

As a recent inovation, I have started to create checklists for Telegraph stamps.
These are still in development, but if you want a 'taster', click on the underline character at the bottom
of notices like the one above. This will take you to the current checklist of that section if there is one.
The overall status of these can be seen at Status-CL
Feedback on these would be very welcome.

Comments, criticisms, information or suggestions are always welcome.


Please include the word 'Telegraphs' in the subject.


Last updated 7th. March 2022

©Copyright Steve Panting 2012 - 2023 except where stated.
Permission is hereby granted to copy material for which the copyright is owned by myself, on condition that any data is not altered and this website is given credit.


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