Postcard arrives 83 years late... with a memento from the 'golden age' of stamps

In the news today, the Royal Mail's problems continued, as one postcard from Exeter Cathedral arrived in Ipswich late. 83 years late to be precise.

In a freak occurrence, Glynis Cook discovered a postcard addressed to a Miss Rix, with a postal mark of July 21, 1927.

Believed by Cook to have been "lost somewhere between Exeter and Ipswich for 83 years," the find raises numerous questions about the current state of the postal system.

But on a more serious note, the find could also prove interesting to collectors.

On the one hand, the black and white photograph of the postcard, which recalls a "train ride to Exeter," may be of some interest to enthusiasts of deltiology, the collecting of unique postcards but on the other it's another detail that could prove most interesting.

As Glynis Cook recalls, upon finding the piece:

"I realised the stamp was George V and that it had been lost for 83 years."

To a rare stamp collector, this is the most important detail of all. King George V reigned from May 1910 to January 1936. During that time, the world of rare stamps saw many firsts.

The King George V stamp era saw the introduction of commemorative stamps which helped to strengthen the growing collectors market of the time and has done so ever since then.

And just as significantly, the period saw the introduction of the first stamps printed by photogravure, the photo-mechanical process that used a copper plate coated in a light-sensitive gelatin which was exposed to a film positive, and then etched.

This process created high quality stamp designs that replicated the detail and tone of photography at the time and made British stamps the visually enduring collectibles they are today.

Stamps like the Great Britain SG403 1913 £1 Deep green, which is currently priced at £6,000 ($9,000), typify this golden age for rare stamp collectors.

Great Britain SG403 £1 seahorse
Great Britain SG403 £1 seahorse


Demonstrating just one of the huge array of shades used during the period, the Great Britain 1913 £1 Deep green depicted the Monarch's head in profile alongside a personification of Britannia riding the waves on a group of three "sea horses."

Watermark variations, like the one found in this unmounted waterlow shade example also added to the rarity and value of the piece.

Tyrian Plum
The 12d Tyrian Plum


And yet arguably the rarest stamp of the King George V era didn't even feature the monarch himself.

The 2d Tyrian Plum including the image of Edward VII, was first issued in May 1910.

At the time some 24 million were delivered to post office stores around the country for distribution.

However, following Edward's death on May 6 1910, the stamp was cancelled and all stocks were ordered to be destroyed.

Today, 12 examples of the Great British Tyrian Plum survive, and are currently valued at an impressive £75,000 ($112,500) each.

With 3 of the 12 in existence currently part of the Royal Philatelic Collection, these stamps represent one of the great British rarities of the collectibles market.

Following the discovery of the postcard, Glynis Cook announced her intention to try and find the intended recipient Miss Rix:

"Maybe someone in the family wants it, otherwise I'll put it in a frame and keep it."

With a King George V stamp attached, she may just want to think about doing the latter.


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