Collecting Overprints

Collecting Overprints

Although a few other countries were minor users of commercial overprints, this site is dedicated exclusively to the study of British overprints. Collecting the commercially overprinted stamps of Great Britain can be a challenge; many overprints are very scarce and hard to find.

Overprints from the Victorian period are the most sought after by collectors. This era sees a lot of experimentation, resulting in a variety of overprint styles and even different colours of printing used.

By the latter part of the reign of King George V, overprints had generally become more prosaic with a lower quality of printing.

Once we reach the reigns of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II, the number of private companies overprinting their stamps is few, with the commercial overprints of this time being dominated by local government offices, public utilities and large insurance companies.

Many Victorian overprints were styled in such way to respectfully keep the Queen’s profile clear of the print.
Colourful Overprints

Perhaps the most aesthetic way of collecting overprints is with the stamps still affixed to their original documents, such as receipts, cheques and bills.

W. C. Jay & Co. black-bordered mourning receipt.
International Fur Store illustrated billhead receipt 1890.
William Whiteley hire purchase payment card with 10 overprinted stamps. Presumably a stamp was added after each payment was made.
Cheque 1918 with London County and Westminster Bank Ltd. overprint on SG 357.

One area of collecting, often overlooked by collectors, is the security overprints on Foreign Bill stamps, Contract Note stamps and other revenue stamps. As with overprinted postage stamps, some companies overprinted their stock of revenue stamps as a security anti-theft device. The overprinters were predominantly banks, stockbrokers and insurance companies.

A few examples of commercial overprints on various revenue stamps.

If you would like to buy, sell or exchange commercial overprint material please get in touch.

By Mark Matlach