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 a way so as to respectfully keep the Queen’s profile clear of the print.
Perhaps the most aesthetic way of collecting overprints is with the stamps still affixed to their original documents, such as receipts, cheques and bills.
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 example of commercial overprints on various revenue stamps.