It was commonly thought that Harrison & Sons had not tendered for a stamp printing contract before the 1911 definitive series of Great Britain, so when a fellow collector notified your author late last year of the existence of a Victorian sheet with a Harrison marginal imprint, it set him on the research trail. The ‘stamp’ is an 1866 Inland Revenue issue for Montserrat and not a postage stamp, but there is no difference between types, other than intended use; methods employed in pre-press, printing and finishing invariably follow identical procedures. Assuming that earlier issues do not exist, and there appears to be no evidence that they do, 2016 commemorated 150 years of Harrison first producing stamps.
Founded in 1750, Harrison and Sons had regularly worked for the British government by supplying diverse commercial print requirements. The printer, among others, was invited by the General Post Office (GPO) in 1910 to tender for the new British stamp printing contract, presumably because of this government relationship and because they had been producing early stamp booklet covers and telegram forms. Prior to contract renewal time, De La Rue had been involved in a massive scandal where they had colluded with Waterlow over stamp printing contracts, details of which would have been fresh in the minds of the GPO and the government and cannot have helped their chances of retaining the contract. The business was, perhaps not surprisingly, taken away from Thomas De La Rue, printers of British stamps since 1855, and awarded instead to Harrison.
To find out more, see the latest GSM.