The year 2016 marks the 175th anniversary of the issue of postal stationery embossed with the One Penny Pink stamp. The Penny Black, Two Pence Blue, Mulready stationery, 1d. red and the 1841 Two Pence Blue have all celebrated their 175th anniversary – and fitting tributes were extended to them by the Post Office, philatelists and the philatelic press. Commemorative issues of stamps, postmarks and booklets have been made yet little (or no) reference has been made to the Penny Pink, which was issued to replace the Mulready stationery on 10 February 1841.
Philatelically, the Penny Pink is a very interesting item, which, although issued in 1841, remained in constant use (in many different formats) until the death of Queen Victoria in 1902, a remarkable 61-year existence with hardly a change in its design. As an item of postal stationery it has been virtually ignored by philatelists and is regarded as a ‘humble’ relative. A few enlightened philatelists have taken up collecting these items and have formed superb collections; there is, however, room for many more collectors to follow.
Move over, Mulready
The Mulready stationery, which had been issued in May 1840, was elaborate in design, incorporating a romantic conception of the worldwide benefits of cheap postage. It was, however, ridiculed and quickly replaced by the One Penny Pink. Its design was simple – the head of Queen Victoria enclosed in a double circle containing the words ‘Postage One Penny’, which was embossed in the north-east corner of a plain white envelope; nothing could be simpler and was in sharp contrast to the Mulready design.
In December 1839 William Wyon was commissioned by Rowland Hill to prepare and engrave a die of the Queen’s head for the proposed issue of postage stamps, to be supplied as adhesives and to be embossed upon especially prepared stationery.
His initial designs can be found at Fig 1 and his later designs, which are close to those adopted for the issued item, are shown at Fig 2.
A similar design was submitted by Charles Whiting as an entry in the Treasury competition.
His entry, ‘Harwoods Envelopes’, is described thus: ‘Specimen of envelope, stamp, and adhesive label suggested by Charles Whiting, to the Lords of Her Majesty’s Treasury, as amplifying his suggestions for carrying out the mechanical requirements of a cheap postage’. Wyon’s final design was chosen to be printed in pink on plain white paper, although an essay was produced (but not adopted) incorporating a watermark of a crown surrounded by the words ‘Postage stamp’ and the initials ‘VR’.
You can discover more in this month’s Gibbons Stamp Monthly. Buy your copy here.