Postal Union Congress

Great Britain 1929



Issued in 1929, the £1 PUC stamp was the second commemorative stamp to be released after the British Empire Exhibition stamps of 1924/25. Designed by Harold Nelson, the £1 is now regarded as one of the most striking stamps ever to have been issued – it features an intricate design of Saint George and the Dragon accompanied by a portrait of King George V.

Issued to mark the meeting of the Universal Postal Union in London on 10 May 1929, the £1 stamp was a late entry after it had been initially planned to issue a set of only ½d, 1d, 1½d and 2½d values.

It is thought that one reason for this is that it would have been embarrassing to present a special set of stamps to Congress delegates whose value was a mere 2½d. Another reason, somewhat cynically circulated in the press at the time was to generate significant income from the philatelic market, rather than normal postal use.

Although circa 68,000 stamps were printed (very low for a GB stamp), it does have a very high survival rate and is not a rare
stamp, although pristine examples are today surprisingly difficult to find.

First day covers bearing the £1 value are rare, and commercially used examples on cover keenly sought.

Did you know

  • The ‘Instructions to Artists’ for the submission of designs stipulated: ‘It is desirable that any design for the £1 stamp should be either of national significance or should be symbolic of the assembly which it is intended to commemorate.’
  • The selected designs were due to be submitted to King George V for his approval, however, the King’s illness at the end of 1928 prevented this, so Queen Mary approved them.
  • Original trials were made in numerous colours; black was chosen as it was felt it would sharpen the contrast and accentuate the darker parts of the engraving.