“Seahorse” High Values

Great Britain 1913

seahorse highvalue


First issued in June and August 1913, on the cusp of World War I, the definitive high value “Seahorses” remain one of the most iconic British stamps to date.

This is primarily due to their high-quality engraving and intricate design, depicting Britannia on her chariot pulled by three horses through rough seas, accompanied by a striking portrait of King George V.

These elegant stamps were designed by the renowned Australian sculptor, Bertram Mackennal and issued in four colours and values: brown (2s 6d), red (5s), blue (10s) and green (£1). During this turbulent era of war and economic turmoil the stamps were a symbol of patriotism and camaraderie; depicting Britain and the Empire as ‘The ruler of
the seas’.

The longevity of the issue, coupled with the powerful Britannia design, explains why they were and still are so popular with collectors.

Did you know

  • The Seahorses were in circulation longer than any other British high-value stamp.
  • Four contractors were used to print over 100 million of these stamps, from over 50 individual plates. Sadly the archive of one of the contractors (Bradbury Wilkinson) was incinerated on the instructions of the management.
  • The Seahorses were overprinted for use in Bechuanaland, British Levant, Ireland, Morocco Agencies and Nauru.
  • Used primarily on parcels with large, heavy cancellations, neatly cancelled, well-centred examples with good colour are often far scarcer than their mint equivalents.