A B.E.E. IN MY BONNET

 

by Peter Griffin

 

Part 4

 

Stationery, Cards and Collectibles

 

            No Wembley collection should be without an example or two of the Postal Stationary items. Four items were produced for each year and printed with an impression of the relevant stamps.

            The 1d rate postcard was printed in red on stiff white card and the 1 1/2d envelope in brown on good quality cream laid paper. The 1.1/2d rate postcard for overseas was printed on thin buff card and a 1 1/2d letter card on greyish-cream card. The latter enjoy a few varieties relating to number of perforation holes, distribution of gum etc., so even the mundane postal stationery items provide something else to look for. Unfortunately most of the material to be had is affected by foxing to some degree. Be prepared to pay a lot extra for pristine material.

            I understand there are in excess of 3,900 picture postcards relevant to the exhibition. Most likely to be found now are the general views or specific scenes of individual pavilions.

           Less common are scenes from within the pavilions or from the countries concerned, (Fig. 1), and scarcest of all are the advertising cards produced by some of the commercial exhibitors. A few comic postcards were available and again are very seldom found now. Some subjects are on-going collectable themes as in the case of The Queen's Doll's House, which is now on display at Windsor, for which fresh ranges of cards have been produced since 1924. I am fortunate in possessing a letter by Queen Mary in which she thanks the many craftsmen involved in the designing, building and furnishing of the Doll's House.

 

 

Fig. 1.

            The humble and so often maligned perfin should get a mention here as the stamp not only pays the postage but provides a bit of advertising for the firm it relates to. It is assumed the majority of them were produced by businesses actually involved at the exhibition and any with the exhibition postmarks almost certainly would have been. Many of these perfins have yet to be identified so there is a study area some one might like to take up.

            The Government Pavilion boasted its own 'Post Office', but it was for demonstration only. A series of six cards advertised such services as the telephone, telegrams and trans-world cables was available at the post office exhibit, and these could be processed in the new demonstration electric cancelling machine. (Fig. 2)

            The slogan can be found on adhesives on cover but these undated items are purely philatelic and never went through the postal system. They are none the less very collectable and very scarce.

            Also in this section one could send a telegram to oneself. The appropriate message was written onto the form which had a 1d adhesive affixed to the top right corner. This was cancelled with the special dated hand stamp and the message duly transmitted. At a delivery point elsewhere in the pavilion one would collect the printed telegram - All for the cost of a penny. The matching pairs of forms are now horribly expensive, and not the sort of thing that turns up in dealers junk boxes I'm afraid.

            A nice letter I have to pair with Queen Mary's Doll's House item is one written by King George in which he refers to the somewhat unpleasant weather conditions on the opening day that seemed to set the general standard throughout the 1924 season. This prompted the production of a strange little publicity item that more in hope than certainty predicted better things for the 1925 season.

 

Fig. 2.

            Oh for the contents of just one litter bin from that exhibition! Amongst the wasps and apple cores would be a wealth of 'Junk' bearing the magic Lion that normally sane people now do battle for in auction houses the world over. Entrance tickets, guides, programmes, commercial handouts of all descriptions that are flat enough to go on an album page are all collectable and fascinating items from this most wonderful of events. Besides the paper 'flatware' can be included brooches, medallions, mounted photographic souvenirs and then the bulkier ornaments, boxes, bottles, tins and containers of all types that have survived the ravages of time and seventy years of spring cleaning clearouts.

            In the next newsletter I shall discuss the range of postmarks used on mail actually posted from within the exhibition grounds.

 

© Exhibition Study Group 1994

 

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