The Franco-British Exhibition 1908.

Post mark errors, inverted 80 and others.


Don Knight.

The Prince of Wales who became Edward VII 1901-1910, visited the Paris Exhibition in 1900, he was impressed with the fine buildings, the Eiffel Tower and its display of industry and products from countries around the world. The Eiffel Tower, which was a major attraction, stood 990 feet and is still there today. Another thing he did was to travel the moving footpath. On getting back to London he started to talk to the Dignitaries and Members of Parliament saying how it would be great to hold an exhibition in Britain, along with France, to display the products of both countries and the British Empire and to try to promote The Entent Cordial between the two countries.

   Small 08                                     Large 08

The British Government started to talk about this in 1905 and asked the French to join in an exhibition to be held in 1908, they agreed to this and it was called The Franco-British Exhibition.

The site was to be at Shepherds Bush, London, on an area of wet farmland which covered 140 acres. Work started on the site 3 January 1907 with work being done day and night and at the height of building over 8,000 men were working on the site each day. The buildings were to be fire proof, the framework of iron was put up, brickwork done and the roofs put on. When this had been done, the plasterers went in before the floors were laid and cast in fibrous plasterer, all the ornate work that was to go on the exterior and interior of the buildings. The plasterers then fixed this and the painters then painted the exterior of the buildings white, the paths, lagoons, bridges and bandstands built and the gardens laid.

On Wednesday the 14 May, in pouring rain, the Prince and Princess of Wales (George V 1910-1936) opened the Franco-British Exhibition in the Court of Honour. (today the site of the B.B.C. Television Studios Wood Lane) It cost 1/- (one shilling or 5p) for adults to get into the exhibition, children 6d (six pence or 2p). On entering the exhibition the visitors entered the Court of Honour seeing all the ornate buildings and water, they stood and looked and said "White City" for which the area is known to this day. There was over one hundred buildings, the largest was the Machinery Hall. It was in this the electricity was generated to light the exhibition, the Court of Honour alone had 160,000 light bulbs. Visitors could ride on the Swan Boats or Electric Launches for 6d from the Court of Honour and around the lagoons seeing many of the fine buildings. A visit to the Ballymaclinton Irish Village was not to be missed or to see the Senegalese Village.


Inverted SP                                Missing date

It was on the 26 May when King Edward VII and President M. Falliers of France visited the exhibition, they arrived at 3 pm and stayed just two hours. On leaving the Daily Mail, who had its own pavilion with reporters, type setters and a printing press published a paper reporting their visit. It was on this day the post office started to hand stamp the cards posted at the exhibition and did so until it closed on the 31 October 1908. The Ballymaclinton Village had its own post office and hand stamp, used from June until 31 October 1908. When the exhibition closed there had been over 8,200,000 visitors.

Collecting post cards from the Franco-British exhibition can be very easy, everyone did post card collecting then and these were put into post card album’s which have kept them in good condition over the years. With over 8 million visitors, nearly everyone would have posted a card or cards in the exhibition grounds and taken home a few cards or packets of cards, these packets were numbered and produced in many colours. The Exhibition Official Printers Valentines produced their ranges of post cards in colour, black and white and sepia, these were on sale at newsagents in the Shepherds Bush area and around London. It s possible to find cards of the exhibition posted before the exhibition opened.

Collecting post marks of the Franco-British Exhibition can be quite easy due to the number of visitors it had. Finding cards posted on the opening day is not very easy but can be found with machine cancel or with a Shepherds Bush hand stamp for 14 May 1908. It was not until King Edward VII and President Falliers visited the exhibition on the 26 May 1908 the post cards were cancelled with the Franco-British Exhibition hand stamp, this date is not very common.

There were two hand stamps used, and if we look very hard there are two ways of seeing the difference in the hand stamps. One is the placing of the letters around the ring of the hand stamp, with the other being the size of the 08. The larger 08 can be called hand stamp No. 1 and the smaller size can be called hand stamp No. 2.

The mail was collected from post boxes that were inside some of the larger buildings and the hand stamp applied at the following times 11.30 am, 12.15 am, 1.45 pm, 3 pm, 4.30 pm, 5.30 pm, 7 pm, 8 pm, 9 pm and 9.30 pm.

In collecting post cards and post marks over the last 35 years I have found that it is possible to collect more than 1,000 cards alone from the Franco-British Exhibition their various types and by various printers. Subsequently, the picture post card views were used for the 1908 exhibition, were re-issued for later exhibitions held at White City with just the title being changed.

The collecting of post marks starts slowly and when finding items not listed or recorded elsewhere, collecting becomes more specialised. In Pearson’s book of Special Events it shows the Franco-British Exhibition and shows that the inverted 08 can be found but with no firm dates, time or period recorded. Here are my findings and, with the help of other collectors, it can be added to nearly 100 years after the exhibition so that a record of this can be published. How did the inverted 08 happen ? was the hand stamp dropped and had to be reassembled ? or did one or a number of postmen do it on purpose or was it an accident. The answer will never be known. We do have post marks to prove it happened, now we must try to get the correct period and times.

Missing time 28 SP                               Missing time 30 SP

The hand stamp used for the error was the one with the smaller 08, the No. 2 hand stamp.

The hand stamp was correct when used on Thursday 17 September 08 at 5.30 pm.

It was inverted on Friday 18 September 80 at 5.30 pm.

It was inverted on Saturday 19 September 80 at 4.30 pm

It was inverted on Saturday 19 September 80 at 5.30 pm

It was inverted on Saturday 19 September 80 at 7 pm

It was inverted on Saturday 19 September 80 at 9 pm

It was inverted on Monday 21 September 80 at 12.15 am

The hand stamp was correct when used on Monday 21 September 08 at 5.30 pm.

Post mark errors noted on hand stamp No. 1 with the larger 08 are,

With missing date .....September 08 at 12.15 am.

With missing date .....September 08 at 4.30 pm.

With missing date .....September 08 at 9 pm.

Inverted SP Saturday 5 September 08 at 8 pm.

Inverted SP Saturday 5 September 08 at 9 pm.

No time Monday 28 September 08

No time Wednesday 30 September 08

It is also possible to find hand stamps in which the numbers 8 and 9 are inverted.

If you can add to this information please contact Don R. Knight. 2, Crescent Road, New Barnet, Herts. EN4 9RF.

© Exhibition Study Group 2003