Cancellations of the Festival of Empire Imperial Exhibition


Kenneth Tonkin.


            The Exhibition was held at the Crystal Palace from the 10th May to the 28th October 1911 and a full range of postal facilities was provided by the Post Office. A number of special cancellations were issued for use on mail posted at the exhibition and these are detailed below.


Duplex flag handstamp numbered 1 to 6


            Handstamps 1 to 3 were issued on the 10th May and were used throughout the period of the exhibition and are fairly common. Handstamps 5 and 6 were issued on the 10th May but were never used and no examples are known.





            Handstamp number 4 was issued on the 8th May, two days earlier than the other handstamps, but the reason for this is unknown. Its use has only been recorded during May with the earliest known being the 15th on an envelope addressed to George King shown below.



Large double framed circular handstamps numbered 7 and 8.

            Both handstamps were issued on the 10th May. Proof impressions dated the 9th May include a time, whereas actual cancellations omit this. Handstamp number 7 was only used on parcels and registered mail and the certificates of posting for these items. Use of this handstamp was extremely limited and examples are rare.



Certificate of posting of a registered packet with the No. 7 hand stamp.



Certificate of posting of an un- registered parcel with the No. 7 hand stamp


Registered cover with three No. 7 hand stamps.

            Until recently it was thought that handstamp number 8 was a reserve cancellation that was never used. However two recently discovered covers show this was not the case. The first is a registered cover sent to George King, posted on the 28th October, the last day of the exhibition.



            The second cover was sent from Herne Bay on the 18th September ‘Post Restante’ to the Festival of Empire B O (Borough Post Office) where it was back stamped with the number 8 handstamp dated the 19th September. The cover is marked ‘Not Called For’ and initialled. It appears that the Post Office held the envelope for one month and then returned it to the sender on the 19th October. At this time the envelope received a number 1 flag cancellation and number 8 circular handstamp, together with a Norwood S E circular date stamp. Needless to say the sender of this envelope was George King.



Back of the 18 September cover, back stamped with the number 8 handstamp dated the 19th September. The cover is marked ‘Not Called For’


© Exhibition Study Group 2009