Classic British stamps – King Edward VII Penny Red stamp, 1902


30 March 2020
Edward-VII-1d-red-stamp-1902-62329.jpg Edward VII 1d red stamp 1902
We provide a GB Stamps fact file on the King Edward VII 1d red stamp first issued in 1902

The background of the King Edward VII Penny Red stamp

The Edward VII Penny Red went on general sale, together with the near-identical halfpenny green, twopence-halfpenny ultramarine and sixpence pale dull purple on 1 January 1902, almost a year into the new reign.

After more than sixty years of buying stamps bearing the new King’s mother’s portrait, Post Office counter customers, who had perhaps hoped for sweeping design changes, now seemed satisfied with the innovation of a male head on Britain’s stamps following Victoria’s 62-year monopoly.

Some satisfaction was also expressed on seeing that the Post Office had reverted to stamps of single colours; and that the monarch’s portrait, centrally set in an oval of laurel leaves symbolising Victory; and oak leaves signifying sovereignty; showed an honest likeness of the King, revealing his good humour, kindness and common-sense nature.

When buying your first Edward VII penny red, you will have questions of colour shade, watermark difference and overall condition buzzing through your mind.

Additionally, you have to be aware that two printers – De La Rue and Harrison & Sons – produced these stamps and subjected their sheets to different perforating gauges.

Yes, there is much for the beginner to take in; but the more you look, the more you learn.

Don’t rush in with a three-figure purchase at the outset. Expect change from £10 when buying the first for your collection.

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Useful facts…

Neil Mantle of UK GB Stamps ( has identified at least 87 shades of the 1d across the printers and perforation varieties.


  • January 1902 – the first definitives of Edward VII are issued almost one year after the King’s accession to the throne
  • May 1910 – the King dies after several heart attacks
  • October 1911 – the 1d red was reissued, this time perforated 15 x 14, along with four other values, even though the king had died
  • June 1911 – the first definitives of King George V are issued but Edward VII stamps are still in use until 1913

Higher prices…

  • A rose-carmine lower marginal single with the ‘F 7’ control almost completely omitted, fine mint and ‘extremely rare being one of only two examples believed known’ was sold at Grosvenor for £1,250
  • A 1d ‘scarlet’ featuring a ‘Board of Education’ overprint sold for £55 recently on eBay.

Affordable price…

  • Used examples can be picked up for less than £1
  • A block of six 1d reds in mint condition sold on eBay in January for £11

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