Stamp collecting guide - the Queen Victoria three halfpenny (1870)


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13 January 2017
three_halfpence_stamp-58989.png Three halfpence red, Image courtesy Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions
Discover more about the three halfpenny stamp first issued in 1870

The introduction of a Three Halfpenny postage rate, under which a letter weighing up to two ounces could be sent anywhere inland for 1½d, had been delayed by the authorities in 1860. Ten years on, the call for cheaper postage had risen to a clamour that resulted in the THREE HALFPENCE POSTAGE stamp being issued on the same day as the Halfpenny Rose Red (or bantam).

The shield-shaped frame around the monarch’s head provided a convenient space in which to set out the lettering; but the words HALFPENNY and POSTAGE became legible only when the stamp was turned left or right through ninety degrees.

A used Three Halfpence Red, with clear margins, might cost £45 or more; but it has a more interesting history that could further boost your enthusiasm and interest in early stamps.


Issue date: 1 October, 1870
Value: 1½d
Postal rate: six ounce printed matter (newspaper deliveries)
Reign: Queen Victoria
Valuable variety: error of lettering OP-PC for CP-PC

Useful facts…

• GB’s first three halfpenny postage stamp
• Plate 1 examples are less common than plate 3
• Plate 2 was defective and not used

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• March 1860 – rosy-mauve (also referred to as lilac rose) three halfpence stamps were printed but later destroyed after failing to gain official approval

• 1870 – rose-red and lake-red three halfpence stamps were finally issued, printed using the 1860 plates

• 1880 – surface printed three halfpenny Venetian red issued

Higher prices…
Examples of the 1860 abandoned issue have fetched between £180 and £1,750 at auction, with very scarce used examples having a value of
over £10,000

A ‘good mint’ example of the 1870 OP-PC error of lettering, with part original gum, small imperfections, realised £1,400 in a recent Grosvenor Philatelic Auctions sale

An 1870 example, imperforate and overprinted ‘SPECIMEN’ fetched £3,000 at Grosvenor

Affordable price…
Used examples of the 1870 three halfpenny stamp can be bought for as little as £10, with crisper cancellations and unused examples demanding upwards of £40