Stamp collecting guide: Victorian embossed stamps


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28 October 2017
victorian_embossed_stamp-42238.png A 1 shilling Victorian embossed stamp
Discover more about Britain's short-lived embossed stamps, issued during the reign of Queen Victoria, in our stamp collecting guide

Britain's embossed stamps, issued during the reign of Queen Victoria for overseas postage, saw a new approach to production that would never be repeated.

The stamps were printed one at a time on thick silk thread paper and the simple designs were raised and recessed to create a rough surface.

Many postal workers cut around the octagonal design before they were sold, while the laborious printing process meant the stamps were often very close to each other or even overlapped; clean, square-cut examples with four clear margins are therefore the most desirable to collectors today.

Britain's experimentation with embossed stamps only lasted seven years and produced just three stamp values.

The stamps were issued in the following three values:

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  • 1 Shilling (green) - 11 September 1847
  • 10d (brown) - 6 November 1848
  • 6d (mauve/lilac/purple) - 1 March 1854

The 1 shilling was produced to cover the rate for postage to the USA, and was the first British stamp over the value of 2d. 

The 10d covered the rate to European destinations, including France and Italy, and the 6d covered the rate to Belgium.

The embossed stamps were replaced by Britain's first surface-printed stamps in 1856, following the reduction in the rate to send mail to Europe, the previous year.

The die for the embossed stamps was engraved by William Wyon, and based on his Wyon City Medal of 1834 which depicted a fifteen-year-old Victoria (before she became Queen).

Discover more about collecting British stamps in our dedicated GB stamps guides. Keep up to date with Royal Mail's latest special stamps, and read in-depth articles, previews and opinion on British stamps in every issue of Stamp Collector magazine.