Great Britain - Numbers in 'Maltese Cross' Cancellations

5/05/2012     Great Britain

The wide variety of Maltese Cross cancellations, as the first ever postmarks to be found on the first ever stamps, have long fascinated philatelists. Being hand cut, many towns had slightly different shapes of 'Maltese Cross' postmarks, with the most obvious shapes becoming highly sought-after. Perhaps the most dramatic, and easily obtainable however, are the numbers in 'Maltese Cross' types.

These eye-catching postmarks were used at various London Post Offices from March 1843 until May 1844. Each cross had a large central number to identify the office of origin, and in this way were the precursor of the modern office – specific postmark. The numbers ran from 1 to 12 with all numbers, except the 3, having a small cross at the top of the design to help distinguish the number 6 from the number 9.

The 1840 1d blacks and 2d blues are occasionally found with these postmarks, but more commonly the 1841 1d red- browns give the collector his only chance to build a complete run of numbers. Whilst the number 4 is the scarcest, the numbers 3, 11 and 12 also proving increasingly difficult to find.

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