MAP by Bag
A handstamp as shown above was applied to the contemporary George VI "Arms" high values; it is known on the 2/6d green, 5s, 10s indigo and (more rarely) 10s bright blue. It is reported that this handstamp was used when blueprints of aircraft engines during WWII were sent in diplomatic bags by the Ministry of Aircraft Production ("MAP") to the Chrysler plant in Detroit. It is further reported that the handstamp was devised so that the packages went as prepaid mail so as not to breach the regulations against unpaid mail being sent by Diplomatic Pouch.
It is arguable, therefore, whether this should be counted as an overprint, a cachet, a cancellation, or a private security measure. However the 2/6d stamps often appear to have an additional postmark, which moves them out of the "cancellation" category. The 5s and 10s appear to be offered for sale usually in blocks of 4 (without additional postmark), the 2/6d as singles; the reasons for this distribution are not recorded.
The overprint appears to exist in different colours (black, violet, red) but the quality of the ink used for the overprint seems somewhat poor and all may actually have been from rather fewer ink sources. Similarly slight differences in the format of the overprint may merely arise from distortion caused by overinking or excessive pressure.
Note: this numbering system was drawn up by the Society for the website, and may not be used without permission.
King George VI
2/6d, red handstamp, with typical parcel postmark in black and red. (Image courtesy Chas Walker)
5s, violet handstamp (from typical block of 4).
The two 10s colours (image courtesy of Ten O'Clock Show auctions)
1 2/6d green, black overprint
2 2/6d green, red overprint
3 5/- red
4 10/- dark indigo
5 10/- bright blue
The precise dates of issue and withdrawal have not been reported, but the department ceased to exist in 1945.
page last updated on: 29 August 2008, 6 March 2013
gbos: GB Overprints Society