(information on countries involved from Jack Harwood of the Postal Order Society with thanks).
British postal orders were overprinted for a wide range of countries. Unoverprinted British postal orders were also used in many of them, identifiable by the counter stamp (postmark) of the issuing office; if odd amounts are covered by the addition of postage stamps these unoverprinted postal orders should therefore bear the stamps of the issuing country, not GB stamps.
Some of these postal orders are of considerable rarity, often fetching prices of over £100; in particular older postal orders from some of these countries can fetch prices of several hundred pounds (2005 prices).
There is no definitive list of which postal orders exist overprinted for each country: stocks would be ordered as and when the need arose. The images below attempt to show one from each country, (nb the images are not to scale); I am grateful to several members of the Postal Order Society for letting me have some scans.
It is interesting to note that even large postal administrations such as New Zealand and South Africa were still using overprinted British postal orders until the 1960s (in the case of South Africa locally produced postal orders were also used in some periods). Unoverprinted GB postal orders are still in use in several countries of the Commonwealth. Money orders, pension orders etc are outside the scope of these listings (see illustration at the end).
Overprinted GB postal orders are known from the following countries.
Aden, Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bechuanaland (& with additional "Botswana" overprint), Bermuda, BAOR (British Army of the Rhine), British Guiana, British Honduras, British Postal Agencies in the Gulf, British Solomon Islands, Burma
Canada, Cape Colony, Ceylon, Cyprus, Dominica, Dubai, East Africa, Egypt, Falkland Is, Fiji
Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Gilbert & Ellice Islands, Gold Coast, Grenada, India, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica
Kenya, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malta, Mauritius, Montserrat, Morocco, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Borneo, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland
Palestine, Pitcairn Is, Qatar, Rhodesia & Nyasaland, St Helena, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Arabia (Aden), Southern Nigeria, Southern Rhodesia, Southern Yemen, Sudan
Tanganyika, Tonga, Transvaal, Trinidad, Trinidad & Tobago, Tristan da Cunha, Turks Is, Virgin Is, Yemen People's Democratic Republic (Aden), Zambia
School Specimens, overprinted pension orders etc
Postal Orders at philatelic exhibitions
The FIP "Special regulations for the evaluation of postal stationery exhibits at FIP exhibitions", paragraph 3.4(4), and paragraph 1.3.4 of the section "Guidelines for judging postal stationery exhibits", state that postal orders can counted either as postal stationery or as revenues (the latter because of poundage fee imprints).
page last updated: 28 October 2008, 12 April 2011, 19 December 2015, 29 August 2018
gbos: GB Overprints Society