The love of stamps is no joke; those dedicated to such a love are known as philatelists, and the study of those delicate bits of paper is called philately. Newspapers may not be an obvious source for researching stamps, but they can, in fact, offer a glimpse into the history and evolution of stamps in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
We’ve found a few examples to showcase what treasures you can discover in the historic newspapers on The British Newspaper Archive.
The story of the “Post Office” Mauritius stamps constitutes one of the many romances of the stamp album. More than six years had elapsed since the introduction of the first adhesive postage stamp into Great Britain when the Governor of the Island of Mauritius, having studied with keen interest the postal reforms instituted by Sir Rowland Hill, obtained the consent of his legislative council to the adoption of the convenience of the postage stamp by the colonial post office. Much difficulty was at first experienced in finding a craftsman capable of preparing the necessary plate for printing stamps, but finally the work was entrusted to a watchmaker of Port Louis, Mr L Barnard. All things considered, the effect achieved by the watchmaker artist was by no means unsuccessful, although the likeness of Queen Victoria was the reverse of flattering. Through a misunderstanding the words “Post Office” were engraved along the left-hand side of the stamps. This was subsequently corrected to “Post Paid” when new plates were constructed. Five hundred stamps of each denomination were laboriously printed off, one at a time, from this place under official supervision, and were duly issued by the Colonial postmaster on September 21, 1847. […] For eighteen years they remained unknown to collectors, until, in October, 1865, both the 1d. and 2d. “Post Office” Mauritius, used on a single letter, were unearthed from amongst some old papers by a lady living at Bordeaux. […] The price paid at a recent sale in Paris [£3,980], nearly three times that of sixteen years ago, throws an interesting light upon the tremendous increase in the values of rare postage stamps that has taken place during the past few years, and the number of wealthy connoisseurs who are ever ready to pay superlative prices for rarities in the finest state of preservation. From ‘The Romance of a Postage Stamp’ by Douglas B Armstrong