“In 1889 a general opinion was expressed that the fiftieth anniversary of the introduction of Uniform Penny Postage in this country ought not to be allowed to pass without some indication of the feelings which must actuate all who look back to the great reform introduced in 1840, and consider what has since been done.” Extract from the introduction to “Account of the Celebration of the Jubilee”.
And so it was that 1890 saw the introduction of Great Britain’s first commemorative postal stationery to mark the introduction of Uniform Penny Postage fifty years earlier. The Guildhall letter card (pictured at right) prepared for the Jubilee Exhibition held there from 16 to 19 May was very successful; priced at 6d, the 5’000 examples sold out on the first day. This inspired the Post Office to prepare its own souvenir for the official Post Office Conversazione at South Kensington Museum on 2 July.
These envelopes and an accompanying insert card were sold not only at the South Kensington Museum Exhibition but throughout London and many other post offices in the United Kingdom. London’s Head District, Branch and Receiving Offices sold a total of 148,830 envelopes and cards at 1s for both.
An interesting aside to the South Kensington envelope is the Harry Furniss caricature and the Elliot imitation.
Bibliography & Further Reading
The Penny Postage Jubilee 1890 by Werner Bauschke (1989)
The Genesis of the Jubilee Envelope by John Davies FRPSL, GB Journal Jan/Feb 2012 Vol. 50 No.1 – Download from the GB Philatelic Society website