1890 10d Dull Purple and Carmine Hand-Painted Essays

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De La Rue were asked verbally in March 1889 by J. S. Purcell to produce essays for the design of the 10d and they submitted ten hand-painted, each on card numbered 1 to 10, on 15th March to Somerset House.

Numbered 3. Phillips collection in the British Library

Numbered 8. For sale by Stanley Gibbons 2017 for £10’000


A set on tracing paper was retained by De La Rue. Their archive was later auctioned by Robson Lowe in London on 16th December 1976. All are pen cancelled. Numbers 1-3 and 8-10 are in Post Office Heritage Services.

Numbered 6. Ex “Aureum” collection, Stanley Gibbons 2016, £9’500

At the request of the Controller, one further essay similar to No.3 but with smaller lettering was produced on 19th March.

Numbered 3 Alternative Design. Graham Horton collection

On 22nd March 1889 a further four essays were submitted on card, reverting to the idea of a duty tablet in each corner. A and B appear to be missing. Even only C and D on tracing paper were offered in the De La Rue archive sale.

Ex D. Rabley, lot 1342 Robson Lowe 9th Sep 1982

Numbered C. Ex De La Rue archive. Graham Horton collection

Design 3 of the 19th March was the accepted design, as seen by the tick at the lower right. However the original design 3 was the one finally approved on 4th June 1889, with the card initialled and dated by H. C. Raikes, the Postmaster General. Although the colours had still not been decided, work on the head and duty plate dies were completed on 15th August 1889 with the first head and duty plates ready by December.


“The De La Rue Years”, vol.2, 1990, W. A. Wiseman
“Great Britain Victoria and Edwardian Proofs and Essays”, 16th Dec 1976, auction catalogue by Robson Lowe Ltd