The GERLs. [098]


No, this isn't a misspelling. It is about the definitive stamps of Ireland from 1968 to 1978. The name is from the family namethe designer, Heinrich Gerl of Munich, Germany, who won an international stamp design competition sponsored by the Irish Post Office in 1966. These were the stamps to replace onethe world's longest running designs, the "Map of Ireland" and "Sword of Light" series which had run since 1922. Eleven artists submitted fifty seven designs. Gerl's designs were based on early Irish art.

The four initial designs were:

The Dog

A single color used on the lower denominations. This is on ancient Irish brooch from Killarney which is in the Irish Museum.

The Stag

A two color design based on the Irish elk based on a design in the British Museum. This was for use in middle values.

The Winged Ox

The symbolSt. Luke, taken from a design in the Gospel BookLichfield, in the Lichfield Cathedral. This was used in four colors in high values.

The Eagle

Another religious symbol, thatSt. John the Evangelist. The original is in an ancient Irish manuscript now in the LibraryCorpus Christi College, Cambridge.This is also in four colors used in high values.

Gerl booklet pane

Pnne5 x 1p stamps also showing the bilingual instructional notice on the inside coverthe booklet.

All stamps in these series were printed in rotary photogravure by the Stamping Branch, Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Dublin Castle on a four color Chambon Press. The stamps appeared in both the Pound/Shilling/Pence (£,s,d) and the Pound/Decimal Pence after the currency went metric in 1971. The paper used was both watermarked e and unwatermarked. Both gum arabic and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gums were used during the series life span. Sheet stamps were perforated 15, while coils are perforated 14 x 14. Booklet panes are perforated 15.

Due to the changes in currency from pounds, shillings, pence in 1971 to pounds, and decimal pence , and the changes in postal rates over the life span of this series, many values appear initially as medium values, and were later considered low values. This, in turn, changed the design used. Thus, there is a 8d stag stamp (middle value) found from the 1968 series, while by 1975, the 8 pence is a dog (low value). This may seem surprising since the 8d was 8/240 of a pound (£0.033) in 1968 and the 8 p was 8/100 (£0.08)a pound in 1978. The cause, however, is inflation, which made the 1978 pound worth less; specifically 0.416 or 41.6 percent of the 1968 pound.

As in any long running series, there are errors and varieties. Collecting them can be a challenge. In addition, there are booklets, coils, coil leaders, gutters, first day covers (at least 16), all which can add up to an interesting collection.



The Gerl Definitives, Warren, Brian & Fitzgerald, Edward, Ian Whyte Publications, Dublin, 1978.
The Revealer, various issues.
Hibernian Handbook, Hamilton-Bowen, Roy
Catalogue   the Postage Stamps of Ireland, Rodgau Philatelic Service, GMBH, 2009

© 2005-2011 ÉPA, Éire Philatelic Association
Last Update: 6 July 2011


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