Pat Walker Talk on Pre-Adhesive Irish Postal History

The Collectors Club of New York has been giving excellent presentations via Zoom and the talks are open to all.

Distinguished Irish philatelist Pat Walker will be giving a presentation “Pre-adhesive Irish postal history” on March 3 at 5:30 pm Eastern.  You do not have to be a member of the Collectors Club but you must register.  Go to their website at  If you hear of any other philatelic presentations that might be of interest to our members, please let the Secretary John B. Sharkey know so that he can post it.


An Post Issues Patrick Scott Stamp

In a rare accolade for a visual artist, An Post in January issued a stamp marking the centenary of the birth of artist and designer Patrick Scott, who died in February 2014.

More than just a stamp, the commemorative pack, designed by Oonagh Young and described by An Post as “a miniature artwork” in itself, incorporates two three Euro stamps reproducing one of the artist’s trademark abstract compositions, Meditatiomn 28.  The exceptionally large stamps flank a reproduction of another work, Gold Painting 21.

Throughout his long, immensely productive career, Scott was a major modernizing influence in Irish are and design thropugh his multiple roles as artist, designer and, in the best sense, consultant.  He has been credited with producing “the most consistently excellent body of work of any Irish artist” (Brian O’Doherty).  

(Thanks to Brian Warren for this information)

Meter Stamps of Ireland

A new link has been added to the ÉPA website.  The International Postage Meter Stamp Catalog/Ireland shows meter stampps going back to 1926. There are four categories: irish Free State, Republic, special stamps generated only by Post Office Meters, and special stamps generated only for Parcel Post.  On our home page go to Links, then General Philatelic Resources, click on the last link (meter stamp catalog, then open International Postage meter Stamp catalog/Ireland.  Enjoy this specialozed area of Irish philately.

Spring 2020 Revealer

Dear fellow members of the ÉPA.  Although the Spring 2020 Revealer was sent out about a month ago,  the pandemic has caused 

major delays at the Post Office.  Bulk mail is the lowest priority, and with fewer flights and fewer healthy workers, the mail is delayed.

The good news is that members have started to receive their Revealer, so hang in there; your issue will be there soon.  In the meantime,

we have put the Spring issue on our ÉPA website for your convenience.  Please do not forget the ÉPA Auction.  Our manager Bob Kemper has sent the auction to all of our members that

have an email address and it is also available on our website.  Please support our auction, as it is an important source of revenue for the ÉPA.  We hope that you and your family are well and that these difficult times

will soon be over.

Irish Meter Stamp Catalog

Irish Meters Catalogue On-Line
Ray Murphy

Have you ever looked at a postage meter imprint and said “I wish I knew more about them, but there are no references to the Irish ones”?  Well, now there is one. and it is available on-line!  The web site is under Wikipedia (, page down to wikibooks, then English, Miscellaneous, Recreational, Collecting.  Look under partially completed then International Meter Stamp Catalogue.  Select Ireland.  It is worthwhile to browse through the basic catalog to identify abbreviations and read the introduction. A direct link is however, this doesn’t always seem to work properly.

The catalogue divides meters into four categories:  
    A.  Irish Free State
    B.  Eire
    C.  Post Office Meters
    D.  Parcel Post Meters

Each type imprint is pictured and linked to the type of machine, sorted by machine manufacturer and date. This is a worthwhile addition to the library of any collector of Irish postal history.




In August, many thoughts will turn to the Irish Rugby Team’s participation in the World Cup in Japan (September 20 – November 2).  Two stamps will be issued by An Post on August 29 featuring the achievements of two people closely associated with the success of the Irish Rugby Team:  Manager, Joe Schmidt, and player Johnny Sexton.  They were part of the team that won the 2018 Grand Slam.

Tools for Philatelists – Watermarks

by Raymond MurphyThis is a series of articles on what tools are available to help the collector.  Some may be basic, and some advanced. It is not necessarily related only to Irish collecting, but Irish examples will be used as available.

What is a watermark?  The correct answer is that it isn’t something, but rather the absence of paper at a specific spot in a pattern.  In paper making, wood or linen is cut to small pieces, and dissolved with chemicals to make a watery pulp mixture called “Stuff”. The “stuff” solution is pumped on a continuous moving belt and the water drains off. At this point another mesh drum with raised bits of metal, called a “Dandy” roll, is rolled on the stuff as it moves along the belt.  The “bits” are in the design of the watermark. This causes thin spots in the paper, which is eventually rolled and pressed smooth.  The thin spots however, are still there, just difficult to see.  If it wasn’t pressed by further rolling, it would be easy to see, as on certain brands of toilet tissue. (Figure 1).  Yes, that’s a watermark, just not a philatelic one.

Why is this done?  In the case of toilet tissue – advertising, but for stamps or negotiable paper, Security !  If you control the distribution of watermarked paper of a specific design, the absence of that specific watermark flags that something is wrong.  

How can we check the watermark.  Several methods are available, however one must assure that there is nothing that gets in the way, such as stamp hinges or pieces of debris where it was removed from a cover.
    1.  Try laying the stamp, face down, on a dark non-glossy surface.  Sometime you can see the watermark.

    2.  Use watermark fluid while the stamp is face down on a dark surface.  Do not substitute naphtha or lighter fluid since this may affect the ink. Certainly avoid hazardous substances, such as carbon tetrachloride, the old favorite, which is now known to cause liver damage.

    3.  Use a commercial signoscope where the stamp is placed under a clear plastic block, then compressed, which places a plastic block under pressure.  The pressure causes the block to distort slightly because of the stamp watermark, and when light enters the block at a right angle to our vision, this slight distortion appears as a dark area, thus the watermark. There are other commercial versions that operate on the same principle. Figure 2.

    4.  Use a colored filter that is identical or close to the color of the stamp.  In some cases, you may be able to see the watermark.  Of course, with multi-colored stamps, this method usually doesn’t work.

A watermark can vary in size.  Some countries use small ones, others spread the watermark over three or four stamps, and a few use the entire pane.  U.S. watermarks of the USPS variety may have a distinguishable letter on a stamp, or maybe only part of a letter, or possibly just the corner of a letter.  (See Scott’s Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps & Covers, Introduction for layout of letters versus stamp positions).
Since watermark production is a mechanical process, it is subject to problems.  Pieces of the metal bits can come off the Dandy roll, creating unusual watermarks.  Paper with the wrong watermarks can be used by the printers.  The example of the USIR watermarked paper (for Internal Revenue) accidentally used instead of USPS paper on stamps of 1895, (Scott 271a & 272a) are good examples. And, of course, the infamous inverted watermark occurring when paper is incorrectly fed to the press.

On foreign stamps, watermarks usually change on security paper when a sovereign dies.  This normally coincides with new stamp designs of the incoming ruler.  If paper manufacturers are changed or new equipment is introduced, an accompanying change in watermarks may occur.  The British Victorian and George V periods are particularly interesting due to the great variety of watermarks used.  The 1911 set of two stamps of King George V (Figure 3) initially had a large crown watermark.(Figure 4)  It was reissued in August 1912 re–engraved, but with a script GVR watermark in a single line.(Figure 5)  In October 1912, another re-issue but this time using a crown and script GvR watermark in alternating lines.(Figure 6)  Fortunately, later in 1912, a different stamp series were issued.

Ireland is fortunate in having used only two watermarks on postal stamps, the entwined SE, of Saorstát Eireann from 1922 to 1940, and the “E” of Eire after 1940.  These can appear in 8 possible positions depending on how the paper went through the press.  See figures 7 and 8.

 Collectors of Irish stamps should check their examples of the £1 architecture of the sixth definitive set  for watermarks. It should have an “e” watermark.  (Figure 9).  Counterfeiters printed some stamps on paper without watermarks (and incorrect perforations), resulting in removal of the stamp from circulation in 1984 and the early replacement of the definitive set. None of the fakes have been found postally used – only used in TV tax books.

Some inverted watermarks are done as a result of how the pane was laid out.  Booklet stamps use the gutters as points where the panes are secured in the booklet.  Depending on the plate design, 50% can be inverted.

Can watermarks be faked?  Yes, and No. Modern printers can print a very faint layer, but this is usually detectable by most methods.  Sometimes a very heavy cancellation can obscure a watermark or the absence thereof.

Williams, L. N.,  Fundamentals of Philately, APS, 1990.
Repeta, L., “Comprehensive Look at Key Stamp Subjects”, American Philatelist, Vol.101,#2, February 1987, p128 ff.
Buxton, B.H., The Buxton Encyclopedia of Watermarks, Tappen, NY, 1997.


Irish Coil Stamps 1922 to 1940

Robert Benninghjoff’s award-winning exhibit Irish Coil Stamps 1922 to 1940 has been uploaded to our website.

This five-frame exhibit shows the importance of coil stamps in the development of commercial mail in Ireland from Independence in 1922 until 1940 when the only change was in the stamp paper watermark from SE for Saorstat Eireann to e for Éire.  To view the exhibit go to ÉPA Resources in the above menu and open Exhibits.

An Post Issues Ninth Definitive Series

On 25 January 2018, An Post iissued Phase II of the Ninth Definitive Stamp Series – ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects, a selection’.  The series is based on Fintan O’Toole’s book, ‘A History of Ireland in 100 Objects’, a project which originally involved The Irish Times, The National Museum of Ireland and the Royal Irish Academy.  With the launch of the stamp series, An Post became a partner in the project.

The objects shown on the two first day covers open a window into an important moment in Irish history.  Featured on the first cover are: the Loughnashade Trumpet, an outstanding piece of Celtic art; the Keshcarrigan Bowl, early first-century, features a superb handle, cast in the shape of a bird’s head; St. Patrick’s Confessio c. AD 460-490, a brief account of St. Patrick’s life in his own words; and the Book of Kells, 9th century, Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript.

Featured on the second cover are: the Petrie ‘crown’, second century, a sheet of bronze, with a pair of highly decorated discs attached to its front;  the late sixth centurt Springmount Wax Tablets, bearing parts of Psalms 30 and 31 in a beautiful hand; the eighth century silver-gilt ‘Tara’ Brooch, the most outstanding item of secular metalwork of the medieval period; and the eighth century Ardagh Chalice, one of the finist liturgical vessels of the early Christian world.

The series is complemented by the website ‘’.  As the stamps are issued, the website populates with detailed information about each of the featured objects, the social context of the era and showcases images of the objects.


Reference:  irish Stamps, The Collector, 01/18