Volume 2, Number 6

Irish Philatelic Newsletter

Volume 2, Number 6                                                                                                                          June, 2000

A periodic publication for the members of the Éire Philatelic Association, the Irish Airmail Society, the Irish Philatelic Circle and the Forschungs-und Arbeitsgemeinschaft Irland e.V. The newsletter will be e-mailed to all interested members.

Published and edited by Michael Connolly
Kingstown becomes Dun Laoghaire
Stan Challis

From time to time I find myself with a couple of hours to spare in London between appointments. Many of us would find the nearest pub; the more professional would spend the time carefully preparing for their next client meeting.  In my own case, if time permits, I betake myself to Post Office Archives, reasonably conveniently located at the back of Mount Pleasant Sorting Office, broadly midway between King’s Cross and Faringdon tube stations. Often I will go prepared knowing what files I might require to examine, but on a recent London visit the spare time was unexpected and I arrived unprepared.

Such a visit can be all but a waste of time but then you never know what you might stumble across. On this visit it was Post 31/108, a file containing an amusing (at this distance) correspondence between Post Office officials in
London and Dublin covering the years 1920 to 1925 regarding the adoption of Irish placenames.

The problem began in August 1920 when the Kingstown Urban District Council determined that in future the town would be designated Dun Laoghaire. A letter follows from a Dublin solicitor complaining that when a member of his
staff, when handing in a letter at a Dublin Branch Post Office addressed to Dun Laoghaire, was told the ‘post office cannot accept items addressed to silly places’ and that if the letter was to be sent to Kingstown it should be addressed as such.

Soon the solicitor is writing again complaining that when a member of his staff had tried to make a telephone call to Dun Laoghaire 45 the response was that no such place existed.

The first task for the Post Office was to check that the UDC’s action was legitimate.  It transpired that a town was quite entitled to call itself whatever it liked.  The Post Office would consider its position.

The problem for the Postal Officials was certainly not a desire to block the change of name but rather to avoid confusion and the attendant risk of mail delays. One letter deals with the spelling of Dun Laoghaire, noting that the
town had originally been know as Dunleary before becoming Kingstown. There was a problem with the accent over the u of Dun Laoghaire (I fear that I know of no way to incorporate accents into internet messages) and ‘was there
an easier way of spelling the town’s name, it could be difficult for Offices in the UK to pronounce’, etc. (on this latter point, try asking my Guernsey travel agent to pronounce Dun Laoghaire!). Kingstown was much easier.

Correspondence follows as to how entries were best shown in the Post Office Guide. Confusion was to be avoided at all cost. A letter of November 1921 states that ‘I propose to keep the double entry in the Guide’ which showed
complete entries for both Dun Laoghaire (or Kingstown)  and Kingstown (or Dun Laoghaire) and the letter continues ‘but to substitute Dun Laoghaire for Kingstown in Post Office notices and datestamps’. A notice dated 14 March 1922 subsequently states the name change was to take place on 1st April 1922.

Thus it was the British Post Office that set about issuing the first Irish inscribed handstamps and indeed, in Cyril’s book ‘Ireland’s Transition’, the Dun Laoghaire handstamps are recorded as being registered on 31st March 1922.  There may have been a short delay in introducing the Dun Laoghaire datestamps.  I have the old Kingstown datestamp cancelling a stamp at 12.15pm on 1 April 1922, but Dun Laoghaire was certainly in use by 7 April.

The file continues with more correspondence over the next three years. An envelope from a Birmingham firm addressed to Daingean Offaly, which was returned to the sender marked ‘Insufficiently addressed’, is included with a
note from the Head Postmaster of Birmingham reading ‘will you kindly say whether the address is intended for Offley, Hitchin (Hertfordshire)’.

An October 1924 letter states ‘It would seem better to retain the entries in the Post Office Guide regarding the Irish Free State in any case (until the border is finally resolved) probably in the course of the next 18 months or two years.  Irish entries were to persist in Post Offices In The United Kingdom until that publication ceased in the 1970s.

Another letter of November 1924 reveals that an entry by entry check of the Irish Post Guide against the British Guide had been conducted. It had been discovered that about 16 closures had not been made known to the British

The response suggests ‘we might enquire of the Irish Post Office if we are now nearly at the end of this re-christening process’. There was very genuine concern at the possibility of delay to the mails with towns being renamed, and the time wasted by ensuing correspondence. There was even a suggestion that the British Guide might contain a complete double entry of English and Irish names, but this was rejected on terms of added cost and lack of specific need.  ‘There are not many letters being addressed (from Britain) with town names in Irish’.

I wonder what I might find on my next visit to the Archives.

Best wishes

Stan Challis

Subject: US Navy Ships in Irish Ports
Paul Baines

Can you put me in touch with anyone who may be interested in compiling a listing of US Navy Ships which have visited Irish Ports between 1922 & 1939, together with a record of postmarks used to cancel covers. Some ships seem to have used a different cover for each day in port.

Happy Easter

Paul Baines

1999 Annual Report of An Post 

The 1999 Annual Report of An Post was issued recently. While mainly financial in its coverage, some items of philatelic interest were included and these are covered below.

During 1999, Letter Post installed two state-of-the-art Integrated Mail processors at its Mail Centre in Portlaoise. These can sort, to final destination, up to 58,000 items per hour. Pending the acquisition of suitable automated equipment, a new manual processing centre, dedicated to processing large letters and packages, was opened in Tallaght, Dublin. Letter Post will continue to develop its processing infrastructure with the construction during 2000 of a 70,000 sq. ft. extension at the Dublin Mails Centre. This will facilitate additional automated sorting equipment at
the plant.  An Post delivered 705,400,000 items of mail in 1999, equivalent to 188.4 items per head of population. This compares with 158.8 per capita in 1995. International mail represents 26% of Letter Post’s volume. There were 97 company-owned post offices and 1,816 sub-post offices at 31 December 1999. This shows an increase of 2 sub-post offices on 1998. Overall, An Post achieved 87% next day delivery, its target being 90%.


Stan Challis

The 1 1/2d stamp from the pre-decimal series of postage due series, a common enough stamp mint,  was never especially easy to find in used condition, although hardly rare. 

It is shown in the catalogues as being issued in 1953 to meet the need for charging postage due on printed paper rate items returned to the sender as being undeliverable. The postage rate on such printed paper rate items had increased from 1d to 1 1/2d on 9 July 1951 and unlike letter post items the regulations stipulated that postage due was payable on such returned items.  In consequence as a stamp the 1 1/2d rarely found its way to members of the general public as the unwilling recipients were likely to be business firms having printed paper rate items (i.e.: invoices, circulars etc.)  they had sent out returned to them.  Other uses of the stamp were, it seems, rare, although I have seen one cover with a block of a four being used to collect a 6d postage due charge.  As a basic used stamp it probably merits its catalogue price in the order of £4 to £5 dependent on which catalogue you choose to use. 

Occasional individual items excepted, there is basically just one supply of covers bearing the stamp available to collectors. That source is the substantial hoard of window envelopes with  postage due stamps which were ‘rescued’ from Dublin Corporation between c1945 and the late 1960s. The total number of such covers in collectors hands must run to several thousands and even the relatively highly catalogued 1/2d postage due stamp can be found on cover without undue difficulty from this in the period to 1 July 1948 when the printed paper rate was raised to a penny.  The 1/2d is then rarely seen until 9 July 1951 when it was required to be used in conjunction with the 1d (or occasionally in a strip of three) to make up the 1 1/2d charge on those returned printed paper items. 

In common with most collectors of Irish postage due material a quantity of those Dublin Corporation window envelopes has come my way.  Their main attraction tends to be the wide range of postage due charge marks struck on their travels, sometimes being redirected before being returned to the sender.  In searching through these covers with the intent of ascertaining the latest date of use I had for the 1/2d stamp, I located a strip of three cancelled on 9 December 1952 (fig 1)Then much to my surprise I found two examples of the 1 1/2d postage due stamp used on cover with clear December 1952 postmarks, the stamps being cancelled on 2 and 5 December respectively (figs 2 and 3). 

The question is then posed – ‘What was the actual date of issue of the 1 1/2d stamp?’.  One might be tempted to think that 1 December (a Monday) was possibly the chosen date.  But why should that be so?  The stamp was used solely for ‘operational purposes’.  There would have been no announcement of the issue at the time or rather if there was it seems that no one has ever located such in that the year 1953 is all that is shown in the catalogues for the date of issue.  At that time no arrangements would have existed for collectors first day covers. The stamp would surely have begun to have been used as soon as supplies reached the surcharge officer and Dublin’s main sorting office would surely be the first place to use the stamp. 

At this point, I went back through those examples I have of the 1d and 1/2d stamp used together to find such covers (all from the same invariable source) with the stamps canceled on 29 November and 1 December 1952.  An illustration of that for 1 December is attached (fig 4); it is timed at 2.30pm, whilst the use of the 1 1/2d stamp appears to have commenced by 8.30am the following morning.  Nothing can be conclusive at this late date but I do suggest that this cover might have a sporting chance of being the first day of the 1 1/2d stamp.  Why don’t you check to see if you have any dated copies of this stamp.  As for the use of the three 1/2ds together on 9 December 1952, surely that was a case of using up old stocks thereby effectively withdrawing a stamp with no further purpose.

A word of caution might be appropriate at this stage.  The 3d postage due stamp is shown in the catalogues as being issued on 10 November 1952.  Could it have been that the two stamps, 1 1/2d and 3d, were actually issued on the same day?  On the other hand, why is a precise date known for one stamp and not the other?  The 3d was issued, primarily, to raised postage due on unstamped printed paper rate items but I do not have an example of the stamp used until 1955.  It may be that there was a press release announcing the 3d stamp but when the 1 1/2d followed a few weeks later (if it did) that no such notice was given.  You may also care to check any dated copies of the 3d you may have – my own accumulation is of no use here.

The raison d’être of for the 1 1/2d stamp can to an end on 4 June 1956 when a further price increase saw the printed paper rate go up to 2d.  Philatelically inspired items apart, the last date I have for the use of this stamp is 8 June 1956 (fig 5).  In this instance Dublin Corporation has sent out what was probably a rate demand on 4 June paying the new 2d printed paper rate by way of a meter franking.  It would seem that a few days grace were allowed for old items to be returned in that the postage due charged on 8 June is still just 1 1/2d….. or had no one told the surcharge officer that rates had increased?

In conclusion one might ask how many of the 1 1/2d stamp were actually used.  Amongst the more useless statistics I have been able to drag out is the fact that in the Republic some 107 million printed paper rate items were sent in 1957, rising to 123 million in 1961.  That would point to perhaps 90 to 100 million such items sent a year in the early 1950’s.  Perhaps on average between 0.5% and 1% would have been returned as undeliverable.  Usage of the stamp could therefore have been about 500,000 a year (assuming that some items may have escaped charge) or perhaps up to 2 million in its three and a half year lifespan.  But how many were actually saved ……  and have I really got a first day cover?

Hey-Dolphin – Clarion Call
Klaus Stange

Dear friends,

For a documentation, I urgently need the illustration of an early electrical Hey-Dolphin machine, as they were used around 1992 in Great Britain or Ireland. Can anyone help?

Two notes:  1. The date should be 1922.     2. I need an illustration of the machine, not of cancellations.


Klaus Stange, FAI

Recent Show Awards
Michael Connolly

Raymond H. Murphy, “Irish Railway Stamps”, Silver award, Sarasota National Stamp Exhibition, February 2000, also AAPE award of honor

David J. Brennan, “Railway Letter Stamps of Ireland”, Vermeil award, NOJEX 2000, May 2000, also AAPE gold award of honor

David J. Brennan, “Irish Airmails”, Silver award, NOJEX 2000, May 2000

Micheal O’Conghaile, “ABCs of Irish Collecting”, Silver award, NOJEX 2000, May 2000


Watch your E-mailboxes.  Within the next two weeks, you will be receiving a special edition of this newsletter all about the great success of the Éire Philatelic Association 50th Anniversary celebration in Boxborough, Massachusetts.  Awards garnered at the show will be listed then.

Your editor

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