Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The VR official was one of three postage stamps introduced by the United Kingdom for the pre-payment of postage in May 1840. While the Penny Black and the Two Pence Blue were for use by the general public, as were the Mulready envelopes and letter sheets , the VR official was for use on official mail . Appearancewise, the VR Official was the same as the issued Penny Black except that the stars in the top corners were removed and replaced by the letters V and R, hence its common name.
The plate layout for this issue was the same in almost all respects as that used for the penny black and the two pence blue produced at the same time. The only difference in the marginal inscription was the plate identification which was shown as a letter, (see picture), rather than a number as used on the general issue of postage stamps
The idea of this stamp was to be used on official correspondence from government departments. However the public dislike and mockery of the Mulready envelope and letter sheets led to vast numbers of the Mulreadies being issued to the various departments, with the tax office being the heaviest user.
With this use of existing stocks, the idea of the official stamp was abandoned and the vast majority of the supplies which had been printed were destroyed on January 25, 1843. 21 sheets survived, a few of the stamp passed (invalidly) through the posts, and Rowland Hill used some to experiment with cancellation techniques. Unused examples today go for above US$5,000.
- Stanley Gibbons catalog, Great Britain Specialised vol. 1
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