GB Seahorse Stamps are one of the most iconic of the widely collected GB stamps. They make a great specialist area for the advanced collector, with an abundance of shares and printing types. However, they are equally accessible for those on a more limited budget given millions were printed and being high values parcel used examples are common. Whatever your interest it is worth having at least one example of this classic stamp in your collection if only for its significance.
Anyway here is our quick guide to this Classic Stamp series.
King GV Seahorse Stamps One of Britain’s Most Iconic Collectable
The Great Britain Seahorse High-Value stamps which were first issued in June 1913 are one of the most popular and Iconic stamps of the pre-World War Two era and possibly ever.
Designed by the renowned Australian sculptor, Bertram Mackennal they are quite a large stamp picturing Britannia being pulled through the waves by a powerful team of horses; a testament to the days when Britain ruled the waves. Overall Four Values were printed, these being a 2/-6 Brown, 5s Red, 10s Blue and a rare £1 Green.
Within these, though there are a host of shades & printings to keep the specialist collecting for years. The original issues were printed by Waterlow with the first being listed as SG399 in the Stanley Gibbons British Stamp catalogue.
De La Rue
Production was subsequently taken over by the famous banknote printer De La Rue in 1915 and this is when most of the various shades began. Currently, the simplified catalogue listing four shades of the 2/-6 Brown stamp, two of the 5s red and three for the 10s Blue. De La Rue didn’t produce a version of the £1 stamp and the only other £1 stamp produced during King George V (GV) reign was the 1929 PUC Black, leaving the £1 Green Seahorse as one of the scarcest 20th Century GB Stamps.
The De La Rue issues also have numerous shades, and to add collecting interest a third printer Bradbury Wilkinson & Co began producing Seahorses in 1918. They again produced four shades of the 2/-6 Brown, but only a single shade of the 5s and 10s. Finally, to add collecting interest in 1934 a further Waterlow printing was issued, using the re-engraved original plates from their 1913 issue.
GB Seahorse Stamps Used Overseas
The Seahorse stamps were not restricted to use in Britain, they were used in Ireland with an overprinting, and it is possible to find issues overprinted for use in various overseas territories including those issued for The British Levant and Post Offices in Morocco. Many are relatively easy to find both mint and used, however more obscure issues such as those for Bechuanaland or Nauru are quite rare and carry price tags to match on the odd occasions that they come up for sale.
Overall collecting the Seahorse Stamps of GV can be an engrossing hobby for the specialist philatelist and a basic set makes an attractive and relatively inexpensive addition to a general collection too.
If starting out a collection used examples is probably the best place to start as mint ones are expensive and UM stamps can cost over a thousand pounds (especially for a £1 green). Multiples of any value (especially mint blocks) are rare and the stamps are seldom found used on the original envelope (cover) either commercially or as FDCs.
If you are interested in adding some Iconic stamps to your collection then check out our other articles on this area here.