What is printed on British postal stamps?

Written by cathy gold
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What is printed on British postal stamps?
What is printed on British postal stamps? (Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The key to identifying British postal stamps is knowing what is and what isn't printed on them. Beginning collectors might assume that British stamps would say "U.K. Postage" or "Great Britain," but this is not the case. They don't contain the country name at all. But as soon as you are familiar with what is printed on British postage stamps, they're easy to identify. Basically, look for the queen.

First Stamp

The first British postage stamp--and the first adhesive stamp printed ever--was what is now called the "Penny Black." The 1840 stamp has a profile of a bust of Queen Victoria with "Postage" at the top and "One Penny" at the bottom.


Many 1950s British stamps say "ER," "Postage" or "Postage Revenue" and have a profile of a king or queen's head.

Modern Stamps

Many modern British stamps, from the 1960s onward, have a small silhouette of the queen's head in the corner and no country name printed on the stamp.


British stamps have denominations in pence and shillings (a small d and a backslash mark, respectively) or British pounds and portraits of a king or queen but no country listed.

Pounds & Pence Only

Britain does not use the Euro as its currency and so its stamps do not have the Euro symbol on the denomination; some European stamps may show two currencies, one being the Euro.

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