Norvic Philatelics - GB New Stamps and Special Postmarks
The Merchant Navy and Wartime Convoys - 19 September 2013
The Merchant Navy stamps salute the
heritage of the UK’s trading fleet of ships, run by various companies,
which export and import good from around the world, as well as carrying
passengers, and which historically have been intertwined with the fortunes
of the nation.
The accompanying miniature sheet honours the contribution of the
Merchant Navy in times of war, when its ships assisted in the war effort.
2013 will mark the 70th anniversary of the turning point of what is called
‘the Battle of the Atlantic’, after which losses reduced considerably.
1st class - East Indiaman Atlas 1813;
Royal Mail Ship Britannia 1840;
Tea Clipper Cutty Sark 1870
£1.28 - Cargo Liner Clan Matheson 1919;
Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth 1940; Bulk Carrier Lord
|The four 1st class stamps depict
(clockwise from top left):
- Escorting destroyer HMS Vanoc in an Atlantic convoy;
- merchant ship passing the Naval Control Base in the Thames
- naval convoy of 24 merchant ships in the North Sea;
- sailors clearing the decks of HMS King George V in Arctic
|The retail booklet of 6 stamps
includes the red 1st class red Machin definitive, and
the 1st class Cutty Sark
stamp - and, for the first time, a stamp from a different stamp
issue, the 1st class Postal Van
from the British
Auto Legends issue on 13 August
(Cylinder numbers - see below)
|Prestige Stamp Book.
Pane 1 - 5p & 50p Machin definitives with year code
M13L and source code MPIL - and with the perforations inverted from
the normal layout. (Scan of actual pane)
Pane 2 - se-tenant strip of 3 x 1st class
Pane 3 - se-tenant strip of 3 x £1.28
Pane 4 - 4 x 1st class stamps from as on the miniature sheet but
with a different background.
According to the credits in the book, the stamp panes are printed by
Joh Enschede in lithography, but it is believed that the Machin pane
may be gravure. The iridescent security print appears to be
printed over the phosphor making the codes more difficult to
||Cylinder numbers on the retail booklet:
W1 - phosphor, iridescent, Royal Mail red, black, cyan, magenta,
The 'alignment' reflects the poor registration on the pictorial
stamps in the booklet.
The stamps in detail
Unusually for East Indiamen, the Honourable East India Company’s ship Atlas
was built not on the Thames but on the Humber, by Thomas Steemson of Hull.
Her first voyage was to Madras, India, and Whampoa, China, in 1813. This was
the year the Company lost its monopoly on trade to and from India, although
it retained that of the lucrative China tea trade until 1834.
She made a further voyage to Madras, Penang and Whampoa before the end of
the Napoleonic War in 1815, carrying an outward cargo of various goods as
well as mail, letters of credit and bullion, all of which facilitated trade.
On her homeward voyage she brought tea, porcelain, silk and saltpetre for
gunpowder. After two transfers of ownership and nine voyages, Captain
Charles Otway Mayne, who had commanded her since her commissioning, sold her
for £4,100 in August 1830, by which time she was considered fit only to be
Following the first crossings of the North Atlantic by steamships,
the British government offered a contract worth £60,000 to carry mail to
Canada and the United States. Nova Scotia’s Samuel Cunard and his British
partners secured the commission and ordered four paddle steamers from
Clydeside shipyards. The first of these was the Britannia, which, although
fitted with sails, was powered by a steam engine constructed by Robert
Napier. Her maiden voyage left Liverpool on 4 July 1840 to be greeted at
Halifax, Nova Scotia, 12 days later by cheering crowds and fireworks.
Although Britannia and her sisters were soon superseded by faster, propeller
driven steamers, they established one of Britain’s most enduring brand
images. As the first steamer to carry letters under contract to Royal Mail,
the Britannia added the abbreviation ‘RMS’ – ‘Royal Mail Ship’ – to the
Cutty Sark, 1870
Built in 1869 by Scott & Linton at Dumbarton on the Clyde for the China
tea trade, the Cutty Sark was named after the chemise worn by the witch
Nannie in Robert Burns’s poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’. At 963 tons and of composite
build, with wooden planking secured to an iron frame, she was designed to
carry her valuable cargo fast enough to catch the premium prices at the
start of the seasonal tea market in London. Initially blighted by
lacklustre commanders and the gradual loss of the tea trade to steamers when
the Suez Canal opened, the Cutty Sark realised her potential in the
Australian wool trade. From 1885, under Captain Woodget, she made good
passages home via the stormy Southern Ocean and Cape Horn.
Sold to the Portuguese in 1895, she was reacquired for the nation by Captain
Dowman in 1922. Moored in Falmouth as a training ship, she was moved to the
Thames in 1938 to join HMS Worcester at Greenhithe as a Merchant Navy cadet
training-ship. In 1954, she was docked as an exhibit at Greenwich, where
today she may be seen newly restored, an astonishing survivor of the great
days of British sail.
Clan Matheson, 1919
The Clan Matheson was launched at William Hamilton’s Port Glasgow yard on 18
February 1919. Powered by a triple expansion steam engine built by David
Rowan & Co, she was registered at 5,613 gross tons. Owned by the Glasgow
firm of Cayzer, Irvine, operators of the Clan Line, she was 397 feet in
length, with a beam of 34 feet and a speed of 11.5 knots. The Clan Line of
cargo liners ran scheduled services from Great Britain to South and East
Africa and to India and specialised in heavy lifts, carrying most of the
rolling stock and locomotives for the Indian railways. During the Second
World War, in February 1940, the ship was requisitioned by the government;
was bombed and set on fire by Japanese aircraft while at Calcutta (Kolkata),
India, on 5 December 1943. Repaired, she returned to Clan Line service after
the war but in 1948 was sold, suffering several changes of name and
ownership. In January 1955, renamed Empire Claire, the ship was loaded with
obsolete ammunition and poison-gas canisters; after leaving Stranraer on 27
July, she was scuttled off Rockall in the North Atlantic.
Queen Elizabeth, 1940
Built by John Brown on the Clyde and launched on 27 September 1938 by Queen
Elizabeth, later The Queen Mother, the Queen Elizabeth was the largest ship
in the world, at 83,673 registered tons and 1,031 feet in length. The ship
was requisitioned by the government in March 1940 and began carrying troops,
first from Australia and then, as Allied forces were built up for the D-Day
invasion of France, from America to Great Britain – a total of
750,000 troops over half a million miles. In the first months of peace, the
Queen Elizabeth returned troops to North America and took GI brides to their
new homes. It was not until 21 October 1946 that she arrived in New York
carrying 823 first-class, 662 cabin-class and 798 third-class passengers, a
task that she performed regularly until 1968. By this time, the number of
passengers crossing the Atlantic by sea was declining in favour of air
The ship caught fire when being converted into a floating university in Hong
Kong in January 1972. Having capsized, she was partially dismantled and her
remains buried under the reclaimed land of a new container terminal.
Lord Hinton, 1986
The Lord Hinton was constructed in 1986 by Govan Shipbuilders Ltd on the
Clyde. She was named after Lord Hinton, a pioneer of atomic energy and the
first chairman of the now defunct Central Electricity Generating Board. Her
role was to carry coal from the Tyne Tees Coal Terminal to Kingsnorth power
station on the River Medway in Kent. Following the collapse of British coal
mining and the privatisation of power generation, the Lord Hinton and
Kingsnorth itself were acquired by the generating giant E.ON in 2004. For
about a decade, the huge collier carried cargo from coal exchanges in Europe
to ensure that regular just-in-time deliveries enabled Kingsnorth to supply
the National Grid, representing the end of a tradition of coal supply by sea
that dates back to the 17th century. After years of loyal service to E.ON
and to the UK flag, the Lord Hinton was retired from the coal trade and the
British register in December 2012. The vessel was sold for further trading
in more temperate climes.
The 41 x 30 mm square stamps were designed by Silk Pearce, perf 14½ x 14,
printed by Cartor Security Printing in Lithography.
The 115 x 89 mm Miniature Sheet was also designed by Silk Pearce,
containing stamps 41 x 30 mm stamps are perf 14½ x 14, printed by Joh
Enschede, in lithography.
The booklet is printed by Walsall Security Printers. All stamp
Mail ©2013 reproduced with permission.
Products issued - we will be stocking the Machin
and Arctic Convoy stamps from the PSB, and the retail booklet.
A limited number of FDCs are in our shop for the new Machin
definitives, and retail Britannia
Set of 6 stamps, miniature sheet, retail booklet. Presentation
Pack containing set and miniature sheet
Set of 11 stamp cards Two First Day Covers Prestige Stamp
Special first day of issue postmarks will be shown here. These
cannot be obtained the date of issue; more may be added. Not
always to scale.
Official Bureau postmark
Clydebank official first day of issue postmark
Clydebank non-pictorial official first day of issue postmark
The Merchant Navy Association, Liverpool
Salute to the men of the Merchant Navy, Liverpool (showing the
|Ref S12941 Arrived Safely - Thanks to
British Convoys, Loch Ewe, Aultbea - Russian Arctic Convoy Museum
||Ref S12865 Russian Arctic Convoy
Museum, Aultbea, Loch Ewe, Wester Ross, Achnasheen
||Ref M12934 Merchant Navy - Shipway
|Ref M12933 Year of the Convoys -
Atlantic & Arctic Convoys, Atlantic Road, Birmingham
|Ref M12935 Retail Stamp Book, Royal
Mail Street, Birmingham
|Ref N12938 Merseyside Maritime
Museum, National Museums Liverpool (GBFDCA)
|Ref S12930 RMS Queen Elizabeth 75th
Anniversary, Clydebank, Scotland
(in use 1.9.13 - 31.8.14)
|Ref L12945 Autumn Stampex
Merchant Navy First Day of Issue, London N1
|Ref M12955 Birmingham
|Ref N 12960
Atlantic & Arctic Convoys, Liverpool
|Ref S12961 Atlantic & Arctic Convoys, Loch Ewe, Achnasheen
||Ref S12963 Clydebank
||Ref S12962 Greenock
||Ref L12947 London EC
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This page updated 3 October 2013.