1929 Postal Union Congress Stamp Issue
The 9th Postal Union Congress opened in London on 10th May 1929 and the above pictured special commemorative stamps were issued on the day of opening. The Postal Union Congress was a formal meeting that took place every four years between the members of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) meaning representatives of the majority of the world's major postal agencies and postal services were present.
The original plan was to issue only ½d, 1d, 1½d and 2½d stamps on opening day of the congress but the £1 high value stamp was later added to, perhaps, increase the value of the stamps that would be presented to each of the congress delegates and/or to produce additional revenue to help cover the costs of hosting the Congress (PUC).
A selection committee formed by the General Post Office (GPO) asked two printing companies and nine artists to prepare and submit designs for consideration. The selection committee recommended the above designs which were, unusually, approved by HM Queen Mary due to the King being ill at the time.
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The ½d value in green was designed by F W Farleigh depicting the King's portrait in an oval with crown above. A similar design by Farleigh, printed in blue was selected for the 2½d value. The design showing the King's portrait with the Union Jack behind by Ernest Linzell was selected for both the 1d and 1½d values printed in red and brown respectively. The four low value stamps were printed by Waterlow using the letterpress method using print plates supplied by the Royal Mint. The low values were produced using a similar size format, perforations (15x14), watermark (GvR Block Cypher) and colours as the same value definitive stamps of the time.
The three lowest value stamps were issued in stamp rolls (vended coils) and booklets in addition to normal sheets meaning inverted and sideways watermark varieties are relatively common. Inverted watermarks on the 2½d value are errors, extremely scarce, and therefore command significant value.
Harold Nelson designed the St George and Dragon artwork selected to feature on the large format £1 value printed in black. The £1 PUC value stamp was printed using the line-engraved technique by Bradbury Wilkinson & Co using printing plates they also manufactured. The watermark is unique to this stamp comprising of a large format GvR with crown over single cypher. The £1 PUC High Value is now one of the key stamps to acquire in GB Collections and fine unhinged mint examples command high prices.
First Day Covers for the 1929 PUC stamp issue are very scarce and valuable. In good condition the set of four low values cancelled with the special PUC postmark 10th May 1929 can fetch £1,000 or more and the £1 value on cover with the PUC first day of issue postmark can easily command over £5,000 - more if the low values are also on the cover.
Collecting tip: Look out for 1929 PUC first day covers postmarked in Bognor Regis as these are considered highly relevant and collectable because King George V was actually visiting the town on the day the stamps were issued.
1929 PUC Stamp Issue with the Congress first day of issue postmarks on UPU paper
View the current 1929 PUC online auctions.
Images of British Stamps are reproduced with the kind permission of Royal Mail Group Ltd.