Postage Stamp Paper

When postage stamps were first issued, they were all printed on watermarked paper. In the early years, British stamps featured an array of different watermarks ranging from crowns, orbs, and flowers to various garter watermarks. The first postage stamp paper was manufactured at Rush Paper Mills at Hardingstone, a village about 2 miles from Northampton.

 

The first company to print postage stamps, the famous Penny Black, which incorporated a crown watermark, was Perkins, Bacon & Petch (later Perkins, Bacon & Co). They continued to print the smaller denominations of British postage stamps until 1879 when the Government contract was transferred in its entirety to Messrs. Thomas De La Rue and Co. This latter company was founded in 1813, with their first stamps appearing in 1853 (revenue) and postage stamps in 1855. By this time the Penny Red was in circulation with later editions incorporating a revised and larger crown watermark.

 

The paper supplied to Thomas De La Rue was now coming from a different source, Chafford Paper Mill located at Fordcombe in Kent, owned by Richard Turner. For just over 30 years this paper mill continued to manufacture stamp paper.  It also had contracts with the Indian Stamp Office and the supply of colonial stamps through Crown Agents. This was an organisation set up in 1831 under the supervision of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Its responsibilities on behalf of colonial governments included purchasing supplies and managing specific colonial projects including stamp issues.

 

In 1878 the manufacturing of stamp paper at Chafford Mill ceased when Richard Turner’s son entered a co-partnership with Walter Monckton, under the name of Messrs R. D. Turner & Company at Roughway Mill, located at Plaxtol, Kent. Here watermarked postage stamp paper became more standardised with the Imperial Crown watermark. Roughways Paper Mill continued to expand the overseas markets with customers in Africa and Asia and the Antipodes.

 

In 1879 the responsibility of postage stamp procurement transferred from the Post Office to the Inland Revenue Department.

 

In 1910, Thomas De La Rue & Co, who had held a monopoly on British stamp printing from 1880 lost the contract. Responsibility for stamp production was divided between the Royal Mint, which made the dies and printing plates, and a new printer Messrs. Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to His Majesty located at St Martin’s Lane, London. This company was founded in London in 1750. Its first British contract was in 1881 producing embossed stamps for telegram forms. Another company Messrs McCorquodale and Sons Ltd secured the contract for the supply of stamped postal stationery. This firm specialised in registered envelope manufacture, but undertook many other government and security printing contracts.

 

When King George V acceded to the throne on 6 May 1910 there was a need for new stamp designs. The definitive stamps were originally based on a three-quarter profile photograph taken by W. & D. Downey, the Court Photographers, referred to as the ‘Downey head’. However, following the change in the supply chain it seemed neither party had any experience of stamp printing, and the process was rushed because the Postmaster General wanted the stamps to appear in time for the Coronation in June 1911. In consequence, the first stamps were of poor quality with the design disliked by the King and the public alike. After two attempts to improve the quality, a decision was taken to change the design and produce entirely new plates. Consequently, only the halfpenny and penny Downey Head values were ever issued.

 

The supply of watermarked postage stamp paper by this time was conducted from two other mills, Roughways Paper Mill seemingly having closed temporarily. Basted Paper Mill located near Platt on the River Bourne in the Medway valley and William Joynson and Sons paper mill at St Mary Cray in Kent were both producing stamp paper. One mill supplying a simple cypher watermark (strip watermark) and the other a multiple cypher version (all-over). It was also at this time that Stowford Paper Mill in Ivybridge had its first exposure to postage stamp manufacturing. Probably more widely known amongst philatelists, trials of the 1d carmine Downey head stamp were printed on a special extra superfine unwatermarked plate glazed paper supplied by John Allen & Sons.

 

Due to the poor reception of these new George V stamps it was decided in 1912 to replace them with a Profile Head design by Bertram Mackennel. These were first issued on paper with the simple cypher watermark with some later versions used the multiple cypher.

 

In 1914 the procurement of stamps was transferred from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to the Postmaster General. The Post Office Supplies Department responsible for all security papers and contracts took over the Inland Revenue accommodation at Somerset House, Strand in London. This change covered the control of production and distribution of stamps, stamped stationery, insurance stamps, postal orders, and licences together with the staff currently employed at Somerset House who thereafter came under the control of the Post Office Stores Department.

 

On 1 January 1924 Harrison’s lost the print contract of postage stamps to Waterlow & Sons Ltd of London. Founded in 1810 as sellers of legal documents, Waterlow’s first stamps appeared in the early 1850s and 1913 saw their first British contract. At this point a new watermarked paper was introduced featuring a more distinctive design consisting of multiple crowns over the letters G and R in sans serif capitals and known as the Block Cypher. It was at this time that some postage stamps were printed and supplied in coils requiring an all-over distribution of watermarks to ensure no stamps were without a watermark. The original dandy supplied by Messrs. Edwin Amies & Sons of Maidstone had by this time become worn and in need of replacement. Amies were well established dandy roll makers having previously supplied many rolls to the Postmaster General including the ones for the National Health Insurance and Unemployment schemes.

rowland-hill

The Penny Post

In 1840, Sir Rowland Hill introduced a single uniform postal rate of one penny, regardless of distance for a standard-weight letter across the British Isles. The first postage stamp to be printed in the world was the famous “Penny Black” issued on May 6, 1840.

 

Stamps, historically, have been produced on watermarked paper. In 1847 the watermark was ‘VR’ (Victoria Regina – latin for Queen Victoria).

Watermarks in postage stamp paper

Watermarks in stamps1
King George V – GVR watermark – 1924-1934
King Edward VIII – E8R watermark – 1936
King George VI – GVIR watermark – 1937-1952

Postage stamps during the reign of King George V incorporated a number of variants of the Royal Cypher. Keen philatelists of course will know that there was the ‘Simple Cypher’, a watermark in strips, the ‘Multiple Cypher’ where the watermark was in an all-over distribution and even a ‘Single Cypher’, a single watermark used for large special issues. The watermark depicted above is referred to as the ‘Block Cypher’ with sans serif letters.

In 1925 another change in the supply chain occurred when Portals of Laverstoke were awarded the contract for postage stamp paper by the General Post Office. As Stowford Paper Mill had been acquired by this company only a year earlier the manufacture of British postage stamp paper was introduced, being shared it seems with the re-opened Roughway Paper Mill.

 

On 29 December 1925, production records for Paper Machine No.2 at Stowford Paper Mill document the first production run of watermarked stamp. A total of 25 reels of Royal Cypher ‘GVR’ watermarked paper amounting to 13,390 lbs. The paper machine reels were made at a deckle of 65¼”. This was shortly followed by another production run on 31 December with a further 66 reels, 34,031 lbs.

 

Records reveal that this was the first production run of paper since early October and demonstrated how valuable this contract was. It was a bad time generally within the paper industry and the employees at Ivybridge had been on ‘short time’ working arrangements.

 

The orders for Royal Cypher watermarked stamp paper in 1926 reached over 500 tons, representing around one third of the total production of 1550 tonnes on paper machine number 2. This all contributed to better working conditions and the employees were generally thankful to Portals for bringing this new business to the mill.

 

In 1930, when Wiggins Teape took over both Stowford Mill and Roughway Mill, the decision was made to transfer all postage stamp paper to Ivybridge, with Roughway Mill turning to the production of wrapping papers. Stowford Mill continued to manufacture watermarked stamp base for the next 38 years, using several different watermarks.

 

In 1933 Messrs. Harrison & Sons re-acquired the postage stamp contract after losing it to Waterlow and Sons ten years previously. From then until the 1980s virtually every British stamp came from this printer who in the same year had acquired new premises at High Wycombe, the plant known locally as “The Stamp Factory”. A few years later in 1937 a newspaper article recorded that Harrisons were printing 20 million stamps a day, with the General Post Office issuing around 7 billion stamps annually.

 

In 1934 production records show that Stowford Paper Mill was now manufacturing watermarked paper for Crown Agents, a contract which it inherited from Roughways Paper Mill. This would be regular business for the mill until its closure.

 

Production of paper incorporating the royal cypher ‘E8R’ watermark was first recorded in July 1936 and paper incorporating ‘GVIR’ just a few months later in January 1937.

 

The abdication of King Edward VIII on 11 December 1936 had sent shock waves throughout the British establishment. At the General Post Office plans were well advanced for stamps to mark King Edward’s Coronation. Their priority now was to obtain definitive designs for George VI hopefully by the date of the Coronation, which remained the same as intended for King Edward, 12 May.

 

The 1½d stamp to mark the Coronation of King George VI and his Consort, Queen Elizabeth, was issued on 13 May 1937. The stamps had been printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd, each stamp bearing the watermark ‘GVIR’. Supplies were limited and the stamps were only provided on request, otherwise Edward VIII 1½d stamps were given. The Coronation stamps were designed by Edmund Dulac featuring portraits of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Once the special edition was exhausted, they were replaced by standard stamps featuring King George VI in profile.

Wilding 2.5d

Printing Queen Elizabeth’s Stamps

On December 6, 1952, The Children’s Newspaper ran an article regarding an issue of British definitive postage stamps, known as the Wildings, since they featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken from a photograph by Dorothy Wilding. The Wildings were the first and only British stamps to feature graphite lines on the back, and the first to feature phosphor bands on the face, both aids to automation. The article makes reference to a small paper mill in Devon.

The first postage stamps of Queen Elizabeth’s reign will be on sale in our post offices this Friday, December 5. They are the red 2½d. and the green 1½d., and Her Majesty recently paid a visit to the great printing works at High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, to see the first sheets bearing her portrait being run off the machines at a rate of more than two million stamps an hour.

 

Stamps are printed on special watermarked paper called Royal Cypher paper. It is made from rags at a mill in Devonshire. Work continues there for 24 hours a day, and there is still an ancient watermill helping the modern steam turbines to turn the machinery.

 

The rags are first chopped into small pieces, chemicals are added, and the mixture is boiled and churned into pulp. Then in goes china clay from Cornwall to give the paper a fine finished surface.

 

The watery pulp, looking something like thin milk, is spread on a wire mesh belt and carried onto drying blankets passing over steam heated rollers. It is at this stage that the Royal Cypher watermark is impressed. The paper is then ready for despatch to the printers, where it is gummed. The gum is produced from Agava cactus plants of North Africa.

 

We now use more than 7000 million postage stamps a year. Every working day 20 million must be printed, examined by expert girl checkers, and stored away in locked vaults ready for issue to the 24,000 post offices in this country to keep pace with public demand.

Dorothy Wilding

Dorothy Wilding was a “society” photographer, renowned for her photographs of numerous celebrities during the 1920’s and 1930’s. She photographed King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at their coronation, and her photographs were used in the design of the 1937 Coronation Commemorative stamps. 

Philately

meaning: the collection and study of postage stamps.

The word “philately” is derived from the French word “philatélie”, taking the Greek root word phil(o)-, meaning “an attraction or affinity for something”, and ateleia, meaning “exempt from duties and taxes“. The introduction of postage stamps meant that the receipt of letters was now free of charge, whereas before stamps it was normal for postal charges to be paid by the recipient of a letter.
Watermarks in stamps2
Elizabeth II – Tudor Crown watermark – 1952-1954
Elizabeth II – St Edwards Crown watermark – 1955-1958
Elizabeth II – Multiple Crown watermark – 1958-1965

The watermark changed for the last time in 1958. The Tudor Crown watermark had been replaced because the dandy roll was worn, and the St. Edward’s Crown watermark was now replaced because of the introduction of Scottish regional issues and perceived sensitivities as Elizabeth was the first Elizabeth to rule Scotland not the second. As well as Scotland, there were permanent series of stamps issued for Northern Ireland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The original cream paper was changed to white from April 1962 resulting in two variants of the ‘crowns’ watermark stamps.

STAMP PAPER ORDERS KEEP STOWFORD MILL BUSY ...

The postage stamp paper orders certainly helped to keep Stowford Mill busy in the mid-twentieth century.

Three mill employees receive watches for 35 years’ service at Stowford Paper Mill from the Production Manager. Clyde “Clydo” Pawley (pictured far left) recalled working 16 hours a day for four months to make the paper for the Coronation stamps.

Collector's items

Individual watermarks suitable for a postage stamp needed to be both small and dense in coverage, to ensure that each stamp was at least partially watermarked. The dandy roll which created the watermark, carried thousands of separate electrotypes (watermark designs) soldered on to the mesh cover. During general use it was not uncommon for the odd one to become dislodged or even fall off. When left undetected, the result was a stamp collector’s dream, producing what is termed in philately circles, an ‘error’. This term was not isolated to missing watermarks, but included print errors, colour errors and perforation errors.

During World War II the Stamp Depot was given makeshift premises in High Wycombe and Wolverton only returning to London after the war to occupy an adapted building in Pentonville Road.

 

By the late 1950s, the Post Office Supplies Department had new premises located at Hemel Hempstead from which all procurement of security items for public services was coordinated. This included the procurement of stamps, postal orders and national insurance stamps.

 

Stock control and general security was of prime importance, given the value of these products. This filtered all the way down the supply chain. Stowford Paper Mill was required to employ a full-time Security Control Officer. This officer was stationed at the mill and held custody of the dandy roll which created the watermark, this being the property of the Post Office. The production was controlled at all stages from the raw materials to the finished paper. A continuous record was made of the yardage and width of the paper. Every piece of paper manufactured, both good and waste (‘broke’ to use paper making terminology) had to be properly accounted for. All waste was then repulped under the supervision of the Control Officer. The reels of finished paper were then taped, marked, sealed, and despatched in secured containers to the printer. Upon arrival the paper was checked for any signs of tampering by another Control Officer who then issued the paper to the printing machines. There were permanent Security Control Officers at High Wycombe (Harrisons) and Wolverton (McCorquodales). The printed coils and sheets of stamps were then sent to the Post Office Stamp Depot where each stamp was accounted for by face value using a system of double checking.

 

The Security Control Office at Ivybridge in the 1940s was William ‘Bill’ Spickett, followed by Mr Jacobson during the 1950s and in the latter years by Walter Christophers, a keen football fan. During the glory years of Portals Athletic AFC Walter became their Chairman.

 

From 1968 onwards British stamps did not include a watermark. The issue of British Paintings was the first to be printed on plain (unwatermarked) paper, with Wiggins Teape taking the decision to transfer paper production to their Dartford Paper Mill.

Postage Stamp Paper

When postage stamps were first issued, they were all printed on watermarked paper. In the early years, British stamps featured an array of different watermarks ranging from crowns, orbs, and flowers to various garter watermarks. The first postage stamp paper was manufactured at Rush Paper Mills at Hardingstone, a village about 2 miles from Northampton.
The first company to print postage stamps, the famous Penny Black, which incorporated a crown watermark, was Perkins, Bacon & Petch (later Perkins, Bacon & Co). They continued to print the smaller denominations of British postage stamps until 1879 when the Government contract was transferred in its entirety to Messrs. Thomas De La Rue and Co. This latter company was founded in 1813, with their first stamps appearing in 1853 (revenue) and postage stamps in 1855. By this time the Penny Red was in circulation with later editions incorporating a revised and larger crown watermark.
The paper supplied to Thomas De La Rue was now coming from a different source, Chafford Paper Mill located at Fordcombe in Kent, owned by Richard Turner. For just over 30 years this paper mill continued to manufacture stamp paper.  It also had contracts with the Indian Stamp Office and the supply of colonial stamps through Crown Agents. This was an organisation set up in 1831 under the supervision of the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Its responsibilities on behalf of colonial governments included purchasing supplies and managing specific colonial projects including stamp issues.
In 1878 the manufacturing of stamp paper at Chafford Mill ceased when Richard Turner’s son entered a co-partnership with Walter Monckton, under the name of Messrs R. D. Turner & Company at Roughway Mill, located at Plaxtol, Kent. Here watermarked postage stamp paper became more standardised with the Imperial Crown watermark. Roughways Paper Mill continued to expand the overseas markets with customers in Africa and Asia and the Antipodes.
In 1879 the responsibility of postage stamp procurement transferred from the Post Office to the Inland Revenue Department.
In 1910, Thomas De La Rue & Co, who had held a monopoly on British stamp printing from 1880 lost the contract. Responsibility for stamp production was divided between the Royal Mint, which made the dies and printing plates, and a new printer Messrs. Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to His Majesty located at St Martin’s Lane, London. This company was founded in London in 1750. Its first British contract was in 1881 producing embossed stamps for telegram forms. Another company Messrs McCorquodale and Sons Ltd secured the contract for the supply of stamped postal stationery. This firm specialised in registered envelope manufacture, but undertook many other government and security printing contracts.
When King George V acceded to the throne on 6 May 1910 there was a need for new stamp designs. The definitive stamps were originally based on a three-quarter profile photograph taken by W. & D. Downey, the Court Photographers, referred to as the ‘Downey head’. However, following the change in the supply chain it seemed neither party had any experience of stamp printing, and the process was rushed because the Postmaster General wanted the stamps to appear in time for the Coronation in June 1911. In consequence, the first stamps were of poor quality with the design disliked by the King and the public alike. After two attempts to improve the quality, a decision was taken to change the design and produce entirely new plates. Consequently, only the halfpenny and penny Downey Head values were ever issued.
The supply of watermarked postage stamp paper by this time was conducted from two other mills, Roughways Paper Mill seemingly having closed temporarily. Basted Paper Mill located near Platt on the River Bourne in the Medway valley and William Joynson and Sons paper mill at St Mary Cray in Kent were both producing stamp paper. One mill supplying a simple cypher watermark (strip watermark) and the other a multiple cypher version (all-over). It was also at this time that Stowford Paper Mill in Ivybridge had its first exposure to postage stamp manufacturing. Probably more widely known amongst philatelists, trials of the 1d carmine Downey head stamp were printed on a special extra superfine unwatermarked plate glazed paper supplied by John Allen & Sons.
Due to the poor reception of these new George V stamps it was decided in 1912 to replace them with a Profile Head design by Bertram Mackennel. These were first issued on paper with the simple cypher watermark with some later versions used the multiple cypher.
In 1914 the procurement of stamps was transferred from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue to the Postmaster General. The Post Office Supplies Department responsible for all security papers and contracts took over the Inland Revenue accommodation at Somerset House, Strand in London. This change covered the control of production and distribution of stamps, stamped stationery, insurance stamps, postal orders, and licences together with the staff currently employed at Somerset House who thereafter came under the control of the Post Office Stores Department.
On 1 January 1924 Harrison’s lost the print contract of postage stamps to Waterlow & Sons Ltd of London. Founded in 1810 as sellers of legal documents, Waterlow’s first stamps appeared in the early 1850s and 1913 saw their first British contract. At this point a new watermarked paper was introduced featuring a more distinctive design consisting of multiple crowns over the letters G and R in sans serif capitals and known as the Block Cypher. It was at this time that some postage stamps were printed and supplied in coils requiring an all-over distribution of watermarks to ensure no stamps were without a watermark. The original dandy supplied by Messrs. Edwin Amies & Sons of Maidstone had by this time become worn and in need of replacement. Amies were well established dandy roll makers having previously supplied many rolls to the Postmaster General including the ones for the National Health Insurance and Unemployment schemes.
In 1925 another change in the supply chain occurred when Portals of Laverstoke were awarded the contract for postage stamp paper by the General Post Office. As Stowford Paper Mill had been acquired by this company only a year earlier the manufacture of British postage stamp paper was introduced, being shared it seems with the re-opened Roughway Paper Mill.
On 29 December 1925, production records for Paper Machine No.2 at Stowford Paper Mill document the first production run of watermarked stamp. A total of 25 reels of Royal Cypher ‘GVR’ watermarked paper amounting to 13,390 lbs. The paper machine reels were made at a deckle of 65¼”. This was shortly followed by another production run on 31 December with a further 66 reels, 34,031 lbs.
Records reveal that this was the first production run of paper since early October and demonstrated how valuable this contract was. It was a bad time generally within the paper industry and the employees at Ivybridge had been on ‘short time’ working arrangements.
The orders for Royal Cypher watermarked stamp paper in 1926 reached over 500 tons, representing around one third of the total production of 1550 tonnes on paper machine number 2. This all contributed to better working conditions and the employees were generally thankful to Portals for bringing this new business to the mill.
In 1930, when Wiggins Teape took over both Stowford Mill and Roughway Mill, the decision was made to transfer all postage stamp paper to Ivybridge, with Roughway Mill turning to the production of wrapping papers. Stowford Mill continued to manufacture watermarked stamp base for the next 38 years, using several different watermarks.
In 1933 Messrs. Harrison & Sons re-acquired the postage stamp contract after losing it to Waterlow and Sons ten years previously. From then until the 1980s virtually every British stamp came from this printer who in the same year had acquired new premises at High Wycombe, the plant known locally as “The Stamp Factory”. A few years later in 1937 a newspaper article recorded that Harrisons were printing 20 million stamps a day, with the General Post Office issuing around 7 billion stamps annually.
In 1934 production records show that Stowford Paper Mill was now manufacturing watermarked paper for Crown Agents, a contract which it inherited from Roughways Paper Mill. This would be regular business for the mill until its closure.
Production of paper incorporating the royal cypher ‘E8R’ watermark was first recorded in July 1936 and paper incorporating ‘GVIR’ just a few months later in January 1937.
The abdication of King Edward VIII on 11 December 1936 had sent shock waves throughout the British establishment. At the General Post Office plans were well advanced for stamps to mark King Edward’s Coronation. Their priority now was to obtain definitive designs for George VI hopefully by the date of the Coronation, which remained the same as intended for King Edward, 12 May.
The 1½d stamp to mark the Coronation of King George VI and his Consort, Queen Elizabeth, was issued on 13 May 1937. The stamps had been printed in photogravure by Harrison and Sons Ltd, each stamp bearing the watermark ‘GVIR’. Supplies were limited and the stamps were only provided on request, otherwise Edward VIII 1½d stamps were given. The Coronation stamps were designed by Edmund Dulac featuring portraits of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Once the special edition was exhausted, they were replaced by standard stamps featuring King George VI in profile.
Wilding 2.5d

Printing Queen Elizabeth's stamps

On December 6, 1952, The Children’s Newspaper ran an article regarding an issue of British definitive postage stamps, known as the Wildings, since they featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II taken from a photograph by Dorothy Wilding. The Wildings were the first and only British stamps to feature graphite lines on the back, and the first to feature phosphor bands on the face, both aids to automation. The article makes reference to a small paper mill in Devon.
The first postage stamps of Queen Elizabeth’s reign will be on sale in our post offices this Friday, December 5. They are the red 2½d. and the green 1½d., and Her Majesty recently paid a visit to the great printing works at High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, to see the first sheets bearing her portrait being run off the machines at a rate of more than two million stamps an hour.
Stamps are printed on special watermarked paper called Royal Cypher paper. It is made from rags at a mill in Devonshire. Work continues there for 24 hours a day, and there is still an ancient watermill helping the modern steam turbines to turn the machinery.
The rags are first chopped into small pieces, chemicals are added, and the mixture is boiled and churned into pulp. Then in goes china clay from Cornwall to give the paper a fine finished surface.
The watery pulp, looking something like thin milk, is spread on a wire mesh belt and carried onto drying blankets passing over steam heated rollers. It is at this stage that the Royal Cypher watermark is impressed. The paper is then ready for despatch to the printers, where it is gummed. The gum is produced from Agava cactus plants of North Africa.
We now use more than 7000 million postage stamps a year. Every working day 20 million must be printed, examined by expert girl checkers, and stored away in locked vaults ready for issue to the 24,000 post offices in this country to keep pace with public demand.

Stamp paper orders keep Stowford Mill busy ...

The postage stamp paper orders certainly helped to keep Stowford Mill busy in the mid-twentieth century.

Three mill employees receive watches for 35 years’ service at Stowford Paper Mill from the Production Manager. Clyde “Clydo” Pawley (pictured far left) recalled working 16 hours a day for four months to make the paper for the Coronation stamps.

During World War II the Stamp Depot was given makeshift premises in High Wycombe and Wolverton only returning to London after the war to occupy an adapted building in Pentonville Road.
By the late 1950s, the Post Office Supplies Department had new premises located at Hemel Hempstead from which all procurement of security items for public services was coordinated. This included the procurement of stamps, postal orders and national insurance stamps.
Stock control and general security was of prime importance, given the value of these products. This filtered all the way down the supply chain. Stowford Paper Mill was required to employ a full-time Security Control Officer. This officer was stationed at the mill and held custody of the dandy roll which created the watermark, this being the property of the Post Office. The production was controlled at all stages from the raw materials to the finished paper. A continuous record was made of the yardage and width of the paper. Every piece of paper manufactured, both good and waste (‘broke’ to use paper making terminology) had to be properly accounted for. All waste was then repulped under the supervision of the Control Officer. The reels of finished paper were then taped, marked, sealed, and despatched in secured containers to the printer. Upon arrival the paper was checked for any signs of tampering by another Control Officer who then issued the paper to the printing machines. There were permanent Security Control Officers at High Wycombe (Harrisons) and Wolverton (McCorquodales). The printed coils and sheets of stamps were then sent to the Post Office Stamp Depot where each stamp was accounted for by face value using a system of double checking.
The Security Control Office at Ivybridge in the 1940s was a William ‘Bill’ Spickett followed by Mr Jacobson during the 1950s and in the latter years by Walter Christophers, a keen football fan. During the glory years of Portals Athletic AFC Walter became their Chairman.
From 1968 onwards British stamps did not include a watermark. The issue of British Paintings was the first to be printed on plain (unwatermarked) paper, with Wiggins Teape taking the decision to transfer paper production to their Dartford Paper Mill.