The British Group holds the largest number of headings. It comprises over a 1/3
of the total of headings - countries or territories existing at present or
no longer existing as separate stamp issuing entities. All the listed headings
were at one time or still are under British influence historywise and/or
politicalwise. Most of them were part of the British Empire as colonies, crown
colonies, dependencies, protectorates, mandate states, post offices abroad,
etc., and later on as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The British Empire was the largest empire in the 19th century and first part of
the 20th century. At its peak, right before World War I in 1914, it covered
about a 1/5 of the globe surface and had approximately a 1/4 of the worlds
population under its rule. It extended over all continents: North and Central
America; South Africa and parts of East and West Africa; Asia - mainly the
Southeastern part; Australia; large parts of Antarctica; Oceans and seas - large
parts of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea,
Mediterranean Sea; and, obviously Europe - the British Islands.
Between the two World Wars the British Commonwealth of Nations was established
comprising of former colonies who were granted independence at various stages.
Each member in the Commonwealth has an equal status to Great Britain. After
World War II almost all colonies gained full independence or self autonomy,
however most of them affiliated themselves to the Commonwealth.
Some of the characteristics of British influence on the countries in this group
were the outspread of English language and of the British monetary and measuring
systems. Gradually the entire British Group changed its monetary system, some to
the Dollar currency (in the West Indies and Pacific Ocean), some to local
currency (especially in Africa), and in Europe to the decimal Pound as did Great
Britain in the early 70s.
Facts unique to the British Group:
- First stamp in the world issued in 1840 by Great Britain, known as the Black
Penny with portrait of Queen Victoria.
- The largest number of stamps as a group.
- The most rare and valuable stamp in the world (i.e. the British Guiana
one-penny stamp of 1856).
- Classical-royal type of stamps bearing the head of the current British Monarch
and relatively small in size - until full independence or self governing of
- First triangular stamp issued by Cape of Good Hope in 1853.
- The most royalty-related group of stamps.
- Same stamps were issued for postal and revenue purposes as well.
- Uniform issues of the British Omnibus throughout the entire Empire. Todays
members of the British Commonwealth still have omnibus issues.
- Great Britain is the only country authorized by the UPU to issue stamps with
no country name.
Countries or territories in which the British influence was only for a short
period of time or limited, appear under following headings:
British Post Offices in...
CRETE, British P.O.
CHINA, British P.O.
British Occupation of...
Iraq - BAGHDAD, MOSUL
(Within Italian colonies)
(Within French colonies)
British Protectorate of...
British Consular Mail in...
British Zone - GERMANY, Zones
British Administration - FAROE ISLANDS
Common types of inscriptions or overprints in the British Group:
O S - Official Service
O H M S - On His (Her) Majesty`s Service
V R - Victoria Regina
V R I - Victoria Regina Imperator
E R I - Eduardus Rex Imperator
G R I - Georgius Rex Imperator
E R - Elizabeth Regina
ON STATE SERVICE
POSTAGE & REVENUE
INLAND REVENUE (I. R.)