Over Prints & Underprints

These special markings were actually printed over the gum but are called under prints by collectors as not to confuse them with security overprints already named and catalogued previously. ( see overprints ) These pages will help collectors understand the differences between over prints and underprints,

Several booklets were sold at discounted rates, to identify these the back of the stamps showed special markings, these markings were printed over the gum in a blue ink.

The first booklet released was the Christmas discount booklet in 1982 the Dextrin gum had stars overprinted . There were three initial designs Type 1 (only used on the Christmas booklets ), type 2. and type 3 were both used on ordinary discount booklets.

017 018

Type 1

021 022

Type 2A

019 020

Type 2

022 022a

Type 3

The first, type 1 was a design of two stars overlapping, type 2 of a single star and type 3 was in the shape (or style) of the letter D. Type 3 was only used on PCP, the stars types were always on FCP.

Left-over paper stocks of the single star type 2 were also used for the printing of the 12p values in sheets, these appeared as a multiple star laid out on the sheet, several parts of the overprint occur on the stamps similar to a multiple watermark Type 2 A, it is assumed that this was done by the printers to avoid problems of registration.

Normally only mint copies of these stamps will show these overprints, with used stamps that are soaked and lifted from the backing paper the design will usually disappear with any traces of the original gum.

Post Office School Training Stamps

Certain stamps were produced with the face side overprinted with black bars, originally stamps such as these were used to train and teach staff at post office training schools.

The stamps can be found in several varieties, with the depth and width (thickness)  of overprint and the amount of bars printed on the surface. These bars can also be found printed either horizontally or vertically on certain stamps and variety of these are set in different positions.


Overprinted Specimen

The £1 pre decimal stapled cooks booklet is known to have contained panes overprinted "SPECIMEN". five values are listed these are: 1d 2 band, 5d 2 band, 4d left band and 4d right band. The stitched version of this booklet were also issued with a philatelic bureau CTO overprint. It has been suggested that these booklets with the CTO overprint were sent out to certain firms to attract future advertising.

Also a £1 stapled decimal Wedgwood booklet was issued with the overprint "SPECIMEN". Stamps listed are the half pence 2 band , half pence left band, two and half pence side band ( left or right) a two and a half pence centre band and a three pence two band.

School stamps overprinted specimen were also used by the post office to train employees, these were not technically available to the general public, but they do exist in peoples collections.


These are stamps that have been perforated or punctured with a series of tiny holes. Corporations , firms, individuals and certain organisations used these to identify their property. Some collectors find these a interesting challenge as they can be found on all the ranges of definitive including the Machin design. The Perfin Society has identified literally thousands of perfin varieties some dating back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

Images on this page are supplied by courtesy of Jon Haris.

First seen in on stamps in the 1920s, they were never intended for actual postal use they do play an important role in British postal history. Pre decimal and decimal stamps are known to exist  including Wildings, Machins, high values and postage dues.

These stamps make a interesting addition to any basic collection and the different varieties of the designs are highly sought after by specialist collectors.


Prior to the beginning of 1971 certain pre-decimal 2d stamps are found with overprinted names. Government offices and certain power suppliers used these on recipes or bills. The overprints were usually in the form of names or initials of the office concerned. Fiscally used stamps normally have a hand written signature added or are date stamped, and some with just the overprint are found postally used. There are many other overprints s to collect and this adds something different to this field.

 Thanks to Douglas Myall, Deegam Publications I can now show you a picture one such stamp which is the Somaliland 1p Overprint. The story behind this is explained in full on the Machin Mania Blog Sot, which is an extension to this site.

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