An Ongoing History of British Postmarks
British postmarks were used in North America roughly until the mid 1770s when the Continental Congress enacted a law for a non-British postal system, though one continued to operate at the same time as the American system. The British colonial post finally ended in 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Peace.
In Collect British Postmarks we see the progression from early Dockwra pre-stamp markings, through the Provincial and Penny Post markings all the way through cancels from the Gulf War. Remarkably, the book is kept down in size and volume of information, as the publisher feels it best serves its users in a handbook size, rather than one of encyclopedic heft. Still the book manages to include a wealth of information running to cancels and postmarks away from the mainland, including Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands.
The Gibbons catalog points out that experimentation in canceling machines was still taking place over 100 years later, with a better way to cancel large packages (aka flats) being sought by the post office. The large variety of machine-created cancels through history such as Rideout’s Machine No. 1 and the Parallel Motion Machine (also invented by Hill), are listed along with bright and clear illustrations of the postmarks the machines produced.
An Array of Postmark Topics, Postal Uses
Common as well as important maritime (including paquebots and HMS Ships, etc.) items are listed and there is an extensive listing of military, outpost and camp postmarks from early conflicts like the Crimean and Boer wars, through the world wars and into forces postmarks used in modern times in the Persian Gulf and British Forces mail from around the world.
There are even basic markings such as those found on day to day mail including "Postage Dues" and "To Pay" varieties, while there is also the more unusual and esoteric material, exemplified by the markings used on the mail of Royalty and the House of Parliament.
Stanley Gibbons Collect British Postmarks, a thorough and definitive consideration of the topic, well deserves the attention of every stamp collector and philatelist.