The “CANCELLED” Handstamps Of Perkins Bacon

Only recently listed in the Stanley Gibbons catalogue, the “CANCELLED” handstamps were applied to just 450 of Perkins Bacon’s classic stamps from maybe 21 or 22 different countries.

Apart from Chile and possibly the Pacific Steam Navigation Company all the stamps were from the British Empire (no one has seen a Navigation Company stamp with “Cancelled” yet) making these elusive issues favourites of serious British Commonwealth collectors.

As printers of the world’s first stamps we owe many thanks to Perkins Bacon. They produced the iconic 1d Black in 1840, a design classic still influencing modern definitive issues. Their other early stamps including the Cape of Good Hope triangulars; the Chalon designs for Bahamas, Grenada, Natal, New Zealand & Queensland; the Britannia stamps of Barbados, Mauritius & Trinidad amongst many others, evoking a magical age for stamp collectors.

However the very production of these “souvenirs” was to lose Perkins Bacon their government contract to produce Postage Stamps and their demise was in large part due to these few “Cancelled” stamps.

On 18 April 1861, Ormond Hill, nephew of the great Roland Hill, wrote to the head of Perkins Bacon and Co. requesting a few stamps for his friends, appropriately cancelled to render them worthless for posting.

Within a few days, displaying a lack of good judgement, Joshua Bacon agreed to supply six examples of every stamp they had in stock and blocks of six were prepared and handstamped “CANCELLED” within an oval of bars, twice.

The stamps, with or without the “cancelled” obliteration, were not Perkins Bacon’s property to give ( no matter how well connected the recipient) and once out in the public domain the resulting political storm eventually ended the existence of a great printing company. The story is beautifully told in Peter Jaffe’s book “Cancelled By Perkins Bacon”, published by Spink & Son Ltd (ISBN 9963 579 809)

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