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British Stamps Without The Head Of The Queen Exhibited In Scotland

The display consists of 4 sections headlined: A Portrait with Problems, The Battle for Change, The Gentleman Album and The End of the Affair.

In 1964 Tony Benn became Postmaster General and he set about trying to change conservative thinking at the Post Office. He had determined ideas about stamps - to widen their scope, and to remove the Queen’s head. He found a like mind in David Gentleman, who already had several stamp designs to his credit.

The Queen did not agree with her head being removed from stamps and in response Gentleman created a small cameo head in profile as an alternative. The cameo head came to be accepted in place of the Wilding portrait. It was used from the Landscapes issue of 1966 until it was replaced with the new Machin commemorative head in 1968.

Uniquely, for the Robert Burns issue designers (all Scottish) were instructed that they could also submit "non-traditional" designs. In practice, this meant designs without the Queen's head. Several did, and a total of 21 (out of 40) carried the legend U.K. POSTAGE, or a crown, or royal cypher.

unused Burns GB stamp design

Some 12 different designs were essayed and those first chosen were "non-traditional" signatures of Burns. However, in the meantime, it had been decided to retain the head of the monarch and so the designs were re-essayed with that addition. In the end, a more traditional approach was preferred.

Douglas Muir, Curator, Philately at the BPMA has commented: "The BPMA is proud to be part of the ABPS National Philatelic Exhibition 2012. On display will be highlights, never seen before, from the BPMA's world-class philatelic collections: in particular, essays of unissued designs of British stamps from the present reign including the 1966 Robert Burns issue."

Churchill stamp design with no Queens Head

Images courtesy of The British Postal Museum & Archive

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British Stamps Without The Head Of The Queen Exhibited In Scotland

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