The 1840 Embossed Wyon -Whiting Essays Their Genesis and Subsequent Influence on British Postal Stationery

By Alan Huggins RDP Hon. FRPSL & Anthony Wicks

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Alan Huggins                Tony Wicks


The stimulus for undertaking the production of this book was a shared enthusiastic interest in, the various aspects of the Postal Reforms which were campaigned and planned for in the 1830s, and resulted in very significant changes in the operation of the British Post Office following the introduction of Uniform Penny Postage on 10th January 1840. 
Although these ‘Wyon-Whiting embossed Essays’ have been known to philatelists for some 150 years, the earliest detailed account being published by Philbrick & Westoby in 1881 15, relatively little had been written since then. Our primary objective in preparing this book has been to set the context of the 1840 Wyon- Whiting Essays within the aims of the reforms being introduced in 1840 for the prepayment of postage, and their ultimate destiny to retrieve the unsatisfactory reception given to the Mulready postal stationery in May 1840. The 1841 embossed envelopes were a world first, and provided a design concept which served the British Post Office for over 130 years, and was also adopted by many other countries. 
At the same time, we have taken the opportunity to put on record the range of products manufactured by Whiting and his associates which involved combining embossing with engine-turning and other printing techniques Thus, the fi rst three Chapters are concerned with Whiting and bring together a number of items some of which at various times have been attributed, not always correctly, to having connections to the 1839 Treasury Competition. Chapters four and fi ve are concerned with the design proposals involving embossing, used as part of the Mercantile Committee campaign for Postal Reform or submitted in the 1839 Treasury Competition. 
Chapter six re-examines the chronology and classification of the Whiting and Wyon-Whiting Essays in some detail and attempts to record, with the provenance where possible, the known examples. The decision to abort the introduction of the stamping of paper supplied by the public, only for the stamps designed for this to be further developed for the 1841 embossed envelopes, is described in Chapter seven. Chapter eight, which is an addition to the original concept, provides a summary of the subsequent uses of the Wyon Queen’s head die for the 1847-54 embossed adhesive stamps, the delayed introduction in 1855 of the stamping to order service, and the continued usage of the Wyon-Whiting design concept for postal stationery throughout the Victorian era. Four Appendices, a Bibliography and an Index complete the content. 


first became interested in postal stationery in 1952 while still at school. Progressively concentrating on this area over the years at the expense of other collections of adhesive stamps and postal history, he built highly specialised and very comprehensive collections of Great, British Levant, Mauritius and Sweden as well as representative selections from other countries. He has displayed or exhibited various sections of these collections locally, nationally and internationally and was formerly President of the F.I.P. Postal stationery Commission. Over the years he has written extensively about postal stationery, both in numerous articles, and as author or joint author of British Postal Stationery (1970), Specimen Stamps and Postal Stationery of Great Britain (with Marcus Samuel 1980), The Telegraph Stamps and Stationery of Great Britain 1851–1954 (with Peter Langmead 2003), Collect British Postal Stationery (with Colin Baker 2007), Great Britain, The 1840 Prepaid Parliamentary Envelopes (with Edward Klempka 2013) and The Mulready Postal Stationery (with Alan Holyoake 2015). Widely involved in philately at society, national and international levels, he is a Signatory to the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists, Honorary President of the Federation of European Philatelic Associations (FEPA), Past President of the Great Britain Philatelic Society, the Postal Stationery Society, and The Royal Philatelic Society London, of which he is an Honorary Fellow and Curator of the Society’s philatelic collections.


interest in stamp collecting was first stimulated when he was given a stamp album by his Grandfather at the age of eleven. Although his philatelic activity was initially intermittent, he concentrated on the stamps of Great Britain for over thirty years, progressively focussing on early postal history. In particular he developed a primary interest in the 1830s campaign for Postal Reform, which finally came to fruition with the introduction of Uniform Penny Postage in 1840. He studied and researched this area and built up a fi ne collection of material associated with the period which he exhibited both nationally, and at the London 2010 International Exhibition, where it was awarded a gold medal.

Sample pages (click one to enlarge)