Home > History of Wine, Image > Anatomy of a Madeira Letter – Back Stamp

Anatomy of a Madeira Letter – Back Stamp


The British Post office was divided into a number of branches with the Foreign Office separate from the Inland Office. The Foreign Office handled post to and from overseas destinations including a number of the letters sent to Messrs Newton, Gordon that I have in my collection.. Beginning in 1797, the Foreign Office office hand stamped all outward posts.[1]

Between 1806-1814, the Foreign Office used a red stamp with “Foreign” and the year within two concentric circles. There is a code number in the middle. The first image is comprised of four marks for the years 1808-1811.

Beginning in 1815, the Foreign Office switched to a new black stamp. Within a circle appear “F” and the last two digits of the year split by the perpendicular code number. The second image is comprised of stamps from 1817, 1819, and 1820, and 1821.

The last image includes three back stamps from 1817 which I have arranged in ascending order of the numerical code. As you can see, the May letter has a higher value than the September letters. Perhaps the code is simply a 3-digit sequence number which has rolled over back to zero at least once between May and September. Further, there were 67 letters stamped between the two September letters. If anyone has an understanding of this code please let me know.

  • #167 – Dated 10 September 1817
  • #235 – Dated 10 September 1817
  • #252 – Dated 13 May 1817

[1] “The Jay Catalogue: Revisions Continued – FOREIGN OFFICE”, London Postal History Group, Number 158, August 2004. URL: http://www.gbps.org.uk/information/downloads/lphg-notebook.php

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: