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This site was last updated on 11 November 2017



Alhambra Theatre, Bradford. Centenary Square, Bradford.

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Society Officers   ::   Our Syllabus for 2017-2018

Links   ::   Bradford Postal History

Bradford Philatelic Society holds regular postal auctions - to receive our next auction contact Judith Holder on 01274 544446 for a catalogue ......


Our Society was founded in September 1894 and we offer all stamp collectors in the Bradford area a meeting place to see displays of stamps, meet fellow collectors, sell and exchange stamps and buy at our auctions.

We welcome all collectors and our members are always ready to help with any philatelic problems and advance the knowledge of fellow collectors.

Our Annual Subscription is: £5 per annum.

We are affiliated to the Association of British Philatelic Societies and the Yorkshire Philatelic Association.


We meet on the first Tuesday in the month at 7.30pm in the Latvian Club, 5 Clifton Villas, Manningham Lane, Bradford BD8 7BY (Telephone 01274 546235). Our meetings usually last for about two hours and may be a display by an invited speaker or one of our own members, a members' evening, competition, auction or visit from another local society.

Visitors are always welcome at our meetings. If you are a stamp collector why not come along and find out more about our Society? See our Syllabus below for details of our meetings.


For more information about the Society, or to apply to join, contact our Secretary:
Julian Smith
Telephone: 01274 541668


Jack Lemm and Richard Wheatley


President: Tony Hammond

Past President: Derek Baron

Secretary: Julian Smith

Treasurer & YPA Delegate: Mrs Yvonne Wheatley

Publicity Officer: Tony Hammond

Syllabus Secretary: Richard Wheatley

Competition Secretary: Stephen Holder

OUR SYLLABUS FOR 2017 - 2018


5 September

Presidential Display: Tony Hammond

3 October

GB Railways: Mrs Yvonne Wheatley

7 November

Sabena: Roman Rimonis

17 & 18 November

Leeds PS Annual Stamp Fair, Pudsey

5 December

Italy: Dr John Pitts


2 January

Members: Post Cards

6 February

Things that I Collect: Graham Winters (YPA President)

6 March


3 April

France in the Caribbean: Stephen Holder RDP

1 May

British Commonwealth Revenues: Martin Kingdom

5 June

Annual General Meeting

16 June (Saturday)

Yorkshire Philatelic Association Annual Convention, Scarborough

3 July

Open Meeting

7 August

Open Meeting

4 September

First Meeting of 2018-19 Session


Diary of Philatelic Events

Yorkshire Philatelic Association Home Page

More links on the Yorkshire Philatelic Association's Links Page

Information about Bradford's attractions can be found at Visit Bradford


by Stephen Holder RDP, FRPSL

We are indebted to Stephen Holder RDP, FRPSL for permission to reproduce the following introduction from his display of Bradford Postal History, which includes much scarce material with exceptionally fine markings. It was also printed as an article in the YPA Annual Convention brochure for 3 June 2000.

Note. The sizes of the illustrations appearing below will depend upon the settings of your computer. Therefore the actual sizes are shown below the illustrations.

Postal markings as we understand them first appear in Great Britain during the early seventeenth century. The first letters from Bradford would have been carried by hand with only a name and address marked on the front of the folded, and usually sealed letter. Envelopes did not appear in regular use until towards the end of the 19th Century.

The first postmark of Bradford is a straight line handstamp in two lines BRAD FORD (Figure 1). The late Martin Willcocks (The British County Catalogue of Postal History Volume 4) records it as being from about 1737 to 1744. However the writer has an example dated 16 October 1727 and a later one dated 24 January 1766.

Bradford Mark.
Figure 1: Actual size circa 24x14mm.

Dating from circa 1750 a series of different handstamps, similar in nature but varying in size and style, followed this first mark, continuing in use until the adoption of the circular datestamps which were designed to indicate the place of origin and the date of posting in one item. This happened throughout Great Britain, and Bradford around 1830.

From about 1771 the letter 'Y' was added to the Bradford handstamps to indicate Yorkshire (Figure 2).

Bradford Mark
Figure 2: Actual size circa 45x13mm.

This format continued in use in a variety of different sizes again until about 1830 when it was changed to 'Bradford Yorks' on the early circular date stamps.

In the eighteenth century postal charges on a letter were based on the number of sheets (under one ounce) and the distance carried. The charges were often applied inaccurately. In 1784 handstamps were introduced indicating the mileage from London, which aided the calculation of charges. After John Cary had surveyed the Post Roads a new series was issued in 1801. These have become known as 'mileage marks' and the distance from London for Bradford was surveyed as 216 miles, with this figure appearing in the mark (Figure 3).

Bradford Mark
Figure 3: Actual size circa 34x10mm.

Part of the charge for a letter was calculated on the number of sheets contained in it, up to a limit of one ounce for a single sheet. There was thus an incentive to use a large sheet folded up to make a four (or more) page letter. A bulky looking letter would be assumed to be more than one sheet and was liable to be inspected to verify its true content. Such a letter was sometimes marked to indicate its actual size; for example the writer has one dated circa 1815 marked 'Single Sheet'.

Initially the function of the Post was to deliver between one town and another without any detailed local delivery. London was the only city to have a local post for many years but towards the end of the eighteenth century similar systems were created in Dublin, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and Liverpool. By about 1808 many towns had instituted some sort of local or suburban post and Penny Post handstamps (Figure 4) appear indicating the use of these local collection services. Such handstamps continued to be used in some areas until the middle of the nineteenth century.

Bradford Mark
Figure 4: Actual size circa 50x11mm.

Some outlying areas linked to the Penny Post scheme of the local Post Town were given handstamps indicating the place of origin, such as the example illustrated with the fine strike of Idle Penny Post in red (Figure 5) of 26 June 1840.

Bradford Mark
Figure 5: Actual size circa 34x15mm.

Throughout the 'pre-adhesive' period the postal charge to be paid (usually by the recipient) is shown as a manuscript figure depicting the amount due.

Before the creation of postage stamps most mail was sent postage due, this being considered correct etiquette to indicate the ability of the recipient to pay. There were exceptions, especially for some business and official mail, or in deference to a party higher up the social scale. A small amount of mail was prepaid and handstamps were produced to indicate this. One unique to Bradford Figure 6 shows mirror image N's in 'One' and 'Penny'. Later a small oval prepaid handstamp to indicate such mail appears, first seen in use at Bradford in 1835 Figure 7.

Bradford Mark
Figure 6: Actual size
circa 27mm diameter.
Bradford Mark
Figure 7: Actual size
circa 22x16mm.

With the advent of the Penny Post in 1840 a new 'PAID 1D.' handstamp was introduced (Figure 8).

Occasionally mail was misrouted and had to be forwarded on to the correct destination. the endorsement 'Missent' was usually added in manuscript or applied with a special handstamp (Figure 9).

Bradford Mark
Figure 8: Actual size
circa 20x20mm.
Bradford Mark
Figure 9: Actual size
circa 32x19mm.

Eventually the straight line forms of handstamp gave way to a general use of the circular date stamp, indicating the time and place of the application of the handstamp. Such circular datestamps were originally used as backstamps to designate the office of despatch, or on the front of letters to show the name of the distributing office and the date of arrival. These datestamps slowly replaced all the previous handstamps and datestamps and eventually became the standard canceller of postage stamps, still used today.

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This is an on-going project to show items of Bradford postal history. If you have items to include please email the Webmaster (below) with a suitable caption and an image (preferably as a jpeg).

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Postal history students wishing to learn more about the postal history of Bradford can consult "A Postal History of Bradford to 1884", by D Boyes, 1977. Some of the information included in this work has been superceded by later discoveries.

Some useful information about Bradford's history can be found in the Wikipedia.

Some images of Bradford postal markings are shown below.

The barred numeral type cancellers began to be issued in England in May 1844 with a different number allocated to each office. The initial series ran from 1 to 936. In 1854 cancellers were issued with a combined circular date stamp and a barred numeral obliterator (the so called 'Duplex' hand-stamps). Number 107 was assigned to Bradford. This type of hand-stamp was in use until the beginning of the 19th century.

Sideways Duplex Cancel of 1857
Above: 1857, Sideways Duplex Cancel with numeral 107

Squared Circle Cancel of 
Above: 1893, Bradford to Holland. The cover is franked with embossed half-penny vermilion cancelled
with Bradford squared circle with handstamp alongside ‘Found in FNO without contents'.

Squared Circle Cancel of 1904
Above: 1904, Bradford squared circle cancel on postcard to Northampton paid with half-penny stamp of King Edward VII.

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