Ormond Hill Requests for Favours

Early Stamp Collecting overview and Plate 77 stamps


The possibility that the accepted ‘Plate 77’ stamps were made for collectors is one that can not be dismissed, it certainly could have happened.



Visible evidence, as shown on this site, clearly demonstrates that the 7s differ in shape and position and that there are major irregularities in the Border lattice-work between them. These are not attributes that one would expect from stamps originating from Imprimatur sheets.



It is therefore very possible that the accepted stamps showing a Plate number 77 did not originate from Plate 77 but were re-engraved from existing plates as with the stamps from the Hugo cover which we know emanate from Plate 73.



A philatelic objective may well be one reason for their existence.


Serious stamp collecting was certainly a practiced hobby by the following eminent collectors as early as 1859. Many others both in the UK and abroad no doubt existed.


i- William Hughes-Hughes, a founder member of the Royal Philatelic Society London was reported to become a collector around 1859 and ceased in 1874. He had a number of great world rarities including an ‘unused’ Plate 77 stamp. He stated in his interview with Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal in January 1896 that his whole collection had cost him £69 as most of his stamps were acquired “through influential connections”. Was Ormond Hill that influential connection?  


ii- William Edmund Image began collecting in 1859 and built a strong collection which he sold to Thomas Tapling.


iii- William Westoby began collecting stamps in 1861 or 1862.


iv- Thomas Tapling, a foremost collector of his time, started collecting in 1865. He also had an ‘unused’ plate 77 stamp.


v- A paper titled ‘Great Britain: Plate numbers 71–225 on Cover’, which I published in The Great Britain Journal, 48/4 (2010) pp.84–86 very clearly demonstrates that the plate numbers on the 1864 issue were collected as early as April 1865. It is very possible that earlier evidence exists.


Ormond Hill demands from Perkins Bacon


A security printer ‘should be’ above reproach. If this is indeed the case how can we then accept that a rejected Plate 77 trial sheet that should have been accounted for and destroyed was ‘kept back’, gummed and perforated one year after its production and then circulated to the public?

With this in mind it is important to note that Ormond Hill, as early as 1861, twenty one years after the first postage stamp was printed, made the following irregular requests from Perkins Bacon as outlined in Percy De Worms work “Beginning of the End” which included the following requests which surely form clear evidence that serious stamp collecting was being practiced at that time:


a- Request made by Ormond Hill on the 18/4/1861:

“Two or three of my friends who are collectors of Postage Stamps have asked me to procure for them specimens of new or uncommon stamps whenever I have it in my power”

To which J B Bacon replied on the 24/4/1861:

“..in reply I beg to state that I shall have much pleasure in complying with your request.”

Request ‘a‘ asks for ‘uncommon’ stamps which clearly implies that collectors at that time understood their interest and value factor. And equally clearly, Perkins Bacon were ready to oblige!!

William Hughes-Hughes, mentioned above, had a ‘Plate 77’ stamp (an ‘uncommon stamp’) in his collection. Was he one of Ormond Hill’s friends?



b- Request made by Ormond Hill on the 24/4/1861:

“I do not wish to give you the trouble of printing specially for me on any acct.”

Request ‘b‘  is of great interest in that, did it imply that if Ormond Hill desired it, Perkins Bacon would have printed stamps especially for him?



c- Request made by Ormond Hill on the 1/11/1861:

“I desired specimens for an Official collection and entirely for an official purpose..”



It is worthwhile noting that the three known mint examples stamps AB, AC and BA were owned by known and eminent philatelists while the used examples were all randomly discovered by the general public.



This evidence does point to the fact that the possibility that ‘Plate 77’ stamps were made for collectors does exist and therefore one that can not be dismissed.  It certainly could have happened.