BRITISH LIBRARY ENCOUNTERS EXHIBITION PROOFS
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‘Infinite’ value King Edward VII proof 1908

In the relatively short reign of King Edward VII (1901-1910) only one set of stamp designs were issued modelled on the 1880s and 1890s surface printed issues of Queen Victoria. The highest value postage stamp released was £1 although an earlier Queen Victoria issue (1867-83) had included a £5 postage stamp. Consideration was therefore given to a higher value stamp that would anticipate the perceived demands of a new century.

Mindful of recent discoveries in the fields of physics and astronomy which redefined perceptions of space and time, the post office was keen to create a stamp that would embrace the potential for travel and the distribution of goods across an expanding universe. Consequently, a proof stamp was created modelled on the Queen Victoria £5 design but replacing the value with an infinite one intended to offer greater flexibility in the use of the stamp. The proof example is displayed here but was never released for public sale.

Subsequently, it was learned that the United States Postal Service were also contemplating a similar issue, and as a precaution the original proof was also over stamped with +£1, thus ensuring the superior value of the issue in perpetuity, although this was probably not necessary as the value of the pound sterling was worth considerably more at this time than the US dollar.

Nathan Cohen
2013
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