The Postage Stamps of Wonderland

The Postage Stamps of Wonderland, 1865-1870, including the Territory of Looking-glass Land, 1871-


Commencing in 1965, Gerald produced a set of 34 stamps to celebrate the wonderful creation of Wonderland after Great Britain did not issue a commemorative stamp to honour the 100th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s most famous publication.

The stamps are designed by Gerald M. King after engravings from Sir John Tenniel.

Sir John Tenniel (28 February 1820 – 25 February 1914) was an English illustrator, graphic humourist, and political cartoonist prominent in the second half of the 19th century. He was knighted for his artistic achievements in 1893. Tenniel is remembered especially as the principal political cartoonist for Punch magazine for over 50 years, and for his illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871). Sir Tenniel drew ninety-two drawings for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (London: Macmillan, 1865) and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (London: Macmillan, 1871).

The “Postage Stamps of Wonderland, including the Territory of Looking-glass Land” from Gerald,  have been designed / re-designed and printed several times throughout the years since 1965.

Below are the known “official Printings” listed. The 1st Printing stamps are the rarest and quite difficult to find (and therefore they are quite expensive). The 2nd Printing Stamps and the 3rd Printing Stamps are also rare and difficult to find (and therefore they are also “not cheap”).

The 4th Printing Stamps and the 5th Printing Stamps are easier to find (and cheaper) and unless (until) you are a hardcore Gerald King fan / collector, then I would recommend to collect these prints of the stamps first.

Over the years Gerald has spent a lot of time to refine the design of the individual stamps which can be clearly seen when comparing the different prints.


1st Printing (1965)

34 stamps (36 stamps, if the variants of the “National Wildlife Week” and the “Freedom from Hunger” stamps counts), Large format, Printed in black only on various coloured papers, Perforated 11 3/4″ (poor attempt at perforating the first issue) and Imperforated.

Printed by: Red Lodge Press (Only the first printing was done by them).

Some of the printed sheets from Red Lodge Press were sent to Harry Rooke (Cinderella journalist for the magazine “Stamp Collecting Weekly”) who in turn sent them to someone who had a perforating machine. They came back with at least two thirds badly perforated right into the design. Gerald never used this person again as he by this time had been contacted by Dave Stirling who had his own machine and was much better at it.

The original list for the 1st printing (from 1965) of the Gerald King Catalogue of the “Postage Stamps of Wonderland 1840-71 – Including the territory of Looking-glass Land” can be seen under the Reference Material page.

The 1st Printing stamps


2nd Printing (Late 1970)

Large format, Box-rouletted 13 1/2”, black ink on 10 different coloured papers. The 10 paper colours were deep green, sap green, pale blue, lilac, scarlet, rose, salmon, orange, yellow and white.

Printed by: Bone of Great Queen Street, London WC1

The rouletting was by: Trade Finishers (Walthamstow) Ltd. London, E17.

New stamps:
The “Too Late”-stamp (7 1/2 Winks), the “Mourning”-stamp (2 Golden Slumbers), the “Postage Due”-stamp (4 Winks), the “Alice’s Coronation”-stamp (20 Winks), a strongly retouched “2nd Botanical Congress” (2 Golden Slumbers), the “Health”-stamp (4 Winks and 2 Winks), the “Political Prisoner’s Relief Fund” (Half Wink) has been “relieved” of another ¼ Wink.

For the “Freedom from Hunger” (leg of mutton) issue the well-known major plate flaw (Cracked Plate) in pair with normal, the flaw now appears on the left-hand copy of the stamps.

Furthermore, the 1 Wink and the 3 Winks Alice heads were printed in blocks of 4.

The original list for the 2nd printing (from 1970) of the Gerald King Catalogue of the “Postage Stamps of Wonderland 1840-71 – Including the territory of Looking-glass Land” can be seen under the Reference Material page.

The 2nd Printing stamps…


3rd Printing (Late 1970’s)

To provide additional definitives for use on covers, a special plate was laid down providing blocks of nine of the 1 Wink and the 3 Winks values, with designer’s imprint in the lower left corner “Dodo, Lory & Co.”.

Frame breaks permit plating of all nine positions of the 1 Wink, but in any case each stamp, as the 3 Winks, bears code letters: AA- AB – AC / BA – BB – BC / CA – CB – CC etc. Furthermore, the third stamp (code letters AC) of the 3 Winks is inverted.

The printing was carried out by “Storyville Publications & Co.” of Walthamstow, with black ink on matt surface-coloured paper, imperforate, in 10 colours (white, pale blue, yellow, pale orange, dark orange, pale green, dark green, pink, red and mauve).

The layout of the third printing part sheet:
The denomination was cleared from the 1 Wink design, and new values created. These were laid down in two rows of five stamps, denominations being 1/2, 1/2, 2, 2, 4, 5 (all in Winks) in the top row, and below 1/2, 1/2, 8, 10, 20 (all in Winks) and the “Political Prisoner’s Relief Fund” (Half Wink). Two different types of the 1/2 Winks denominations (diagonal fraction bar versus horizontal fraction bar).
Above the two rows, the two blocks of nine and between the blocks a new high-value definitive of 1 Golden Slumber, and flanking the se-tenant block another new design, a super-sized 30 Winks Jabberwocky Centennial value.

The book “Alice Through The Pillar-box” (from 1979) mainly shows 1st Printing stamps and 2nd Printing stamps, and the last couple of pages of the book also gives examples of the 3rd Printing stamps. Refer to the Reference Material page.

The 3rd Printing stamps…


4th Printing (1980)

Smaller format (compared to the previous printings), Coloured stamps on coloured and white papers, Perforated 11 3/4″ and Imperforated.

Six different authentic ink colours of the Victorian period: deep shades of blue, green and carmine, reddish-brown and claret as well as black.
Four different paper colours: white, buff, pale blue and rose.
24 varieties of each stamp.

Printed by: The Phantasmagoria Security Printing Co.

Catalogue covering the 4th Printing stamps: “Curiouser and Curiouser” (January 1982). Refer to the Reference Material page.

The 4th Printing stamps…


5th Printing (2000)

Smaller format (compared to the previous printings), Multi Coloured stamps on white papers, Perforated 11 3/4″.

Printed by: The Phantasmagoria Security Printing Co.

Catalogue covering the 5th Printing stamps: “The Millennium Collection” (June 2000). Refer to the Reference Material page.

The 5th Printing stamps…

 

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