Tag Archives: language of stamps

Postcard Album: Wolstonbury Hill, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex

21 Jan

The postcard below shows Wolstonbury Hill south of Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex. I believe this view is looking south toward the northern slope of the hill. Although it not particularly detailed I love the figures in the foreground, taking their dogs for a walk.

There is no publisher or photographer named on this postcard, although it was posted in May 1904 so it is quite an early card. The typeface of the caption and the style of the reverse of the card are reminiscent of those published by Mezzotint Co. of Brighton, Sussex.

Whilst this is a nice picture (which was the reason I bought it) the card has a more interesting back.

As you can see there is no message just an address, stamp and postmark (or cancellation). If you look closely you will see that the stamp is in fact upside down. You may have heard about something called the language of stamps (it was even mentioned on the Antiques Roadshow a couple of weeks ago).

Basically the orientation of the stamp was like a secret code, although of course it wasn’t actually a secret. There seem to have been several variations depending on where you came from, but one option for the upside-down stamp, and the one that I prefer is that it was shorthand for “I love you”.

In the 1911 census Beatrice Willis (36 years old and unmarried) was living at 119 Kings Road, Kingston on Thames, who must have been the recipient of this card, but I guess we will never know who the sender was?

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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