The Barred Oval #26 Postmark With Small Digits

New Discovery – posted November 2005

When the postal officials decided to replace the butterfly postmark handstamps in late 1851, they adopted a design which has become known to collectors as the Barred Oval postmark . Initially, 50 new Barred Oval handstamps were manufactured, numbered from 1 to 50 to serve the existing post offices. Soon afterwards, additional handstamps were ordered to serve new post offices that were being opened. The entire first batch of 50 handstamps had smaller digits than the later numbers. Some of the early types were replaced due to loss or damage and many of them were replaced with handstamps that had the larger digits. Barred Oval 26 has only been recorded with the larger digits, but it has been speculated for a very long time that a Barred Oval 26 with smaller digits probably did exist at one time. Until the discovery of this example on a 4d Beaded Oval, none had ever been recorded.

This unique example was discovered in a `schoolboy’ collection in August 2005, and is undisputed. It is interesting that it is found on a Beaded Oval stamp, which was not issued until some time after the barred oval handstamps had been replaced by the Barred Numeral types. One can only surmise that this handstamp had been set aside and used only for emergency purposes.


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