Welcome to Rainer's
|British Postal Census Markings
Have you ever seen a
"diamond" cancel like this on a cover used in Great Britain?
The "diamond" mark was used
in Universal cancelling machines as a control mark when an annual postal
census was taken usually in October or November. This procedure started
as early as 1923 and ceased in 1985. The single impression dies were
fitted with a counting device and the marking was to indicate that the
item had been counted.
The count was normally made
of all posted traffic (posted at, received at, forwarded and any counter
business), including foreign mail, for one week at a particular office
providing a record of the number of items passing through the machine
per hour or per day and giving a representative of average weekly
postings for the Post Office.
The "diamond" also exists
with a date-slug in from December 1996 at Croydon in a reserve machine
for ordinary mail, not for the census.
The cancels were impressed on
the back or the front of the letter. Sometimes covers received more than
one "diamond" cancel.
The cancel has been found in
red and at some offices the "diamond" was employed with either the wavy
lines or the slogan in use at the time. The latest slogan that
was found has been used in 1951 (but may have been
used to at least 1966) while wavy lines were used to at least 1974. Most
"diamond" cancels have equal length sides and approximate 90° corners.
Some are narrow with smaller angles at the top and bottom.
The chosen week was not
necessarily the same for each sorting office or for each shift in a
particular office. The census was stopped because modern sorting
machines have counters built in to count every single item.