During the latter part  of 1855 experiments were taking place at Kirkwood and Son of Edinburgh to develop a ‘machine’  to speed up the cancellation of postal items which bore more than one stamp; primarily registered items and packages.

It was designed by a Mr F Godby and produced a continuous revolving cancel with the die rotating against a felt pad which had a built-in reservoir of ink. A photo of a Manchester surviving example is shown below.

wpb02b3b98_0fIn the Postal Archives there is a Minute dated 28th April 1856 which purports to comment on this new ‘machine’.

It states:

“To the P.M.G.,

I beg to recommend that Mr Abbot be authorised to order as he proposes, twelve obliterating stamps from the pattern originally designed by the late Mr. F Godby at a cost of 25/- each.

It is proposed to distribute them amongst the following offices, viz.-

London (2), Edinburgh (2), Dublin, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Bristol, Aberdeen and Dundee.”

Obviously approval was given albeit Edinburgh had already been using their Roller cancel for a number of months during the latter part of 1855.

From an appraisal of surviving examples it would seem that the majority of offices used their Roller ‘machines’ in the manner for what they were intended with the exception of Edinburgh where the greater majority of examples cancel one stamp only.

From the relative lack of surviving examples (except Edinburgh) it would seem that the Rollers were not used to a great extent although their scarcity would be expected if they were primarily used for packages, the covering of which being rarely retained.

It therefore should be appreciated that, apart from Edinburgh, dated copies are relatively Scarce and in some instances extremely Rare. So far no dated copies have been seen by me for some of the London Types, the early Edinburgh Types, Dundee and one of the Liverpool Types. This is discussed further on each Town page.

Some of the Types shown are not evident in the Kirkwood Proof Books so we must assume that either they were missed out or were manufactured elsewhere. I am also expecting to add to the list at a later stage.

The numbers used were as follows: 1 (Aberdeen and London), 2 (London), 75 (London and Birmingham), 76 (London), 114 (Dundee), 131 (Edinburgh), 134 (Bristol), 159 (Glasgow), 163 (Greenock), 186 (Dublin), 308 (Stirling), 466 (Liverpool) and 498 (Manchester).

I am happy to provide attribution to the following publications/people in respect of these cancellations:

Scottish Postmarks by James Mackay

Scottish Numeral Postmarks by James Mackay

British Postal Museum and Archives

British Postmarks – A Short History and Guide by Alcock and Holland

London Cancellations by Dubus

Barred Numeral Cancellations by John Parmenter

Mike Raguin, Martin Townsend, Tony Clarke, Rod Paige, Ron Allan, Graham Haywood, Bill Barrell, David Shaw, Cavendish Auctions, Rene Paschke-Gustrow, Martin Kirkbride, Devlan Kruck