Stamps that won’t stick (Katie’s Pick of Punch 5)

Pick of Punch is a series of selected quotes from old Punch magazines, chosen by guest blogger and Punch enthusiast Katie Marriott.

penny red

The Penny Red from 1854, the first ever perforated stamp.

They Stick at Nothing.

The old saying gives us fair warning that “if we throw plenty of mud, some of it is sure to stick.”  On the same principle, we suppose if we are continually throwing abuse at the penny-postage stamps, some of it is very likely to stick, – which may be one way of making them adhesive, since they will not be so in any other.  These stamps are of the flightiest description, for one of them is no sooner on than it is off again, just in the same touch-and-go manner as Charles Mathews on the stage, when he is acting in a light farce.  They are here, there and everywhere, but in the right place.  They do not deserve being in the pay of the Government, for they never know how to keep a post when one is offered to them.

This pick of Punch appeared in the 19th November 1859 issue.  The Penny Black, the world’s first postage stamp, was introduced in 1840.  Five years before this issue of Punch the first ever official perforated stamps were issued.  The sticky gum on the backs was applied by hand with a brush or a roller so could be a bit hit-and-miss, as human error was always possible, until a machine gumming process was invented in 1880.

Charles James Mathews (1803-1878) was a successful actor and comedy performer.  The reference to his ‘touch-and-go manner’ is because he was a skilled character actor, who could portray many different parts in one play.  His father, also named Charles Mathews (1776-1835), was the pioneer of the ‘monopolylogue’ play, in which one actor performs all the roles.


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One Response to Stamps that won’t stick (Katie’s Pick of Punch 5)

  1. Pingback: Blogs I Follow, Part VI – An Historian About Town

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