1765 Scottish Bishop Mark

Henry Bishop was made Postmaster General in 1660 with the intent to improve the Postal Service. Among the many complaints were excessive delays in posting and receipt. In 1661 he created the 'Bishop Mark' the first stamp in the world of any governmental postal system. It is necessaary to understand that a 'stamp' is the marking applied to a letterfor cancellation or transit, what today are called stamps are actually pre-payment 'labels'.

Most of the Bishop Marks are solid, that is one ring with both day and month fixed. Dublin and Edinburgh may have had the date fixed and the month variable i the early days, thus reducing the number of stamps needed. A further step in reducing the number on hand was created with the 'split ring' Scottish Bishops Mark. This letter carries such an example. The month was contained in an upper ring and mid barrier with the date and lower ring portion being clamped to it for use.

One may see clearly that the two parts did not always fit exactly, thus drawing attention and being named 'split ring'. There is a 'touch' of the edge of the holder below the cancel. Another feature of this is the serifed "NO", apparently serifed months other than AP, SE and DE are unusual.

By the date of this letter, speedy transmission and delivery had been achieved. This was posted on the 19th, November in Edinburgh and received the same day in Balhary {Balharry} Cupar {Coupar}, Angus - about 57 miles distant. The sender was James Bevere[d]ge, writing to James Smyth, Writer to the Signet ... or solicitor. The letter has been re-folded, as was the custom to fit into a file, with a notation serving as the identification.