The Jubilee of Penny Postage
Guildhall Invitation
and Instructions
16th May, 1890

A total of 3,645 Invitations were sent out. This Messrs. Blades, East and Blades design was selected by the celebration committee apparently based upon a large amount of previous such specialized invitation work. The company was a well known London security printer first located at 11 Abchurch Lane, having been founded in 1831 by Joseph Blades [previously of Robinson's Post Office Directory] and Joseph East [Chairman of the London Missionary Society] as Blades & East. When the sons of Joseph Blades joined the firm starting in 1840, they renamed to Blades, East and Blades. The name continued on well into the mid 20th century. In 1873 they printed the tickets to the reception for the Shah of Persia held at the Guildhall on the 29th of June. It featured: "a portrait of the Shah, the arms of the city of London and of the Persian royal house, ornately printed in red, blue, green, sepia, and gold."

Each Invitation to the Guildhall Conversazione would have a serial number and a space for the name of the guest which should have been filled in before sending. Of the nine numbered invitations I've seen, only three had the names entered. Although two of those invitations were sequential in number [2123 and 2124], the handwriting of the names was quite different. I suspect that the second was filled in by the recipient having been sent blank with the one addressed to Mr. J. H. Grew, used by Mrs. Grew. The third Invitation [2269] has identical handwriting to the first.


A numbered Invitation, printed without the second 'yellow' colour as shown in the 'proof' above. Perhaps the use of the additional inking was done for only the 'very special' guests? As yet none have been found numbered with the additional colour.

This invitation is rather large, measuring 8 5/8" high by 10 1/2" wide.

Accompanying each Invitation would be this sheet of 'Instructions'.

Noted are entry time, dress and method for entry.

image courtesy of John Davies, FRPSL

Unfortunately, it would appear that the 'Coupons' mentioned in the Instructions for the first night were destroyed after the event. Only a few survive, and only as these 'Instructions' were not followed in the case of non-attendance.

The Coupons were attached to the left side of the Invitation, as each of the six Invitation examples seen has a perforated edge. The above coupon is still attached to its Invitation.

image courtesy of John Davies, FRPSL

A special authorization card was issued for the driver of the invitee's carriage.
Note the very specific instructions to the police and driver.

Post Office Officials were admitted by special tickets valid only for the evening of the 16th May, 1890. A corner would be torn off to indicate use, and the ticket kept by the visitor as a souvenir. Most Officials would not have received the formal Invitation.

For the Coversazione at the Guildhall on the 17th and 19th, some 21,000 'distinctive' tickets were printed and sent out, with 4,750 being reserved for the Post Office to distribute. Each time period was in a different colour, for quick identification.


above two images courtesy of John Davies, FRPSL

Size of these tickets is 3 5/8" x 2 3/8".
Printed in Black on a Deep Dull Mauve card.

The tickets were valid for one of three periods of the day as specified, from 10 AM to 1 PM, from 2 PM to 5 PM and from 6 PM to 10 PM. Employees of the Post Office in uniform were admitted without ticket at any time.




14th July, 2018