I was reminded of these “Pop Stamps” when I found one stuck on the old 7″ shop bag above. They do seem quite obscure, so when I saw an unopened packet for sale at an antique centre recently I thought I’d pick them up and see what I could find out about this product. The answer is not very much! Stamp collecting is still a popular hobby, albeit nothing like the following it had when I was a kid and every corner shop sold packets of themed stamps for a few pence to begin or add to your collection. But even there information is scarce.
These days Royal Mail will print special stamps at the drop of a hat, but back then they would never have entertained pop culture like this, so it was left to a private firm, Waddingtons, to produce them.
Primarily known to most people as a games producer, Waddingtons were also a big trade printing firm and produced the trading stamps for Green Shield. So they had the equipment to produce perforated stamps already and decided to try this range to sell through stationers and corner shops. The firms also did a deal with a Dutch distributor to sell at least the Beatles stamps over there as two separate sets too (as Popzegels, below).
There does not seem to be a list anywhere of which artists they produced as Pop Stamps, but I have pieced some details together. Where a set has two numbers, this refers to the different stamps within the packet (so the Dave Clarke Five set has two different designs in) :
Dave Clark solo / Dave Clark Five set 101 / 102
This set comprised two stamp designs, one of the group, one of Dave Clark. The set in the photo below is not complete.
Cilla Black set 105
The Bachelors set 108
The Beatles set 109 / 110 / 111 / 112 / 113
This set comprised a block of six stamps; two of the group photo and four different stamps of each musician
Manfred Mann set 115
Dusty Springfield set unknown
So for now some stamps are missing, 103, 104, 106, 107, 114 and any beyond 115.
The packets are only small, and the first sets had no price on them. From set 108 on a price of 6d is printed on the backing card. This rather suggests Waddingtons did perhaps four sets to begin with, then another batch. What the missing set numbers were remains to be seen, but drop us an email if you have any! The other unknown is when these stamps were issued; from the choice of artists and the photos my guess would be 1964 / 65.
The big problems with these items is that they are liable to stick together if left in the original cellophane packets. The Cilla Black set I found had suffered like this, so I decided to take the packet apart and soak the card in cold water, after which they all separated nicely and I could dry them between kitchen paper sheets.
Waddington helpfully give examples of where the stamps can be used on the back of the pack, including “gay lampshades”.
In the Eighties, Waddington managed to secure a few contracts to print actual postage stamps, just the ordinary definitive type. I do recall the old Waddington factory on Wakefield Road in Leeds which was absolutely huge and a fabulous survival. That was until the First Direct Bank bought the site and tore it down, a shocking waste.
I found Glenn Morgan’s site useful for some of the background info, http://www.stampprinters.info