Postage stamps – printing and production

For those who still write letters, finding a stamp will probably mean a trip to the local post office and, more often than not nowadays, what will be sold to them will be a little label that is printed off by the clerk at the counter. The system is convenient in many respects and offers advantages to the Post Office but, for older customers and the traditional stamp collector, it certainly marks a change in the way in which stamps are produced and made available to the public. It is probably a good time, consequently, to recall something of the specialist printing work that went into the production of Irish stamps over the years and at the Irish national stamp exhibition, STAMPA, the An Post Museum & Archive will have some archive sheets on display this weekend.

Sir Rowland Hill 17p - 1979jpg

Understanding and using the different printing techniques and processes, from traditional letter-press or typography to photogravure and offset lithography, calls for specialist knowledge and making stamps requires the collaboration of many different people. Artists and engravers, printers and IT people all contribute to the stamp and along the way they need to draw on others who know about paper and gums as well.

The STAMPA 2013 exhibition is on at the RDS (Anglesea Road entrance) from Friday the 18th to Sunday the 20th October and is open from 11am to 6pm daily. Admission is €5 for adults and €2 for children.

RMS Leinster 1918

RMS Lenister 1911 1

This weekend we remember all those, including the postal staff, who died when the mail boat, Leinster, was sunk on the 10th October 1918 not far out from Dun Laoghaire. Some 500 people died in the tragedy. There is a memorial plaque in our Museum and in the post office in Dun Laoghaire too.

Union membership dues – Dublin September 1913


This union contribution book shows the payment of regular membership dues by means of stamps stuck into the book. What’s particularly interesting about it is the hand-written annotation showing that the member, Richard Dunne, a merchant seaman who was affected by the 1913 Lock-out has been allowed eight weeks’ membership without payment. This, and the original 1913 Proclamation, banning the famous Jim Larkin meeting outside the GPO in the 31st August 1913, are currently on display in our museum in the GPO.