Special handstamps (SHS) are used to cancel postage stamps on a first day or commemorative cover.
These are normally pictorial in design and are by far the most popular with collectors. They are applied by trained BFPS staff at our special handstamp centre very carefully to ensure that look of both the postage stamp and the cover are enhanced. Modern techniques now allow for some very intricate designs and a unique 'BFPS' number is issued by us and incorporated into the design.
Anyone can sponsor a SHS by applying to BFPS. Notification of their use is advertised in advance by Royal Mail in the Philatelic Bulletin, which is published monthly. The use of these stamps is not exclusive to the sponsor; collectors and philatelic dealers can send in their first day covers to receive one of these.
BFPS SHS are unique because:
- The serial numbers can only be allocated by BFPS.
- The SHS is applied by 'hand only' to the cover thus ensuring each cancellation is carefully positioned.
- BFPS is the only organisation licenced by the Royal Mail to design, produce and use SHS on Force's covers.
Examples of special handstamps
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