Your Guide to Buying Pre-Decimal Elizabeth II Stamps on eBay

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Your Guide to Buying Pre-Decimal Elizabeth II Stamps on eBay

Collecting British stamps is truly a special hobby. With a modern postal system dating back to the 1830s, there are many valuable eras of postage, which allow collectors a fascinating choice and makes the sale and trade of stamps on eBay one of its most dynamic departments. Indeed, there is a host of benefits to growing one's stamp collection through the use of eBay because of its system of bringing buyers and sellers from around the world together under one roof.

However, beyond the general benefits of eBay, learning the ins and outs of British stamps,, as well as the details of a particular era, is also important if one wants to be successful when buying stamps. One era of stamps that many collectors focus on is pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps. These stamps are quite fascinating historically, which makes their collection all the more popular amongst online buyers and sellers. This is particularly true on eBay. By learning more about this era of stamps, as well as the particular benefits and skills needed for searching for them on eBay, buyers can arm themselves with the knowledge they need to get great stamps at excellent deals.

Buying Stamps on eBay

Before moving onto the specifics of stamp collection and pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps specifically, buyers should be aware of the immense benefits that come from choosing to buy stamps on eBay. As an online marketplace, eBay is different from many other collectables dealers, both online and in physical form. This is because eBay is a server, not a seller.

eBay's job is to operate as a middleman rather than a retailer. The eBay server is in place to help unite buyers and sellers from around the world and protect them both. This is accomplished through partnerships with PayPal, for example, which helps buyers protect their financial information from multiple sellers, divulging it only to PayPal.

Using eBay to buy pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps allows buyers the ability to deal with multiple sellers offering products of different qualities and at different prices within a safe online environment.. Buying stamps on eBay is like having 24/7 access to a trade show without the bother of travel and face-to-face haggling.

The History of British Stamps since 1839

The modern concept of using stamps in the post is not quite as old as the concept of sending messages via a third party, which has its origins in the twelfth century reign of Henry I. However, this system was always inefficient, even once it was adapted to suit the masses with the naming of a Postmaster General by Charles II in 1661. Therefore, when, in the 1830s, an English teacher and would-be reformer by the name of Rowland Hill began a quest to end the long-held practice that was the British postal system, the reforms signaled a welcome new era for the postage system.

Introducing Stamps

Hill's plan for reform was borne out of frustration with the current method of charging for post based only on the distance that a letter or package was to travel. Under this system, the Royal Post Office was losing money and people needing to send letters across the country were highly inconvenienced. This is because, prior to Hill's reform, sending a letter was done at a post office and required an individual to wait in line to pay the fee.

The Great Post Office Reform of 1839 changed all that. This reform streamlined postal costs and allowed users to prepay for their letters through the purchase of stamps. And, once this decision was made, the process of printing and designing stamps began. The immediate response was to feature the profile of the monarch on any official postage thereby defining eras of stamp collecting by the monarch reigning at the time.

Elizabeth Ascends to the Throne

Upon the death of her father, King George VI, the coronation of Elizabeth II ushered in the sixth distinct era of British stamps. In total, four stamps featuring Edward VIII were issued prior to his abdication. These stamps began in 1952 and continue to the present day. However, due to a major change to British currency at the height of Elizabeth II's rule, there are two subgroups of her stamps: pre-decimal and decimal stamps..

Decimal Day Changes It All

An important day in British history is 15 February 1971. It was on this day that the long-used Pound Sterling currency system, consisting of pounds, shillings, and pence, was replaced by a rounded decimal system. Though the changeover to the new currency standards went relatively smoothly amongst the populace of Great Britain, there were a great many small changes that needed to take place through the government. Among these changes were stamps, which were previously issued by the shilling and would now be furnished in decimal denominations of 10p, 20p, 50p, and one pound, as of 17 June 1970. Therefore, pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps refer to the shilling-based stamps issued between the years of 1952 and 1970.

A List of Pre-Decimal Elizabeth II Stamps

Collectors interested in pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps are generally aware of the two major designs of Queen Elizabeth issued on those stamps during the years of 1952 through 1970. These designs are the Wildings issues, based on a photograph of the queen taken by Dorothy Wilding, and the still-in-use Machin issue, which replaced it.

However, according to custom, all stamps issued during Elizabeth II's reign are considered to be Elizabeth II stamps. As such, there have been a number of special issue stamps between these two major designs that are of particular interest to many collectors. Below is a table which details all of the known issues of Elizabeth II stamps by design and year.



Specific Date



5 December 1952, 31 August 1953, 15 October 1954



 3 June 1953



1 September, 23 September, reprinted in 1958, 1963, 1967


World Scout Jubilee Jamboree

6th Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference

Wildings with graphite lines

1 August

12 September

19 November


Sixth British Empire and Commonwealth Games

18 July


Wildings with phosphor bands

18 November


Tercentenary of Establishment of General Letter Office

First Anniversary of European Postal and Telecommunications Conference (CEPT)

7 July

19 September


Centenary of Post Office Savings Bank

European CEPT, Torquay

Seventh Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference

28 August

18 September

25 September


National Productivity Year

14 November


Freedom from Hunger

Centenary of the Paris Postal Conference

National Nature Week

Ninth International Lifeboat Conference, Edinburgh

Red Cross Centenary Congress

Opening of COMPAC

17 March

7 May

16 May

31 May

15 August

3 December


Shakespeare Festival

20th International Geographical Congress, London

10th International Botanical Conference

Opening of the Forth Road Bridge

23 April

1 July

5 August

4 September


Winston Churchill Commemoration (two stamps)

700th Anniversary of Simon de Montfort's Parliament (two stamps)

Salvation Army Centenary (two stamps)

Centenary of Joseph Lister's Discovery of Antiseptic Surgery (two stamps)

Commonwealth Art Festival (two stamps)

25th Anniversary Battle of Britain (eight stamps)

Opening of Post Office Tower (two stamps)

20th Anniversary of U.N.O. and International Cooperation Year (two stamps)

International Telecommunications Union (I.T.U.) Centenary (two stamps)

8 July

19 July

9 August

1 September

1 September

13 September

8 October

25 October

15 November


Burns Commemoration

900th Anniversary Westminster Abbey


World Cup Football Championship

British Birds

England's World Cup Football Victory

British Technology

900th Anniversary Battle of Hastings

Christmas (first Christmas issue)

25 January

28 February

2 May

1 June

8 August

18 August

19 September

14 October

1 December


European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

British Wild Flowers

British Paintings

Sir Francis Chichester's World Voyage

British Discovery and Invention


20 February

24 April

10 July

24 July

19 September

18 October, 27 November


British Bridges

British Anniversaries

British Paintings


29 April

29 May

12 August

25 November


British Ships

First Flight of Concorde


British Architecture (Cathedrals)

Investiture of the Prince of Wales

Gandhi Centenary Year

British Post Office Technology


15 January

3 March

2 April

28 May

1 July

13 August

1 October

26 November


British Rural Architecture (four stamps)

Anniversaries (five stamps)

Literary Anniversaries (five stamps)

Decimal Currency begins

4 February

1 April

3 June

17 June

The table above ends in the middle of 1970. This is because all stamps issued after 17 June 1970 were in decimal denominations and are therefore not classified as 'pre-decimal'. The first decimal stamps were the Machin design, which was typical of that era and still survives today. As noted previously, these initial decimal stamps were issued in 10p, 20p, 50p, and one pound denominations.

Maximising the eBay Experience

Once buyers are aware of the stamps they want and are committed to finding them through eBay, there are specific steps that they can take to maximise their online buying experience. Namely, buyers should employ proper search skills as well as pay attention to seller evaluations.

Searching eBay

Successfully searching eBay for pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps depends largely on a buyer's ability to properly find the items that they want. eBay makes searching easy by providing a general search bar at the top of every page of its site. However, the results that each search generates depends entirely upon the specificity of the search terms entered.

In general, the more specific one's search terms are, the better the results. Therefore, choosing to search for 'pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps&' yields far more results than most people want to weed through. Instead, consider entering specific eras, names, or colours into your search, such as 'Queen Elizabeth Coronation stamp&'.

Evaluating eBay Sellers

Once buyers have identified a number of possible items to purchase, the next important step is to evaluate the sellers who are offering these items. Unlike general purchases, such as clothing or garden furniture, pre-decimal stamps are collectables and therefore their value is dependent on their condition. One way to ensure that you are getting a good deal is to pay attention to the reputation of the seller offering the item. Review his or her feedback stars and detailed feedback comments. Also, do not be afraid to ask questions before committing to any purchase.


Collecting stamps is a highly rewarding and interesting hobby and eBay is a great place for both new and seasoned collectors to acquire new stamps to add to their collections. However, getting good deals on stamps bought through eBay requires knowledge of the stamps themselves as well as the eBay buying process.

First, one must possess a grasp of the detailed background and history of postage stamps in the UK. This includes understanding how stamps came to be, as well as learning about the particular stamps available in any one era, such as pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps. This information helps collectors to make more informed decisions regarding what stamps they want and how best to acquire them.

It is equally important to know about the benefits of buying pre-decimal Elizabeth II stamps on eBay as well as the important tips to do so effectively. This includes two basic yet key skills: how to effectively search for items and evaluate sellers. When a collector combines these eBay skills with their knowledge of British stamps, the possibility to amass a valuable collection is greatly enhanced.

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