The British Post Office established in 1917 the precedent for using slogan dies as an alternative to bars for cancelling stamps mechanically. However, all the slogan dies used in the United Kingdom before 1956 were connected with national campaigns, or advertised important national or international events. Some slogans, such as those publicising the Royal National Eisteddfods, were used only at a small number of offices in the region closely connected with the particular event.
However, since 1956 when Rochdale used a slogan to commemorate the centenary of the granting of a charter of incorporation to that town, the Post Office became more receptive to applications for local slogans. At first it restricted such applications to slogans advertising local events and commemorating local anniversaries.
The Rochdale Centenary slogan is listed in Stanley Gibbons ‘Collect British Postmarks’ catalogued at £8.00. The highest catalogue price of the period is attached to the Stalybridge Centenary Slogan of 1958, priced at £30.00
Then on 1 April 1963 it introduced the first of the Local Publicity Slogans. Since that date local authorities and the sponsors of local events have made extensive use of postmark slogans as a means of advertising the virtues of a town, or a particular feature, as well as for announcing outstanding local events.
For some years the British practice of having the town mark of machine postmarks to the left of the obliterator was strongly criticised. The Post Office had always insisted that this practice ensured that the place and date of posting appeared legibly on the cover, not on the adhesive. However, following continuing pressure first from philatelic circles, but more particularly from the potential sponsors of Local Publicity slogans, the Post Office relented. On 1 July 1963 Bath used the first transposed slogan.
This was a Local Publicity slogan, but before the end of 1963 Paisley became the first office to use a local interest” General slogan transposed, listed in Collect British Postmarks for just 80 pence.
Specially modified die heads could be fitted to Universal and some ALF machines, enabling slogan dies to be impressed to the left of the town die. In this way the slogan falls on the cover while the town die acts as the obliterator.
For the first few years the Post Office limited the use of these special die heads to slogans in fairly restricted use. However, by 1968, an increasing number of offices were using the special die beads for national slogans as well as local ones, and in 1971 slogans in the standard position were the exception where as before they had been the rule. Subsequently the Post Office reversed its 1963 decision and from 1976 transposed slogans became the exception rather than the rule.
Many thanks to The British Postmark Society for the use of this item.