TV license stamps

Paper ephemera has always been a bit of a passion and my filing cabinets probably have more old paper lurking in them than is sane, just because I enjoy the ability they have to help me recall events which would otherwise be long forgotten.  Every so often, usually while waiting for some long winded computer back-up or mega scan to cycle through, I’ll tidy a folder out.
The TV folder got it’s turn last week and amongst the old wedges of paper dealing with disputed payments were these TV license sheets, which you would have to keep and present if the TV detector people knocked on your door accusing you of fiddling the system.
In the past many legal transactions would be sealed with a regular stamp and a signature across it and in 1972 the Post Office introduced hard to forge perforated stamps to signify payment.  These changed slightly each year until they were phased out.
They shouldn’t be confused with TV license savings stamps which you purchased from your post office on a regular basis and stuck on a card until you had enough to cover the full license. These were dropped in 2008 but amusingly people were still sending these in as late as last year as part payment!
But as these license stamps show, we did have the cheaper official Mono license for a time, and didn’t move over to colour until quite late on.  This put us on a hit list and we were regularly accused of lying by officious people at the licensing authority.  “You’re welcome to visit” was my usual response.  Needless to say in my poverty ridden post student bed-sit days I would have been far less cocky!
The stamps have a very Fifties design of them, which harks back to the golden age of stamp or indeed Royal Mail design. The elaborate pattern of rules and the sunburst pattern was to make them harder to fake.  The final security foil stamp here is very ugly in comparison.
Needless to say while looking on the web I discovered that these stamps do have some collectability amongst philatelists, although a nice set I found on one site for 14euros is still on sale after 7 years, so there doesn’t seem to be to many people who get off on this sort of thing…  Curiously the set for sale also has a Sheffield Post Office franking mark.



4 thoughts on “License Paid

  1. Ah Simon – no one can rustle up nostalgia in my mind like you! I remember these so well & I kept my (B&W) license together with my TV Rental Agreement & payment book. No Direct Debit or standing orders; I went into the shop (Rumbelows in Middlesbrough) every week & paid up. Methinks Car Tax Discs will be the next thing. I haven’t kept any but, reluctant to do battle with the adhesive on the windscreen, I have left the disc holder there & put in a cute picture of Bobby, my Westie. I keep hoping some officious git in a car park or somewhere would see the holder & try to tell me it’s no longer required…
    Keep up there great work on all the sites. Cheers marra!

    • I must confess we’ve also kept all our tax discs too… and there seems to be quite a trade in vintage ones for classic car enthusiasts looking for that extra bit of detail.

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