I buy a fair number of stamps from dealers in the UK and occasionally one will use a PHQ card as an envelope-stiffener as most postal employees seem to ignore “Do Not Bend” notations. What is a PHQ card, you ask? Well, it stands for Postal Headquarters and the cards themselves are issued by Royal Mail to accompany most of Great Britain’s commemorative stamp releases. They are numbered – PHQ #1 appeared in May 1973 – and many collectors will affix the corresponding stamp on either the front or the back to receive the first day of issue postmark (this is called a “maximum card”). The excellent Wikipedia page on the subject lists all of the PHQ cards that have been issued to date. The 400th issue will appear early in May marking the 175th anniversary of the very first postage stamp, the famed Penny Black.
The first two PHQ cards I received are from a set of five (PHQ 73) released on 6 March 1984 honoring the National Cattle Breeders’ Association. The stamps themselves are listed in the Scott stamp catalogue as #1044-1048, printed in lithography and perforated 15×14½. They were designed by British wildlife artist Barry Driscoll and printed by The House of Questa in London. A mint set is valued at $4.80 in my 2009 edition of the catalogue, $3.05 used. The cards were sold at post offices throughout Britain for 13p each in 1984.
The card above – PHQ 73(b) – pictures a Chillingham wild bull from the 20½p stamp. Chillingham cattle are a breed that live in a large enclosed park at Chillingham Castle in Northumberland, England, that has existed since the Middle Ages. The herd has remained remarkably genetically isolated for hundreds of years and consisted of about 90 animals in 2009. The adjacent castle was originally a monastery in the late 12th century. King Edward I stayed here in 1298 on his way to Scotland to battle the army led by William Wallace.
The 26p stamp, and PHQ 73(c), pictures a Hereford bull, the famous beef cattle breed originating from Herefordshire, England. The export trade of this breed began in 1817 from Great Britain to the state of Kentucky and spread from there across the United States and Canada through Mexico to the great beef-raising countries of South America. Today, they are found in the temperate regions of Canada, the United States and Russia as well as parts of Australia, Argentina, Uruguay, New Zealand, continental Europe, Scandinavia and even Israel and Japan.