This is an interesting card bearing a ½p green Great Britain KEVII stamp which I recently bid for and won in an eBay auction for just £1.50 (plus another £2.30 shipping to Phuket). What makes this unusual — and potentially worth somewhat more than I paid for it — are the auxiliary markings: “Contrary to Regulations – 53” and a To Pay 1p handstamp. It doesn’t appear too often on Christmas postcards; Stanley Gibbons currently has a batch of three such cards for sale on their website with a total price of £125.
What caused the postage due and what regulation did the card break? At the time, the postage rate for postcards sent within the United Kingdom was ½p and letters to any part of the UK not exceeding four ounces was 1p. But this card was charged an additional 1p (a “Liable to Letter Rate” endorsement is also seen in these instances). The explanation comes when examining the other side of the card. It has material — most likely felt — attached to appear as rose petals. The stamp (either Scott #127 or 143) paid ½p in postage so there was a deficiency of ½p. The postage due was charged at twice the deficiency (½p x 2 = 1p).
The red felt material on this 113-year old postcard, made in West Germany, is still vibrant enough that it discolored the envelope that it was shipped to Phuket in.
I have to admit that I didn’t know the reason for the markings when I bid on the card; I bid as I liked the design and thought it would be a nice addition to my collection of vintage Christmas cards. The Shepton Mallet postmark drew my eye as I remembered this was the site of the Peter Gabriel-organized WOMAD Festival in the summer of 1982. Gabriel lost so much money on the event that his friends in the group Genesis agreed to perform with him for a single concert that October in Milton Keynes — to date, the only full live show reuniting Gabriel with the band he had founded in 1967 and left in 1975.
Shepton Mallet is a market town and civil parish in the Mendip District of Somerset, England, some 16 miles (26 km) south-west of Bath, 18 miles (29 km) south of Bristol and 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Wells. The area has a long history with the town mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. It had an estimated population of 10,810 in 2019. The Mendip Hills lie to the north and the River Sheppey runs through the town, as does the route of the Fosse Way, the main Roman road between north-east and south-west England. There is evidence of Roman settlement. Its listed buildings include a medieval parish church. Shepton Mallet Prison was England’s oldest but closed in March 2013. The medieval wool trade gave way to trades such as brewing in the 18th century and remains noted for cider production. It is the closest town to the Glastonbury Festival and nearby the Royal Bath and West of England Society showground.