Maltese Cross Cancellations


When the first stamps and postal stationery were issued, the Post office realised that they must have some kind of device to render the stamp or item of postal stationery unusable through the Post a second time. These first obliterators were called Maltese Cross cancellations. They were issued to Postmasters on 25th April 1840 to cancel the forthcoming adhesive postage stamps and postal stationery which were issued from 6th May 1840. They were hand made and illustrations of those in general use are shown above, one having a larger diamond in the centre than the other. I known of no distinctive types from the county. These cancellations were replaced by numbered obliterators from late June 1844.

The 1d Black

A letter from Hamilton 18 February 1841 with 1d black from plate 4 cancelled by a red Maltese cross.

1840 2d Blue


15 April 1841 1840 2d blue used from Airdrie cancelled by a black Maltese cross.

 Mulready Stationery

These were issued as both envelopes and letter sheets at the same time as the adhesive postage stamps. Their popularity waned rapidly and their use declined.

A 1d Mulready envelope used from Hamilton 2 November 1840 with a red Maltese cross.

A 1d Mulready letter sheet used from Hamilton 31 August 1842 with Black Maltese cross.

1841 1d Red-brown 

The newly issued 1d red-brown meant that the red ink would not show up as well on this stamp, so the ink was changed to black. The first 1d red-browns were printed from some of the 1d black plates.

14  September 1841 a 1d red-brown from black plate 10 cancelled by the Hamilton Maltese cross.

30 June 1842 1d red-brown from plate 20 cancelled by the Airdrie Maltese cross.

Maltese cross cancellations were generally used the country's post towns.  Outlying villages would have any mail cancelled at the head post office in their area.

Towns in Lanarkshire known to have used Maltese cross cancellations are Airdrie, Biggar, Carnwath, Carluke, Douglas, Hamilton and Lanark.

They were also possibly used at Holytown, Leadhills and Lesmahagow but this is unconfirmed.