TPO -> The AM Postmarks of Great Britain

The AM Postmarks of Great Britain

By Keith Morris

British Travelling Post offices beginning their duty before midnight on any given day have their handstamp with that day's date in its centre. When the day changes from one to another at midnight the datestamp does not change, but keeps the date of the preceding day.

It was this situation which was taken advantage of by first day cover collectors who would purchase their new stamps from King Edward Building and later Trafalgar Square in London at just after midnight when they were released to the public and then drive out into the various parts of the country to meet incoming TPOs to London whereupon they were given cancels of the day previous to their issue.

This was noticed by the powers in the GPO at the time and to prevent abuse of the facility in future it was decided to issue a special handstamp for use on first day covers. This was the use of the index AM in the inner part of the handstamp above the date.

Its use can be traced back to mid 1960 when covers from the East Anglian Up TPO and the South Western Up TPOs were both recorded with AM handstamps.

The following TPOs are known to have used AM postmarks:

Bristol - Derby TPO
Cardiff - Crewe TPO
Carlisle - Ayr SC
Carlisle - Edinburgh SC
Crewe - Bangor TPO
Crewe - Cardiff TPO
Crewe - Glasgow SC
Crewe - Peterborough TPO
Crewe - Peterborough (Linc Sect) TPO
Down Special (Aberdeen Sect) TPO
East Anglian Down TPO
East Anglian Down (Peterborough Section) TPO
East Anglian Up TPO
East Anglian Up (Peterborough Section) TPO
Great Western Down TPO
Great Western Up TPO
Huddersfield - Whitehaven TPO
London - York - Edinburgh TPO
Manchester - Glasgow SC
Midland Going North TPO
Midland Going South TPO
North East Night Down TPO
North East Night Up TPO
North Western Night Down TPO
Shrewsbury - York TPO
South Eastern Down TPO
South Eastern Up TPO
South Wales Down TPO
South Western Down TPO
South Western Up TPO
Up Special TPO
York - Shrewsbury TPO

A few examples of the AM postmarks follow:

Up Special AM TPO Crewe - Peterborough AM TPO Shrewsbury - York AM TPO York - Shrewsbury AM TPO Crewe - Cardiff AM TPO
Midland AM TPO going south - 3 Midland AM TPO going south - 2 Midland TPO Going South - later version Great Western AM TPO Down - 2 Bristol - Derby AM TPO
The use of the AM postmark ceased in 1981,
therefore covers with later dates are bogus.
AM TPO dated 1982 - possibly bogus
Source: TPO Magazine, Journal of the TPO & Seapost Society 1947 to date.


The AM Postmarks of the Travelling Post Office by Iain Wells & Keith Morris, TPO & Sea Post Society, 2018. See publications page.

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