PHQ cards

PHQ cards are postcards issued by the British Post Office depicting the designs of their commemorative stamps. PHQ cards have also been created for some of the definitive stamps.

PHQ stands for Postal Headquarters.

Where can I buy PHQ cards?

PHQ cardsWhen commemorative stamps are about to be issued by the British Post Office, you can normally buy the associated PHQ card or cards in main post offices throughout Great Britain from around two weeks before the stamps are released.

Collecting PHQ cards

Most collectors of PHQ cards belong to one of the following groups, although there are certainly plenty of examples of collectors whose interests overlap two or more of the groups.

  • Collecting unused PHQ cards
  • Collecting PHQ cards that have been used and have the first day of issue post mark
  • Collecting PHQ cards that have been stamped with special hand-stamps that have a special connection to the subject matter.

Instead of putting the stamp on the back of the card, some buyers place the stamp on the face of the card, making the postcard picture, the stamp and the postmark visible on the same side.

Systematisation and mishaps

Fortunately for postcard collectors, the PHQ cards have had a very good sorting system in place from the very beginning. The first PHQ card, which was issued in 1973, was numbered PHQ1. Since then, the numbering has continued with PHQ2, PHQ3, and so on. This makes it very easy for collectors to communicate about the cards and the risk of mix-ups is low, with some notable exceptions:

  1. There is a gap in the sequence, because PHQ24 have not been used.The reference number PHQ24 was earmarked for the 9p Silver Jubilee card (issued after the rest of the set), but when the PHQ card was finally issued it was numbered PHQ22E instead. The following set to be issued (a set of Wildlife cards issued on 5 October 1977) had already been allocated the reference number PHQ25 and got to keep that number, so the reference number PHQ24 was left unused.
  2. Two different PHQ card releases have been given the reference number PHQ43. One is the London 1980 Exhibition card, issued on 9 April 1980 to commemorate the 1980 International Stamp Exhibition. The other is a set of five cards for London Landmarks, issued on 7 May 1980.
  3. Two different PHQ card releases have been given the reference number PHQ129. One is a set of five cards for Gallantry, issued on 11 September 1990. The other is a set of four cards for Astronomy, issued on 16 October 1990. Because of this mishap, the reference number PHQ130 was left unused.

History

The first PHQ card was issued in 1973, but it wasn’t until July 1976 the the Post Office started to issue PHQ cards for every new set of commemorative stamps.

PHQ1: County Cricket – W.G. Grace

The first PHQ card was issued for the 3 pence W.G. Grace stamp from a set of stamps commemorating County Cricket 1873-1973. While the stamp itself was issued on 16 May 1973, the PHQ card was not available for purchase until mid-July. Therefore, it should have been eligible for a first day of issue (FDI) postmark, but PHQ1 cards with such a stamp actually do exist with a Birmingham FDI cancellation. These cards were deliberately back-dated as a favour. Among collectors, they are not as popular as PHQ1 cards with 21 the July cricket postmark featuring Benson & Hedges. PHQ1 cards with the 1 September Gillette Cup postmark are also highly collectable.

PHQ2: 400th Anniversary of the birth of architect and designer Inigo Jones

PHQ2 was released on 15 August 1973 for one of the stamps in a set commemorating the English architect and designer Inigo Jones who was born on 15 July 1573.

PHQ3 and onwards

From PHQ3 and onwards, the cards have been smaller than the PHQ1 and PHQ2, measuring 104 x 148 mm instead of 120 x 172 mm.

The first 10 PHQ cards

Reference

number

Stamp issue dateStamp set# of

cards

issued

Total

quantity

issued

PHQ 116 May 1973County Cricket

1873–1973

one20,000
PHQ 215 August 1973400th Anniversary

of the birth of Inigo Jones

one20,000
PHQ 312 September 197319th Commonwealth

Parliamentary Conference

one15,200
PHQ 414 November 1973Royal Wedding

(The Princess Anne)

one290,000
PHQ 527 February 1974British Treesone16,750
PHQ 624 April 1974Fire Service Anniversaryone30,000
PHQ 710 July 1974Medieval Warriorsfour31,750
PHQ 89 October 1974Winston Churchill

Centenary

one114,430
PHQ 919 February 1975Bicentenary anniversary

of the birth of J. M. W. Turner

one46,250
PHQ 1023 April 1975European Architectural Yearthree51000

Examples of special editions

PHQ 38

The 10p card for the PHQ38 (issued on 22 August 1979) exist with two different reverses; the standard one and another one that states “With the Compliments of the British Post Office” in English and French. The card version with the unusual reverse was produced for the 1979 UPU Conference in Brazil.

PHQ 47

For their exhibition of Elizabethan Sports Stamps, the Post Office’s National Postal Museum overprinted a small number of the 12p PHQ 47 card (issued on 10 October 1980). The overprinted cards were sold with the 12p Sports stamp affixed to the reverse.

Notable differences, errors and more

Just as with stamps, PHQ cards are sometimes printed incorrectly, and such cards can become highly sought after by collectors.

Here are a few examples of errors and differences

Missing colour

Reference #Issue

year

Stamp setInformation
PHQ 71974Medieval Warriors10p card with missing red
PHQ 81974Winston Churchill5½p card with missing gold
PHQ 91975Turner Bicentenary5½p card with missing black
PHQ 111975Sailing8p card with missing red
PHQ 211977Royal Institute of Chemistry’s Centenary Anniversary10p card with missing red and black
PHQ 221977Silver Jubilee8½p card with missing pale blue
PHQ 301978Shire Horses13p card with missing brown
PHQ 471980Sports Centenaries12p card with missing magenta, black, bistre and gold
PHQ 431980London Landmarks13½p card with black print missing from reverse

 

Shifts

Reference #Issue

year

Stamp setInformation
PHQ 131975Jane Austen

Bicentenary

10p card:, gold head and border upward shift of 5 mm

13p card: black and yellow shifted upwards

PHQ 161976Rose Society

Centenary

8½p card: upward shift of yellow by 2 mm
PHQ 181976500th anniversary

of British Printing

10p card: upwards shift of olive & dark green by 5 mm
PHQ 211977Centenary anniversary

of the

Royal Institute of Chemistry

8½p card: upward shift of yellow & blue by 1 mm
PHQ 161976Rose Society

Centenary

8½p card: upward shift of yellow by 2 mm
PHQ 181976500th anniversary

of British Printing

10p card: upwards shift of olive and dark green by 5 mm
PHQ 221977Silver Jubilee8½p card with pale blue shift to right by 2 mm
8½p card with grey shifted to left
PHQ 251977British WildlifeOtter card: bistre frame shifted upwards
PHQ 331979British Dogs10½p card: blue and yellow shifted 12 mm to right
PHQ 371979International Year

of the Child

9p card: downward shift of yellow,
blue, silver and bistre by 6 mm
PHQ 391979150th Anniversary

of Metropolitan Police

10p card: red and black shifted
down and to left by 1 mm

Other errors, mistakes and oddities

Reference #Issue yearStamp setInformation
PHQ 181976British PrintingThe caption on 8½p card incorrectly states the woodcut is of the Knight (it is actually of the Squire)
PHQ 211977Centenary anniversary

of the

Royal Institute of Chemistry

8½p card with picture printed on matt (reverse) side
PHQ 251977British WildlifeBadger card missing brown value and description

Hare card missing brown value and description

PHQ 291978Anniversary of

Coronation

13p card with doubling of gold and purple
PHQ 311978Cycling CentenariesThe 11p card exists in an alternative version with a completely different back about the Cycling Proficiency Test
PHQ 331979British Dogs10½p card printed on matt (reverse) side

 

13p card printed on matt (reverse) side

PHQ 421980150th Anniversary

of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway

Goods Train & Mail Coach card missing bistre border
PHQ 431980London Landmarks13½p card printed on the matt (reverse) side
PHQ 471980Sports Centenaries17½p card printed on matt (reverse) side