Excerpt from The Cinderella Philatelist
Originally published in The Cinderalla Philatelist, July 1979 and later republished at fabiovstamps.com
THE CINDERELLA PHILATELIST
By Gordon S. Woods
On 30 October 1977 a group of people in the W.11 postal district of London, for reasons of their own, unanimously elected to declare themselves the Free Independent Republic of Frestonia. As an expression of unity they adopted the motto “now sumus una familia” (we are all one family) together with the common surname of “Bramley”. “Freestone” is derived from Freston Road which runs through the area.
In December 1977 labels were designed by a Richard Adams incorporating the “Festonian” [sic] coat of arms, face value 9D., for use as postage stamps on their mail. The labels were produced on a colour copying machine in sheets of 98, 1 row of 8, 10 rows of 9, in blue on white, unguided and with imitation perforations as part of the design. The top right-hand corner selvedge reads “98 stamps at 9 pence/882 pence”. Each label is approximately the size of the current low value G.B. definitives and can be purchased, in complete sheets only, for £1.00. Another label exists with the caricature of a crowned head, facing to the (observer’s) right, inscribed “FACE IT £500”, forming the design and again in blue with pseudo-perforation. This is not always used but is usually positioned to the left of other stamps or labels on covers received by the writer.
Initially mail bearing Frestonian labels was posted in the usual manner, some being received with a normal post office cancellation while other covers were hand-stamped on the front “stamp invalid” and “14p to pay”, examples of both being held by the writer. From January 1978 Frestonian labels were pre-cancelled, in black, using their Frestonian visa handstamp, a horizontal oval three inches by two inches inscribed around the outside edge with the state title and showing the coat of arms in the centre underneath which is inscribed “VISA FOR UNLIMITED ENTRY TO FRESTONIA”.
To check the postal authorities’ reactions the writer sent five air mail letters from public pillar boxes in central London, in April 1978, to the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, Abu Dhabi and the Ivory Coast. These were all received safely, cancelled on the Frestonian label in the normal manner, no surcharges or other marks added. Only one 9D label was used although a “Frestonian” official told the writer in January 1979 that the correct “Frestonian” overseas air mail rate is 18D for all areas.
The same official confirmed that no changes had occurred, or were being considered, up to January 1979, in the use or design of the labels and that they were being produced for use as demand dictates. One point of interest which emerged was that “important” mail was now franked with G.B. definitives to ensure delivery without delay and that a meeting with London postal officials was to take place “in the near future”. Despite repeated efforts no information was available on the outcome of that meeting or whether, in fact, it had taken place.
This briefly summarises, philatelically, the activities of this contemporary situation and interested members can obtain “stamps” or information from “The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications”, 107 Freston Road, London W.11.
Any additional information would be welcomed by the writer at 262 Scraptoft Lane, Leicester, LE5 1PA.