The First Definitive Series of the Irish Free State and Irish Republic, 1922 - 1968.


With the creation of the Irish Free State imminent on 6th December 1922, a competition was held to design the first distinctive stamps of the new country. Unfortunately, only the basic 2d rate stamp was ready for issue on the day itself, the other low-value stamps being issued throughout 1923 as follows:

1/2d:   20th April 1923
1d:     23rd February 1923
1 1/2d:  2nd February 1923
2d:      6th December 1922
2 1/2d:  7th September 1923
3d:     16th March 1923
4d:     28th September 1923
5d:     11th May 1923
6d:     21st December 1923
9d:     26th October 1923
10d:    11th May 1923
1/-:    15th June 1923

These designs were extremely successful and formed the basis of the Irish definitive series virtually unchanged until 1968. The principal variation which occurred over the years was in the watermark: originally the watermark consisted of a script letter "e" with a small "s" contained within the "e", representing "Saorstát Éireann" (Irish Free State), but following the introduction of the new Constitution in December 1937, when the official name of the country became "Éire" (Ireland), the watermark was changed from 1940 onwards to be simply a script letter "e". The 1/2d and 1/- stamps of the definitive series were replaced from 1944 onwards by two stamps initially intended to be commemorating the tercentenary of the death of Bro. Michael O'Cleary and the "Annals of the Four Masters", so the original 1/2d and 1/- stamps with the "e" watermark are quite valuable in unused condition.

The 11d value was added to the series in September 1949.

1/2d Sword of Light 1d Map of Ireland
1 1/2d Map of Ireland 2d Map of Ireland

2 1/2d Arms of the four Provinces
3d Celtic Cross
4d Arms of the four Provinces 5d Sword of Light
6d Sword of Light 8d Sword of Light
9d Arms of the four Provinces 10d Celtic Cross
11d Celtic Cross 1/- Sword of Light

High value stamps were not issued until 8th September 1937; again, there are two variations in the watermark. The design represents St Patrick and the Paschal Flame.

2/6 St Patrick and the Paschal Flame (1937) 5/- St Patrick and the Paschal Flame (1937) 10/- St Patrick and the Paschal Flame (1937)


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The second definitive series of Ireland 1968-1982

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I hope you have enjoyed this page, and found it interesting. Let me know what you think of it - too detailed, too light, just right?

Last updated: 27-05-1997
©Arwel Parry, 1997