Greece: Lord Byron

A 1924 Greek stamp issue commemorates the death centenary of Lord Byron, the quintessentially English poet – why would Greece wish to commemorate an English poet specifically? The answer reveals the interesting history of one of the first international celebrities, a political influencer and an individual with a complex and sometimes troubled personality.

Lord Byron was born George Gordon Byron on 22 January 1788. He was born into the aristocracy and would become the 6th Baron Byron and a peer in the House of Lords, the second chamber of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. He became an advocate of social reform and provided support for the Luddite movement who took action against the mechanisation of the textile industry that was forcing many out of work. His theatrical speeches before the Lords often included clever but sarcastic references that ridiculed the opposition including the Duke of Wellington.

However, Lord Byron is probably best known as one of the greatest English poets and a leading light of the Romantic Movement; an artistic and intellectual movement that swept through Europe towards the end of the 18th century and reached it’s peak in the early to mid 1800s. His notable works include Don Juan, a lengthy poem that spans 17 cantos and is ranked as one of the most important poems published in England, and Irish Avatar, a satirical pamphlet that voiced veiled support for Irish nationalism.

Greece 1924 80l stamp Death Centenary of Lord Byron
Greece 1924 80l Death Centenary of Lord Byron

Lord Byron also travelled extensively across Europe and lived for seven years in Italy where he spent time with his friend and fellow English romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelly. It was in July 1823, whilst living in Genoa, that he decided to head to the Ionian island of Kefalonia to support the movement for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. At that time the Ionian islands (off the west coast of mainland Greece) were under British rule and Byron used his own money to refit the Greek fleet before sailing to the mainland at Missolonghi. He raised further funds for the cause by selling his manor estate in England whilst also bringing together rival forces in an attempt to unite against the Ottomans during the first and second sieges of Missolonghi. Soon afterwards he fell ill from a violent fever and died in Greece on April 1824, aged just 36.

The 1924 Greek issue commemorates the death centenary of Lord Byron and comprises two stamps, one denominated 80l featuring a portrait and the other of 2d featuring an image of Byron at Missolonghi (featured image). Fifty years later, Greece commemorated Lord Byron in a second issue, again comprising two stamps, one denominated 2d.50 featuring a painting of Lord Byron in traditional Suliot costume and the other of 4d.50 featuring Byron taking the Oath at the grave of Markos Botsaris, a hero of the Greek War of Independence and chieftain of the Souliotes.

Greece 1974 2d.50 stamp 150th Death Anniversary of Lord Byron
Greece 1974 2d.50 150th Death Anniversary of Lord Byron
Greece 1974 4d.50 stamp 150th Death Anniversary of Lord Byron
Greece 1974 4d.50 150th Death Anniversary of Lord Byron

Greece would eventually achieve independence from the Ottoman Empire with the Treaty of Adrianople in 1829 but the role of Lord Byron is widely celebrated by the Greek nation as his actions brought the fight for independence to the attention of sympathetic nations such as Great Britain, France and Russia. For many, Lord Byron remains a controversial figure having left his wife, Lady Byron, just a month after the birth of his only legitimate child, Ada. Lord Byron died when Ada was aged eight but she would go on to achieve greatness in her own right … Ada Lovelace is widely acknowledged as one of the founders of computer programming.

To view postal issues of Greece, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Turks & Caicos Islands: Etymology

The etymology (study of the origin of words) provides an interesting context for many postage stamp issues. A trawl through a catalogue or album of stamp issues from the Turks & Caicos Islands will reveal repeated images of a distinctive looking cactus – the Turk’s Cap – and it this this genus of cactus that gives its name to the Turks Islands.

The Turks & Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the notably larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands located in the Caribbean. The Turks Islands are separated from the Caicos Islands by a deep water channel known as the Turks Island Passage.

Turks & Caicos Islands 1909 Edward VII definitive stamp featuring Turk's Cap cactus
Turks & Caicos Islands 1909 Edward VII definitive featuring Turk’s Cap cactus

For many years the Turks and Caicos Islands were governed indirectly through Bermuda, the Bahamas and Jamaica. The first adhesive postage stamps were issued for the Turks Islands in 1867 but it was not until 1900 that stamps were issued with reference to both Turks & Caicos Islands. The name Caicos is derived from caya hico meaning ‘string of islands’ in the Lucayan language; the language of the indigenous inhabitants of many Caribbean islands prior to European conquest.

Turks & Caicos Islands 1967 Elizabeth II definitive stamp featuring Turk's Cap cactus
Turks & Caicos Islands 1967 Elizabeth II definitive featuring Turk’s Cap cactus

The Turks Islands are named after the Turk’s Cap cactus, Melocactus intortus, whose red cap resembles the fez hat worn by Turkish men in the late Ottoman Empire. The Turk’s Cap cactus is native to the Caribbean although can also be found in large parts of South America. The distinctive cap (cephalium) forms on mature plants and contains a mass of areoles from which small flowers grow, these maturing into edible fruits on some varieties.

Turks & Caicos Islands 1969 Elizabeth II definitive stamp featuring Turk's Cap cactus on coat of arms
Turks & Caicos Islands 1969 Elizabeth II definitive featuring Turk’s Cap cactus on coat of arms

Not surprisingly, the Turk’s Cap cactus features in many the Turks & Caicos Islands stamp issues including somewhat discretely in the first 1900 issue. The cactus appears prominently on the coat of arms and still appears occasionally on stamp issues to this day.

To view postal issues of the Turks & Caicos Islands, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Netherlands Antilles: An Iconic Issue

The Netherlands Antilles (Dutch Antilles) is a former constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands comprising several islands located in the Caribbean. Formally, the country came into being on 15 December 1954 as the autonomous successor of the Dutch colony of Curaçao. However, postage stamp issues were inscribed ‘Netherlands Antilles’ from 1948 with the first such issue being a postage due set. Prior to 1948, issues were inscribed ‘Curaçao’ but included the postal interests of all the constituent islands including the Leeward Islands of St. Eustatius, Saba and St. Maarten as well as Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao off the northern coast of Venezuela.

Netherlands Antilles 1942 1c stamp featuring image of Bonaire
Netherlands Antilles 1942 1c featuring image of Bonaire
Netherlands Antilles 1942 1½c stamp featuring image of St. Eustatius
Netherlands Antilles 1942 1½c featuring image of St. Eustatius

The islands are each represented in the iconic issue of 1942. The issue comprises six denominations from 1c to 6c each bi-coloured and each featuring the portrait of Queen Wilhelmina.

  • 1c red-brown and violet [Bonaire]
  • 1½c yellow-green and blue [St. Eustatius]
  • 2c red-brown and grey-black [Saba]
  • 2½c yellow and green [St. Maarten]
  • 5c grey-black and carmine [Aruba]
  • 6c blue and purple [Curaçao]
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2c stamp featuring image of Saba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2c featuring image of Saba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2½c stamp featuring image of St. Maarten
Netherlands Antilles 1942 2½c featuring image of St. Maarten

The stamp issue was immediately preceded by a set of 15 airmail stamps in October 1942 that are often associated with the definitive set. These too were bi-coloured designs showing airplanes, maps, and scenery in various combinations, with denominations ranging from 10c to 10g.

Netherlands Antilles 1942 5c stamp featuring image of Aruba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 5c featuring image of Aruba
Netherlands Antilles 1942 6c stamp featuring image of Curaçao
Netherlands Antilles 1942 6c featuring image of Curaçao

These postage stamps were issued during a period of dramatic change as a result of World War II. During the war, and with the consent of the Dutch government, British and American troops had occupied the islands which led to increasing demands for autonomy within the population. In a 1942 speech, Queen Wilhelmina had promised to offer autonomy to the overseas territories of the Netherlands. On 15 December 1954, the Netherlands Antilles acceded as equal partners to an overarching Kingdom of the Netherlands and became a self governing territory.

Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and became a serrate autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986. The country of the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010 although the island territories remain part of the kingdom with locally subscribed legal status.

To view postal issues of the Netherlands Antilles, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Thematics: UK Postmark (Cancellation) Slogans

From the earliest adoption of adhesive postage stamps, postmarks have been used as an indication that the postage costs have been paid. Once postmarked, the postage stamp was ‘cancelled’ and could not therefore be reused. The use of postmarks to convey messages and slogans was initially reserved for the use of national institutions such as Government and the Post Office itself. Slogan postmarks continue to be used in the 21st century and are very collectable in their own right.

Even before adhesive postage stamps were introduced, handstamps were used to indicate that the postage had been paid and often included an identification of where (either by a code or place name) and when (by date) a post had been processed. Various designs were used including the recognisable Maltese cross that was used to cancel Penny Black postage, first with black, Indian ink and later with a red ink. Later, the postmark would again identify where and when the the post had been processed.

1918 UK postmark slogan encouraging the public to support the war effort
1918 postmark slogan encouraging the public to support the war effort

One of the earliest uses of a slogan in the postmark was in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Silver Jubilee in 1887. It was another 20 years before the Government started to use slogans – this included the 1918 slogan ‘BUY NATIONAL WAR BONDS NOW’, an attempt to generate funds towards the World War I effort.

1926 UK postmark slogans prompting the public to 'Buy British'
1926 postmark slogan prompting the public to ‘Buy British’

In 1926, the post-war recession prompted Government postmark slogans such as ‘BRITISH GOODS ARE BEST’. With the increased use of the telephone (at the time, operated by the British Post Office), the 1930s prompted postmark slogans such as ‘SHOP BY TELEPHONE’ and ‘THE TELEPHONE SAVES TIME AND MONEY’, as well as ‘YOU ARE WANTED ON THE PHONE’.

1930s UK postmark slogan encouraging the use of the telephone
1930s UK postmark slogan encouraging the use of the telephone
1930s UK postmark slogan encouraging the use of the telephone
1930s postmark slogans encouraging the use of the telephone

In the early 20th century, the volume of UK post demanded several collections each day and therefore the time was also added to the postmark. It was not uncommon for post collected early in the morning post to be delivered to its destination the same day if the the mail was only required to travel relatively short distances. Customers were therefore encouraged to ‘POST EARLY IN THE DAY’.

UK postmark slogan encouraging early postage
Postmark slogan encouraging early postage

At the end of World War II, slogans became more symbolic. A large ‘V’ with two bells proclaimed victory in a 1944/45 cancellation. This was a time of austerity and a 1946 slogan demanded ‘DON’T WASTE BREAD – OTHERS NEED IT’ (featured image). Acknowledging the increasing volume of motor vehicles on the highway, another announced ‘TAKE NO CHANCES – KEEP DEATH OFF THE ROAD’. A year later, the slogan was once again represented by symbols including a bow and bells embracing the letters ‘E’ and ‘P’ commemorating the marriage of Princess Elizabeth and Philip Mountbatten, later to become Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh.

1946 UK postmark slogan announcing caution on the roads
1946 postmark slogan announcing caution on the roads
1944/45 UK postmark slogan proclaiming victory in World War II
1944/45 postmark slogan proclaiming victory
1947 UK postmark slogan announcing the royal wedding
1947 postmark slogan announcing the royal wedding

By the 1950s the slogans began promoting the the place where the mail had been posted. Seaside resorts were very much to the fore in this regard as well as places of historic interest. Other slogans promoted groups, anniversaries or even individuals; the list became almost endless. Slogans continue to be used on cancellations to this day including the 2021 example ‘CONGRATULATIONS EMMA RADUCANU 2021 US OPEN WOMEN’S CHAMPION – A FIRST CLASS PERFORMANCE’.

1966 UK postmark slogan enticing the public to visit the resort of Newquay
1966 postmark slogan enticing the public to visit the resort of Newquay
2021 UK postmark slogan commemorating Emma Raducanu's win at the US Open
2021 postmark slogan commemorating Emma Raducanu’s win at the US Open

To view postal issues, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Montserrat: The Irish Connection

Montserrat is the southernmost island of the Leeward archipelago in the Caribbean. The first distinctive stamp issues were stamps of Antigua overprinted ‘MONTSERRAT’ that were introduced in 1876. However, the island did not issue its own stamps until 1903 that featured the badge of Monserrat – a female figure embracing a cross, with her left hand resting on a clarsach or Celtic harp – an emblem that alludes to the island’s Irish connection.

Columbus discovered the island in 1493 and named it after Montserrado, the saw-toothed mountain near Barcelona. The first European settlement was established in 1632 when Sir Thomas Warner founded a colony in the area of the former capital, Plymouth. Under the instigation of Warner, a number of Irish settled in Montserrat from neighbouring islands including Saint Kitts and later from Virginia. The colonists built an economy based on the production of sugar, rum, arrowroot and sea island cotton, cultivated on large plantations by slave labour and Irish indentured servants. The merchants were also predominately Irish and the use of the Irish language became widespread and remained a major influence until the mid-nineteenth century. To this day, Montserrat is still nicknamed ‘The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean’ both for its resemblance to coastal Ireland and its ancestral link to Ireland.

Montserrat 1903 ½d stamp featuring the badge of Montserrat
Montserrat 1903 (Edward VII) ½d featuring the badge
Montserrat 1916 (George V) 4d stamp featuring the badge of Montserrat
Montserrat 1916 (George V) 4d featuring the badge

The postage history of Montserrat is equally interesting, not least for the fact that it remained one of the most isolated British colonies and was largely dependent on communication by small sailing ships that sailed between neighbouring islands. Adhesive stamps specifically identifying the island were not used until September 1876 with the use of Antigua’s issue of 1d to 6d denominated stamps overprinted ‘MONTSERRAT’. Remarkably, these stamps remained in use for fourteen years until 1890 when they were superseded by the general issues of the Leeward islands.

Montserrat 1951 (George VI) 6c stamp featuring the badge of Montserrat
Montserrat 1951 (George VI) 6c featuring the badge

Montserrat’s 1903 issue was the first to be wholly distinctive to the islands and featured the afore-mentioned badge. The King Edward VII issue included denominations of ½d, 1d, 2d, 2½d, 3d, 6d, 1s, 2s and 2s6d and were surface printed by De La Rue on Crown CA watermarked paper. A 5s denomination in a larger format was issued at the same time using a keyplate design. The Monserrat badge would be used again on definitive issues of King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II (featured image).

On 18 July 1995, Montserrat was devastated by the Soufrière Hills volcano that destroyed the southern region of the island including Plymouth. Between 1995 and 2000, two-thirds of the island’s population was forced to flee, primarily to the United Kingdom, leaving fewer than 1200 people on the island. Reconstruction continues with the centre of government and businesses at Brades. Montserrat remains a British Overseas Territory and emblem continues to be used on both the Montserrat flag and Coat of Arms.

To view postal issues of Montserrat, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Spain: Commemorating Goya

Spain is the home of many world renown artists including Diego Velazque, Salvador Dali and of course, Pablo Picasso – all of which have been celebrated on Spanish postal stamp issues. Another to have appeared more than once is Francisco José Goya. Indeed, Goya was the first artist to be commemorated on a Spanish postal stamp issue of 15 June 1930, his death centenary. Goya is widely considered the most important Spanish artist of the late 18th and early 19th centuries and celebrated as one of the last of the Old Masters and one of the first of the New Modern era.

Goya was born on 30 March 1746 and studied painting from an early age, becoming the court painter to the Spanish Crown. Goya remained in Madrid during the 1807-14 Peninsular War against the French led by Napoleon. The war affected him deeply and is believed to have influenced his penchant for portrayals of a dark nature including the Disasters and War series and paintings concerned with insanity, asylums, fantastical creatures and corruption, for which he is most known today.

The 1930 issue comprises standard postage stamps with denominations ranging from 1c to 10p employing three very recognisable designs. Two of the designs feature an image captured in the 1826 portrait painting by Vicent López Portaña, just a couple of years before Goya’s death. These two stamp designs differ only subtly in the frame design and were used on no less than fourteen denominations from 1c to 1p.

Spain 1930 10c stamp featuring Goya
Spain 1930 10c featuring Goya
1826 portrait of Goya by Vicent López Portaña
1826 portrait of Goya by Vicent López Portaña

A further three denominations of 1p, 4p and 10p feature one of Goya’s most noted paintings, The Naked Maja – one of a pair of paintings (one featuring the model clothed, the other naked) completed during the artists middle period 1790-1800. It has been described as ‘the first totally profane life-size female nude in Western art’ and in 1813 the Spanish Inquisition confiscated both works as ‘obscene’. The stamp also features the text ‘QUINTA DE GOYA’ in the top left, a reference to the country home of Goya situated on a hill in the old municipality of Carabanchel on the outskirts of Madrid. It was here that Goya painted the Black Paintings comprising fourteen murals, portraying intense, haunting themes, reflective of both his fear of insanity and his bleak outlook on humanity.

Spain 1930 10p stamp featuring The Naked Maja by Goya
Spain 1930 10p featuring The Naked Maja by Goya

Also in the 1930 issue are thirteen Airmail stamps ranging in denominations from 5c to 10p featuring numerous Goya artworks from a substantial backlog of fantasy etchings published towards the end of the 18th century. Goya described the works as depicting “the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilised society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance or self-interest have made usual”. The images include Volavérunt (They have flown) (1p, 4p, 10p), Disparate Volante (Flying Folly) (5c, 15c, 25c), Asmodeus and Cleofas (5c, 10c, 20c, 40c), and Manera de Volar (A Way of Flying) (30c, 50c, 4p).

Spain 1930 10c stamp featuring Asmodeus and Cleofas by Goya
Spain 1930 10c featuring Asmodeus and Cleofas by Goya
Spain 1930 15c stamp featuring Disparate Volante (Flying Folly) by Goya
Spain 1930 15c featuring Disparate Volante (Flying Folly) by Goya
Spain 1930 1p stamp featuring Volavérunt (They have flown) by Goya
Spain 1930 1p featuring Volavérunt (They have flown) by Goya

Goya retired to the French city of Bordeaux in 1824 and, following a stroke that left him paralysed on the right side, he died on 16 April 1828. Goya featured again on a Spanish postal stamp issue of 1958 celebrating Stamp Day and commemorating 130 years since his death with further images from many of his most noted paintings.

To view postal issues of the Spain, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Germany: The Hitler Provisional

A stamp issue released just days before the 1923 Munich Putsch – an attempted coup d’état by the Nazi Party led by Adolf Hitler – is often referred to as the Hitler provisional. The reference is misleading as the putsch was unsuccessful and the stamp issue itself had no other direct connection with the event other than the fact that it had been issued Munich.

Germany 1923 200m Definitive stamps
Germany 1923 200m Definitive

The definitive stamp issue introduced in March 1923 serves to demonstrate the challenging economic conditions that Germany faced at the time. Inflation had risen to alarming proportions – a loaf of bread that cost around 160 Marks at the end of 1922, cost 200,000,000,000 Marks by late 1923. The stamps featuring a utilitarian numerical design, ranged in value from 100 to 1,000m and by July, additional stamps featuring Wartburg Castle and Cologne Cathedral were added with denominations of 5,000 and 10,000m.

Germany 1923 5,000m stamp featuring Wartburg Castle
Germany 1923 5,000m featuring Wartburg Castle
Germany 1923 10,000m stamp featuring Cologne Cathedral
Germany 1923 10,000m featuring Cologne Cathedral

The postal rates charged so regularly that it proved impossible to keep pace with new definitive designs. Between August and October 1923, regional postal authorities surcharged the existing stamp issues with denominations ranging from 20 Thousand (tausend) to 2 Million (millionen) marks. A new stamp design was introduced in September and a further design in October 1923 with denominations ranging from 500 Thousand (tausend) to 50 Billion (milliard) marks. This latter series was itself surcharged in November 1923. On 7 November in Munich, the original 100m stamp from the March 1923 issue was surcharged with 1 Billion (milliard) Marks and it is this stamp that is often referred to as the Hitler provisional.

Germany 1923 800 Thousand surch. on 1,000m stamp
Germany 1923 800 Thousand surch. on 1,000m
Germany 1923 2 Million surch. on 500m stamp
Germany 1923 2 Million surch. on 500m

The Munich Putsch, also known as the Beer Hall Putsch took place days later on 9 November 1923 and involved approximately 2000 Nazi supporters led by Adolf Hitler, who marched on the Feldherrnhalle, a monument in the centre of Munich. The event was an attempt to bring down the government of the Weimar Republic and resulted in the deaths of four police officers and 16 Nazi party members. Hitler escaped the event but was wounded and later arrested and charged with treason. He was sentenced to five years in prison although only served nine months. However, the event had brought Hitler to the attention of the German nation and the rest as they say, is history.

In general, these stamp issues were produced in such vast quantities that they hold little value to the collector. However, there were numerous surcharging errors and variations that are of interest to the philatelist.

To view postal issues of Germany, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Anguilla: Battle for Anguilla

Anguilla is one of the most northerly of the Leeward Islands in the Lesser Antilles, lying east of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and directly north of Saint Martin. Dedicated postal stamp issues for the small Caribbean island begin in 1967 and celebrate its peaceful and colourful culture. However, a stamp issue of 1976 provides insight of the military battles fought on land and on the high seas surrounding the small island.

On 8 November 1976, Anguilla issued a particularly striking set of six stamps commemorating the Battle for Anguilla. An online search on the history of this event is likely to reference a military land engagement that took place on the island in June 1745 during the War of the Austrian Succession. However, the stamp issue actually refers to a sea battle that took place more than 50 years later in June 1796 during the time of the French Revolution.

Anguilla 1976 1c stamp featuring French ships approaching Anguilla
Anguilla 1976 1c French ships approaching Anguilla
Anguilla 1976 3c stamp featuring Margaret (sloop) leaving Anguilla
Anguilla 1976 3c Margaret (sloop) leaving Anguilla

The French privateer and revolutionary leader, Victor Hughes led an expedition of several hundred men in two frigates, the La Vaillante (4 guns) and the Le Desius (30 guns). Hughes paid little regard to instructions from the revolutionary leaders in Paris and set out to devastate Anguilla. His forces landed at Rendezvous Bay, the landing site of French forces during the earlier battle in 1745. The land engagement was said to be vicious with widespread looting and plundering.

Anguilla 1976 15c stamp featuring Capture of Le Desius
Anguilla 1976 15c Capture of Le Desius
Anguilla 1976 25c stamp featuring La Vaillante forced aground
Anguilla 1976 25c La Vaillante forced aground

A sloop by the name of Margaret left Aguilla with news of the attack, which reached Captain Barton of H.M.S. Lapwing (76 guns) that had been stationed at Basseterre, St Kitts. The French, who had faced determined resistance from local inhabitants, hastily re-embarked their ships and faced H.M.S. Lapwing in a brief sea battle. La Vaillante was forced aground at St Martin and Le Desius was so riddled by shot that she was easily captured and torched.

Anguilla 1976 $1 stamp featuring H.M.S. Lapwing
Anguilla 1976 $1 H.M.S. Lapwing
Anguilla 1976 $1.50 stamp featuring Le Desius burning
Anguilla 1976 $1.50 Le Desius burning

Sadly, the land engagement that preceded the sea battle is less well recorded but it is understood that the local inhabitants had taken up resistance at Sandy Hill Fort (now the site of a Government building). Under the command of Deputy Governor Benjamin Gumbs, Anguilla’s militia were able to harass and delay the vastly superior French forces.

The stamps in the issue commemorate the 220th anniversary of the battle and comprise the following denominations:

1c French ships approaching Anguilla
3c Margaret (sloop) leaving Anguilla
15c Capture of Le Desius
25c La Vaillante forced aground
$1 H.M.S. Lapwing
$1.50 Le Desius burning

Victor Hughes survived the Battle for Anguilla and later declared war on the United States which he accused of selling arms and ships to Britain. His attacks on American shipping were initially successful but his influence dwindled in light of the subsequent American declaration of war on France and later Napoleonic wars.

To view postal issues of Anguilla, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Bahamas: The Interinsular Stamp

The Bahamas post office became independent in 1859 following the publication of a report by the English novelist and civil servant, Anthony Trollope. The first distinctive stamp issue clearly identified that the mail posted externally from the Bahamas remained under the control of London. Despite full independence postal services just a year later, the ‘intersecular’ stamp remarkably remained in service for 25 years.

The first adhesive stamps to be used in the Bahamas were contemporary British stamps that were first distributed to the colony in 1858. These comprised 1d, 2d, 4d, 6d and 1s stamps. These stamps can be distinguished from stamps used in the British Isles by the oval obliterator with the digits A05 assigned to Nassau, the capital and largest city of The Bahamas.

In 1858, the celebrated novelist Anthony Trollope visited the West Indies as a surveyor for the Post Office. It is understood that he disliked his work at the Post Office and acquired a reputation for unpunctuality and insubordination. However, it was Trollope that recommended that many of islands of the West Indies be given responsibility for their own postal affairs. As a result, the Bahamas post office became independent in 1859 and the first issue of distinctive stamps were produce on 10th June of that year.

The stamp featured the Edward Chalon portrait of Queen Victoria, an image of a pineapple to the lower left and a conch shell in the lower right. The 1d denominated stamp was inscribed ‘INTERINSULAR POSTAGE’ denoting the fact that mail posted externally from the Bahamas remained under the control of London until May 1860 – whereupon the use of British stamps ceased. However, use of the interinsular stamp continued.

Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues

Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues
Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues
Bahamas Interinsular 1d stamp showing dramatic colour variations across issues

The first interinsular stamp was recess printed by Perkins Bacon of London and was first released imperforate on unwatermarked paper. The philatelist will find many various shades and paper thicknesses and in October 1860, the first perforated varieties were issued of varying gauges. In 1862, responsibility for printing was transferred to De La Rue of London. These issues can be distinguished from earlier issues by the lower gauge perforations. Between 1863 and 1882, the distinctive Crown CC watermark was introduced, later transitioning to the Crown CA watermark until 1884 when the interinsular stamp supplies were exhausted.

To view postal issues of Bahamas, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Netherlands: Computer Generated

Early postage stamp issues for the majority of countries predominantly feature images of leaders – kings, queens, presidents, ministers as well as mythological characters and celebrities. These were definitive stamps – part of a regular issue – that broadened out to include national emblems and coats of arms. The first commemorative stamp issue is believed to have been the 1870 Peru 5¢ scarlet stamp to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the first railway in South America.

These stamps all featured designs commissioned by people and many of these designers became well established notorieties of philately – including Roland Hill, Dorothy Wilding (UK Wilding series), Arnold Machin (UK Machin series), Jacques-Jean Barre (French Ceres series) and Clair Aubrey Houston (United States Curtis Jenny airmail) to name just a few.

Netherlands 1970 computer generated stamp issue, 12c. + 8c.
Netherlands 1970 computer generated issue, 12c. + 8c.
Netherlands 1970 computer generated stamp issue, 15c. + 10c.
Netherlands 1970 computer generated issue, 15c. + 10c.

However, the 1970 Netherlands summer charity issue marked a new age in stamp design. It is believed to be the first time a computer was used in stamp design, although the issue is also attributed to Professor Robert Deodaat Emile “Ootje” Oxenaar. Oxenaar was a prolific designer and is probably most noted for his commission of two series of Dutch banknotes that were internationally celebrated and remained in circulation from 1964 until the introduction of the Euro in 2002.

The Cultural, Health and Social Welfare Fund issue of five stamps was released on 7 April and features complex geometrical shapes.

12c. + 8c. Black on Yellow (Circle to Square)
15c. + 10c. Black on Silver (Parallel planes in Cube)
20c. + 10c. Black on White (Overlapping scales)
25c. + 10c. Black on Light Blue (Concentric circles in transition)
45c. + 20c. White on Silver Grey (Spirals)

Netherlands 1970 computer generated stamp issue, 20c. + 10c.
Netherlands 1970 computer generated issue, 20c. + 10c.
Netherlands 1970 computer generated stamp issue, 25c. + 10c.
Netherlands 1970 computer generated issue, 25c. + 10c.

The stamps were printed by Royal Joh. Enschedé of Haarlem in the Netherlands on unwatermarked paper with a perforation of 12½ x 14. They are a striking set of stamps and arguably opened up stamp design to a whole new world of possibilities including the personalisation of stamps using simple home computing facilities.

The United States Post Office (USPS) ran a service allowing personalisation of postage stamps but was discontinued in 2020 as a result of declining demand and insignificant contribution to Postal Service revenues. The USPS added ’Customized Postage program constitutes an unacceptable risk to our legal brand and business interests that outweighs any countervailing benefits’. The UK Royal Mail similarly provided customers with the opportunity to personalise stamps known as ‘Smilers’, although this service was discontinued in 2018. Other countries such as Austria, Bhutan, India, Indonesia and Malta have also experimented with personalised stamps.

To view postal issues of Netherlands, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.