Lundy stamps celebrate the Devon island’s lighthouses
- Credit: Archant
The 500th anniversary of lighthouse operators Trinity House is celebrated with a set of stamps from Lundy, the Devon island which operates the oldest private postal service in the world.
In 1514 the corporation of Trinity House was granted a Royal Charter by King Henry VIII.
Today the organisation has three main functions: the provision of lighthouse services and aids to navigation, a self-funded charity dedicated to the safety, welfare and training of mariners and the authority for deep sea pilotage.
Lundy has enjoyed a long relationship with Trinity House, beginning with the construction of the Old Lighthouse in 1819 with the Fog Battery and cannons following in the 1860s.
These were in use until 1897, when the more efficient North and South Lighthouses were constructed.
The earliest recorded date for the establishment of a postal service on Lundy is 3 March 1887.
The island’s first sub-postmaster was Mr Fred Allday, who arrived on Lundy in 1896 and held the position until his departure in 1926. The GPO permitted the hire of a donkey for the purpose of carrying the mail to and from the landing beach. The post office closed in 1928.
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The next year the first Lundy stamps were issued. The currency was chosen as the puffin - equivalent to the British penny - as historically puffin feathers had provided a brisk trade with the mainland.
Half a million stamps of each value were printed (120 per sheet in 4 panels of 30 with guttering). The 1 puffin was blue, displaying the full body of a puffin; the ½ puffin was pink/red, displaying the bust of a puffin. On 9th July 1930 additional 6 puffin, 9 puffin and 12 puffin values were introduced.
After a year mail was being returned to Lundy by the GPO as being ‘contrary to regulations’, meaning the Lundy stamp, being a private stamp, could not be affixed to mail on the address side.
Lundy stamps were subsequently affixed to the reverse side of mail. In 1962, after discussions with the GPO, consent was given for the Lundy stamp to be affixed to the address side of postcards, providing it was as far from the UK stamp as possible. This was extended to other mail in 1992.
The Lundy stamp charge covers the mail charge from Lundy to the mainland and incorporates the Royal Mail charge.
Over 300 Lundy stamps have been produced since 1929, some of them exceedingly rare.
To buy Lundy stamps email firstname.lastname@example.org