A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

St. Helena

1890 Scott 38 4p on 6p pale brown
Quick History
St Helena (named after Saint Helena of Constantinople by the Portuguese in 1502) is located in the South Atlantic Ocean, and is 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) from Angola on the western coast of Africa. If you like remote, this 10 mile by 5 mile size island is for you. ;-)

Even today, the only way to visit the volcanic island is via the ship RMS Saint Helena from Cape Town, South Africa. (A commercial airport strip is in the works for 2016.)

Location of St. Helena and Ascension in the South Atlantic Ocean
Colonization began under charter by the English East India Company in 1659, and the island became an important port of call for ships sailing between Europe and Asia and South America.

Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled there from 1815 until his death in 1821- residing in the Longwood House. (Of interest, the Longwood House has been under French government administration since 1858.)

St. Helena became a crown colony in 1834- and remained so until 1981.

The capital is Jamestown, and the population was 3,995 (1931).

Saint Helena
New Zealand flax, no longer a viable commercial product, now covers the countryside. This is a result of the crop being introduced in 1907 for production of rope and string.

A cup of coffee from St. Helena - promoted approvingly by Napoleon himself- is said to be the most expensive in the world.
Coat of Arms
The endemic Saint Helena Plover (Wirebird) - shown on the Coat of Arms and the flag- is an important bird species.

Ascension Island was made a dependency in 1921, and Tristan da Cunha was added in 1938.

Now, the islands are part of the British Overseas Territories.

And stamps? Ascension Island, Tristan da Cunha, and Saint Helena all produce their own today- which is said to be a significant portion of their income.

1934 Scott 101 1/2p dark violet & black "Lot and Lot's Wife"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for St. Helena 1856-1949, 143 major number descriptions. Of those, 31 are CV <$1-$1+, or 22%. St. Helena, being a popular island British colony, is expensive for the earlier issues, and moderately expensive for the later issues.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
1884 Scott 33 1/2p on 6p green "Queen Victoria"
The first stamp for St. Helena was an engraved six pence denomination in 1856. By 1894, 40 major number stamps had been issued, but all on the basic six pence denomination. How did they do that?

Between 1856 and 1889, the six pence denomination was issued under seven Scott catalogue numbers that differ by color, watermark and imperf/various perfs.

Then between 1863 and 1894, thirty-three more descriptive numbers are found surcharged. These stamps also differ in color, watermark , imperf/various perfs, and length of the surcharged word. And the bar under the surcharge can also differ in length.

1/2p on 6p green
1884 Scott 33: Words 17 mm; 1894 Scott 34: Words 15mm
Shown here are two 1/2p on 6p green stamps where the surcharge word differs in length.

Suffice it to say it is all rather interesting, but one must pay attention to detail. I leave it to you to sort this out using the Scott catalogue information.

Also, many of the stamps are rather expensive. But I found six stamps (CV $3+-$9) that are in the range of a WW classical collector with a modest budget.

1896 Scott 46 10p brown "Queen Victoria"
Diamonds in purple ink is a 1905 Remainder cancellation
A keyplate typographed seven stamp "Queen Victoria" issue was released between 1890-97.

I chose this stamp to illustrate the "remainder" cancellation.

From Scott...

"In 1905, remainders of Nos 34-47 were sold by postal officials. They were cancelled with bars, arranged in the shape of diamonds, in purple ink."

The "remainder" cancellation reduces the CV considerably.

1893 Scott 47 2 1/2p on 6p blue 
Type of 1856 Surcharged
In 1893, a 6p blue was surcharged as shown in numbers rather than words. This has a modest CV of $3+.

Wmk 1: "Crown and C C"

Wmk 2: "Crown and C A"
Wmk 3: "Multiple Crown and C A"
Wmk 4: "Multiple Crown and Script C A"
This might be a good time to review the four British Colonial watermarks; all of which are found on the stamps of St. Helena. 

Wmk 6 "Star"- Example from Grenada
In addition, there is a "Star" watermark (Wmk 6) for the 1856-63 era "Queen Victoria" six pence, found on three stamps. These are expensive (CV $160- $325), and I don't have an copy, but I can show an example of the watermark on a Grenada stamp.

1903 Scott 51 1p carmine & black "The Wharf"
In 1903, a rather nice large format bi-color six stamp issue with wmk 1 was produced. The stamps had a small upper central vignette of King Edward VII, and either "The Wharf" or "Government House" pictorial.

1911 Scott 57 4p black & red/yellow "King Edward VII"
In 1908, a four stamp "Edward VII" design, familiar to British Commonwealth collectors, was issued. These can be found in Wmk 3 ( 2 1/2p, 4p, 6p) and Wmk 2 (10sh).

1912 Scott 63 1 1/2p orange & black "The Wharf"
The George VI era was marked with this 10 stamp 1912-16 issue. Similar in design to the "Edward VII" large format pictorials, they are found on Wmk 3 paper.

1912 Scott 72 6p dull violet & red violet "George VI"
1913 Scott 74 6p dull violet & red violet
A two stamp "George VI" issue with 4p and 6p denominations was produced in 1912, and again in 1913. The 1912 issue was on chalky paper, while the 1913 issue was on ordinary paper.

And as one can clearly see, the issues differed in frame design.

1922 Scott 77 3p ultramarine "Government House"
In 1922, three of the large format pictorials were issued in a "mono" color. The issue has Wmk 4.

1922-27 Scott 84 5p red & green/emerald
"Badge of the Colony"; Wmk 4
Between 1922-27,a sixteen stamp wmk 4 large format bi-color issue was produced with a "Badge of the Colony" pictorial. The "Badge of the Colony" image is also found on the coat of arms.

The scene shows a three-masted sailing ship and the mountainous St. Helena. The Flag of England ( St. George's Cross) is flying from the ship.

1922-27 Scott 95 4p black/yellow, Wmk 3
In addition, five stamps on chalky paper and wmk 3 were also issued in 1922-27.

The "Badge of the Colony" issue, in total, has both inexpensive CV stamps ( seven stamps- $2-$4+), and expensive stamps ( up to $1,000+ !).

1934 Scott 103 1 1/2p red & black "Map of the Colony"
The centenary engraved bi-color pictorial ten stamp issue of 1934  is lovely indeed, and the highlight (for me) of the St. Helena classical stamp era.

There are ten pictorial scenes, and some of the stamps also depict Queen Victoria and Kings William IV, Edward VII, and George VI. I show three more of the designs/scenes from this issue heading the subsections of this post. CV is <$1-$8 for seven stamps.

1938 Scott 122 3p ultramarine "Badge of the Colony"
The 1938-40 fourteen stamp set illustrates the "Badge of the Colony" in monocolor. Of interest, the 3p ultramarine has an outlying CV of $55/$18 for unused/used. Does a reader know the reason?

War Tax Stamps
1916 Scott MR1 1p + 1p scarlet & black
1919 Scott MR2 1p + 1p carmine & black
Two stamps were issued for "war tax"; one in 1916, and the other in 1919.

Some collectors may not be aware that the United States also had a "war tax" during WWI. The usual rate for posting an ordinary letter was raised from 2c to 3c, and then reduced again to 2c after the war, ;-)

Deep Blue
1922-27 Wmk 4 Issue in Deep Blue
In Deep Blue (Steiner), St. Helena has 13 pages, and has a space for all the Scott major numbers. Because of expense of the earlier issues, I don't have stamps in my album until the third page.

1934 Scott 104 2p orange & black "Quay, Jamestown"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages (sharing one line with St. Christopher), has 45 spaces. Coverage is 31%. Considering the somewhat expensive nature of St. Helena stamps, the coverage is reasonable for a "representational" album, if a trifle sparse.

The coverage is located after "Saar". The coverage is the same for the 1940s editions.

Although there can be expensive stamps for St. Helena, BB has a good inexpensive selection, as none reach the "Most Expensive" threshold ($35), and only three have a CV of $10+-$20+.

I have elected to give Scott 12 or 25 or 29 or 35 as choices for the 1863-94 surcharged one penny on 6 pence stamp space. But Scott 12 (CV $20+)  is the strict choice, as Type surcharge b is illustrated in BB.  But, if one wishes to admit Type surcharge a because they fall under the date specifications, then 25 or 29 or 35 is available. Scott 35 has a CV of $4+.


33 or 34, 12* or 25 or 29 or 35,







Next Page





War Tax

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1871 Scott 12 1p on 6p brown red ($20+- this is a strict choice- see comment B).
1922 Scott 76 1 1/2p rose red ($10+)
1938 Scott 122 3p ultramarine ($10+)

B) * 12  is Type surcharge b, which is illustrated in BB (CV $21), and is the strict choice. If one wishes to admit Type surcharge a, because they fall under the date specifications, then 25 or 29 or 35 is available. Scott 35 has a CV of $4+.
C) *73- but not Scott 71, which has a different frame design from the one in BB.
D) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1934 Scott 105 3p blue & black "View of James Valley"
Out of the Blue
I like the stamps of St. Helena, and would like to acquire more. But the downside, for a WW classical collector such as myself, is the expense! So I will probably be looking elsewhere. ;-)

Note: Longwood House and Coat of Arms image, and maps appear to be in the public domain. Attribution to Oona Raisanen (Mysid) for the St. Helena map.

Have a comment?

Longwood House - site of Napoleon's exile


  1. I think these are among the most beautiful classic engraved stamps, certainly of the British Colonies. Any idea what the "Lot and Lot's Wife" refers to on Scott 101?

  2. They are rock formations.

    Yes, the stamps are truly gorgeous.

  3. Two pillars, Let's start with Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt in the Genesis account. If one pillar gets that name, then the second can be christened "Lot", presumably, looking at her (instead of looking back at Sodom, which was her mistake). Just speculating.


  4. http://everything-everywhere.com/2014/05/29/lot-lots-wife-rock-formation-island-st-helena/

  5. So much we can learn from our stamps!

  6. I think I have the first stamp pictured, but I am not a very knowledgeable stamp collector. I have looked online and this site is the only one I have found in on. How do I go about doing more research? There aren't any stamp shops in my town.

    1. You may, but there are several 4p on 6p stamps in the catalogue. ;-)

      For more St. Helena stamps on line, check out the Antonius Ra collection.


      In terms of "research" I would recommend..
      * Obtaining a Scott catalogue- either yourself, or from a library.
      * Almost every medium sized city in the U.S. has a stamp club. Find one in your area. Often, they will have a library with catalogues available. And fellow collectors are a great resource!

      Good luck timidvenus!

  7. Perfect! I looked at that link and the two I have are next to each other on one of his pages. The one you have listed here first ad one like it but purple instead of brown ink, and on a lighter paper than the first, even with the same monetary values over the top! I am on the waiting list at our library for the catalogues as well, so hopefully I won't have to wait much longer. Thanks again for your help!! you offer so much information! -Sara