Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Tristan da Cunha"


Jim Crawford


‘A tiny dot in the Atlantic Ocean – between Buenos Aires in Argentina and a little south of Cape Town in South Africa’. This was the opening description given by Jim Crawford to his Display on Tristan da Cunha to the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society on Friday, 15th February.

Jim was able to talk knowledgably about his subject as, in January 2006, he travelled there on the Royal Mail Ship, the RMS St Helena, as she made the Quincentenary Cruise to the Island. The ship was fortunate with the weather and all were able to land.

Jim displayed stamps, postmarks, postcards and other associated ephemera – this latter including a Certificate of Membership of the Island’s Golf Club which proved to be very much self-help; carry the flag and hope, when inserting in the ground, that it does not strike a stone!

The first official stamps were not issued until 1st January, 1952 and these were stamps of St Helena (Island) overprinted with the name Tristan da Cunha. Prior to this postmarks were used – and many of these were displayed as Jim gave an interesting insight into the Postal History of the Island.

The stamps issued over the years were fascinating to observe – amongst issues depicting birds, wildlife, landscape, weather, events in the history of the Island, shipwrecks, were special issues commemorating: The Norwegian Scientific Expedition – 1937-8; the Home Guard – (Tristan Defence Volunteers, founded 1943, disbanded 1946); the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of the Island – by Admiral Tristao da Cunha; the eruption of the volcano in October, 1961 and the ensuing evacuation of all residents; the joyful return of the islanders on 9th April,1963. In May 2001 there was a ferocious storm which wreaked much damage and stamps were issued to help the Disaster Fund.

Jim also displayed ‘Ships which called at Tristan’ – this included Russian vessels; Greenpeace; various cruise ships as well as ships: - ‘Taking the Minister to and from the Tristan’; ‘Taking 150 sheep to Tristan’; ‘MFV Recovery arrested in Tristan Waters for poaching and fined £500’; ‘The search for 2 meteorologists who went missing – and the finding of the 2 bodies. This display ended with the stamp showing the ‘MV Explorer’ which, since 1995, had called almost annually at Tristan – and which sank in the Antarctic in November 2007. The newspaper article reporting this incident and the rescue of everyone aboard, was also displayed.

Our next meeting in St Andrews Parish Church Hall, Avon Street, Hamilton, is on Friday, 29th February, 2008 at 7:30pm when Mr Colin Breddy, will present his display of material on ‘The Irish Connection.’  

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc will be very welcome to attend.