Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Iceland" & "French Antarctic"


Dr. David Cumming



It was a cold outside last Friday – and even inside also as members of the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society were taken to 2 cold places by our guest speaker, Dr David Cumming, President of the Caledonian Philatelic Society.

First to Iceland – and a wonderful vista of stamps was viewed – beginning from 1873 when the country was a Dependency of Denmark and the stamps were the same design but with the name "Island" inscribed. The stamps followed through the reigns of Christian IX, Frederick VIII and Christian X. Between 1918 and 1944 it became an Independent Kingdom in union with Denmark and the stamps issued showed King Christian X.

A change came in 1928 when the stamps were overprinted with an illustration of a monoplane and the following year designated Airmail stamps were printed. This was followed by the celebration of the 1000th Anniversary of the Althing (the government) and stamps now showed historical, mythological and scenic images. In 1938 stirring images of Geysir (oldest known geyser) were printed.

On 17th June 1944 came the complete break with Denmark and the country gained its Independence. The stamps now illustrated Icelandic sports; Flowers; Europa; re-afforestation; the Gullfoss Waterfall etc and in 1948 a set was issued giving wonderful images of the Eruption of the Hekla Volcano. The display ended with the stamps issued in 1963.


Secondly to French Southern Antarctic Territories – and David began by explaining that it was by chance that early Explorers came upon these islands in the Indian Ocean. The islands are Amsterdam; St Paul; Crozet; and Kerguelen. The islands are not inhabited but 4 bases were built and these are visited only by researchers.

In 1955 the first stamps were issued – these were definitives and were followed throughout the years by stamps and covers commemorating Anniversaries and Exploration: - including International Geophysical Year 1957; Kerguelen Archipelago Discovery 1960; Human Rights Year 1968; First Flight of Concorde 1969; Antarctic Ships 1973; Bicentenary of Cook’s Passage to Kerguelen 1976 etc.

There were also many covers sent from ships to the bases – the Paquebot handstamp on each cover indicated which ship was passing the area and all were viewed with interest.  

The display ended with a great show of Covers recording the work of the French Oceanic-research vessel "Marion Dufresne" (1973-1995)  This was chartered by TAAF  (Territoire des Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises) and served during the summer months as a supply and relief ship for the 4 islands and also delivered personnel to the 3 permanently manned bases of the French Southern and Antarctic Territories.

Alex Magowan led members in thanking David Cumming for giving  most informative and entertaining displays.

Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton, is on Friday, 24th February, 2017, at 7:30pm when our guest, Bill Russell, will present a "Miscellany". 

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