Gibraltar Stamps and Postal History

Gibraltar Stamps SG 85 One Pound block of four

The Crown Colony of Gibraltar is a narrow peninsula three in length and three-quarters of a mile in breadth, with a total area of one and seven-eighths square miles, situated in latitude 36°7'16' North and longitude 5°21'13' West, near the Southern extremity of Spain, being joined to the mainland by a low sandy isthmus. It may be said to command the narrow entrance through the Straits of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean Sea. The strategic value of this Fortress has been undoubtedly lessened by the developments in modern artillery and aerial attack.

Until 1886 the Colony used the stamps of Great Britain post-marked with the special cancellation - A.26 - although it would appear that at various times prior to that date Spanish stamps had been used irregularly in Gibraltar. The use of these stamps was discontinued on December 31st, 1875.

In the annual reports of the Postmaster-General it has been found possible to collect a few interesting references to Gibraltar and its postal system prior to the first issue of stamps in the colony in 1886.

The Report of 1858 contains reference to the success of the compulsory prepayment scheme, and states that it had been in use since the beginning of that year between the United Kingdom and the Australian Colonies. An extension of this system to the British West Indies, Malta, Gibraltar and Hong Kong had been effected, and a proposal made to the Governments of other British Colonies and Possessions for the adoption of the same system.

It would also appear from this annual report that no forgeries had resulted from the use of British stamps at Malta, Gibraltar and Constantinople, “and that the privilege has been extended to the British West Indies and to foreign ports touched by Mail Packets on the Western Coast of Africa, but that it is obvious that such an arrangement is possible of application only when the whole of the postage belongs to the British Post Office”.

It is obvious from the Official Records that the reason for overprinting the first issue of Gibraltar was that there was insufficient time to prepare plates for actual Gibraltar stamps, as sanction for the transfer of the Post Office from the Treasury to the Colonial Government was only given on December 2nd, 1885, and the stamps had to be ready by January 1st, 1886.

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Gibraltar Zeppelin Mail

Gibraltar Zeppelin Mail 1935 - 14th South America Flight postcard to Pernambuco

"England joined the Zeppelin Air Mail Service to South America in March 1932. Zeppelin mail from England, Ireland and other British Territories (including Gibraltar), was collected in London and forwarded to Berlin, from where it was transported by special connecting plane to Friedrichshafen, where it was loaded onboard the Graf Zeppelin for its journey to Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil, South America. This route is confirmed by the manuscript endorsements on Zeppelin mail “Pour dirigible Graf Zeppelin via London/Overland” or “via Friedrichshafen (Allemagne)”.

First Issue of Gibraltar Stamps

Gibraltar SG 2 One penny Bermuda overprint block of 9 with number of the plate 29

"In 1885, the Gibraltar Legislature, following the example set by Malta in 1860, and by Cyprus in 1880, decided to print and issue its own stamps and mention has been made of this in my earlier extract from the Report of Her Majesty’s Postmaster-General of 1858 with reference to the successful outcome “of the compulsory prepay­ment scheme between the United Kingdom and the Australian Colonies and the extension of this system to various Crown Colonies.” So the Gibraltar legislature applied for and obtained on December 17th, 1885, the required Ordinance, No.

Rare Stamps of Gibraltar: 1889 "No value" Error

Rare Gibraltar stamp: SG23b Value Omitted (No Value) Error

This stamp, which is the “ rara avis ” of Gibraltar, has been very often written up, and the writer has collated a complete set of comments on this stamp so far as British philatelic excerpts are concerned.

In his Chronicle of New Issues and Varieties in the “Philatelic Journal of Great Britain” for July, 1895 (V., 119), Mr. S. C. Skipton very briefly records under “ Gibraltar ” that: “A curious error has occurred in a sheet of the 10c. Two rows of stamps have the value omitted—rose”.

Gibraltar Stamps: 1898 Reissue in English Currency

The depreciation in Spanish currency due to the result of the Spanish-American War caused the Government to revert to English currency in Gibraltar. It should be noted that at the International Telegraph Convention, held at Budapest in 1896, the franc was accepted as the medium of account. It was agreed that the exchange value should be taken at 1.20, subject to revision. This was revised in July 1897 at 1.29.

King George V Gibraltar Stamps: 1921-1932

Gibraltar SG108 5 Pounds stamp with plate No. 1 and sheet No. 027

In 1921 a new issue was put on sale in the same designs as the pre­ceding issue but in different colours and watermarked Multiple Script C.A. The 1d., 3d., 6d. and 2s. were issued in different colours during this period, also that the lower values up to and including the 3d., are printed on ordinary paper only, while the higher values are on chalky paper. The lower values are found printed from Plate 2, while the higher values from Plate 1. The Jubilee line is in some cases single and in some cases double.

Universal Colour Issue of King Edward VII Gibraltar Stamps 1906-1912

Gibraltar KEVII stamp 1906-12 8/-

In 1907 the Crown Agents decided to standardise the colours used for the different values of Crown Colony stamps and arising out of this decision, the Universal Colour Issue came into being. All the values had their colours changed as a result, except the ?1 value. Here we must note that the "debatable" 6d. was only issued and put on sale in Universal colours the day before the new Georgian stamps arrived from England.

Gibraltar Stamps: Queen Victoria Spanish Currency Centimos Overprints 1889

The next issue in July 1889 was made in Spanish currency. The authorities decided on this course of action for reasons of its convenience to traders in Gibraltar. Spanish currency was still the basis of local trade, and a decimal system of coinage more familiar to the majority of the inhabitants. The Spanish exchange was erratic about this time, and as the peseta was standing at about 91/2d., it proved most inconvenient to purchasers of Gibraltar stamps in English values. This was a further reason for the change in currency in this issue.