St. Helena Stamps and Postal History

St Helena Map

Although St. Helena was frequently visited by ships on their way to and from India and the East via the Cape of Good Hope, letters prior to 1815 bear no external indication of having come from or passed through the island. Such letters would not carry any St. Helena marking, as there was no post office on the island at that time. Letters were either handed to ship’s captains to be carried or were left at the Government Secretary's office in the Castle to await the next ship. Prior to that, letters were left under large stones, one of which can still be seen at the entrance of the Castle.

By a proclamation of the Governor dated 20th February 1815 the first Post Office was established on the island. The Proclamation (which is reproduced in full in Appendix 1) provided for a “regular Post Office” to be fitted up on the Wharf in Jamestown under Mr. William Brabazon as the first Post Master. Letters would no longer be received for transmission at the Secretary’s office but at the Post Office. All letters carried by mail packet had to have an official Post Office mark or stamp and anyone sending a letter from the island otherwise than through the Post Office was liable to a fine of 5/-.

The Post Office was opened on 23rd February 1815. Later that year the decision was taken to send Napoleon to St. Helena and he arrived on the island on 17th October 1815. With Napoleon arrived staff, servants, officials, and more and more troops to guard him, with the result that the population of under 4,000 was rapidly doubled. The post office was no doubt kept busy, but most of the letters of the period which have survived have, in view of their historical interest, been kept in official archives or private collections.

St. Helena George V The Colony’s Badge Stamps 1922-1937

Saint Helena 1922-37 Colonies Badge 15 s in an upper left corner marginal plate no. block of four

The new design by T. Bruce for St. Helena George V The Colony’s Badge stamps was a great improvement on De La Rue’s unsatisfactory design for the 1903 Edwardian and 1912 Georgian issues.

Most of the stamps were printed on chalk-surfaced paper, some on yellow, green, blue or red paper and two different watermarks were used. There being little postal use for such high values as 15/- and £1, these two stamps are scarce both mint and used. Very small quantities of some of the other values were printed.

St. Helena: Centenary Of British Colonization 1934 Stamp Issue

St. Helena 1934 10/- Stamp Centenary Of British Colonization

On 22nd April 1834 St. Helena island was handed over to the Crown after being administered for 182 years by the East India Company. The centenary of this event in the island’s history was commemorated by one of the most attractive and well-designed stamp issues ever made by any colony. John Easton has said  that for this series Bradbury Wilkinson more than lived up to the fine reputation they had established for engraving: “The vignettes are indeed exquisite, and reveal a fineness of detail and perfection of execution which no other firm has yet equalled.