The Post Office of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands is marking its participation in the London 2010 Festival of Stamps with a souvenir sheet of 10 different stamps on a ‘stamp on stamp’ theme. The Post Office on South Georgia opened in December 1909 and each of the stamps in the sheet represents one decade in its history.
1909-1918: The Post Office used Falkland Islands stamps until 1944. However, in 1911 John Innes Wilson, the Postmaster, had proposed that the island issue its own postage stamps. This was supported by the authorities on the Falkland Islands and an ‘essay’ (a stamp that was designed but never issued) was produced for the 2½d foreign rate. The order for the stamps was cancelled on 19th December 1911 following instructions issued by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Two sepia essays were produced by De La Rue depicting an engraved head of King George V based on a portrait by the Australian sculptor Bertram Mackennal.
1919 to 1928 and 1929 to 1938: There were a number of occasions when the Post Office ran out of stamps, in particular the 1d and 2½d values needed for the basic Inland, Commonwealth and Foreign rates. This led to several different provisional solutions. 2d stamps were overprinted locally in January 1928 with a metal hand stamp reading 2½d and 2d stamps of the Whales and Penguins issue were bisected in October 1930 to act as 1d stamps. (Bisects had also been used in March 1923. Special hand stamps reading ‘Paid at/At South Georgia’ were used from October 1911 to February 1912 on postcards and envelopes without stamps.)
1939-1948: At this time South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were one of the Falkland Islands Dependencies. In December 1943 the United Kingdom Government sent a secret military force south under the codename ‘Operation Tabarin’ to establish bases on other FI Dependencies: the South Orkney Islands, the South Shetland Islands and Graham Land. All the Dependencies were issued with their own postage stamps by overprinting the current ½d to 1/- King George VI values of the Falkland Islands. The 1/- value issued for South Georgia depicting Mount Sugartop represents this period. The stamps were officially issued to the public in London and at King Edward Point, South Georgia, on 3rd April 1944.
1949-1958: From February 1946 to July 1963 South Georgia used stamps inscribed ‘Falkland Islands Dependencies’. This period is represented by the 1d stamp issued on 4th June 1953 for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
1959-1968: Following the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty by the United Kingdom in 1960, the political decision was taken to form the South Orkneys, the South Shetlands and Graham Land into a separate UK Overseas Territory – The British Antarctic Territory – while South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands remained dependencies of the Falkland Islands. South Georgia issued a new definitive series on 17th July 1963. The 5/- value depicting elephant and fur seals represents the definitive series which was overprinted with decimal values in 1971 and remained the definitive issue until 1980.
1969-1978: South Georgia celebrated on 17 January 1975 the bicentenary of Captain Cook taking possession of the island in the name of King George III. Commemorative stamps were issued on 26th April 1975. The 8p value depicts Cook’s ship Resolution in ice floes with the mountains of South Georgia in the background.
1979 – 1988: Grytviken, King Edward Point and Leith Harbour were occupied by Argentine Military Forces from 3rd to 25th April 1982. Following liberation, the Falkland Islands Dependencies issued on 13th September 1982 a £1 stamp with a £1 charity surcharge in favour of the South Atlantic Fund. The stamp depicts a map of South Georgia. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands became a distinct UK Overseas Territory on 3rd October 1985.
1989-1998: Times have changed on South Georgia. The last land-based whaling station closed in 1965. The island is a wildlife paradise and strict conservation measures are now in force. The wildlife has been depicted on many stamps over the years. On 12th March 1992 a set of stamps was released relating to Teal ducks which breed on South Georgia. The 20p value shows an adult and two ducklings. The stamps also bear the Panda Logo © of the World Wildlife Fund WWF ®, now referred to in many countries except the USA and Canada as the World Wide Fund for Nature.
1999 to date: The name ‘Sir Ernest Shackleton’ will forever be associated with the island of South Georgia. His heroic boat journey in the James Caird from Elephant Island to the west coast of South Georgia in 1916 and his subsequent crossing of the island are legendary. Sir Ernest died on board the Quest in King Edward Cove on 5th January 1922 and is buried in the local cemetery. In August 2009, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands issued a new definitive series commemorating his life; the £5 value is depicted here.
Title: London 2010 Festival of Stamps
Date of Issue: 12 April 2010
Denominations: 65p x 10