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Barbados “bootheel” obliterators

The distinctive obliterators known as “bootheel” cancellers were introduced to Barbados in 1863. They replaced earlier barred numeral obliterators. Like the original barred numeral obliterators, each of the eleven parishes was allocated a a Parish number. The Parish numbers were as follows:

  1. St. Michael (G.P.O. Bridgetown)
  2. Christ Church
  3. St. Philip
  4. St. George
  5. St. John
  6. St. Joseph
  7. St. James
  8. St. Thomas
  9. St. Andrew
  10. St. Peter
  11. St. Lucy
“Bootheel” number “11”, from St. Lucy Parish, Barbados

In 1886 new Parish datestamps were issued to replace the “bootheel” marks, whereupon these marks were returned to the G.P.O. in Bridgetown and the parish numbers removed. Known as “open bootheel” cancellations, they were used at the G.P.O. from 1887 to 1902.

Norwegian Whaling Mail – Tasmania to the Antarctic (1929)

This cover was posted on 3 December 1929 in Hobart, Tasmania.  It is an official envelope, with the return address Hobart Public Hospital.

The cover was addressed to Mr Jack R Ratten, aboard SS N T Neilsen-Alonso, in turn care of Messrs H L Tapley & Co Ltd, of Dunedin, New Zealand.  The cover was further endorsed “For transmission by SS City of New York“.  The latter was one of Admiral Byrd’s vessels for his First Antarctic Expedition, departing Dunedin on a re-supply mission to the Antarctic in January 1930. Tapley was Byrd’s agent in New Zealand. In Antarctic waters the cover was in turn passed over to SS N T Neilsen-Alonso.

Jack Ratten was one of 34 men recruited in Hobart, Tasmania in late 1929 to join the crew of Norwegian whale oil factory ship SS N T Neilsen-Alonso.  Ratten was a Tasmanian, and his father Victor Ratten was surgeon superintendent at the Hobart Public Hospital.  The cover is possibly penned by Victor Ratten to his son.


New Hebrides 1965 55c ICY variety

Lithography throws up plenty of minor printing varieties, and here is an unlisted one that is perhaps worth sharing. The “N” in “NEW HEBRIDES” is damaged. The Stanley Gibbons Elizabethan catalogue doesn’t list it. Whether it is a constant variety, or its position, hasn’t been established.

The stamp is New Hebrides 1965 55c deep bluish green and lavender SG 113, the higher value in the commemorative set, marking International Co-operation Year.

Gambia ‘BATHHURST’ error

A very fine and clear example of this famous Gambia postmark error (extra ‘H’ in ‘BATHURST’). Unambiguous 6 AU 38 date. This cancellation was in use from 5 August 1938 until noon on 11 August 1938 – in use for six business days only – before being replaced by a corrected canceller.

This example is available for purchase here

British Honduras 1899 5c ultramarine variety Malformed ‘S’ at right

British Honduras SG66b

The malformed ‘S’ variety is one of the great Victorian Keyplate varieties, being found on a number of colonial issues through the 1890’s – including St Helena, Straits Settlements, Gambia and British Honduras.

The variety appears on the top-left unit in this block.

The block illustrated is currently available for A$690, representing remarkable value for a scarce and sought after variety.

For further details, and to check availability, please click here

Lopcombe Camp

An unusual British postmark on a British stamp, but with a strong Australian connection.

The first troops of the Australian 18th Brigade arrived in the UK on 17 June 1940, shortly after Italy’s entry into the war on 10 June 1940.  Originally intended for the Middle East, the troopships were re-routed to the UK  

Salisbury Plain became home for the troops, with most mail being processed at neighbouring civil post offices, chiefly Tidworth and Salisbury.

The HQ of 18th Brigade was established at a camp at Lopcombe Corner.  A post office was established utilising a skeleton cancel inscribed LOPCOMBE CAMP SALISBURY.

The cancellation illustrated is from the period of HQ 18th Brigade being based at Lopcombe Corner.  Dated 22 July 1940, it falls between the units arrival in June and departure in October 1940.