Notes from the Past

An Unusual Find of Rare Stamps

The first issues of British Guiana in 1850 are among the rarest stamps.  Once described as 'cotton reels', these stamps are a simple irregular circle within which BRITISH GUIANA and a denomination are printed.  The stamps were typeset and printed at the Royal Gazette in Georgetown.  The stamps were initialed by the postmaster or a clerk when they were issued.

The following is the story surrounding the unusual find of a cover with a fine pair of the 2¢.

In 1895, Christ Church, Demerara, was in serious financial straits.  An appeal to the local inhabitants had met with a reasonably good response, but a large sum was still needed.  Some of the gifts had been in the form of old stamps, and one particularly useful present had come from an old coloured lady.

The minister paid this lady a visit to thank her personally for her gift, and while doing so he took the opportunity of asking her whether she had any other stamps she was willing to donate.  She replied that she had already given them all away, but to make quite sure she emptied on to the table a basket containing some old papers, bills and receipts.

Out of the basket tumbled an envelope bearing the two stamps, which she at once donated to the church.  They were instrumental in adding some £200 to the funds.

After passing through the Duveen and Hind collections, the envelope was acquired by M. Theodore Champion, of Paris.

Posted September 21, 2000

Editor's Note:  I have willingly excerpted (almost plagiarized) this from Stamps Day By Day, L. N. and M Williams. Blandford Press Ltd, 1950.

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