Notes from the Past

Tobago's First Stamps - Part II

After 17 years of inaction, a new Governor, in opening a session of the Council in 1878, expressed surprise that there was no inland postal system in Tobago and proposed a plan for service between Scarborough and other parts of the island three times a week.  He also proposed other postal reforms.

The Council gladly approved the plan.  An order for postage stamps was placed with De la Rue & Co.  A series of fiscal stamps had also been ordered and they came into use on July 1, 1879.  As the design of the fiscal did not limit its use, it was decided to use them for postage stamps.  The Tobago Gazette on July 18, 1879, stated "On and after 1st of August next, all letters, newspapers, and other articles transmissible by Post must be prepaid by having Postage Stamps of the proper value affixed thereto."

Six values of the postal fiscals were put in use: 1d. rose, 3d. blue, 6d. dull orange, 1s. green, 5s. gray-black, and £1 mauve.  The stamps were typographed on white wove paper watermarked Crown CC, and perforated 14.  As might be expected, the high values are quite pricey with the £1 listing at £4000 in the 1999 Stanley Gibbons with no pricing on used.

It was not until late 1880 that the new stamps arrived from De la Rue.  The new stamps had the same design but 'Postage' was added to the lower part of the frame of the portrait.  The use of the postal fiscal stamps was discontinued on January 1, 1881.

Posted November 27, 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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