Encyclopaedia of Jamaican Philately

Back Home


Derek introduced the display by explaining that he collected anything to do with the overseas activities of the GPO in London up until the end of the Victorian reign, so that a lot of early Jamaican material existed. However, he had only brought along a selection from 1858, as to show it all would take too long.

The first half of the display showed the stamps of Great Britain used in Jamaica. Derek explained that these adhesives were first used in the Crimea in 1854/55 but it soon caught on as a very suitable way of sending mail because within a year or two, Constantinople, Malta, Gibraltar, the West Indies all had GB adhesives for their own use.

Numeral cancellers were used in the BWI by several territories, including Jamaica, Antigua, British Guiana and British Honduras. However, Jamaica was the only BWI island that had more than two numeral cancellers. The obliterator for Kingston arrived in 1858 but those for the other postal towns, A27 to A78, didn’t arrive until March 1859.

In Jamaica, the post offices commenced with obliterator type H and 'Felicity' illustrated these starting with packet mail. From May 1858 to January 1859, GB adhesives were available for restricted postage use, only on packet mail, but this restriction was then lifted and GB adhesives could be used freely (on internal and packet mail) until August 1860, when they were withdrawn.

Derek explained that so far, he had been able to collect examples, on cover or large piece, from 33 of the 53 post offices, and three of those remaining were probably never used (either the numbers were lost or misplaced or the Post Office closed – they often closed and reopened).

The second half of the display covered from the end of 1860 to the end of the century, when the tale becomes more complicated. In November 1862 many numeral obliterators were withdrawn and were re-allocated slightly differently. Later, many new obliterators were used, and some ‘E’, ‘F’ and ‘G’ numbers were actually granted. Many new offices opened, some moved to new sites and changed their names, others just changed their names without moving, so proper identification could be a challenge. One or two seemed to be closed frequently and then re-opened and Derek explained that he tried to keep track of these changes in the individual commentaries.

The use of the numeral cancellers went on for a long time – in some cases into the 20th century despite, from 1874, the UPU frowning upon the use of them. This was because they needed a code to find out where a letter had come from, and they preferred the name of the departing post office to be actually in the date stamp.

The display concluded with a fine selection of early temporary rubber date-stamps.

Derek Seaton






19th century Jamaica

BWISC 2006 Display