On Tuesday 18th December Simon Richards visited the society with a part of his collection of philatelic material of Dominica. As always, we started with a mini lesson in geography and history. Dominica is in the Caribbean in the Leeward Islands and was discovered during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus. It lay unoccupied for 250 years but during the Seven Years War it became strategically important and fell under British rule. One of the first covers in Simon’s presentation was from the 1760’s and is one of the earliest known pieces of colonial mail from Dominica. The French occupied the island during the wars with America and there was scarce material on display from this period.
Dated postmarks were introduced in 1798 at the request of Lloyds of London who were worried that insurance policies were being taken out after a ship had been lost – dated post meant that Lloyds could keep a check on this. The 1840’s saw postage rate reform with pre-payment indicated by a crowned circle postmark – mail could still be sent with postage to be collected from the recipient. British stamps were also available in the colony to pre-pay postage, although this only lasted two years before the crowned circle was re-introduced. Dominica finally got its own stamps in 1874 and, in order to save money, used a design based on the stamps of St. Kitts. These early issues were short-lived as UPU regulations meant that new colours and values were required but we were shown some scarce usage of the first issues on cover.
Stamp shortages during the late 1800’s lead to a number of overprints using surplus stamps as a cost saving. In 1890 Dominica joined a ‘federal’ Leeward Islands stamp issue and only started its own commemorative issues again in 1903 with the ‘Roseau’ issue. This continued to 1923 with various paper changes. Simon showed some extensive printer’s archive material to illustrate this issue. The second half continued with George V issues, also printed on a number of different papers. Simon explained that this was because Dominica had to buy the paper from the printer and as it was expensive there was an incentive to use it all up.
Simon finished with maritime mail with a link to Canada who ran a fleet called the ‘Lady’ boats from Halifax to the Caribbean via Boston. As well as carrying the mail, they were popular with Americans during the prohibition period as alcohol was available on board.
The society also met on January 8th when members showed their recent acquisitions over a few drinks and nibbles.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday 23rd January 2019 at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when Mark Bailey will present material on the 1940 Centenary of the Penny Black. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.