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+++ NEWS +++ Tristan da Cunha +++ 50th Anniversary +++ volcano outbreak with evacuation in October 1961 +++

>>>> more information see Volcano Period page 


<< Links to additional Tristan pages see green link bar


Tristan da Cunha - the world remotest inhabited island in the South Atlantic


click into the picture and enjoy a 2 minutes video of Tristan da Cunha (Youtube) - and please come back!





Tristan from the Sea - Christmas Card ~2000


British flag with ship's figurehead, photo ~1946


handmade Christmas Card 1953, painted and written by Ann and Ron Harding (schoolmaster), inside with Horseshoe cachet - see below



Hand drawn illuminated map showing many of the features of Tristan by Joan Bee, daughter of an HMS Carlisle Surgeon, when that ship visited in 1937. Predates Crawford's map of 1938. Unknown until auctioned in the UK in 2001 !!


arrival of mail 







 Potatoe patches








Postal history of Tristan da Cunha - Part II see next page


Every collector prefers his own topic.

One of my favorite topics is the social and postal history of Tristan da Cunha.


First - you have to know all about your topic if you want to start a collection. Here are the first cancellations of Tristan da Cunha (the missionary handstamps) before the first post office was opened on 1st January 1952 and the datestamps and private handstamps up to date:



The Tristan da Cunha handstamps 

A lot of publications were printed about the Tristan da Cunha handstamps, but sometimes it remains difficult to distinguish between the different types – and who knows about their value?

But - be sure that there is no need to be complete - to be complete could mean LIFE IS OVER - no, the way is the target.

Even if some cachets are easy to recognize, some are not, so I want to give a summary of these – partly – very scarce cachets. The pictures are not in original size.


Type I to Type X - pre 1952









Measures / est. value                                                  


Specifications / Comments


Type I     (Crabb)

C1          (Proud)


19 DEC 1908 / Whaler Canton -

13 DEC 1919 / Clan MacMillan


11 years


25 mm / diameter







2.200 £ (Proud)


double ring, violet ink




Despite it’s long usage the type I handstamp is one of the rarest Tristan cachets


Type II    (Crabb)

C2          (Proud)







31 JY 1919 / HMS Yarmouth –

JAN 1934 / Ponape


15 years



33,5 mm 








350 £ (Proud)



double ring, violet and black ink


Between the outer in inner ring:


In the middle:



Type III    (Crabb)

C3           (Proud)


JAN 1921 / unknown ship –

8 JAN 1932 / HMS Carlisle


11 years


28 mm 






300 £ (Proud)


triple ring, black ink


between the 2 outer rings and the 3rd ring:



divided with a cross


different letters and another form of the cross as Type V, VI, other diameter as Type VII


Type IV    (Crabb)

C4            (Proud)


25 FEB 1928 / Empress of France –

17 MY 1932 / Arizona Maru


4 years


39 mm 


Used red ink until 1931

Val. 550 £ (Proud)


black ink from 7 JAN 1931,

with exceptions – I have a black ink cancellation on cover transported with Baron Tweedsmouth 26 OC 1928

Val. 950 £ (Proud)


very scarce


triple ring, red & black ink


between the 2 outer rings and the 3rd ring:



divided with a star


Rev. Partridge used the handstamp on board of Arizona Maru with endorsed his signature and date







Type IVa   (Crabb)

C4            (Proud)


Type IV and the bandeau.


First usage of both:

28 OCT 1928 / Baron Tweedsmouth –

15 MY 1929 / Halesius


7 months


39 mm 


Val. 2.500 £ (Proud)


very scarce



red ink

2 separate cachets, the “bandeau” used inside the type IV cachet – or separately


“bandeau” is part of a triple ring handstamp. Between the 2 outer rings and the 3rd ring:




Type V     (Crabb)

C5            (Proud)


24 FEB 1929 / Duchess of Atholl –

24 AUG 1940


14 years


28 mm 


Val. 40 £ (Proud)




blue or black ink

normally used without endorsement


triple ring cachet, other letters than Type III (i.e. the “T”),

broken inner circle under “A” of Cunha


Type Va   (Crabb)

C6            (Proud)


15 MY 1929 / Hamala –

12 FB 1930 / Tymeric


9 months


28 mm 

Val. 2.500 £ (Proud)


scarcest Tristan cachet


violet ink

pictured is a proof of the handstamp with black ink (fig.1)


Part of “T” missing

Top of “C” missing

Top of “N” missing


The cachet is also known as an offset (inverted) – see Crabb’s Bible P. 196




 fig.1 – picture of the Type Va handstamp, still in private hands and a souvenir card written 1961 by Missionary Lindsay with confirmation about its use on Tristan da Cunha 



uncacheted endorsed "Tristan da Cunha


28 MY 1933 -    

19 FEB 1934 




when Rev. Partridge left Tristan Type V had been taken away.

Rev. Wilde brought it back on the latter date 


Type VI    (Crabb)

C7          (Proud)                                       


11 AUG 1936 / Hamala – 8 MY 1946 / SAS Transvaal with a gap between

11 FEB 1942 – End WWII


10 years                                                    


28 mm


val. 50 £ (Proud)




difference to Tpye VII:

smaller letters,

smaller size,

other diameter


difference to Type III:

compare the "A" and "T" typeface                                                                                                 





Type VII    (Crabb)

C8             (Proud)


1 FEB 1938 / Soumen Joutsen –

11 JAN 1948 HMSAS Good Hope

Not used from March 1940 – 1 MY 1945


9 years


30 mm


val. 50 £ (Proud)


more common as Type VI


in some minor cases the date of departure is endorsed.

In contrast to the Crabb Bible the last day of usage was with the visit of SMSAS Good Hope


Type VIII   (Crabb)

C9             (Proud)


provided by Allan Crawford


10 MY 1946 –

28 JAN 1949 / H.M.S.A.S. Transvaal


3 years


30 mm


val. 90 £ (Proud)




difference to Type VII:

other letters,

wider “A” of Cunha,

other cross 


Type IX    (Crabb)

C10         (Proud)


supplied to Rev. Lawrence and first usage during the Tristan Venture 

29 FEB 1948 –

15 FEB 1950 / Pequena


2 years


- square cachet



- with endorsed handwritten date



- dated cachet of 1 DEC 1949 (the only known date)


~250 £ (est.)


the only legitimate cachet to carry the Edinburgh Settlement name.


In minor cases a datestamp is imprinted in the space above “Edinburgh”


some sources change the Type No. with Type X


origin of Type X

Cachet "F"


A.B. Crawford’s private cachet with initials “A.B.C” used during WWII from 1943 – 1945


oval cachet




Occurs on the reverse of the first Tristan newspaper “The Tristan Times” on the reverse with handwritten no. of the island newspaper.

Later used for postal purposes without the initials “A.B.C.”



Type X     (Crabb)

C11         (Proud)


Private cachet of A. Crawford during the war, first postally used

2 FE 1948 - 6 MR 1948 during Tristan Venture Expedition -scarce usage!

2nd period:

12 MR 1950 / Pequena –

21 JY 1951

With “month” in date


16 months


oval cachet


some sources change the Type No. with Type IX because of the first postal usage was a few days earlier than of Tye IX


Type X     (Crabb)

C11         (Proud)


Same as before, but date in numbered form


21–7–51   -



6 months


oval cachet





Horseshoe cachet

cachet "K"


provided from the stamp dealer Victor Marsh pseud. H.Edgar Weston 1951.                      


Marsh prepared 1.000 covers with that postmark and sent them in a bulk to Tristan for remailing to England.

The Admin., Hugh Elliott returned the covers in a parcel. Marsh put some covers in GB letterboxes to get postal due stamps cancelled with a datestamp.

Later the handstamp was sent by Marsh to the Tristan schoolmaster Harding who used the cachet on private mail.

Shackleton-Rowett-Antarctic Expedition  

During the stay of Shackleton’s ship RYS Quest on Tristan and Gough Island

20 MY 1922 –

25 MY 1922


6 days

val. 750 £ (Proud)




not a pure Tristan datestamp but used on Tristan da Cunha by the crew of the Quest.


The Quest was on her way home after Shackleton has died at 5th JAN 1922 on South Georgia

boxed Cachet "E"


private cachet of A.B. Crawford


1948 - 20-3-1962 (HMS Protector)

71,5 mm x 14 mmsimilar cachets from Marion Island and Bouvet Island


Now the past 1952 handstamps - after opening of the first Post Office and the sub-Post Office on Gough Island



Gough Island sub-Post Office datestamp most common is the date of 14 DE 1955                                                        

14-12-55 - 28-5-57                                                       

one line cachet above, only used on last day souvenir cards produced by Administrator Godfrey Harris after closing down of the sub post office on Gough Island - see page 260 "Crabb Bible" - scarce.

One line cachet below applied on some covers of 14-12-55, the date of the first mail of the Gough Island Expedition, common


boxed cachet on nearly every Gough mail - common - 

2 line cachet - seldom seen on Gough mail -


 Type "A"                                           only used on 1-1-1952, the first day of the opening of the Post Office                                       

Day over month & year     

Type A-D were destroyed by the Administrator Peter Wheeler when the island was evacuated in October 1961 after the eruption of the volcano. Wheeler threw all handstamps and the stock of stamps into the Atlantic to avoid misuse.

 Type "B" 1-1-1952 - 11-10-1961Asterisk over day & month, over year

Type "B" was also used on 1-1-1952 for some FDCs - supposed, that FDCs with Type "B" cancellation were cancelled later until February 1952 by favour.

"True" FDCs seems to be struck with Type "A"

 Type "C" 1952 - 11-10-1961No Asterisk, month & date, over year no usage on 1-1-1952

 Type "D" 1952 - 11-10-1961Asterisk


over month & date, over year
 no usage on 1-1-1952

 Type "D" inverted "8" 8 May 1960

see "D"


 wrong setting of the "8"

 Type "D" with wrong year "28" instead of "52"                                28 OC 1952 during visit of HMS Actaeon

see "D"


 occasional usage of "28"

 Type XI

30th JA 1962 and

26th MR 1962

official expedition cachet of the Royal Society Expedition

30 mm / diamenter

cachet of the Society Expedition period when TdC was evacuated (see "postal history" on next side) and no post office was working, no official datestamp was in use and no Tristan stamps were available.

Used on SAS Transvaal on 30th January 1962 (524 covers posted) and returned to Cape Town at 7th February 1962 (1st Expedtion mail) and

on HMS Protector (296 covers) at 20th March 1962 / 3rd Expedition mail.

 Type XIa

5th March 1962


same as Type XI without the centre wording

very rare - only 85 covers cancelled

used during the Society Expedition period and only known on mail taken aboard MV Frances Repetto - most of the mail received the Paquebot postmark Cape Town dated 16th March 1962 upon arrival (2nd Expedition mail). 

Mainly commercial mail written by expedition members.

 Type XIINovember 1962 - end 1963 (?)small gap in the inner ring opposite letter "H"

used during the Resettlement period until the first issue of stamps 12-4-1963


 Type XIIIused during Resettlement period 



Cachet "V"


private cachet of Willie Repetto, used by Johnie Repetto as a member of the Resettlement Party

used during Resettlement period

24 mm / diameter


rare - seldom seen


Cachet "O"used during Resettlement period, provided by William Mayo68 mm / diameterfor use on souvenir covers

Resettlement cachet

used during Resettlement period 



Attention !!!

Private dealer Paquebot cachet used on visit of the QEII on World Cruise


26 mm / diameter


By exclusive agreement with Cunard Line stamp dealers had the right to deal with all aspects of mailing operations from the QEII at Tristan. Covers with that cachet had no connection to the Tristan postal system


Official / new one ring datestamp after Resettlement period


12-4-1963 (MV Boissevain) - 5-June 1990

28 mm / diameter


Official / one ring datestamp


in use ~198233 mm / diameter

only in use during a short period ~1982

the handstamp was disliked and therefore only in use during a short period

A similar FDC datestamp was used only for the 1982 Diana's 21st Birthday (First Day of Issue on top / Tristan da Cunha below the date)

Paquebot datestamp


11 NOV. 1979(e.g.)            38 mm / diameter 

in the last 3 years the year date inserted by hand (as seen on the scan)

Paquebot datestamp


27-1-1993 (e.g.)45 mm / diameter

in use until 1992, in 1993 because of the missing "3" the last figure of the year was inserted by hand.

Last usage 1994 when HMS St. Helena visited TdC in February

Paquebot datestamp


1993 - 04 - 17 (e.g.) or

 1993- 04 - -7 (e.g.)

45 mm / diameter 

Paquebot datestamp


06 FEB 2006 (e.g.)

38 mm / diamenterbelow date "SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN"

datestamp of Tristan Post Office


June 1990 - ?? - 2000-04-12 (e.g.)

30 mm / diamenterdoublering datestamp

datestamp of Tristan Post Office


?? - mid 200630 mm / diameter 

datestamps of Tristan Post Office


mid 2006 - today29 mm diameter 

 Fake cancellations Attention - FAKES Attention - FAKES  Attention - FAKES

FAKE handstamp "L"

(according an article written by Robin Taylor in the Chronicle No. 93)

34 mm / diameter

past June 1946



FAKE handstamp "U"

(in continuation of the numbering used by Robin Taylor in the Chronicle No. 93, P 5-8)


28 mm / diameter

used on cover with Cape Town Paquebot 10 FEB 1931

>> there was no known ship's visit since 17th March 1930


Fake cover with Fake handstamp "U". On eBay the cover was offered which seemed first to be a Type III cancellation. And the Paquebot Cape Town 10 FEB 1931 was very unusual, because the last known ship before left Tristan da Cunha 17th March 1930 (Ketch Monsunen). The letters on the handstamp look like the letters on the Type IV, but the diameter is 28 mm. In use 1930/31 were only Type III and V as similar handstamps - but these handstamps are not the handstamp of the pictured cover.  


Thanks to Ray Lloyd, Ron Burn and Robin Taylor for their help to solve this mystery!



Copyright © 2010 - Klaus-D. Hahn

The copyright of that article published on this website remains with the author (Klaus Hahn) and the society (SHATPS)


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