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I hope to give you interesting infos.
Thanks for your visit!




     - with all mailings

     - all ships involved

     - used cachets

     - all data important for classification

     - and comments


Edinburgh Settlement - and the 1961 volcano at left picture side (dark region)

Approaching Calshot Harbour - R.M.S. St. Helena in the background - photos by Philip Hicks


      under construction / any help is welcome



>>> the target is to create a summary of all types of mail of the Tristan da Cunha Volcano Period for publication in the South Atlantic Chronicle - SHATPS (St. Helena, Ascension, Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society) - if you are not a SHATPS member, please join us<<<


This project is an example for a team-work of members of a S(pecial) I(nterest) G(roup): SIG - Tristan da Cunha Postal History - read more about in the June 2011 Chronicle > and please respond to the questions Q1 - Q5 to Philip or me.


What we need for the Volcano Period Project:

- members for help - until now Ron B., Ray L. and myself >please announce YOUR co-operation to hahnstamps@t-online.de

- text for the article describing the Evacuation, Exp. and Resettlement Period in short notes

- list of different mailings

- ships involved

- used cachets

- comments

- for each mail generelly 1 scan of a cover  (except pictures with yellow background - here we need all available scans to get an overview how many covers survived!!!) 

- if you own not listed mail of the Volcano Period, please tell us



In 2011 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Evacuation Period         -         9th October 1961 - 3rd November 1961                                                        


In late 1961 mild tremors had been shaking Tristan but were not regarded with great alarm. When in mid-September heavy quakes shaked the settlement on Tristan da Cunha the extent of the disturbances was determined with the result, that only the settlement might be threatened. In October a new volcano was born a few hundred yards behind the eastern part of the settlement above the lobster plant, the earth shakes increased and rocks and cliffs behind the settlment broke away and crashed to the foot. On 9th October 1961 the Administrator Peter Wheeler decided to evacuate the settlement, first to the nearby potato patches, at 10th October to Nightingale Island by the help of the Tristania and Frances Repetto

At 11th October 1961 the ocean liner MV Tjisadane arrived off Nighingale after receiving an S.O.S. from Tristan and it was decided to evacuate all inhabitants of Tristan to Cape Town. From Cape Town the Stirling Castle took all islanders to England.

MailingShipDeparture / ArrivalCachetsCommentCover / est. market price
 M.V. Tristania9 OC 1961last date cachet with date 9 OC 1961

cachet found by Capt. Scott in the Meteo Station, used by Scott to produce "Last Day Covers"


oval cachet according numbering of Robin Taylor Cachet "P"

~25 £

 M.V. Tjisadane11 OC 1961last use of Tristan datestamp, destroyed the same day by the Administrator Wheeler                             redirected cover from Lily Rogers to the Rev. Bell & wife on Tristan 1959 - March 1961

scarce ~200 £

 H.M.S. Leopard 13th - 15th October 1961  

The ship's Company nailed up doors and windows of the evacuated settlement and brought away a few letters found ready to be posted. 

Only a handful covers reported. 

very scarce


 mail written aboard Tjisadane or CT, posted CT required


 mail written aboard Stirling Castle required


Questions to that period:

We need scans transported with MV Tjisadane and scans of mail posted on board the Stirling Castle 




Royal Society Expedition 1962              -                    December 1961 - April 1962                                                                                                                                 


Expedition by the Royal Society to examine the recent volcanic activity on the island of Tristan da Cunha and the impact caused by the volcano. Prior the expedition H.M.S. Jaguar made a 2 day visit at 16th and 17th December 1961 to make a preliminary investigation prior to the departure of the main expedition.

The main expedition arrived 27th January 1962 and departed 20th March 1961 with the H.M.S. Protector. The ship returned to Tristan at 8th and 9th April 1962 and examined the still active volcano crater.

MailingShip Depature / Arrival CachetsComment Cover/est. market price 
 H.M.S. Jaguar16 / 17 DEC 1961  

1st mailS.A.S. Transvaal27 JAN 62 (Tristan)          

- SAS Transvaal                                              

- Type XI

- arrival C.T. Paquebot 7 II 62


total mail: 524 letters, 509 with ship’s cachet, at least one unstamped with tax mark (not coll.)







seldom seen - cachets in red






~155 £

scare - if YOU own a cover with red cachets, please send scan

2nd mailM.V.Francis Repetto25 FEB 62 (Tristan)

Type XIa

landed Cape Town 16 III 62

only 85 covers (see Air Letter pictured below between the list Resettlement Survey and Resettlement)

-- scarce --


3rd mailH.M.S. Protector20 MR 62 (Tristan) 

- HMS Protector Ships Office

- rubber date stamp 20 MAR 62

- Type XI 

296 letters

219 landed at Cape Town

77 brought to UK (Maritime Mail Machine cancellation)

some covers with Alan B. Crawford's private boxed cachet "Tristan da Cunha South Atlantic Ocean" on the reverse




















Registered letter, similar to above, but with large MARITIME MAIL cachet. It is believed only 12 covers exist

2 covers known with a strike of Type XIa instead of the usual Tpye XI cancellation!














According the Robin Taylor Monograph No. 14, at least one cover was struck with the Type XIa but held back from the Francis Repetto mailing of the 5th March.

That cover shows the Maritime Mail cachet seen only on the 3rd Mail with the Type XIa and Type XIII cachets.

Unclear is the late Detroit Customs date of 20th March 1963






~150 £

very scarce - please help with additional covers


very scarce

 H.M.S. Protector8 / 9 AP 1962 At 9th April a team went ashore with heli to recover personal effects and examine the still active craters of the new volcano.


Questions to that period:

Apart from the need of scans of the HMS Jaguar mail - December 1961 - and mail of HMS Protector of the short visit of April 1962 it's still unclear, if the Type XIa handstamp was in use in addition to the 85 covers of the Francis Repetto mail.

On this side a commercial cover to William Mayo (see above 3rd mail), a philatelic cover to the same addressee (see below and a large size copy of the XIa on my Tristan handstamps page) and a MV Boissevain cover (see the large copy of the handstamp below) are bearing a strike of the Type XIa handstamp with no gap but in some kind a small irregularity in the inner circle below the "H". Please have a look to your own covers and tell us, if you have similar handstamps specially on 3rd mail covers of HMS Protector and the 5th mail of the Resettlement Survey Period. Perhaps these handstamps are not Type XIa but XI strikes? 





Resettlement Survey Period                      August 1962 - April 1963                                                                                                                                                    


When the Stirling Castle left Southampton with 12 islanders of the Resettlement Advance Party a lot of trouble ended. The British Government first intended to avoid a resettlement of the islanders in fear of costs. Addtional the Colonial Office saw no basis for a happy future for the islanders on Tristan da Cunha. But the will to return was strong and finally the Government agreed to an Advance Party and appointed Gerry Stableford (Colonial Office Agriculture expert) as an Government Official to assist the Advance group. Six islander prepared the settlement for the return of the main party, 6 other islanders signed for fishing for a half season to earn some money.

Later Stableford returned to Cape Town with HMS Puma arriving Cape Town 8th October 1962. 

At 17th March 1963 another advance party of 63 islanders from Calshot / UK sailed via the Canary Islands to Rio and embarked to M.V. Boissevain transporting them back to Tristan.

Mailing  ShipDeparture / ArrivalCachets  CommentCover/est. market price 
 Stirling Castle9 AUG 1962 (Southampton)  

 scan of mail required


MV Tristania and

MV Francis Repetto

30 AUG 1962

(departed C.T.)

8 SEP 1962 (arrival Tristan)


 scan of mail required

1st mailH.M.S. Puma

2/3 OC 1962 (Tristan) -

9 OC 1962 (Cape Town)


- Cape Town Paquebot 9 X 62

- boxed Resettlement Survey – 1962 cachet Type XIII

- Type XII (with gap)

- rubber date stamp 3 OCT 1962

many types of covers are known

H.M.S. Puma - photo 1962

inward mailH.M.S. Pumaarrival Tristan 2 OC 1962Grimsby datestamp 5 SEP 1962Air Mail cover adressed to H.G. Stableford, Colonial Office Agent, Mail Despatch HMS Frigate Puma from Simonstown, South Africa

1a 11 X 62 (C.T.)- HMS Puma cachet of Comm. Officer

no Tristan markings - just before putting to sea from Simonstown to Tristan.

HMS Puma Commanding Officer

27 SEP 1962

arrival at Tristan 3 OC 1962


















on the flap:




used by the Government Official Garry Stableford, HMS Puma retaking him back to Cape Town

~ 135 £

1b  - dated cachet of First Lieut. 

 scan required


- dated cachet of the Weapons and Radio Engineering Officer

- Type XIa

- Type XIII

- rubber date stamp 3 OCT 1962 of HMS Puma

(on the pictured souvenir cover the ship's cachet for M.V. Boissevain)

When HMS Puma arrived at 2nd October 1962, 2 Danish journalists were taken aboard. They had arrived 2 weeks earlier on the Straat Bali. They were transferred to the MV Boissevain. The cover was carried to Denmark by one of the journalists.


1d  -  MV Tristania cachet and rubber stamped 8 SEP 1962 (waiting from that date for the next mail >H.M.S. Puma - 3 OC 62a Cpt. Scott cover


- only with rubber date cachet 3 OCT 1962 (HMS Puma) and

- Type XII,

no type XIII addressed to Calshot and posted by Lars Repetto, one of the 12 members who returned to Tristan with the Resettlement Survey Expedition

from time to time it's very difficult to distinguish Type XIa from Type XII.

On the pictured scan the gap is very indistinct, filled with color but fainter than the rest of the inner circle!

1f   -  only with type XII and XIII and C.T. Paquebot 9 X 62 


- with several strucks of the the private cachet of Willie Repetto

- posted C.T. 25 VIII 1962

cover posted by Willie Repetto who was a member of the Resettlement Advance Party (12 islanders) whilst in Cape Town


1hM.V. Francis Repetto posted Cape Town 26 XI 1962

Air Letter written 28 OC 1962 on Tristan by Walter Swain, one of the 12 islanders of the first Advance Party, preparing the island for resettlement.


Possible transport:

M.V. Frances Repetto from Tristan da Cunha to Gough I. to join the M.V. Tristania already fishing there.

The letter found it's way by M.V. Marinette to Cape Town.



2nd mailM.V. Tristania 18 XII 62 Cape Town- same cachets as first mailexamples with Type XII and XIII - and without

~ 50 £

3rd mailH.M.S. Puma16 FEB 63

- Type XII and XIII

- Puma Comm. Officer’s oval cachet (on some cv. missing - as seen right)

Mail from Tristania was landed in S.America, Buenos Aires or Arbor/USA postmark


picture: backstamped Ann Arbor 26 MR 63


on the flap:


Tristan da Cunha

South Atlantic Ocean"




4th mailS.S. Argentina Cape Town Paquebot 11 III 63covers without Type XIII   

- 3 line cachet Tristania and

- Gough I. cachet

- large double circle cachet Tristan da Cunha (Scott) and

- SS Argentina double ring cachet

mail from M.V. Tristania 


- Tristania rubber stamped 7 III 63 and

- Argentina cachet

mail from M.V. Tristania

 scan required


- from Tristan type XII

- (rubber stamped 7 III 63)

- Argentina cachet

mail from the island

~ 90 £

5th mail

R.M.S. Amazon

M.V. Boissevain

9 AP 63


voyage (Boissevain)

Tristan Advance Party of about 50 islanders returning from England to Tristan da Cunha

Tristan letters and letters written on board the MV Boissevain and landed on Tristan to be franked with the new overprints brought to the island by the Boissevain

3 types of covers are known to me

 5R.M.S. Amazon

17 MR 1963 -

1AP 1963 (Amazon)

- dated oval ship's cachet

- 5 line ship's chachet

- one line cachet "Rio de Janeiro"

in Rio the Resettlement party was transferred from the RMS Amazon to the MV Boissevain





- large circular map cachet (provided by W. Mayo)  Cachet "O"

- Paquebot C.T. 14 IV 63

- straight line cachet "M.V. Frances Repetto"

- oval dated Resettlement cachet

- backstamped M.V. Boissevain

mail from M.V. Francis Repetto or M.V. Tristania, last mail brought away from Tristan by the MV Boissevain

- mail written by returning islanders on the ship

- Mail from the fishery vessels Tristania and Frances Repetto

- mail from Tristan, a few items bearing the new stamps and cancelled with the new datestamp though the Boissevain  left the island at 10th April 1963 -


9 AP 63 return voyage

14 IV 63 C.T. Paquebot

- Type XII, sometimes XIII,

- C.T. Paquebot 14 IV 63 and

- straight line cachet M.V. Boissevain



















Last Resettlement mail waiting on Tristan














Is it a Type XIa or Type XII cancellation? - seen on the cover from Lars Repetto to Trina R.

On the same mailing above the gap in the inner circle below the "H" is very distinct.

~ 130 £


Covers with the new stamps and pre-dated with the new datestamp, difficult to distinguish with FDC’s, only if for some reason they were UK backstamped 4th May 1963


pictured - pre-dated letter from Stableford


 backdated cover (e.g. reg. cover) scan required

Royal Society Expedition, 3rd mail, HMS Protector, Air Letter written by Allan B. Crawford confirming the usage of ... >>>>



...  the Type XIa handstamp on 85 letters transported with the Francis Repetto and stated, that no ship's cachet of the Francis Repetto was used. 


1rd Resettlement Mail  -  1g - the 10 CT stamps was applied later

3rd Resettlement mail - HMS Puma mail - posted in Buenos Aires


undated Mayo cover with Cachet "O" and Type XIa and Type XIII - who has a similar cover with Type XIa and Cachet "O" in his collection??

The rest of the covered inscription of the Type XIa can be seen (a larger scan you find on the Tristan side "handstamps")!




Resettlement                April 1963 - November 1963                                                                                                                                                                                


The remaining 198 islanders together with a Public Works Officer, schoolteacher, superintendant of Posts and Telegraphchaplain and 200 tons of cargo arrived in M.V. Bornholm on 10th November 1963. The ship had been chartered by the Colonial Office for the voyage 

Mailing  Ship Departure / Arrival Cachets Comments Cover / est. market price
1st MailU.S.S. Spiegel Grove2nd May 1963 (arrival & departure Tristan)

- some with 3-line-ships's cachet,

others with ship's - datestamp

- others, most philatelic with no special cancellation

1 National Geografic and 2 other journalists departed (see National Geographic article January 1964),


about 5.000 covers, most FDC's with the St. Helena Resettlement Overprints left the island, posted at Trinidad and arrived in UK 8 weeks later,


1a  Spiegel Grove datestamp

Tristan postmark 12 April 1963

Spiegel Grove 2 May 1963

arrival datestamp on revers 8 July 1963

32 trips made by the ship's heli due to bad weather, but it was not the first air mail (1st was HMS Protector heli 1957)


- others, most philatelic with no special cancellation


- datestamp of 12th April 1963 or

2nd May 1963

registration was possible since the re-opening of the post office 12th April 1963, in use a blank label Type 4 for the next 7 months,

cargo and mail was transported by ship's helicopter

2nd MailM.V. Tristania14 SEP 1963postmarked 8th and 9th September 1963 

3rd MailM.V. Bornholm10 OCT 1963 (arrival)

- boxed cachet of the Bornholm


- some covers bears the oval Resettlement cachet,

- some a 3-line-cachet of the MV Bornholm


covers are datestamped 10th or 11th NOV 1963 

with the arrival of the MV Bornholm and the remainder of the islanders the resettlement was then complete 



in use now the new Type 5 registration label

4th MailM.V. Francis Repetto / M.V. Tristania 

Paquebot Cape Town 20 XI 1963

Tristania/Gough Island (Scott cachet)

MV Zeehaan

Posted on the High Seas (Scott cachet)

M.V. Zeehaan was not at Tristan, only at Gough Island


- private photo of M.V. Francis Repetto off Gough Island (?)


Copyright © 2011 - SHATPS - The copyright of that article published on this website remains with the authors and the society