St. Helena: Centenary Of British Colonization 1934 Stamp Issue

On 22nd April 1834 St. Helena island was handed over to the Crown after being administered for 182 years by the East India Company. The centenary of this event in the island’s history was commemorated by one of the most attractive and well-designed stamp issues ever made by any colony. John Easton has said  that for this series Bradbury Wilkinson more than lived up to the fine reputation they had established for engraving: “The vignettes are indeed exquisite, and reveal a fineness of detail and perfection of execution which no other firm has yet equalled. The various frames also are well planned to place the vignette in a handsome setting, and use is made of the second colour in fortifying the vignettes... The 1 /- value ... is a typical example of a fine landscape design. Apart from the dates in the top corners all lettering has been engraved against the background of the picture, and the framework merges into the picture”.

The 1d., 1½d., 2d., 6d. and 10/- stamps show in the four corners heads of the four sovereigns reigning during the 100 years from 1834 to 1934:

  • William IV
  • Victoria (the head taken from the 1897 issue of Canada)
  • Edward VII (the Canadian 1903 head turned to face right)
  • George V (the head from the 1932 issue of Newfoundland).

½d. Black and purple (SG 114). Lot and Lot’s Wife

On the southern side of the island, in the area of Sandy Bay, are two hills known as Lot (1491 feet high) and Lot’s Wife (1516 feet high). They are shown on a map of the island by John Seller, published in 1682, as “Lott” and “Lotts Wife”. Their position is marked on the map which appears on the 7d. value of the 1953 definitive issue.

1d. Black and green (SG 115). Plantation

Plantation House is the residence of the Governor of St. Helena. The vignette is taken from a picture postcard view of the house and is a considerable improvement on the similar view of Government House which appears on the issues of 1903 and 1912.

l½d. Black and scarlet (SG 116). Map of St. Helena

This map indicates the position of Jamestown, The Briars (where Napoleon stayed while Longwood was being got ready for him), Prosperous Bay, High Knoll (on the 5/- value), Longwood (where Napoleon spent his exile), Plantation House (on the 1d. value), Diana’s Peak (the highest point of the island—2,697 feet), Lot (on 1d. value), Man and Horse, and Sandy Bay. This map may be compared with the one appearing on the 7d. value of the 1953 issue.

1½d, mint positional corner block of 4. The two upper stamps (R9/1-2) show the ‘extra medal’ flaw

2d. Black and orange (SG 117). Quay at Jamestown

There is another view of the quay or Wharf on the issues of 1903 and 1912, taken from a different angle.

3d. Black and blue (SG 118). Janies Valley

This is the valley, a distant view of which is seen on the 6d. value, where the first settlement of the island was made. The Portuguese navigators who discovered the island broke up one of their wrecked or unseaworthy ships, “building with the timber a chappell in this valley, from thence is called Chappell Valley”. The name was later changed to James Valley.

6d. Black and light blue (SG 119). Jamestown

The capital of the island, and its only town, it was named after James, Duke of York, who afterwards became James II. The view is taken from a postcard which bears the caption “Jamestown, St. Helena, from Anchorage”. There is another view of Jamestown on the 5/- value of the 1953 definitive issue. Cf. also the background to the 6d. values of the 1959 and 1967 (Arrival of Settlers) issues.

1/- Black and chocolate (SG 120). Munden’s Promontory

A promontory near Jamestown on which there used to be a fort, the guns of which guarded the anchorage. It is named after Captain Richard Munden, who in 1673 re-captured the island from the Dutch.

2/6 Black and lake (SG 121). St. Helena

This is the first stamp of the colony to depict St. Helena herself. She was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Legend has it that when visiting Palestine she discovered the Cross on which Jesus was crucified. St. Helena is shown on this stamp, through the Roman archway, holding the Cross, with the words “ST. HELENA” in Greek above her head. Further details of St. Helena and the legend of the Cross are given in the section on the Easter 1971 issue.

5/- Black and chocolate (SG 122). High Knoll

This stamp shows an old fort in the hills above Jamestown.

10/- Black and purple (SG 123). The Colony’s Badge

This is the second of the colony’s stamp designs to show the Badge of St. Helena and may be compared with the attractive design by T. Bruce for the De La Rue issue of 1922.

St. Helena 1934 Centenary set in blocks of four up to 10/-. Sold at Spink Auction in 2010 for £1,200 plus buyer's premium (Sale 1026, Lot 602).


Recess printed by Bradbury, Wilkinson & Co. Ltd. Watermark Multiple Script CA. Perforation 12 Sheets 60 stamps (either 6x10 or 10x6). Issued 23rd April 1934.

Specimen Stamps

All values perforated SPECIMEN in half oval. Forgeries exist in which the third hole at the top of the first E is slightly lower than the other two.

Postal History

Covers bearing the lower values are fairly plentiful, but the higher values are scarce on cover. There was little need for a 5/- or 10/- stamp for postal use on a small island. One interesting cover addressed to Dartmouth and postmarked January 17th 1935 bears a block of 4 of the 2/6d. stamp, together with one ½d. value, and was stated to contain a Pathological Specimen.

St. Helena 1934 1/2d. black and purple and 2/6d. black and lake block of four from the lower-left corner of the sheet, tied to 1935 (17 Jan.) White Cooper envelope registered to South Devon, arrival c.d.s. (5.2) on reverse. Sold at Spink Auction in 2011 for £200 plus buyer's premium (Sale 11029, Lot 135).
St. Helena 1923-37 Script 7/6d. and 10/-, 1934 Centenary set (2), 1938-44 set of fourteen, 1953-59 sets to 10/- (2), mint, and 1934 envelope registered toi U.S.A. bearing 1934 Centenary 1 1/2d. block of four and 10/-. Sold at Spink Auction in 2011 for £550 plus buyer's premium (Sale 11033, Lot 1945).


  1. St. Helena. Postal History and Stamps, Edward Hibbert, 1979.