Collect Southern Africa
Atlantic Islands - Ascension
Displayed at Leamington Spa on 8 November 2014
By Otto Peetoom

Status British dependent territory claimed 1653.
A part of St. Helena and the Dependencies, including
St. Helena, Tristan da Cunha
and a few smaller islands.

Important town Georgetown

Coordinates 7° 55 south, 14° 19 west

Location Description Approximately 1,800 miles northwest of Luanda, Angola, Africa - about 1,450 miles east of Brazil, South America

Climate Tropical conditions with constant Trade winds

Terrain Volcanic island

Languages English

Official Currency Pound Sterling

Population 950 (estimated)

Land Area 145 sq km (55.9 sq miles)


Invariably, Philatelists with an interest in South and Central Africa may extend their interest to certain Islands such as Mauritius in the Indian Ocean or Ascension, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha in the Atlantic.

As a Professional dealer I tend to accumulate rather than collect and should I see something I really like, I am inclined to buy it. Years ago, for a bit of fun, I decided to piece together a fine used set of Ascension KGVI definitives including all listed perforations and shades and this set of thirty five values is included in today’s display.

I bought and sold a Commonwealth KGVI collection that included an Ascension KGVI Specimen set which I kept.
As time went on I acquired oddments such as a 1934 set on cover plus a 2d Teardrop variety, KGVI Cylinder and Imprint blocks and a 1948 RSW FDC. It remained a modest accumulation.

Ascension, being a small country, means that a substantial holding of superb material is seldom on offer. Starting in October 2010, it became more serious, with Spink’s series of sales from Lord Vestey’s collection followed, by two Stanley Gibbons auctions in March 2013 and July 2014 which was rounded off by a Murray Payne sale in July 2014.
Over a period of five years I bought sixty five auction lots of Ascension which put a substantial dent into my bank account.
At a York Racecourse stamp fair I bought an unmounted mint collection of KGVI definitives on twenty plus pages.

The Display

Pre Stamp Era - From January 1867 British Stamps saw use in Ascension and early dates are rare. Once we reach the 1890’s there was use of the Queen Victoria 1d Lilac and Jubilee issue, which are scarce, but more common than their earlier counter parts.
Starting with a December 1899 date, this display includes a reasonable representation of the pre stamp era with cancellations on stamps and covers from the Reign of Queen Victoria, KEVII and KGV.

Ascension Stamps 1922 to 1963 - The strength of this display includes a reasonable number of Die Proofs (Thirty+ in total), all the listed Specimen sets. A complete set of the 1922 overprints used on three Wilson covers. The 1924 3/- top value plus the 1934 Pictorial set all in used blocks of four.

The Commemorative Issues include all Specimens and an Imperforate set of the 1937 Coronation, ex De La Rue archives.

The KGVI definitives include an extensive range of thirty plus Imprint blocks of four that is almost complete as per the listed perforations and shades.
At some point in time, circa 1950, the Post Office in Ascension displayed the KGVI stamps available from ½d to 10/- on a card with each value handstamped SPECIMEN. This idea was repeated with the 1956 QEII Definitives, also handstamped Specimen. Both these unique cards have B.P.A. certificates and are included in the display.

My cut off point is 1963 and ends with the second QEII definitive in blocks of four plus a 1½d cylinder pair with cobalt omitted.

Avoiding ‘Overkill’

Specializing in any issue leads to page upon page of the same thing that invariably include a range of fly speck varieties that may only be observed using a powerful magnifier.
In the Stanley Gibbons Commonwealth catalogue Ascension includes a range of constant varieties that occur on the same design such as the 1924 - 27 Badge issue being a Broken Main Mast, Torn Flag and Cleft Rock. On the 1934 Pictorials there is the Tear Drop flaw on the 1d, 2d, 8d and 2/6.

KGVI definitives abound with minor, highly catalogued, fly speck varieties such as the ½d Elongated centre bar on an "E" in GEORGETOWN. The Mountaineer flaw, which resembles an ant on a hill, on 1d, 2d & 4d values. The Davit flaw plus the Cut Mast and Railings appear on all printings of the 1½d and 2/6, the latter is an insignificant flaw and difficult to see.

Double Frame - Finally the 2/6 offers SG 45a frame printed double, one albino, priced at £5000 mint. If my display included a block of four of the foregoing, sadly no one would notice, unless it was announced using neon lights!
A year or so ago a dealer offered me ‘the only known’ used example of this variety at a film star price. I declined and slightly deflated the man when I informed him that I know a chap who has the same variety on cover!

I am quite content in having a representative examples of the above varieties and excludes the 2/6 Double Frame.
Anyone who may be tempted to buy all the above listed items will have to forego a substantial deposit on a brand new top of the range Mercedes!

Pre - Stamp Era up to 1922
Great Britain 1881 Queen Victoria 1d Lilac used in Ascension

1881 1d Lilac Used in Ascension

1. On a Commercial cover dated FE 4 00

2. On Piece
Cut out from a Registered Envelope
With oval
19 FE 01

3. On a Postcard dated AU 30 01

Great Britain 1887 Jubilee Issue used in Ascension

1887 - 92
Queen Victoria Jubilee Issue
Used in Ascension

1. ½d SG Z8
Block of 6 on Cover

2. 2d SG Z10 Dated DE 16 99

3. 5d SG Z15 on Cover

4. 6d SG Z16 dated AU 10 00

Great Britain 1902 KEVII used in Ascension

1d Strip of 3
SG Z22
11 AU 13

½d SG Z21
SP 11 12

1d SG Z22
JA 3 11
1d SG Z22
JU 21 10
2d SG Z24
3 DE 12

6d SG Z30
MR 2 9

1/- SG Z33
Various Dates
1/- SG Z33
DE 7 11

A Postcard from a Crew member on the Cable Ship Colonia

The Western Telegraph Company laid cables in 1910 when CS Colonia laid 3145 nautical miles of cable from St. Vincent - Ascension -
Buenos Aires, Argentina, with CS Cambria assisting and CS Cormorant (2) laying the cable up the River Plate.
This cable was the second longest telegraph cable to be laid.
In 1919 CS Colonia laid a 2103 nm cable from Ascension to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Posted Ascension AP 6 10 with BROCKLEY AP 22 10 arrival

Commercial Cover with GB 1d KEVII used in Ascension

Commercial Cover to England Posted MR 12 04

ASCENSION Printed on the Reverse of the Flap
KESTON MR 28 04 arrival Back stamp

Philatelic Registered Cover with GB KEVII used in Ascension

KEVII Bisect

SG Z21
, 1d Z22 Bisected & 2½d Z24
With Registration No 49 dated

Barker was a dealer & manufactured numerous
KEVII Bisects posted from Ascension
Registered No's 10 & 11 - 24 MY 11
Registered No - 21 20 JU 11

He also posted similar bisects from
Christmas Island
No A 565 on JU 21 11

KGV ½d GB Downey Head on Cover

1912 ½d SG Z38a

On cover to London
Posted 30 DE 13

GB KGV Definitives used in Ascension

2d SG Z42
JA 28 20
3d SG Z44
8 FE 17

Commercial Registered to England

2d SG Z42

MY 2 21

2d & 6d x 3 on Piece
SG Z42 & 47
8 JA 19
Commercial cover Registered to London - 16 OC 15

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