Lundy. The Alternative Collection. 20th Century Postal History

1902  Edward VII Coronation first day cover with, pre-printed stamp, to Mrs Alice Keppel (Court socialite and Edward’s little bit on the side!) at one of their favourite retreats in Biarritz.  A French 30 centimes postage due is affixed and the cover bears a Biarritz arrival mark.   The flap bears the portraits of King and Queen, with the legend “Ted and Sandra Rool – OK!”…. The work of n over-enthusiastic compositor’s apprentice.

keppel1O keppel1R

Posted the same day to the same addressee is a redesigned envelope with amended flap text more in keeping with the occasion and franked with more than adequate postage.

keppel2O keppel2R

1902.  Cover to Sir Henry Baskerville, rather mutilated by teethmarks and muddy pawprints suggesting canine interference.  On the reverse is an “Undelivered” cachet with a hastily scrawled “Large do…………”

BaskervilleO BaskervilleR

1908  Illustrated cover to Hong Kong bearing KEVII adhesives cancelled 22 May 08 with a Singapore transit of May 31 and Hong Kong arrival marks of June 9 and 10.

The cover may have contained a brochure advertising the advantages of puffin droppings for inclusion in the manufacture of opium and aphrodisiacs, hence the “JUNK MAIL” inference.  On the reverse is an Undelivered cachet and a rough translation of the Chinese characters is “Junk Sunk!”

Lee KeiO Lee KeiR

1909  A pictorial envelope depicting Jeremy Fisher to Beatrix Potter at her newly-acquired home in the Lake District.  The flap shows Squirrel Nutkin and a puffin dancing.


The Lundy, Exeter, Wexford and Dublin Railway

This scheme was first conceived in 1897 by Capt. John Molesworth, a prominent figure from Westward Ho!, who thought there was a great need for an efficient transport system between Bideford and Ireland, as the next closest crossing-point was from Pembrokeshire, over 300 miles away.

Molesworth’s grand scheme planned to start by rail from Exeter via Barnstaple to Bideford Quay, thence by boat to Lundy, across that island by rail, then by larger ferry to Wexford and onwards to Dublin.  The work was completed by early 1901 but unfortunately the contractor took too many shortcuts in order to meet deadlines.  This resulted in the collapse of the pier at Rat Island, causing the loss of important rolling stock, machinery and other essential equipment.  Very few crossings were made and surviving covers are rare.  The scheme was abandoned in early March 1901.

Contemporary stamps of Great Britain werre used on the covers from Exeter to Barnstaple, overprinted “LEWD” – obe letter in each corner.  Additionally, Lundy railway stamps were necessary for postage across the island to the outgoing ferry at North End harbour.

February 1901.  L E W D Railway advertising envelope, franked with GB 1d lilac with LEWD overprint.  Lundy railway stamp added.  Cancels of Exeter 27 Feb 01, North End and Tibbett’s Halt transit marks, Dublin arrival mark and a 3d More to Pay cachet.


1914.  Illustrated cover to Rose Sayer in Limpazi in what was German East Africa and posted a little more than a month before the outbreak of the First World War.  It has Dar Es Salam and Limpazi transit marks and also the cachet of the African Queen and signed by Captain Allnut.  The envelope contains a transcript of the scene from The African Queen in which the production of a cachet to show mail had been carried by the African Queen was discussed and agreed..

SayerO SayerR

1924  Great Lundy Exhibition (Lundy Palace).  A first day cover bearing the two exhibition stamps, with special Exhibition cancel, to Mr Albert Steptoe at his business address of 24, Oil Drum Lane, Shepherds Bush, London.  Reverse has a transit mark for Hammersmith sorting office.


1925  Great Lundy Exhibition (GPO Building).  First day cover bearing the 1925 Exhibition values with a special Exhibition cancel to the same address in London


1926  A hand-illustrated envelope to Christopher Robin at Hartfield, Sussex.  King George V 1d and 1/- adhesives (a similar cover with 1d and 6d adhesives is also known) together with East Grinstead and Pooh Corner transit marks.  Rather stained by “Hunny” spillage and a cachet to this effect has been applied.


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1928.  The first upside-down transatlantic flight.  This is commemorated by an illustrated cover bearing 1928 1d normal and inverted plane air stamps together with a 2d green and carmine from the 1912 – 22 definitive series. The cover is signed by the pilot, Biggles (of course) and is addressed to Norma Desmond, the famous silent movie star of Sunset Boulevard notoriety.


1928.  An illustrated cover the commemorate the first flight, on August 11, of the Graf Zeppelin on the Lundy/Lands End/London & reverse route.  The cover bears the 1/- and 2/6 special issues and a blue Maiden Flight label.  All are cancelled with a blue cachet showing puffins.  Some covers are known with a nother cachet on the reverse showing the airship over Lundy and a London receiving mark.


1929.  May 11.  First day illustrated cover to the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dragons bearing the £1 Ninth Centenary stamp.  It bears a first day cancel but it was undelivered.  On the reverse is the cachet Undelivered For The Reason Stated  and manuscript “Item requisitioned for His Majesty’s collection” together with GvR and Crown mark.


1935  Silver Jubilee illustrated cover bearing a set of four Jubilee stamps and a first day cancellation.  Addressed to Mr Alf Garnett, later of “Till Death Us Do Part” fame.


1937.  Coronation of King George VI.  Set of three used on illustrated cover with first day cancel of 12 May 1937.  Addressed to Tony (later “the Lad ‘Imself) Hancock


1940.  Illustrated cover to the Secretary of the Royal Philatelic Society.  Undated but bearing two stamps from the 1938 – 43 definitive issue cancelled with a special cachet.  The commemoration is of the hundredth anniversary of the uniform penny postage and Sir Rowland Hill’s discover of the puffin.  The reverse shows that the letter is Refused For Reason Stated with manuscript “You can’t be serious!”.


1941.  One of the greatest Lundy covers is to resistance leader and fugitive from the Gestapo, Victor Lazlo, care of Rick’s Cafe Americaine, Casablanca.  It is dated Dec 10 1941 (the date of the 27 1/2th Congress) and bears Congress labels, forged Lundy Red Cross overprints and forged Moroccan Postage Dues.  The cover is redirected to the British Embassy in Lisbon, franked on the reverse with forged Moroccan airmail adhesives, cancelled by Casablanca c.d.s of 12 December and bearing a Lisbon arrival mark.

Lazlo was, by this time, safely out of the country; the Japanese had attacked Peal Harbour (December 7); the United States was well and truly into the war.  Rick barely had enough time to forward the letter before making his own escape.

The perpetrator of the outrageous philatelic forgery (or is it a forgery?) has yet to be identified although you will see that the cover has been authenticated by that world-renowned Lundy expert Gerald King – or is that signature a forgery………………?

LazloO LazloR

Polish Special Forces in Lundy 1940 – 45

Little has been written on the highly secret and intensely effective organization which was set up on Lundy during World War II by the Polish Special Forces Executive.  When the Polish 1st motorised army corps was settled in Scotland in 1940, many of the newly arrived troops had great difficulty in making themselves understood due to the vast difference between the Polish and Scottish tongues.  However it was soon discovered that they could communicate adequately with the local ladies in what might be described as “bird language”.

General Sikorsky was quick to realise what a valuable tool this language was and put it to use in a top secret plan whereby Polish troops were amalgamated with the puffin regiment on Lundy to create a highly efficient fighting force.  The 800 Polish troops so seconded were selected for their ability to understand Puffinese; a bird language very similar to Esperanto or Gobbldygook.  Together with 372 puffin “specials” they performed sterling service throughout the war; the Polish spearhead on tanks being advantaged by the heroic Puffin aviators dive-bombing a path for their advance.  Several “Lundy Crosses” were awarded on the field for extreme courage; some of these going to the Polish and german troops.

The unfortunate and tragic death of General Sikorsky at Gibraltar on 4 July 1943 prevented him for seeing the successful outcome of his brainchild.  A set of six stamps were issued by the combined forces on 2 July 1941 and the attractive design was later adopted by the Polish Government in Exile in London.

The set comprises

5gr    (1 puffin)   Claret              Puffin aircraft attacking American submarine by mistake

10gr  (2 puffin)   Green              Polish warship firing on puffin by mistake

25gr  (5 puffin)   Deep Violet    Polish and Puffin troops in action in North Africa

55gr  (11 puffin)  Steel Blue       Polish and Puffin commandos in action at Narvik

80gr  (16 puffin) Bright Red      Polish tank with Polish eagle and Puffin flying ahead.

1zt      (20 puffin) Lilac-Grey      Polish/Puffin airforce awating “scramble” call

SikorskyO SikorskyR

1948.  First day cover commemorating the Silver Wedding of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  Franked with a special Lundy Palace first day postmark and addressed to a Gerald King – founder-member of E17 it seems.  The cover has a Walthamstow (London) arrival mark on the reverse.


1969. Not only the Americans were on the moon on 20 July 1969, as you can see from this cover posted on the surface of the moon on 20 July – the same day as the Apollo 11 landing.  Splashdown near Lundy was the next day and there is a special Splashdown cachet applied the postage due of 1 puffin.  The reverse shows a Lunar Post date stamp of the 19 July 1969.  So, 2 days from launch to splashdown makes this a considerably quicker flight than the Apollo mission.  Of course, some simpletons have suggested that both the Apollo and Lundy moonflights were hoaxes and the cover forged.  But what sort of person would get mixed up in that?  Anyway, the cover is expertised by Gerald King and he wouldn’t get mixed up in any shenanigans would he?

Moonbase MoonbaseR

1 April 2001.  This issue in 2001 of a pair of “First Puffin in Space” stamps has only given more ammunition to the hoax theory about the moonlanding.  After all, if puffins had been on the moon in 1969 why were these now being issued some 32 years later?  They may be forgeries of course!  The stamps are cancelled by a special Cape Marisco, Lundy Liftoff “countdown” cancel and also by a “Uranus Probe” cachet.  Addressed to Captain James Kirk the cover was undelivered (like so many Lundy covers!!) both because it had been mis-sent to Pluto and also the “addressee in timewarp”.

KirkO KirkR

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