Postal History of the Smaller Channel Islands: Herm by David Gurney
A range of handstamps and datestamps were used
by the Herm postal service
article appeared in the Gibbons Stamp Magazine in May 1994.
It was based on a longer account which made up part of David
Gurney’s book “The Post Office in the Smaller Channel Islands”
first published by the Channel Islands Specialist Society in 1993 (now
out of print). It is
reproduced with the permission of the Author.
any image to view a larger image. Click Back button to return to
Download PDF file
is one of the smaller
, being only 1½ miles in length by a ½ mile wide at the broadest
point. It lies some three
miles due east of Guernsey and is separated from the smaller
by the narrow Percee passage.
has a long history stretching back to the Neolithic period, but little
is recorded until the latter part of the 18th century.
Early letters and entires to or from
are extremely rare. A small
private correspondence dating between 1815 and 1826 is held at the
County Record Office in Maidstone and an entire written by a clergyman
visiting Herm in 1836 is recorded with a Southampton Ship Letter stamp,
having been carried by a ship then in Herm harbour to
addressed to the Island in the latter part of the last century were held
at the Head Post Office in
to await collection. Letters
for despatch were handed into the Post Office at
in the usual way.
examples are known of an unframed ‘HERM’ handstamp (Figure
1), one on the picture side of a postcard sent from
in 1903 and the other struck on both sides of an unused postcard
of Herm. It is
believed to be a private mark rather than a Post Office mark.
was not until 1920 when Compton MacKenzie, the author, took over
the lease of Herm and subsequently Jethou, that the mail
increased and a special locked bag facility was agreed with the
Post Office in
. By 1923 Sir
Percival Perry, Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, had taken
over the Herm lease only from Compton MacKenzie and a second
locked bag facility was put into operation.
an increasing number of residents and visitors, the GPO agreed in 1925
to open a non-Telegraph and non-Money Order Sub-Post Office on Herm with
effect from 1 May. The
Sub-Post Office was open for only a ½ hour each morning.
A double circle datestamp without a code letter was used and
examples are difficult to find (Figure 2).
Percival Wanted it Blue!
wall posting (letter) box was installed and it is recorded that Sir
Percival required it to be painted in the blue of his racing colours
like other installations on the
. Special sanction had to be
obtained from the Postmaster General but it is not known whether this
was agreed to!
the Herm office was restricted to the sale of stamps and postal
orders, the registration of letters took place as evidenced by
the only known early registered cover sent on 26 August 1930 to
using a Small Sheet Label (Figure 3).
second type of registration label used in Herm was a Perforated
Coil type (Figure 4) which was, in fact, used in Sark as a
temporary remedy in May 1944 when the supply of
labels ran out. Usually
the name of Herm was erased and ‘
’ written in ink.
Through Lack of Demand
Sub-Post Office was closed on 30 November 1938 due to a decline in
business and a private bag facility was again put into use by the Post
. Following the ending of
World War II continuous attempts were made to re-establish a Sub-Post
but these were to remain unsuccessful until 1969.
1948 a Neopost Franking machine with the meter value die No 13 was used
in Herm. Applied in red, it
was at first used on manila envelopes despatching notices publicising
the intended issue of local stamps, but it was also used to frank
letters and postcards. The
word ‘tranquillity’ is misspelt with only one ‘l’ in the slogan.
It is known used with the 1d and 2½d values inserted and is very
rare (Figure 5).
carriage labels were issued by the Tenants of Herm between 1949 and 1969
in order to defray the cost of carrying mails to and from
. The GPO refused to
re-establish postal services and was also insistent that the local
stamps, which were not authorised for normal postal use, did not have
the word ‘Postage’ in their design.
1 October 1969 the newly established Guernsey Post Office Board
re-opened a Sub-Post Office on Herm and the local carriage
labels were suppressed.
standard pattern 23½ mm single-circle datestamp was issued for
use from 1 October 1969 as a general purpose datestamp (Figure
6), a 30 mm rubber single-circle datestamp followed on 16 June
1970, intended for the cancellation of small packets (Figure 7)
and a 26½ mm single circle datestamp was issued on 6 January
1971 replacing the first 23½ mm datestamp (Figure 8).
rectangular boxed rubber parcel datestamp was issued for use on
20 July 1970 (Figure 9) and this was followed by a special 23½
mm datestamp on 11 November 1970 to mark the issue of the first
Christmas stamps by the Guernsey Post Office Board (Figure 10).
A special boxed cancellation was
applied to letters posted in
on 1 May 1975 to mark the 5oth anniversary of the original
opening of the first Herm Sub-Post Office on 1 May 1925 (Figure 11).
This cancellation was not used at Herm.
On 30 November 1984 a replacement rectangular parcel datestamp
was issued for use (Figure 12).
the Sub-Post Office re-opened on 1 October 1969 the first
registration labels to be used were taken from a Guernsey Head
Post Office roll ‘GUERNSEY N’ commencing with the ‘No
1001’ (Figure 13).
was not until 21 April 1970 that standard printed ‘HERM ISLAND
GUERNSEY’ labels of the perforated coil type were put into use
the Sub-Post Office is located in the Gift Shop close to the harbour and
is busy during the summer season with visitors buying stamps and sending
postcards. Registered and
recorded delivery letters are handled as well as parcels.
It is the only Sub-Office in the Bailiwick of Guernsey that opens
seven days weekly and sometimes also in the evenings when there are
large numbers of visitors arriving on the boats.
of Herm Sub-Postmaster
May 1925 - Capt G D Attewell
1927 - Mr Ashmead
1927 - Mr A E Brightwell
1929 – Miss H M Opie
1935 – Mrs A White
? – Mrs Wilson
1 October 1969 – Major A G Wood
reproduced from a copy of the original article
and editing by Peter Hewitt
to top of page
Back to Articles main page