Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Guernsey stamps on novel cover

The philatelic eye never sleeps in order to catch every perforated piece of paper.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a epistolary novel by Mary Ann Shaffer et Annie Barrows. The title was translated in French as Le Cercle littéraire des amateurs d'épluchures de patates [The Literary Circle of Potato Peelings Amateurs].

Action took place in the Channel island of Guernsey, occupied by the German army, in the first half of the 1940s. Rationing certainly forced the use of potato peelings to make pies.

The paperback edition's cover presented a piece of an enveloppe franked with two stamps issued then to face the lack of postage stamps of the United Kingdom. Figuring the coat of arms of the Duchy of Normandy, they were issued under the authority of the States of Guernsey. Where as the Stanley Gibbons gives them different designers and printers, the first stamps of the States of Jersey were identical, but of course the island's name.

Stamps are the one penny red and the two pence and a half marine blue.

One of page let you zoom on the cover and decipher the cancel date: on 12 April 1944 in Saint Martin, one of the parishes.

This use is historically correct (not judging the color shades and the postal rate): the one penny was circulating since February 1941 and the two pence and a half was issued on 12 April 1944.

Here is the French edition that caught my eye yesterday afternoon. It is common to the English hard cover edition.

Stamps were modified: half penny green and one penny red, cancelled on 16 July 1947.

Guernsey was liberated with the surrender of German soldiers in the morning of the 9 May 1945. How much time were these war occupation stamps used? Decided by the local authority of this Crown Dependencies, they may have lasted, but my current personal ressources prevent me to conclude.

The search begins (9 April 2009) :

Ian Billings, on the Virtual Stamp Club, completes my Commonwealth & British Empire Stamps with another Stanley Gibbons catalogue, the one on the Channel Islands, which indicates a use until 13 April 1946. The stamps could not have been used in 1947.

He expressed doubts on the datestamp too: historically, it was made by a machine in combinaison with a message or wavy lines cancellation, not applied by hand like the cover might suggest. Even like this, he said that would certainly not use with a letter in the bottom part (here a M).

Thank you, Ian.

Anecdote read in the stamp catalogue: printings were done on white paper, but two during Spring 1942 (one for the half penny and one for the one penny). French bank note paper was used.

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