Jersey postage stamps issued during the German Occupation

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German Occupation postage stamps
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This article by Norman Rybot was published in the 1953 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise


fter the stock of stamps held in the Island's Post Offices became exhausted during the latter end of 1940, letters had to be handed over the counter with cash in order to be franked by postmark. Though correspondence could only be despatched for inter-insular or local deliveries, this arrangement soon proved to be inconvenient and was presently obviated by the issue, under the orders of the Occupying Authority, of stamps designed and printed locally.

The 1p stamp printed by the Evening Post

Arms of England

The designs thus approved bore the name of the island, the value of the stamp and the shield of arms of England as borne on the royal seals issued c1290 by Edward I to his Bailiff in each bailiwick.

The heraldically improper manner by which these arms became known as the arms of Guernsey and Jersey respectively was explained in an article entitled "The Leopards of England and the Channel Islands" published in our Bulletin for 1943. This true nature of the arms was fortunately unknown to the Germans, who otherwise might well have suppressed the leopards and compelled us to display their barbarous swastika instead.

In January 1941 I was asked by our Bailiff to design a 1d stamp for Jersey and told to base my design on one which had already been approved in Guernsey by the Germans, who would sanction no other.

Not being anxious to assist the Nazis in any way, I hesitated to accede to this request until it occurred to me that it afforded a good opportunity to insult our conquerors with impunity, hence the insertion of the four minute 'A's in the corners of the design which were intended to stand for “Ad Avernum, Adolphe Atrox": that is to say "To Hell with you, Atrocious Adolf".

This stamp was issued very appropriately on 1 April 1941; but only a small proportion was used for the purpose for which it was intended, the bulk being greedily purchased, with a view to ultimate gain, by a host of German and local collectors and speculators.

The ½d stamp did not appear until 20 January 1942, when the corner letters were changed to 'A' 'A' and 'B' 'B', signifying "Atrocious Adolf" and "Bloody Benito". In connection with these stamps I asked for no fee as a designer, nor was I offered one.

The ½p stamp printed by the Evening Post

Evening Post

Both the 1d and ½d designs were printed under the most adverse conditions by the “Evening Post" of Jersey and the photographer responsible for their reproduction was J Higginbotham, a member of their staff. The 1d stamp was printed in carmine on various papers and the ½d in green, and though the difficulties encountered resulted inevitably in many blemishes and irregularities, these merely enhanced the value of the stamps in the eyes of ardent collectors and increased the acquisitive zest of the keener types of philatelist.

The next stamps to be issued were known as the Pictorials. These miniature works of art were designed by our member Edmund Blampied and engraved by Henri Cortot in Paris. They were printed by the French Government Printing Works at the Postes, Telegraphes et Telephones in Paris.

The following list is taken from Jersey under the Swastika by R Mollet

1943 June 1 ½d Green Entrance to an old Jersey Farm
June 1 1d Red Portelet Bay
June 8 1½d Brown La Corbiere Lighthouse.
June 8 2d Orange Elizabeth Castle
June 29 3d Blue Mont Orgueil Castle
June 29 3d Violet Seaweed gatherers at La Rocco Tower

360,000 stamps of each value in sheets of 60 stamps.

Further printings were as follows :-

  • 1943 ½d – 120,000
  • 1943 1d – 240,000
  • 1944 ½d – 240,000
  • 1944 2½d – 360,000

The last two lots were printed on an inferior paper and the gum was thin and dull. The taste of the gum was not recorded.

Royal cipher

A patriotic motif was introduced by Mr Blampied in his design for the 3d stamp, whereon the Royal cipher, GR, appears in the scroll-work in the base of the triangle which encloses the 3d.

C J d'Authreau, Acting Head Postmaster of Jersey, had the kindness to supply the following valuable details :-

  • The amount paid to the Evening Post for the first 1d and ½d stamps was £155 17s (£72 in 1941, £47 10s in 1942 and £36 7s in 1943).
  • The amount paid to the French firm for the six 'pictorials' was £548 7s 5d (£464 in 1943 and £36 2s 5d and £48 5s 6d in March and May 1944 respectively.
  • The fee paid to Edmund Blampied, the designer of the 'pictorials' was £60.
This appears to be a genuine first-day-cover from 1943, but with the unfortunate post-war addition of a 'souvenir' sticker. Why was the 'souvenir' sticker used? It is very rare to find an Occupation cover with this sticker, which would hardly have been the choice of islanders or their postal service, run by the island's government. Thoughts that the sticker may have been added after the war initially seemed to have been dispelled by finding a cover from 1941, with the recipient's address partly written over the sticker. However, closer examination of the 1941 cover (below) confirmed that the sticker was added some time after the letter was posted and the obscured part of the recipient's name written on it. The writing on the sticker does not match well with the original on the envelope. These covers seems to have been created, somewhat clumsily, as rather unfortunate 'souvenirs' to sell to visitors

1993 50th anniversary commemorative issue

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