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Bardsey Island Tourist Souvenir Labels

Local Post Stamp
A First Day Cover for the "Famous People" Tourist Souvenir Labels Issued by Bardsey Island

Located slightly more than three kilometers off the Welsh coast, Bardsey Island, was the site of a monastery founded in the sixth century, and it has attracted religious pilgrims for centuries. It is reputed to be the burial place for 20 000 saints as well as the legendary wizard Merlin. Contemporary nature worshippers are attracted by the abundance of birds and other wildlife.

In 1979 the Bardsey Island Trust (Ymddiriedolaeth Ynys Enlli) bought the island to protect the wildlife, buildings and archaeological sites and to promote the artistic and cultural life while encouraging people to visit. That same year, the first "stamps" for the island were issued.

Those stamps are categorized by James Negus as "Tourist Souvenir Labels." He defines such labels as ones produced where there is no regular local post service but where labels are sold to tourists who can add them to their mail as a souvenir and then post that mail at specially provided faciities (often on the return boat) after which the mail is delivered to the post office to enter the regular postal system (with regular franking applied).

In the July 2003 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly a Brighton stamp dealer, Gustamps describes Bardsey as the only Welsh stamp-issuing island. Engaging in some salesman's hyperbole the advertiser continues, "Now that devolution is in the headlines ..." these stamps are, "important local 'fore-runners' of any future issues for 'Wales'." Before the "Famous People" issue of 1980 that is displayed above and a subsequent Christmas stamps, Bardsey issued a set depicting local scenery and another commemorating the "Centenary of the Death of Sir Rowland Hill" in 1979. Other issues have included one for the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer issued on July 27, 1981 and Christmas stamps from October 27 of the same year. Although themes such as local scenery would make the stamps nice souvenirs, less relevant subjects with more appeal to topical stamp collectors suggest that these issues were mainly designed as fund-raisers directed at philatelic markets. Note how this cover includes the keyword "Europa" as well as the names of Horatio Nelson, David Lloyd George, Louis Mountbatten and Winston Churchill with the image of the latter featuring in the cancellation. Colnect lists a total of 84 stamps issued for Bardsey Island for five years from 1979-1982 and in 1994. Despite their dubious status, these "stamps" do serve to publicize and presumably contribute to the support of an interesting tourist attraction and nature reserve.


"Bardsey Island." Wikipedia. 7 Sep. 2020. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 30 Oct. 2020

"Gustamps." Gibbons Stamp Monthly. Jul. 2003: 108.

Negus, James. "Catalogue Column." Gibbons Stamp Monthly. Mar. 1981: 69.



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