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"Guernsey Tom" Horticulture Commemorative

Guernsey Tom Horticulture Commemorative
Guernsey Tom Horticulture Commemorative

On August 12, 1970 Guernsey issued four commemorative stamps honouring the island's horticultural and agricultural industries. The set featured tomatoes on the 4d denomination, a Guernsey cow on the 5d value, a Guernsey bull on the 9d and freesias on the 1/-6d denomination.

The two middle values came as no surprise because of the international fame of the Guernsey dairy breed. Less well known beyond the United Kingdom is the Guernsey Tom and the extensive greenhouse industry on the island. The industry developed largely because of the island's mild maritime climate with an extended growing season. Grapes were Guernsey's first successful commercial crop but, in the 1860s, when tomatoes began to gain acceptance as a tastey and nutritious food rather than just an ornament (believed to be poisonous) they started to replace Guernsey's grapevines becoming the primary crop by the beginning of the twentieth century. With the boatbuilding industry declining, carpenters found work building and maintaining greenhouses. By mid-century, an estimated seven percent of Guernsey was "under glass" growing "Guernsey Toms" and more than half of the island's population was engaged in growing, picking and packing tomatoes. By the time these stamps were issued, the island provided about 15% of all tomatoes on the British market. In the 1970s changes to the railway system, increased competition from Dutch growers, rising energy costs and soaring interest rates resulted in the decline of the industry. The "Guernsey Tom" has lost its place in British kitchens. Most of the greenhouses are abandoned although some survive cultivating flowers, herbs, specialty fruits, tomatoes for local use.

Guernsey Agriculture and Horticulture Commemoratives
Guernsey Agriculture and Horticulture Commemoratives of 1970


Beyon, Huw and Stephen Quilley. "The Guernsey Tom: The Rise and Fall of An Island Economy." Nov. 2016. Web. 12 Nov. 2020.

Kloetzel, James E. ed. "Guernsey." Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. Sidney, Ohio: Amos Media, 2015.

Luce, Bella. "The Guernsey Tom: A History of Guernsey's Tomato Growing Industry." Bella Luce Hotel & Restaurant. 2020. Web.
     12 Nov. 2020.



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