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Ceylon’s First postage Stamp 161st Anniversary


BEng(Hons), PGDip(UK), LCGI, DTLLS, Member of Revenue Society UK, Member of philatelic Society SL More Information: dulshan49@yahoo.co.uk
The first stamp for Ceylon was issued on 1 April 1857. The stamp features a portrait of Queen Victoria and is brown in colour. It is a 6 Pence value used to send a half-ounce letter from Ceylon to England

The image illustrates Ceylon’s first postage with all for margins (Below Left). A special feature of this stamp is, it’s printed in a blued paper with a star watermark. The back image of the stamp clearly indicates the blued colour and the star watermark. (Below Right)

Sir Rowland Hill proposed an adhesive stamp to indicate pre-payment of postage. At the time it was normal for the recipient to pay postage on delivery, charged by the sheet and on distance travelled. The first postage stamp was printed in the United Kingdom in 1840. Since Ceylon was a British colony in those days’ letters was transmitted in between both countries. As a result, Ceylon first postage stamp was designed in London and printed by Perkins Bacon & Co.

Sir Rowland Hill

According to the statistics 65,000 of the stamp were printed. Printing plates contained 240 impressions in twenty rows of twelve and it’s was imperforated.
Image of the Perkins’ press, printing machine is seen far left, is now in the British Library Philatelic Collections.
Postal reforms came to Ceylon in 1856.  An Ordinance published that year established postal rates effective April 1, 1857, at 1d. for ½ oz. and an additional 1d. for the next ½ oz. with each additional ounce being 2d.  Newspapers and printed matter for domestic destinations was ½d. and for foreign destinations was 1d.  The first pound of a parcel was 8d. with each additional pound at 4d.  Prepayment was to be made by stamps, however, until stamps became available, prepayment could be made in cash.

The letter (Left, Middle) from Colombo to Trieste, sent in 1857 (26 June) bearing very fine 6d. a purple-brown pair,  was sold in an auction for $21,000.


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