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Those “Irish Seahorses” cost me my pocket money!

I was 13 and had planned a raid on my own money. Hard- earned money I might add, made from paper rounds around my home town in northern England. Avoiding the local bullies whilst carrying 50 kilos of newspapers in the pouring rain on a bicycle without breaks convinced me I was due a treat.

We still had a local stamp dealer, also a regular collectors fair but this dealer who’s little shop “Books and Things” was crammed into a railway arch had a beautiful stamp… and I wanted it badly. Nothing available to me at the fair could match it.

An “Irish” Seahorse.

It was the same 5s rose- carmine Seahorse I already had in my GB collection, but this carried a handsome additional 3- line overprint in classic Gaelic script reading “SAORSTAT EIREANN 1922” which translates as “Irish Free State 1922”, and was postmarked in Dublin.

Oh how I wanted that stamp! I would ask to see it each Saturday, all other stamps faded away, all thoughts of building a GB- only collection were banished (it would be proudly displayed alongside the regular GB version, just to one side in the margin of my printed album page).

My money was burning a hole in my pocket. I instinctively knew my parents would be horrified at my spending £25 on a stamp – a stamp! But it was MY money after all; I could spend it on whatever I wanted, right? The little bank book was in a kitchen draw and like a small stampy Ninja I took it and headed to the bank… and then onward to “Books and Things”.

My prize was still there and without haggling I handed over that hard- earned cash. The stamp, nestled alongside my guilt lay heavily in my pocket and things only got worse when I arrived home. Motherly- intuition had uncovered the disappearance of my bank book and a very annoyed Mrs Green was waiting. With book inspected and the stamp handed- over I was sent to my room with “You wait until I tell your Father!” ringing in my ears.

The outcome was a withdrawal of pocket money for a couple of months, so in the end the stamp had cost me even more! It’s passed into family lore now, I pull my parents legs about it from time to time but I didn’t get the last laugh – that I guess goes to the stamp dealer as it turned out my Irish Seahorse had a repaired tear and I’d paid much too much for it! It’s still a prized possession though…

I was delighted to see a very good selection of my beloved Irish Seahorses (and the overprinted lower values) in next weeks sale. They are a fascinating area to collect and include varieties, the main stamps are comprehensively listed by Stanley Gibbons, and for those wishing to dig deeper I must recommend the “Hibernian Handbook and Catalogue of the Postage Stamps of Ireland”.


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