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Channel Islands


sterling to 1971.

1971, decimal currency.

Group of islands in the English Channel close to the Cotentin Peninsula. Came to the British Crown in 1066 with the Norman invasion. Main islands are Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney and Sark. Although they are within the British Isles, each island retains its own local administration and collects its own taxes. There were no official postal services until late in the 18th century. All mail was carried on a casual basis by the trading vessels which plied from Weymouth or St Malo in France.


Because of their proximity to the French coast, the garrison was increased during the Napoleonic Wars. The led to the opening of POs on Jersey and Guernsey on 15 February and 22 March 1794 respectively. Cancellations similar to those on the mainland were introduced and continued to be used in succeeding years. Ship letter markings were introduced in the early 1800s.



When stamps were issued, they were brought into use immediately in the Channel Islands. Maltese Cross cancellations were issued and a distinctive cross, probably made locally, was used in Alderney, which had opened a PG in 1843. Subsequently cancellations followed the trend of the British provincial offices. The numerals issued in 1844 were 324 for Guernsey, 409 for Jersey and (in 1848) 965 for Alderney. Handstamps in France were also used at this period to cancel stamps which were carried direct to France or were cancelled on board ship.


One of the provisions of the Anglo-French Postal Convention of 1856 allowed for the transport of letters between British and French ports by private ships. The captains of such ships were to be paid 1d per letter. As a result, movable boxes were provided either at the quayside or on vessels and their contents would receive a special cancellation on arrival at the port. This provision particularly applied to mail passing between the Channel Isles and France.

In France these letters were often cancelled with a lozenge of dots and a numeral - the number relating to the port of arrival: Granville was 1441, St Malo 3176 and Le Havre was 1496. Letters in the reverse direction were cancelled with a British-style postmark inscribed: 'Jersey/France/MB'. This type was used from 1858 until World War II.


Continued to use British adhesives throughout the period with standard British postmarks. During this period and during World War I many high values can be found cancelled with the postmarks of the two main POs. These relate to the payment of tobacco tax on the island and are not, strictly, postal usage.


Between the wars the Channel Islands continued to use British stamps, and these can be distinguished by their postmarks. POs had been established on Sark and in 1925 a P0 was opened on Herm Island. These were both sub-offices of Guernsey. The Herm office was closed in 1938.

Between the wars, attempts were made to establish regular air services to the islands and these were finally inaugurated to Jersey in 1937 and to Guernsey in 1939. They operated from Southampton and carried a GPO contract until the outbreak of war.


FIRST LOCAL ISSUE Jersey 1 April 1941 FIRST LOCAL ISSUE Guernsey 7 April 1941

After the fall of France, the invasion of the islands by the Germans could not long be delayed and the unopposed occupation took place on 30 June 1940. British stamps continued to be used, but stock quickly ran out and had to be replaced with local issues. The shortage of penny stamps on Guernsey led to the provision of bisects of the 2d stamp. These were officially allowed between 27 December 1940 and 22 February 1941. The 1940 Centenary issue is most often seen but the other 2d values of King George V and George VI were also used. When the islands were liberated on 10 May 1945, the British Post Office allowed full validity to the local issues for one year. Previously these had only been valid for local and inter-island postage.

1945 to date


By 1947 there was some pressure to have special stamps for the islands, and, although no postage stamps were produced, fiscal stamps were issued. In 1948 a special issue was made to commemorate the third anniversary of the liberation of the Islands. These two values were available in the Channel Islands, and also at certain selected offices on the mainland. They were valid for postage throughout Britain.

Administered by the South West Region of the Post Office until 1969, on 1 October that year, Jersey and Guernsey (which incorporated Alderney, Sark and Herm) issued their own stamps as an independent PAdmin.

Herm Island

Herm Island P0 was closed as Guernsey sub-office in 1938. After the war, the owner of the island issued a series of carriage labels for payment for letters carried from the island to Guernsey. These were suppressed when Guernsey became postally independent in 1969. A sub-office was reopened at that time.



Used the stamps of Guernsey after regional issues were released in August 1958. It became a sub-office of Guernsey when it became postally independent, and released its own stamps for the first time in 1983.

Stamps of Alderney can be used throughout the Bailiwick.

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