St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Philatelic Society

SHATPS - the little society with the big name

St. Helena

Captain James Cook, Charles Darwin, Sir Edmund Halley, Captain Bligh, and many other famous explorers and scientists visited St. Helena. Zulu Chief Dinizulu was exiled to St. Helena from 1890 to 1897. The island was the home for thousands of Boer War POW's in the early 1900's. Today, the 5000 "Saints," as the residents of St. Helena call themselves, are an attractive mixture of peoples of originally European, Asian, and African origins.

The postal history of St. Helena extends well back into the days of stampless covers, but letters prior to 1815 typically bear no external indication of having come from or having passed through St. Helena. The first Post Office was established on St. Helena in 1815, and the first handstruck stamp was introduced shortly after the opening of the Post Office. The first adhesive stamps of St. Helena were introduced in 1856. The exceptional cover illustrated in the header is franked with a pair of St. Helena's first adhesive stamp of 1856. There is considerable scope for study and research in virtually all aspects of St. Helena philately and postal history.


Ascension is primarily a site for British and American military, satellite tracking, and communication activities. It was the only island of the three (St. Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha) with an airport and regularly receives military planes from England, the United States, the Falkland Islands, and Recife, Brazil. It was only in 2017 that another airport was inaugurated on St Helena.

Ascension's first residents were British soldiers posted there during the exile of Napoleon to St. Helena. Today, several hundred "Saints" live and work on Ascension with expatriates.
The postal history of Ascension arguably begins with covers franked with the Victorian issues of Great Britain and cancelled with Ascension cancels. Ascension's first adhesive stamps were the 1912-1922 stamps of St. Helena overprinted "ASCENSION" in red or black. Ascension's first stamps were issued in 1924. The green turtles as shown above have been the emblem of Ascension for more than 200 years. The island would not have been the same today without their presence in this region.
The philately and postal history of Ascension warrants study and research. 

Tristan da Cunha

The first stamps for Tristan da Cunha were the 1938-49 issues of St. Helena overprinted "TRISTAN DA CUNHA" in black. The first stamp issued by Tristan da Cunha on its own was the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II stamp. The postal history of Tristan da Cunha includes the aera of stamps of other countries used from Tristan da Cunha and interesting covers prepared by scientific expeditions to some of the small islands in the immediate vicinity of Tristan da Cunha. The stamps illustrated above are an example of the modern new stamp issues of the island. The postal history and philately of Tristan da Cunha have attracted a very large following of enthusiasts. There is considerable scope for study and research.

With kind permission Tom Mc Sherry, S. Africa, Copyright 2017

St. Helena

Royal Mail Ship St. Helena at anchor off Jamestown - with kind permission of © Marc Lavaud

Jamestown - with kind permission of © Marc Lavaud,

Banks Battery - with kind permission of © Marc Lavaud,

If you are a SHATPS member, there is more information on the SHATPS MEMBERS ONLY page.