Q. What are 'local' stamps?
A. Local stamps are not part of the day-to-day Royal Mail service, but were issued by local people, landowners and the like, who saw a need for them. In the UK, many ‘local carriage labels’ have been issued by offshore islands, which in some cases had a genuine use to pay for transport of the mail to the mainland by ferry. Others were produced simply to sell to collectors and tourists, and this tends to be their main function these days.
Q. How many locations produce local stamps?
A. Worldwide the number is not clear, but within the UK there have been no fewer than 50 (England, 12; Scotland, 30 and Wales, 8) from such unlikely places as Puffin Island off the coast of Anglesey; Iona, off the Isle of Mull, and Lindisfarne, off the Northumberland coast.
Q. Is there a catalogue of local stamps?
A. Yes, Ralph Phillips has produced an extensive Catalogue for Cinderella Stamps. See Local Postage Catalogues.
Q. When were the first local stamps issued?
A. The first local stamps were issued by Lundy Island in 1929, when the owner of the island created two local stamps (known as the half Puffin Pink and 1 Puffin Blue). As many as half a million were printed by Bradbury Wilkinson, and the first issues were supplemented by 6, 9 and 12 Puffin values the following year.
Q. Can Local Issue Stamps be used instead of stamps purchased from the Royal Mail?
A. No; definitely not. But they can be placed on letters, as long as they are placed on the top left-hand side of the envelope, or on the reverse side.