Ascension - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Ascension is a small isolated island nation in the South Atlantic (Lower Antilles) about 1000 miles away from the African Northwest coast and about 1400 miles from South America. Its land area totals less than 40 square miles and the population just tops 1,000. The country is of volcanic origin with a barren landscape predominated by remnants of lava flows and craters. Though the island was first discovered in 1501 by the Portuguese it remained unpopulated until 1815 when the British military used it as a precaution against the chance of Napoleon I trying to escape from his imprisonment in Saint Helena. In 1922, Ascension became a dependency of the British Crown Colony of Saint Helena. Its location makes it a great interim point for communication, ships, and even aircraft – the British installed an under-water cable system from Ascension that connected UK to its colonies in South Africa as early as 1898.

Travel Resources:

Though open to tourists it is not very touristy. Flying in requires advance planning, for the flights are normally operated by British Military Bases. But once there, the diverse flora and fauna (green sea turtle leads this list) can hold one’s attention. The main activities are fishing, surfing, snorkeling, and diving.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
St Helena – Ascension – Tristan da Cunha: The Bradt Travel Guide978-1841620503$50Great guide even if you have no plans to visit one of these far away islands in the South Atlantic.
A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island in 1725978-1446189863$12Story of a Dutch ship’s officer who was set ashore on this island as a punishment for sodomy based on his diary and excellent research work by the author on other 18th century literature.



Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Ascension were a set of 9 stamps of Saint Helena (Scott #61 to #64 and #66 to #70) overprinted “Ascension” in red or black released in 1922 (Scott #1 to #9). They were KGV designs showing the KGV head and crown on top. The two designs varied only in the picture at the bottom which was either a Government House or The Wharf in Saint Helena. The original set of Saint Helena issued between 1912 and 1916 are valuable at close to $150 for MNH and twice that for used. The Ascension overprints are even more so at around $600 for MNH or used. Forged cancellations exist for all denominations and so collectors need to be careful before paying up for a used set. The first original issues were of very similar design with a “Seal of Colony” and KGV design in similar format. The set consists of 12 stamps (Scott #10 to #21) in single or double colors with denominations from 1/2p to 3sh. This set again is very valuable at around $600 for MNH and close to $700 for a very fine used set. Three other sets and several Common Design types dominated the issues during the early period till 1958 – a set of 10 stamps (Scott #23 to #32) released in 1934 in three different designs (View of Georgetown, Map of Ascension, and Sooty Tern Breeding colony), a set of 16 stamps (Scott #40 to #49 and a few varieties) released between 1938 and 1958 as definitives, and a set of 13 stamps with many local scenes of similar design issued in 1956 (Scott #62 to #74). The sets are valuable with the first cataloging at around $200 MNH and about $150 used, the 2nd cataloging at $350 MNH and around $200 used, and the last cataloging for around $125 for MNH and around $75 for used.

Ascension did not issue any stamps during the period from 1958 to 1963. On May 23, 1963 Ascension commenced issuing stamps again but this time with a dual purpose – a) as a source of income for the islands from the sale of postage stamps to collectors all over the world, and b) for postal use. The first issues were a bird set of 14 stamps (Scott #75 to #88) with denominations from 1p to £1. This set is valued at around $75 for MNH and around $50 for Used. Ascension issued close to one thousand different stamps in the last fifty years, a figure comparable to the current size of the population – it is clear that the vast majority of Ascension stamps issued was for philatelic purposes- as such, most of these stamps have limited catalog value. Some prominent sets include:
  1. A set of four stamps issued December 1, 1967 to mark the opening of the BBC’s (British Broadcasting Company) South Atlantic Relay Station in Ascension Island. The gold impressed set (Scott #111 to #114) is very affordable at less than $1 for either MNH or used.
  2. The aircraft set of 1975 in four different designs. The set (Scott #185 to #188) catalogs for around $10 and the souvenir sheet for a few dollars more. The aircrafts in the designs were the US Air force C-141A Starlifter, Royal Air force C-130 Hercules, Vickers VC-10, and US Air force C-5A Galaxy.
  3. The 40th anniversary set of the US Wideawake Airfield released on June 15, 1982. The set of four stamps (Scott #309 to #312) catalogs for around $5 for either MNH or used. The Wideawake Airfield was used as an interim point by American aircrafts crossing the Atlantic on their way to Africa and Europe during World War II.
  4. The ships set of 15 stamps released on October 14, 1986. The set (Scott #401 to #415) catalogs for around $30 for MNH or used.
Numismatic Profile:

Standard British Administration Coinage started in 1978 and used the Pobjoy Mint. The early copper-nickel and silver issues are affordable cataloging in the $10 range for UNC. Prior to this, Saint Helena coins were used in Ascension Island. During the colonial period starting around 1821, British East India Company issued coins for St. Helena – Ascension Island was dependency of St. Helena at the time. Numismatic items of Ascension Island include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$10 and upCrown Anniversary Issues and Bimetal issues from the 2000s start around $10. Certified Sterling Silver proofs from the 90s and gold coins go well into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015. 
 

    1 comment :

    HB said...

    Wow! Well researched...

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