St. Helena - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Saint Helena, an Island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean which is a part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan de Cunha has a total land area of 47 square miles and a population of over 4200. The terrain of this isolated island is rugged and is home to many endemic species. Its climate is tropical but mild. Its economy is almost entirely dependent on British aid with tourism, agriculture, and sale of postage stamps being Helena’s contribution. Its coffee is the world’s most expensive coffee.

Travel Resources:

With its pleasant climate, any time is a good time to visit St Helena. Tourism is yet to take full flight. The major attractions include Napolean’s Tomb, Diana’s Peak, High Knoll Fort, Jacob’s Ladder and Heartshaped Waterfall. Cuisine is very simple with pilau (rice and bacon) and few vegetables being the staple inspite of being an island in the middle of the Atlantic.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
St. Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha Bradt Travel Guides978-1841621982$20Part I covers Saint Helena in about 110 pages.


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamp of St. Helena was a stamp released in January 1856 showing a portrait of Queen Victoria (QV). The stamp (Scott #1) catalogs for around $600 mint and around $200 used. QV theme in a couple of different designs along with surcharge overprints on them formed the primary stamp issues of St. Helena until the turn of the century. The stamps in the interim are all highly valued and very collectible. The most valuable issues from the period are double surcharge or double impression error varieties of the first QV designs. Those catalog upwards of $9K. St. Helena released a set of seven stamps between 1890 and 1897 in the QV theme. The set (Scott #40 to #46) catalogs for around $80 mint and around $145 used. That set along with a few other late QV issues were sold as remainders with diamond shaped bar-cancellations. These have limited value although collectors need to be careful as stamps from which these cancellations were professionally removed are offered in the philatelic market as unused.

St. Helena released a set of fifteen stamps in the Badge of the Colony theme showing King George V (KGV) between 1922 and 1927. The set (Scott #79 to #93) catalogs for around $340 mint and around $630 used. Part of the same set and an additional denomination was released in another set (Scott #95 to #99) and that set is even more highly valued at around $560 mint and around $730 used. St. Helena released a set of ten stamps on April 23, 1934 to mark the centenary of St. Helena becoming a crown colony. The set (Scott #101 to #110) is sought after and catalogs for around $600 MNH and around $525 for used. The designs show Lot and Lot’s wife, plantation with QV and Kings, map of colony, quay at Jamestown, vew of James Valley, view of Jamestown, view of Mundens, St. Helena, view of High Knoll, and Badge of Colony.

Other issues of St. Helena enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of fourteen stamps released on December 12, 1961 showing QE II along with Flora and Fauna. The set (Scott #159 to #172) catalogs for around $70 MNH and around $50 used. The designs show cunning fish, Cape canary,  brittle starfish, QE II,  redwood flower, Madagascar weaver, trumpetfish, keeled feather starfish, gumwood flowers, fairy tern, orange starfish, night-blooming cereus, and deepwater bull’s-eye.
  2. A set of thirteen stamps released on November 28, 1976 in the Views on St. Helena theme. The set (Scott #298 to #310) catalogs for around $10 MNH and around $18 ued. The designs show High Knoll by Captain Barnett, Friar Rock by G.H. Bellasis, Column Lot by Belassis, Sandy Bay Valley by H. Salt, View from Castle Terrace by Bellasis, The Briars, Plantation House by J. Wathen, Longwood House by Wathen, St. Paul’s Church by Vincent Brooks, St. James Valley by Captain Hastings, St. Mathew’s Church of Longwood by Brooks, St. Helena and Sailing Ship by Bellasis, and Sugar Loaf Hill by Wathen.
  3. A set of four stamps released on December 15, 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the removal of Napoleon’s body from St. Helena. The set (Scott #545 to #548) catalogs for around $10 MNH or used. The designs show Funeral Cortege at Jamestown Wharf, Moving Coffin to Belle Poule at James Bay, Transfer of Coffin from Bellow Poule to Normandie, Cherbourg, and Napoleon’s Tomb at St. Helena. In 1915, the British government chose Saint Helena as the place of detention of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was lodged at Longwood and died there on May 5, 1821.
  4. A stamp along with a sheet of twelve released on April 8, 2003 in the Tourism theme. The set (Scott #818 and #819a-k plus 4 labels) catalogs for around $12 MNH or used. The designs show Ship Queen Elizabeth II visits St. Helena, Plantation House, RMS St. Helena in Jamestown Harbor, Napoleon’s Tomb at Briars Pavilion, Ebony Flower at Diana’s Peak, Wirebird at Napoleon’s House, Broadway House, St. Helena Golf Course, St. Helena Yacht Club, Sport Fishing, Diving Club, and St. Helena Heritage Society Museum.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of St. Helena were British Colony Standard Coinage (12 Pence = 1 Shilling, 100 Pence = 1 Pound) were Copper-Nickel Pence issued in 1973. They have also issued coins as Saint Helena and Ascension from 1984 onwards. The first gold coins were issued in 1983 and since then St. Helena has issued a number of commemorative gold proofs with low mintage. They trade at a good premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of St. Helena include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upCommon UNC Pence starts around $2. High Value UNCs from the 1970s and prior dates start around $15. Commemorative Silver Proofs, Year Sets in UNC, etc start around $50.
Paper Money$5 and upUNC Poundage starts around $5. High Value UNCs starts around $30. Bundles, Rare UNC Specimens, etc go well into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Tungi (cactus liquor), woodwork, lace and jewelry are locally produced.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Miscellaneous Collectibles$5 and upPolice Patches, Lapel Pins etc start around $5.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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