First day cover (FDC) for the first set of Gugh Island stamps, issued on 1 September 1972, a set of four definitives depicting various island wildlife and scenes: sea thistle (5p), Victoria Rock (10p), The Gugh (15p) and The Old Man of Gugh (25p).
This cover features the rouletted version of the issue; the same stamps can also be found in perforate and imperforate versions.
The Gugh Island stamps are cancelled with a “Local Post – 1 Sep 1972 – Gugh Island” handstamp, while the reverse side bears a 3p Royal Mail definitive cancelled with a “St. Agnes – Isles of Scilly” postmark.
FDC listed in Butt’s 2023 Gugh Island catalogue as number Gf5/8.
The cover is in excellent condition.
Pronounced "keow", Gugh is one of the Isles of Scilly, connected to St Agnes by a sandy bar or tombolo. The island is just 1 km wide and 0.5 km long, and currently has a population of three people.
Not a great deal has tended to be known about the origins of Gugh Island's stamps, but an excellent new 2023 catalogue by Keith Butt - who was involved in setting up the first issues - fills that gap, listing all the labels from 1971 to 1981, including prices, and providing some much-needed background. The catalogue explains that the Outer Island Agents issues produced during the 1971 postal strike were, in effect, a forerunner to the later Gugh Island issues, with the then-owner of Gugh reaching agreement in 1972 for the OIA to produce issues for the island.
While also sold as souvenirs, Butt's catalogue and our own research indicate that Gugh's 1970s issues were used as genuine local carriage labels for transporting mail to St Agnes, from where Royal Mail postage was necessary to continue the item's journey. We have seen examples used on postcards in the 1970s, cancelled with a "Gugh Island - Local Post" handstamp. Most of the stamps produced during this period covered topics or scenes related to the island.
Further Gugh Island stamps appeared between 1995 and 2008, but these are thought to have been produced by the businessman Clive Feigenbaum, branched off into more random topics - such as the FA Cup - and are not believed to have been sold on the island.