50p label inscribed “Hildasay Shetland Islands”, issued in 1995 and depicting geese.
We understand that this stamp was part of a set of four “Animals and Birds of the Shetlands” issue, which also featured 25p (sheep), 41p (Shetland ponies) and 82p (cattle) values (not included here).
Hildasay is a small and (usually) uninhabited island of 108 hectares, just off the west coast of Mainland, Shetland. The island briefly made headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 when former paratrooper Chris Lewis was forced to temporarily make his home there during the coronavirus lockdown, after pausing his fundraising challenge to walk the entire UK coastline.
The origin of stamps bearing the island’s name is unclear, and we had never come across them until very recently. However – given Hildasay’s lack of population – they are almost certainly fantasy issues with no local postal function. Several issues depicting local birds and animals, or commemorating Shetland’s Up Helly Aa fire festivals, appear to exist, seemingly dating from the mid-1990s.