The first ever Shuna local stamp, used on piece on 5 November 1949 with a good, clean cancellation.
The stamp is mauve in colour, shows a map of the island, is denominated 2d, and was issued in 1949. Mint examples of this stamp are reasonably common, but used examples – especially on piece or cover – are harder to track down.
Located 20 miles south of Oban, off the coast of Arduaine, the island of Shuna is about three miles long and one and a half miles wide. There is only a handful of permanent residents, but a steady flow of visitors who travel there to enjoy the six available holiday cottages.
Only two Shuna stamps were ever issued, but they are quite unusual in both dating from the reign of King George VI. Though Lundy and some of the smaller Channel Islands were producing issues at this time, Shuna appears to be the first Scottish island to have created its own local stamps.
The first stamp – this one here – printed in mauve and with a 2d denomination, was released on 11 October 1949. It was designed by Lady Selby, whose family then owned the island, and reportedly intended “as a collector’s item”.
In 1950, it was followed by a second stamp of similar design, but this time in blue and sold for £2. This particular stamp also bore the overprint, in red, “Special Boat Run”. Rushstamps explains that “the reason for high value being charged for this item [was] a fee for specially chartering a boat in conjunction with carrying important letters to the mainland in time to catch the mail; in other words, after the normal boat had left”, while another source indicates that the labels were simply “used to defray island expenses”.
Either way, a few used examples do exist, affixed to the back of covers that bear normal British stamps on the front. It is not entirely clear, however, why no further Shuna issues were produced after 1950.