First day cover for the hard-to-find 2008 second Summer Isles “Tartans of the Far North” definitive issue, featuring four stamps in 15sg, 27sg, 55sg and 1PS denominations.
The front of the FDC features the four stamps cancelled with a red 7 March 2008 postmark showing Ben Mor Coigach (a mountain on the mainland that overlooks the islands), and the arms of the Scottish Tartans Authority, who helped research and design the issue. The reverse of the cover is blank, and there is an insert inside featuring further information about the stamps.
The cover is in excellent condition.
About the Summer Isles
Unlike a lot of the labels that purport to come from islands off the coast of Britain, Summer Isles stamps have always performed a genuine local postal function.
On 1 September 1970, due to the lack of an official postal service to and from the largest and only inhabited island, Tanera Mòr, the Summer Isles Estate was permitted to launch a private, year-round mail service to and from the mainland at Achiltibuie.
Attractive stamps were issued until 1986, before the service fell dormant until its relaunch under new ownership in 1996. The first new issue in three years – and seemingly the most recent issue to date – was produced in 2016, celebrating “Island Music”. Mail posted on the island has always had to bear both a Summer Isles stamp (for transportation to the mainland) and a Royal Mail stamp (for its onward journey).
After several years on the market, the island of Tanera Mòr was purchased by businessman Ian Wace in 2017, and is (as of 2020) still undergoing a programme of restoration that will see it “become an idyllic retreat capable of hosting up to 60 paying guests”. Unfortunately, there is no longer up-to-date information about Summer Isles stamps on the official website (various old pages, not linked to from the current homepage, can still be accessed via Google, though), and it’s not clear whether the island’s cafe and post office continue to operate during the current works.