This is a 1996 fantasy issue for Chausey, produced by ourselves, for fun, in a very limited edition. It comprises two stamps of near-identical design, issued as a se-tenant pair, with the only differences being that one stamp is inscribed in English (“Chausey Is.” and “Gull”) and the other in French (“Îles Chausey” and “Mouette”).
Stamps were printed in sheets of 40 (eight rows of five), with rows 1, 3, 5 and 7 comprising the French version of the label, and 2, 4, 6 and 8 the English. Only five sheets in total (100 of each stamp) are believed to have been produced, and some of the stamps were used on our post to customers in the 1990s, cancelled with the usual “Graham Land” postmark. We have just two complete sheets remaining – if you wish to purchase one of these, please choose “20” from the menu when selecting how many of this item you wish to purchase.
The issue had no official connection to the island, but was featured in Jon Aitchison’s 2005 “specialised catalogue of the postal history, cachets and local carriage labels of Les Îles Chausey and its shipping companies” (see image).
The stamps are ungummed, and imperforate.
U/M / Unmounted Mint / MNH / Mint Never Hinged.
Chausey is a group of small islands, islets and rocks off the cost of Normandy, around 45 kilometres south of Jersey and 13 kilometres from the French coast. At low tide the archipelago comprises 365 islands – dwindling to 52 at high tide – but only the largest, Grande-Île, is inhabited.
The islands are part of France, even though they can be considered, geographically, as part of the Channel Islands. This connection is reflected in the name “Chausey”, which shares the “-ey” ending – Old Norse for “island” – that is also seen in the names of Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney, among others.
Chausey is not served by its own French post office branch, but French stamps can be bought from local shops on Grande-Île (and, presumably, mail then posted for delivery to the mainland or beyond).
There is a long history of Chausey businesses producing souvenir cachets for use on postcards and other mail – such as the one shown here – but the island has not required its own postal service or stamps given that it has been served by the official La Poste. Nevertheless, several Cinderella stamp issues bearing Chausey’s name have appeared over the years, the first of which is believed to be this somewhat rudimentary – and, apparently, swiftly banned – 1961 label.
Later issues bearing the Chausey name, from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s are fantasy stamps with no particular connection to the islands, though some were used on first day covers posted from the islands, alongside the requisite French stamp.
Chausey’s local stamps, postal history and cachets are covered in detail in Jon Aitchison’s 2005 60-page specialised catalogue, though it is now out of print and hard to find.