IOM’s WWI history sells at auction

| August 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rare Isle of Man WWI postal history has been sold in London with Stanley Gibbons. The lots included the only known unused example in private hands of a stamp from the Knockaloe internment camp established in the IOM during WWI. The camp contained the only British post office to operate within a British prisoner of war camp.

The Knockaloe Post office had its own steel date stamp and printed registration labels. A 2d red stamp on ungummed paper and featuring the camp fence and huts with the three legged symbol in each corner, was designed and printed within the camp, but withdrawn by the authorities before use. Until 1981 it was believed that only an unused sheet of twenty-one of these stamps, held in the Manx Museum, existed.

The highest price was reached for a used vertical corner pair which sold for £1,955, whilst the unused single sold for £1,495 and the 2nd vertical used pair sold for £1,495, and a used single made £862. All include a 15% buyers premium. Estimates ranged from £500 to £1,300.

Auction Administrator, Ryan Epps said: ‘Unsurprisingly these historical items generated some spirited bidding and we are delighted that they have found new homes.’​

It was in 1981 that the daughter of a former camp guard found eight used examples of the stamps in her deceased father’s belongings. Then in 1982 a single unused example was discovered in Spain, which is believed to be the only recorded unused example of this stamp in private hands. Very few records survive of this WWI camp.

The Knockaloe camp was used for housing male citizens of the Central Powers, mainly Germany, Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey. The camp was purpose built using prefabricated huts, and was originally anticipated to house 5,000 internees, but by the end of the war around 24,500 were held there. It had 23 compounds divided between four camps, and each camp had its own hospital and theatre etc. The camp was so significant that a railway branch line was constructed and the General Post Office established a branch post office.

The auction took place on July 30th-31st.

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