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Jacques Pratt

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Stamp corner - “Guyana”

Although, in general, I prefer to exclude “First Day Covers” from my personal collection, I do make the occasional exception. To all appearances, the present cover would seem to be a typical example of the genre with sort of flamboyancy that typifies the sort of material that is to be found in this comparatively modern branch of the hobby of philately.

Mind you, it does appear to have been used to convey a letter via the regular postal services whereas a vast number of the FDCs from around the world today are not even addressed let alone dispatched to find their intended recipients under their own steam. However, what does make this item somewhat less run-of-the-mill is the fact that it embodies the acknowledgement of a mistake made by the national postal authorities.
Between 1971 and 1976, the Government of Guyana in South America commissioned a set of sixteen stamps illustrating a choice of flowering plants found in the country. The stamps were produced in values from 1-cent to $5 and were destined largely, it is suspected, for the philatelic market. The 25-cent stamp appeared in September 1972 and showed the exotic looking marabunta or gongora quinquinervis to give it the Latin name. However, the stamp, despite the fact that it was printed by the highly reputable British firm of De La Rue & Co., depicted the flower growing “upside down”.
The mistake was acknowledged in due course and rectified with a fresh printing in August 1973, this version being the right-hand copy of the two stamps on the cover shown. The original error has also been added for purposes of comparison.
Also of interest is the fact that this particular letter was addressed to “Lady Luyt” in London. No, this wasn’t the wife of Louis. Had it been, it might have been able to fit the cover into a thematic collection on rugby!
In passing, I should perhaps explain that in a thematic collection, stamps and covers are chosen on the basis of their design or use rather than their country of origin. Thus, outstanding displays have been produced under such titles as “Migratory Birds”, “Mahatma Ghandi” and “The Olympic Games” to name but a few.
No, in this case the husband of the addressee would have been Sir Richard Luyt who had been Governor and later Governor General of British Guiana between 1964 and 1966, the year in which the country gained its independence as Guyana.
Sir Richard had also been a good cricketer and a rugby player of note gaining his “blue” at Oxford University in the latter sport during his days as a Rhodes Scholar. He had also been awarded the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal) for his part in the campaign against the Italians in Ethiopia during World War II.
The original letter, incidentally, is still in the envelope and is perhaps of a more mundane nature than one might expect from an epistle to a member of the nobility. Lady Luyt’s correspondent was apparently a stamp collector herself and complained of the high cost of the remaining stamps in the set ($1, $2 and $5) and the interruption of her letter writing by “house guests, a new puppy, a stray kitten and (the) collapse of (the) kitchen stove”.


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