75th Anniversary of the World’s first Undersea Post Office - Bahamas

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21 July 2014
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imports_CCGB_stamp-89-_51152.jpg 75th Anniversary of the World’s first Undersea Post Office - Bahamas
The Post Office of the Bahamas is to celebrate two landmark underwater achievements with four special stamps. ...
The Post Office of the Bahamas is to celebrate two landmark underwater achievements with four special stamps. The stamps mark the 75th anniversary of the world's first undersea post office, and the centenary of the world's first undersea motion pictures.

The Bahamas Post Office has a special reason for celebrating the pioneering work of underwater photographer John Ernest Williamson (1881-1966) as it was his underwater moving pictures, released in 1914, which drew the world's attention to the precious underwater environment around the Bahamas.

UNDERWATER MOTION PICTURES

Williamson’s father, Charles Williamson of Norfolk, Virginia, was a sea captain who had invented a tube, which, when suspended from a specially outfitted ship, facilitated communication and airflow down to depths of 250 feet. When attached to a diving apparatus, this could assist in repair and salvage work.

In 1912 Williamson realized that his father's invention could be adapted for undersea photography
. Using a light hung from the mother ship, artificially illuminated photographs of the depths of Chesapeake Bay taken in 1913 produced such surprising results that he was inspired to attempt motion pictures.

Williamson's first motion picture was named 'Thirty Leagues Under the Sea' and it thrilled audiences with exciting below-sea adventures, including a fight with a shark, which Williamson killed with a knife during a struggle for his own life.

UNDERSEA POST OFFICE

In 1939, Williamson conducted The Bahamas-Williamson Undersea Expedition bearing the Explorers Club flag number 97, to film underwater for scientific purposes. It was in connection with this expedition that the Government of The Bahamas authorised the Photosphere to become the world's first undersea post office, officially named 'Sea Floor Bahamas'. This was a landmark achievement for The Bahamas, with stamps such as the 'Sea Gardens' being mailed by a limited number of visitors.

Visitors to the Photosphere and the Sea Floor Post Office included the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, who proclaimed it the most wonderful experience of his life and the Royal Governor of The Bahamas, H.R.H Edward, Duke of Windsor.

The four stamps feature illustrations of key moments in the underwater filming of the Bahamas. The 15c value shows John Ernest Williamson carrying out early photographic experiments underwater, whilst the 50c stamp has Williamson pictured alongside film reels. The third stamp (65c) features the underwater post office and has a special 1939-2014 75th anniversary postmark. The final stamp, 70c, has a portrait of Williamson and a 4d underwater post office Bahamas stamp.

BAHAMAS UNDERSEA STAMP ISSUE DETAILS

Issue date: 16 August 2014
Designer: Derek Miller
Printer: Lowe-Martin
Process: Stochastic lithography
Size: 25.5mm x 50mm

To purchase the stamps, visit the Pobjoy Mint website.

For all the latest stamp and coin news and new issues, see each issue of Stamp & Coin Mart magazine.
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