Collectors save St Helena archives


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25 April 2021
For the first time in its history the ABPS Congress Medal in 2021 has been awarded jointly to two collectors who worked as a team. Barry Burns and Bernard Mabbett visited St Helena on two occasions to preserve the philatelic records and stamps of the island.

Barry Burns and Bernard Mabbett visited St Helena to research the island's postal history and stamps but after three weeks had found very little new information on the stamps or workings of the St Helena Post Office.

But before they left the island, they were shown a cellar containing a large selection of boxes and folders of paperwork that was in need of being properly archived. With no resources on the island to do this work, Barry and Bernard agreed to return and create the archive themselves.

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In 2013, after hearing that the St Helena Government was planning to remove and destroy the files, Barry and Bernard and two fellow philatelists returned to St Helena and spent five weeks sorting the paperwork and ledgers and putting them into archive boxes. 

Due to the size of the task, Barry and Bernard returned to the island to complete the job, and to write up the Government stamp collection consisting of Ascension, St Helena and Tristan da Cunha stamps. The collection had been kept in very poor conditions on old non-acid-free card but by the end of four and a half weeks 996 album pages had been written up and mounted.

There is now a permanent philatelic display in the museum which is changed on a regular basis.

Acknowledgement to The Sentinel (Newspaper), South Atlantic Services Ltd. (SAMS)

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