British Guiana Stamps

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A British colony on the northern coast of South America,

A privately run packet services for mail existed in British Guiana 1796, and continued for a number of years. Postage stamps of Britain were used at Georgetown and Berbice. inland Postal system opened 1850.

Cottonreels. The London government established an inland postal system on 1 July 1850, but postage stamps had not yet been produced, so the postmaster in Georgetown went to the local newspaper Royal Gazette and had them print imperforate stamps in the form of an outline circle, with "BRITISH GUIANA" inside the rim, and a denomination, from 2c to 12c, in the middle. The printing was in black, on different colors of paper depending on denomination. These became known as the "Cottonreels", because of the type of printing press used, and are some of the rearest stamps in the world.

The first issue from London finally came in 1852, a very simple typeset design depicting a sailing ship and the colony's motto DAMUS PATIMUS QUE VICISSIM ("we give and expect in return"), also quite rare. Better stamps from London showed up in 1853, engraved and correctly inscribed using PETIMUS instead.

The numbers were apparently insufficient, and in 1856 the postmaster had new 1c and 4c issues printed locally, crudely typeset and imitating the design of the London stamps, motto and all. These are among the rarest of all stamps, and the British Guiana 1c magenta is the rarest, with only one copy known to exist.