A century of stamps of Sri Lanka

Format: Book

Author: Ranatunga, D. C

Edition:1st ed.

Publisher: Sarasavi Publishers

Published year: 2006

Pages – 65 : ill. (some col.) ; 22 cm.

ISBN: 9789555734943 | 9555734941

Review on The Sunday Times, 24th September 2006

A century of stamps of Sri Lanka
By Esther Williams
‘A Century of Stamps of Sri Lanka,’ written by D. C. Ranatunga traces the history of Sri Lankan stamps covering more than 100 years since the first stamp. The wealth of information contained in the book enables readers to comprehend how historical events played an integral part in the release of stamps.

There is an intriguing story behind every stamp. The ‘mail runner’ issued in December 1990 for instance, depicts postal runners that along with a mailbag carried a spear for protection as they delivered mail from one point to another. The subsequent mail coaches used between Colombo and Kandy in 1831 are on the Rs.5 stamp released the same year. Of such details and more there is an accurate description.

Remarkably, the first stamp in our country (then known as Ceylon) was issued on April 1, 1857, seventeen years after Great Britain issued the Penny Black, the world’s first adhesive postage stamp.The author further writes that the major breakthrough in the design of stamps came in 1935, with the issue of pictorial stamps rather than profiles of the Queen or the King of England. These stamps depicted colourful scenes of the Harbour, Adam’s peak, elephants, plucking tea, etc.

Thereafter there were stamps released to commemorate events such as the inauguration of a new constitution in 1947, the coronation of the queen in 1953, 2500 years of the passing away of the Buddha in 1956, UN Human Rights Declaration in 1958 and so on. Of the wildlife, poets and philosophers and the stamps in their honour as well as origins of the celebrated tea industry there is a mention.

Amidst such remarkable information are interesting boxes highlighting episodes of how an English School boy came across a rare stamp while rummaging around in his attic, which in 1980 was worth US$ 850,000. All these details are enhanced with pictures – coloured and black and white.

It is evident that stamps reveal our culture, livelihoods, festivals and leaders amongst other significant events. The 65-page book concludes with a note onthe majestic postal headquarters and table of landmarks in stamp history.

The colourful portrayal of the island and world events that had some influence on the country revealed through a history of stamps makes interesting reading. With definite appeal to both the young and old, the Handy Guide Series book is a must for those involved in the fascinating hobby of stamp collecting.