Penquins, Potatoes, & Postage Stamps

A Tristan da Cunha Chronicle

by Allan B Crawford

About the Author

Allan Crawford BEM was born in North Wales in 1912. After schooling at Grange-over-Sands, Windermere and Wellington in Somerset, he followed in his father's footsteps and studied engineering at Vickers-Armstrong Ltd. in Barrow- in-Furness. On a visit to South Africa in 1937, he met a Norwegian scientist bound for Tristan da Cunha and joined his expedition as surveyor. Admiralty Chart No. 1769 is based on Mr Crawford's subsequent survey. Thus began a life long involvement with the island and its people, spanning over 60 years.

After the outbreak of World War II, Allan once again returned to Tristan this time as a meteorologist working for the Royal Naval shore establishment. After the War, he took over the weather station for the civilian authorities and his interest and services to the islanders resulted in his appointment by the Colonial Office as Honorary Welfare Officer.

At that time the island did not have any stamps or any official postal system and Allan's first introduction to "collectors" was his suggested designs for a series of postage stamps for the island in 1946.

Following the issue of the island's first stamps in 1952, many ideas were put forward or solicited for future issues, and Allan has been involved in as many as 16 issues. Very little, if any recognition to the artist appears in the stamp catalogues, as in most cases graphic artists were employed to prepare the final minuscule. However, collectors may now appreciate the more detailed background and the sources of many designs submitted by Allan over the years.

Allan Crawford died in 2007.

Allan is remembered in the form of stamps issued by Tristan da Cuhna. A series of stamps entitled "Life and Times of Allan Crawford (1912 - 2007)" was issued on 1st August 2008 to coincide with Mr Crawford's birthday.

Allan Crawford stamp set
15p - Allan B Crawford MBE
20p The 'Potato' Stamp
50p - First Map
60p - Norwegian Scientific Expedition
85p - Meteorological Office, Marion Island
1.20 - Royal Society Expedition