Stamps issued from the only post office to operate from within a British prisoner of war camp during the First World War will be sold at auction in London at the end of the month.
Knockaloe Camp, near Peel, was purpose-built using prefabricated huts, and was anticipated to house 5,000 internees, but by the end of the war around 24,500 were held there.
It had 23 compounds divided between four camps, and each camp had its own hospital and theatre.
The camp was so significant that a railway branch line was constructed and the General Post Office established a branch post office.
The Knockaloe post office had its own steel date stamp and printed registration labels. A 2d red stamp on ungummed paper and featuring the camp fence and huts with the three-legged symbol in each corner, was designed and printed within the camp, but withdrawn by the authorities before use. Until 1981 it was believed that only an unused sheet of 21 of these stamps, held by the Manx Museum, existed.
However, in that year the daughter of a former camp guard found eight used examples of the stamps in her deceased father’s belongings.
Then, in 1982, a single unused example was discovered in Spain. This is believed to be the only recorded unused example of this stamp in private hands.
Auctioneers Stanley Gibbons are offering five of the eight known used stamps, and the only unused stamp in private hands, and lots are each expected to make between £500 and £1,300. The auction takes place on July 30-31.
For further details, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stanleygibbons.com