Bermuda’s first postage stamps were produced locally in 1848 by Hamilton postmaster William B. Perot, consisting of the words “HAMILTON BERMUDA” in a circle, with the year and Perot’s signature in the middle.
Known as the Perot provisionals and only eleven are still known to exist and The Queen has three of them.
They are among the great rarities of philately selling for up to £150,000!
A crown-in-circle design used at St. George’s in 1860, also rare, is attributed to postmaster James H. Thies.
Bermuda’s first stamp, in 1848, was a provisional issued because the postmaster was being cheated by letter-writers.
The first stamps which were first issued in Great Britain in 1840, had not yet appeared in Bermuda when the Hamilton postmaster, William B. Perot, set a fee of 1 penny per ounce for letters both local and abroad. Perot also delivered the mail.
Perot’s Post Office was located in his home. Contemporary accounts depict Perot spending a lot of his time working in his garden, treating interruptions from postal customers as an annoyance. Due to the fact that stamps for prepayment of postage were not available, Perot placed a box at the door of his house for deposit of letters and the 1 penny fee.
Perot regularly noticed that the postal box contained more letters than coins, but he was unable to determine which customers were not paying. The story goes that he mentioned his plight to a neighbour, an American who told him about the postmasters’ provisionals that Virginia postmasters issued in the absence of government-authorised postage stamps.
Perot decided to issue his own by striking his circular hand stamp on a sheet of bluish paper; the resulting black inscription read ‘Hamilton’ across the top and ‘Bermuda’ across the bottom. In the centre, he removed two plugs used to denote the day and month and substituted “One penny” and his name ‘W.B. Perot’; he left the year plug intact.
Perot then cut up the sheets and, commencing on March 1, 1848, sold the stamps as prepayment of postage until 1856. It’s not known how many sheets were produced, but only 11 of the Perot 1 penny stamps in used condition are known to exist.