Friday 9 July 2010

Great Britain used in BIOT.

An item I obtained quite by chance in 2004 was a spectacular cover with British stamps applied, all cancelled by a BIOT Post Office cachet. Some free BIOT definitives were given away with an edition of Gibbons Stamp Monthly and as I already possessed the items as part of a complete set I thought I might apply them to a cover and send it to the BIOT and ask the postmaster there to kindly apply a local postmark so that I might have a nice cover genuinely sent through the post from the BIOT. The postmaster was more than obliging - he not only serviced the cover I sent him but also sent it back to me inside a "On Her Majesty's Service" envelope bearing a 2002 "Friends of Chagos" 34p stamp. Both covers were cancelled with a (slightly oval) circular date stamp - "Diego Garcia . Chagos - B.I.O.T." dated 30 November 2004 (the cover I had sent for cancellation) or 08 December 2004 (protective envelope). These were two lovely items to please any philatelist but even more surprising was that the very kind postmaster had also returned the envelope in which I had originally enclosed my cover. This is a remarkable item. It appears that the British Post Office had not cancelled any of the stamps on it so when it had arrived in Diego Garcia the postmaster there cancelled it with the large BIOT cachet as well as the Diego Garcia cds. This was not done on arrival but on 8 December when my cover was being despatched back to me and the cover bearing British stamps was then inserted in the protective cover along with my original item. I therefore received three interesting covers instead of one but, most spectacularly, a cover with an example of British stamps used in the BIOT. What a remarkably kind and helpful gentleman the BIOT postmaster was and what a happy surprise I received when I opened the containing cover from the BIOT on its arrival. The "GB stamps used in BIOT" cover remains one of my favourite items in my entire collection. The illustrations depict the "Friends of Chagos" stamp cancelled by the BIOT cachet, the Great Britain stamps cancelled with the BIOT cachet, the entire GB used in BIOT cover, the Diego Garcia cds, BIOT stamps with cachet and the whole of my original cover.

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