Time to take a look at the 2021 Lighthouse stamps. Lighthouses are a popular theme. How popular? Well, there are entire websites devoted all things lighthouses, including stamps. So, it’s only fitting I look at this year’s offerings from 5 countries:
- New Caledonia
There are a few stamps with lighthouses in the background or where one is located but I opted to leave them off the list. This article is strictly stamps that have lighthouses as their central feature.
The first comes via Estonia. Roman Matkiewicz’s long running series on Estonian Lighthouses began in 2004. Each set has a stamp, FDC, cancel, maxi card and info card. 2021’s lighthouse is the Letipea Tuletorn, located on the Letipea Point, Viru-Nigula Parish, Lääne-Viru County. Or, if you prefer the coordinates, 59.552458°N 26.606920°E.
The original lighthouse was built in 1815, and rebuilt in 1936. The ’36 structure was blown up during WW1 and rebuilt, again, around 1951. Although not open to the public, you can see a few photos taken by intrepid hikers on Instagram using #letipeatuletorn.
Estonia’s 2021 stamps can be seen here.
The next stamp is a July 1, German release. The Tinsdale Lighthouse set has 3 perfect cancels. So if you collect lighthouses, you have to get these. Also included in designer Team Rogger’s set is a single stamp and maxi card.
You can find it at 53°33.57.6′ north latitude and 9°44.24.4′ east longitude, or google Am Leuchtturm, 22559 Hamburg. It began operating January 1,1900 as a kerosene wick lamp lighthouse, switching to gas & incandescent light in 1927. By 1966, the much loved lighthouse was hooked into the local power grid and no longer needed to be fully manned. In 1979 German authorities automated it, and it’s now runs by remote control. You can visit the lighthouse, just look up the address above and off you go.
Germany’s 2021 stamps can be seen here.
Latvian featured the Irbes Bāka Lighthouse on their September 17 stamp, FDC and cancel from designer A. Ozola-Jaunarāja.
Irbe lighthouse isn’t accessible to tourists, which is why it has a helicopter on the FDC. You want to go? Better get permission and a helicopter. Located in the Baltic sea, 20 kilometers north of Ovisi, this Soviet built lighthouse took 5 years to construct. It became operational in 1985. It’s accessible by helicopter or boat, but most accounts say it’s a dangerous shoal to traverse. I tried to find coordinates for the Irbes, but had no luck. If you happen to have them, pop them in the comments.
Prior to the Irbe’s construction, duties were maintained by a floating lighthouse, the Irbensky lightship. The story behind the Irbensky can be found here Floating lighthouse “IRBENSKY” – The Museum of the World Ocean (world-ocean.ru). The sight also has some great blueprints and a fascinating history on the Irbensky.
See Latvia’s 2021 stamps.
New Caledonia’s Lighthouse Stamps
Moving along to the Pacific, is New Caledonia’s Aug. 18 Tabou Lighthouse. Jean-Jacques Mahuteau designed a single stamp, FDC, cancel and sheet for this issue. The sheet of stamps has a lot to take in.
Much easier to find at 22°28′53.0″S 166°26′57.2″E than the Irbe, but still not accessible to ambling tourists. It sits atop the Tabou Reef, about 2 km off the coast of New Caledonia. And about 2 km from it’s more famous sister lighthouse the Amédée. You can only get there by boat, but not advisable without permission.
Interesting stamp. It shows the lighthouse during 2 stages. The large image, shows the foundations for this lighthouse as they being laid in 1890. The smaller image, is the Tabou in 2021, 131 years later. Still in operation, the last lighthouse keeper left in 1950 when the Tabou was fully automated.
The sheet features interesting details in the margins. If you aren’t familiar with Mahuteau, you should check out his other New Caledonia stamps from 2021. He’s good at including lots of details to examine. The Tabou is his best of the year.
Starting at the mid right side and going counter clockwise:
- Alexandre Guepy, lighthouse keeper from 1911 to 1934.
- 2021 image of Tabou.
- An 1888 map of the south west side of New Caledonia, showing locations of the two lighthouses off the point.
- Lieutenant de vaisscau Léon Chambeyron, middle left, conducted extensive hydrographic work around New Caledonia between 1859 to 1880.
- Illustration of the 1885 construction of the lighthouse.
- Illustration of Tabou and Amédée lighthouses.
- and best for last a Fresnel lamp & the lens used.
Lots of great details to look at. Click on the sheet below and it should expand to an extra large size to examine.
See all of New Caledonia stamps for 2021
Lighthouse stamps, off to the USA
Mid-Atlantic Lighthouses featured the late Howard Koslow’s artwork. This is the 7th, and final set, in the USPS’s series that began in 1990. The set includes 5 stamps, 2 cancels, FDCs, and a sheet. In order the lighthouses are Montauk Point, NY, Navesink, New Jersey, Erie Harbour, Pennsylvania, Harbor of Refuge, Delaware, and Thomas Point Shoak, Maryland.
Montauk Point, NY is a grand old dame of US lighthouses, with service starting in 1797. Montauk is the 4th oldest lighthouse in the US and the oldest in NY state and is now an historic national monument. It can be visited by tourists (but be nice to the building and treat it with respect). It’s undergone a number of restoration jobs and upgrades through the centuries. You can find it here 41°04′16″N 71°51′26″W.
Navesink, New Jersey is the next on the list, and dates to 1862, with earlier structures established in 1828. Both the north and south towers have been retired. The north in 1898; the south 1952. Use 40°23′46.4″N 73°59′8.8″W to locate the towers. Navesink is also an historic monument that can be visited by tourists.
Erie Harbour, Pennsylvania, is distinctive with it’s square shape and black and white stripes. Going live in 1857, the Erie lighthouse went solar powered in 1995. The original lighthouse was built in 1830 but destroyed in a ship collision in 1855. 42°09′24.12″N 80°04′14.16″W will find it for you.
Harbor of Refuge, Delaware lighthouse can be found at 38°47′59″N 75°6′27″W. The first structure was established in 1902, and replaced with the current one in 1926. It uses what’s called the “sparkplug” or “caisson” style. The Harbor lighthouse has been repeatedly damaged this century by severe weather – hurricanes, severe winters – forcing substantial repairs that were completed in 2017. You can visit it, via boat tours.
And the last lighthouse on our list is the most delightful. Yes, I purposely laid this article out so I could save this one for the end. Thomas Point Shoal, Maryland is located in the Chesapeake Bay at 38.899°N 76.436°W. The original lighthouse dates to 1825 and replaced with the current structure in 1875. It is also accessible via boat tours, which began in 2007. The Thomas Point wasn’t automated until 1986. The design is called a “cottage screwpile” lighthouse and of all the various lighthouse designs, this is my favourite. It’s charming, and not too many stairs. Yup, I’d love to visit this one.
If you are so inclined, the US Lighthouse Preservation Society could always use a bit of help maintaining the many lighthouses that dot America’s shores. Donate | US Lighthouse Society (uslhs.org) At times, it must feel as though they are fighting a losing battle against the elements, so check the link to help them out if you can.
If you have a link to other lighthouse preservation societies around the world, leave them in the comments.
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