Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) began issuing stamps way back in 1857 but it was not until 1935 that they chose to issue a pictorial set. This expanded the interest in their stamps to the more general collector and the set remains in high demand to this day.
This set of 11 stamps focuses on the scenic beauty of the country and its then main industries and as such appeals to thematic collectors as well as single country specialists. It is a fairly easy set to obtain used, however, complete sets in MNH condition are a challenge.
Anyway below is a few details:
Ceylon 1935 KGV Definitive Set
This is technically a set of 13 stamps, although there are only 11 different designs. This is because the 2c & 3c stamps were issued with two differing perforations the more common ones being perf 11.5 x 14 and the scarcer ones perf 14 all round.
These are normally only of interest to the specialist or completist but should you buy a set it’s always worth checking they occasionally get missed by the seller. used ones are of no additional value so this only applies to mint or MNH sets.
All have some thematic interest and the depictions are covered below.
The Low Values
The normal values to 10c are cheap and easy to obtain either mint or used and are useful thematic covering both views and commerce.
The 2c, 9c & 10c depict traditional agricultural endeavours namely, Rubber Tapping, Tea Picking & Rice Growing. The 6c shows a panoramic view of Columbo Harbour and is probably the most commonly used value. The 3c is possibly the most interesting depicting Adams Peak which has considerable religious significance.
The Mid Values
The mid values are similarly attractive and mainly depict scenic views, except the 25c value which shows the Temple of Tooth. This has an incredibly interesting history and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Top Values
The 50c & 1r are, as is usually the case the most expensive stamps in the set (if you ignore the rarer perf variations) and the 50c is often sought after separately due to its appeal to Animals thematic collectors. The top value shows Trincomalee which is one of Asia’s oldest settlements.
Stamps from this set seem less common on cover than the earlier or later GVI sets. Getting the lower airmail rate stamps is not too difficult but collecting all the values as such will be a challenge.
Several booklets were issued, however, these are beyond the scope of this article and the pockets of all but the most dedicated of philatelists. The 6c and 9c booklets of 30, pictured below were issued in 1935 & 1936. You can expect to pay several hundred pounds for complete examples.
The 9c Booklet from 1936 was later replaced by one filled with 1937 Coronation stamps. Both are scarce.
We have more articles on thematic stamps and even some quizzes about the subject to test your philatelic knowledge if you fancy having a go.