From a fellow motorcycle philatelist I saw a really used envelope
franked with the stamps of Bernera. Normally I am rather reserved to
declare this type of stamps official, but when I see a used envelope it is
much easier to accept them as stamps.
Lets first look where this island is located. After a
lot of searching it appeared to belong to the Isle of Lewis, one of
the Outer Hebrides, lying to the north-west of Scotland. This region
is famous to us philatelists because of its numerous doubtful postal
administrations (Pabay, Islay, St. Kilda, Easdale and so on). At the
bottom of the Hebrides there is a small island with almost the same
name, Berneray, but "our" island , Great Bernera (in
Gaidhlig called Bearnaraigh), lies more to the north. In Loch Roag
next to the place Garanahyne we finally find this island, that only
counts a few square kilometres.
The inhabitants live from lobster catching. The most famous lobster
catcher is Murdo Morrison, who let built a bank in the bay, which lies
just below the water level during high tide. During low tide lobsters
stayed lying on this bank, and he raked them together to cook and sell
Although there are only a few roads on the island, and thus there is
not much possibility for motorcycling, they have issued these stamps. In
the meantime we know that the rights to issue stamps on behalf of this
type of islands can just be bought, and this makes them artefacts.
The stamps that are important for us have been issued in 1982. I don't
know the exact date. There are 2 stamps of 40 and 60 pence, issued as a
block, and 2 large non-perforated stamps of 1 and 2 pounds. The block with
the lowe valu stamps can be found both perforated and non-perforated.
The stamp of 40 pence shows a Suzuki road racing motorcycle with rider.
The number on the fairing suggests that the rider in the previous year has
ended at that position in the World Championship. The yellow background
indicates a 500 cc machine. In the years short before the issue of this
stamp (1982) Suzuki scored 3rd places in the WC-list in '76, '77, '79 and
'80. In 1979 Barry Sheen ended as 3rd on Suzuki, but he always had the
number 7 on his fairing. In 1980 it was Marco Lucchinelli, but he rode,
just like Uncini, fully in blue. In '76 and '77 it was Pat Hennen who
claimed the number 3, and he rode in mainly red. Hennen was the first
American to win a GP motorcycle race. This was on the circuit of Imatra,
in the 500 cc Grand Prix of Finland in 1976.
The second stamp, with a value of 60 pence, shows according to the
caption a Honda 125 cc. After a good look at the drawing I think that this
is a 2-stroke model, partly due to the fact that it does not have a front
However, as far as I know Honda has never built such a 125 cc street
model. The model that comes most close is the MB100, which was built in
On the stamp of 1 pound we find the brand Hobart. Hobart was a Coventry
based manufacturer of engine blocks, frames and other parts that were
mainly supplied to other motorcycle manufacturers. From 1901 to 1923 they
assembled these parts to complete motorcycles under their own name. The
McKenzie motorcycles were built in the same factory. The model on the
stamp is the 2 3/4 horse power side valve machine from 1904.
The stamp of 2 pounds wears the image of the 250 cc Ossa trial
motorcycle from Spain. The drawing in fact is not complete, because a
trial motor must be suitable to ride on the public road, and must thus be
equipped with, amongst others, (brake) lights and license plate. Perhaps
the motorcycle is still to new for a license, but without lights it is a
cross motorcycle according to the FIM regulations.
I think this is enough for now about the stamps from Bernera. If you do
have some complementary information or remarks, please let me know.
Hans de Kloet.
(Translation: Paul Essens)
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