Historic RARE early whale company certificate from the Saint Helena Whale Fishery Company issued in 1837. This item has the signatures of the Company's Officers and is over 170 years old.
Saint Helena (pronounced saint he-LEE-na), named after St. Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin and a British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean. 1,200 miles from the western coast of Africa, covering 47 square miles. It is a part of an old volcano; and High Hill is 2,823 feet above the sea. Its shores are cliffs from 600 to 2,000 feet high, cut by deep, narrow valleys. The territory consists of the island of Saint Helena, as well as the dependencies of Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.
Saint Helena is famous for being the place of exile of Napoleon Bonaparte between 1815 and his death in 1821. Longwood House, where Napoleon stayed, and Sane Valley where he was buried, were given to the French government in 1858.
Saint Helena is a member of the International Island Games Association.
The island was discovered on 21 May 1502 by the Portuguese navigator João da Nova and named after Helena of Constantinople. The Portuguese found it uninhabited, and over time built a chapel and some houses, although no permanent settlement was founded. The Portuguese introduced goats as a source of meat and planted lemon trees for future ship crews, a number of whom were left on the island to recover from scurvy and other ailments.
Fernando Lopes was the first long-term resident - a mutilated Portuguese prisoner who escaped from a ship about 1515 and, apart from a brief return journey to meet the Pope, lived on the island until his death in 1545.
Thomas Cavendish became the first Englishman to visit the island, on his ill-fated expedition of 1591.
From about 1600 the island was well known by captains from Portugal, England, France and Holland. The island was used for collecting food and as a rendezvous point but at homebound voyages from Asia only. Sometimes ships waited near the island, when their captains were hoping to pirate hostile richly-loaded ships.
The Dutch claimed the island between 1645 and 1659, when it was settled by the English East India Company under a charter granted by Richard Cromwell, Lord Protector. A permanent settlement — of British colonists and black slaves — was founded at Jamestown, named after James, Duke of York (later King James II). The English East India Company used the Island as a re-victualling station, primarily on the long return voyage from India via the Cape of Good Hope.
The Dutch retook the Island in 1673, but were ejected by the English Navy after two months of occupation. The island was re-granted to the East India Company by Charles II with a charter that constituted them Lords proprietors of the island with all the rights of sovereignty, and free and common socage “as of the manor of East Greenwich in the county of Kent”.
In 1815 the British government selected Saint Helena as the place of detention of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was brought to the island in October of that year and lodged at The Briars, outside Jamestown. In December he was moved to Longwood where he died in May 1821. During this period, which represents only 1% of the island's total time-period history, the island was strongly garrisoned by regular troops supplemented by the Company's St Helena Regiment, and the governor, Sir Hudson Lowe, was nominated by the Crown. The British also took control of Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha at this time, to prevent any French attempts to free Napoleon from being launched from these nearby territories. After Napoleon's death the East India Company resumed full control of Saint Helena until April 22, 1834, on which date it was, in virtue of an act passed in 1833, vested in the British Crown. Brigadier-General Charles Dallas (b.1767–d.1855) was the last Governor of the Island under the East India Company (1828–1835). Napoleon's body was returned to France in 1840.
Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo, son of the Zulu king Cetshwayo, was imprisoned at St Helena from 1890 to 1897.
During the Second Boer War (1899–1902), the British military, fearing that Boer prisoners of war might be freed by sympathisers in South Africa, detained around 5,000 POWs on the island.
As a port of call on the long route to the Cape Colonies and India, the Island enjoyed an increased prosperity, until the construction of the Suez Canal reduced the need for long voyages via the Cape of Good Hope. During World War II, Ascension Island was leased to the United States, where a large airbase was constructed.
After World War II, the prosperity of the Island and its dependencies decreased. A visit by the Duke of Edinburgh to Ascension, Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha for a time raised the profile of the islands.
In April 2005 the British Government announced plans to construct an airport on Saint Helena to bolster the Island's economy, and reduce the dependence on boats to supply the Island. The Airport is expected to be open in 2012, though no firm date has yet been announced. At that time the Royal Mail ship is expected to cease operations.
History from Wikipedia and OldCompanyResearch.com (old stock certificate research service).
In the 1850s, St Helena's capital, Jamestown, was one of the busiest ports in the world with 1,000-1,500 ships passing through each year. East Indiamen stopping on their journey home to England, American whalers revictualling after hunting sperm whales in the Southern Ocean, and Royal Navy ships intercepting slavers making the run between West Africa and the Caribbean - and dropping the freed slaves off in St Helena to recover - all meant that Jamestown was well known in shipping circles. St Helena's private sector flourished, as a full range of services were provided to the visiting seamen and passengers.
Thirty years later, nearly all of the ships had disappeared. The island was in crisis. Large numbers of people emigrated to the Cape to find work. What happened? Several disruptive technologies hit at once. The Suez canal opened in 1869. Steam replaced sail, and quicker journey times meant that ships didn't need to stop for water. The whale population fell dramatically and gas began to replace whale oil for lighting. The slave trade ended. St Helena effectively disappeared off the map.
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