Young Martin, at age 18, had made a Lundy day trip in 1903. He was so enamoured with the Island that when Lundy came up for sale 22 years later he bought it, paying £25,000 which included the supply boat MV Lerina.
During 29 years of ownership he put his distinctive stamp on Lundy, literally. When the GPO withdrew its postal service in 1927 he initially handled all the mail at his own expense. In 1929, to offset the cost, he introduced his own “Puffin” stamps. These continue to this day and the early issues have become serious collectors’ items.
The stamps led to an Island currency, in denominations of half and one puffin. However this fell foul of the Coinage Act 1870 and despite Harman’s contention that Lundy was a self-governing dominion he was fined £5, with 15 guineas costs. The coins were withdrawn from circulation, becoming collectors’ pieces too.
As a keen naturalist he introduced several animal species, most successfully the Lundy Ponies, the Sika deer and Soay sheep and was instrumental in the formation of the Lundy Field Society, to which he subscribed a gift of £50 and allowed use of the Old Light as a headquarters and hostel.
When Martin died in 1954 his son Albion continued with his vision but upon Albion’s demise in 1968 his wife and sisters regretfully put Lundy up for sale.
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