June 11, 2015

1649 UNITED KINGDOM (Turks and Caicos Islands) - Wild donkeys in Salt Cay

The Salt Cay, the second largest and southernmost inhabited island in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is, according to the official website, "home to 101 friendly souls rich in heritage and Caribbean culture, plus privately-owned cattle, numerous chickens, a small herd of wild donkeys, and 2 iguanas." It seems that donkeys were brought to Grand Turk by the Bermudians in the 15th century, so it is possible that they have been residents of Grand Turk longer than people. It was a common practice in the 1500s and 1600s for sailors to leave animals on islands throughout the Caribbean. This provided a source of fresh meat during long voyages and became a source for draft animals when various islands were settled.

Bermudian salt collectors settled the Turks Islands around 1680. The processing of sea salt was developed as a highly important export product from the West Indies, and continued to be until the 19th century. It is assumed that the donkeys on Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos were used by Bermudians when they came to rake salt seasonally. The animals would have been used to haul salt from the salinas to small boats that would take the salt to waiting ships. Then, they would have been left to forage on their own until needed during the next salt raking season.

About the stamps

The first stamp, depicting an illustration  from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, is part of a series issued in 2012 to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of the famous English writer.
• Illustration from A Tale of Two Cities - It's on the postcard 1649
• Illustration from A Christmas Carol - It's on the postcard 1699
• Statue of the writer in Philadelphia - It's on the postcard 1705
• Portrait of the writer c. 1869 - It's on the postcard 1754

The second is one of the series In Memoriam Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), about which I wrote here.

About Salt Cay - Salt Cay Divers website
Where did all the donkey carts go?, by Dr. Neal Hitch - Times of The Islands website

Sender: Denise 
Sent from Providenciales (Providenciales / Turks and Caicos Islands), on 15.04.2015
Photo: S. Passmore

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