Henry William Cave came to Ceylon in 1872, at the age of eighteen, to work as the Secretary to the Archbishop of Colombo. Four years later he established a bookstore. Soon the business expanded its merchandise to include musical instruments and eventually a wide variety of other consumer goods which found a ready market amongst entertainment hungry planters. Cave returned to England in 1886, the year in which this stamp, bearing the imprint of his company was issued. However, he continued to be interested in H.W. Cave and Company until his death in 1913.
These private overprints, similar to private "perfins," were intended to prevent theft of stamps for non-business use by employees. They are the private equivalents of various official overprints such as "On Service".
Although the pictorial definitives of 1935-1936 were issued long after
W.H. Cave's time, they do portray the plantation economy of the colony.
© Grose Educational Media, 2003-2013