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History of Ceylon Tea is an industry-service project by Dilmah. Click HERE to read more.
31st October 2022


  • The Fergusons in Ceylon by Geoff Pilgrim-Morris
  • Two Famous Collections of Stamps by Hugh Karunanayake
  • Memoirs of the Month -  Remembering Larry Schokman
  • Photo Album of the Month - Stellenberg Estate, Pussellawa
  • Contributor Photo Album of the Month - Stefan de Run
  • Planter Profiles of the Month - Douglas Jenkins and Ted Jenkins
  • Down Memory Lane - Staff photo circa 1930s - Elfindale Estate
  • Historical Events in 1911
  • Tea Radio by Dilmah


Penned by Geoff Pilgrim-Morris, a descendant of the ‘Fergusons’, this is an illuminating piece on arguably some of the most important contributors during British Colonial rule of Ceylon. As a collective, no other family comes close to the contributions made by the Fergusons in Ceylon. Amongst other notable achievements, the famed Fergusons Directories, around which much of the History of Ceylon Tea website revolves, was established by Alistair Ferguson in 1859, and later, was greatly expanded upon by his nephew, John.
The Fergusons in Ceylon
By Geoff Pilgrim-Morris

The name Ferguson was associated with Ceylon coffee and tea for nearly one hundred years though it is perhaps better known because of its journalistic rather than its planting connotation. Indeed, at a seminar of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka on 22nd August 1988 entitled “The Fergusons Contribution to Sri Lankan Studies”, it was said that “Few men, one might say no man, in the history of Sri Lankan journalism so dominated his profession as Alistair Mackenzie Ferguson”.

Click HERE to read the full article.



By Hugh Karunanayake
The collection of stamps as a hobby commenced with the issue of the “Penny Black” in Britain in the mid nineteenth century and rapidly expanded into the colonies of the British Empire, and to the other major metropolitan powers of the world such as France, Portugal, Spain, and the USA. Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria, was acquiring the best of the products and cultures of its far-flung empire. The purchasing power of its wealthy squires encouraged the pursuit of leisure time interests which included the newfound hobby of stamp collecting.

The first postage stamp to be issued in Ceylon was in the six pence denomination – it was issued on 1 April 1857, seventeen years after Britain issued the first adhesive postage stamp in the world, the unperforated “Penny Black”, released on 6 May 1840.

The first Ceylon stamp was recess printed on blued paper with the ‘star’ watermark and bore the left profile of the head of Queen Victoria on an oval backdrop and its colour was purple, brown. From then onwards several more Ceylon stamps of the penny series in the imperforate as well as perforated type, were released over the years until 1872, when the country adopted the decimal currency and switched over to rupees and cents.

The most expensive and difficult to obtain stamps for latter day collectors, were those released in the penny series and are of the 1d, 2d, 4d, 5d, 8d, 9d, 10d, 1s, and 2s denominations. There were four basic designs in the first set of imperforates which included octagonals. The 4d dull rose octagonal stamp is regarded as the rarest and most expensive of all Ceylon stamps. The rarest and most valuable collections of Ceylon stamps are those which have a good representation of penny series stamps.

There have been several outstanding collections of Ceylon stamps auctioned over the years. Harmers of London have been the auctioneers for most of the well-known collections which included the Baron Anthony Worms Collection auctioned in June 1938, the Ernest B Lye Collection auctioned on May 8 1946 by Robson Lowe, the Rear Admiral Frederic Harris Collection auctioned on February 10/11 1953 by Harmers of New York, the Sir Ernest de Silva Collection auctioned on January 12/13 1959, the R.C Agabeg collection auctioned on May 20, 1982, the P.C. Pearson Collection auctioned on April 13 1983, and an unnamed collection auctioned on June 12 1984. Of the collections that have come on the market over the past 150 years two stand out as unique and remarkable both for the quality of the listings as well as their diversity. The two collections are those of Baron Anthony de Worms, and Sir Ernest de Silva.

Baron Anthony de Worms was born on 4 January 1869. He was the son of the first Baron Solomon de Benedict de Worms who was born in Frankfurt but was taken to England by his parents at an early age, and eventually went to Ceylon. Baron Solomon’s father was Benedict de Worms who was married to Janette the eldest sister of Baron de Rothschild the renowned banker and international financier. His two younger brothers Gabriel and Maurice de Worms who also moved to Ceylon were pioneers in plantation development in Ceylon in the mid-19th century.

Click HERE to read the full article.



(Reproduced from the edible SOUTH FLORIDA website - October 16, 2017)

We’re heartbroken to report the death of Larry Schokman, longtime botanical garden director; veteran tea planter; award-winning horticulturist; author; and dear friend. Schokman, 82, died following a heart attack at his home, across the street from The Kampong, part of the National Tropical Botanic Garden, where he served as director for nearly 35 years.

Only a few weeks earlier, Schokman had witnessed – not for the first time – The Kampong’s iconic 22-ton baobab blown over by hurricane winds. The massive tree, planted in 1928 from a seed collected by botanist David Fairchild, had crashed to the ground during Schokman’s tenure by Hurricane Wilma 12 years earlier.

Now righted by a 240-ton crane and supported by stakes, the 12-ft base of the Adansonia digitata will be the final resting place for Schokman’s ashes.
Over decades, Schokman nurtured and expanded The Kampong’s tropical collection and catalogued 1,400 species in Plants of The Kampong, nearly 400 pages of descriptions, images and lore about the property, ranging from its origins as plant explorer David Fairchild’s house to its present status as part of the National Tropical Botanic Garden.

In the book, Schokman highlighted the garden’s economic plants, like cashew nutshell liquid, used in brake linings, and medicinal plants and their uses – turmeric to prevent stomach gas, the hallucinogenics Brugmansia and Datura “sometimes used in Haiti to create zombies.” The book listed the menu for a tropical plant dinner created in 1981 for botanical students, using plants all found at The Kampong, starting with rum punch (fermented and distilled sugarcane, pineapple, key lime), moving on to guacamole and paella, and ending with guava and papaya desserts and, of course, coffee (Coffea arabica) and tea (Camellia sinensis).

Click HERE to read the full article.


Stellenberg Estate, Pussellawa - Manager's Bungalow

Click HERE to view the album.


Stefan de Run

Featuring photos of Ralph de Run's time on Laxapana Estate.

Click HERE to view the album


 (L-R) David Schokman & Ted Jenkins

Click on respective photo to view profile


Charles Edward Fellowes Prynne (seated center in the white suit), Manager Elfindale Estate circa 1930s. His wife Rosie is the lady on the right in the white dress.
In Ceylon
  • First aeroplane brought to Ceylon.
  • New Colombo Central Telegraph Office opened for business.
From around the Globe
  • The first "quasi-official" airmail flight occurs, when Fred Wiseman carries three letters between Petaluma and Santa Rosa, California.
  • The first official air mail flight, second overall, takes place in British India from Allahabad to Naini when Henri Pequet carries 6,500 letters a distance of 13 km.
  • International Women's Day is celebrated for the first time across Europe.
  • The very first Indianapolis 500 automobile race is held in the United States, won by Ray Harroun at an average speed of 74.59 miles per hour.
  • Frank C. Mars starts the Mars Candy Factory in Tacoma, Washington, origin of Mars, Incorporated, the global confectionery and pet food brand.
  • Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is stolen from the Louvre museum in Paris by Vincenzo Peruggia; the painting is returned in 1913.


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