A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cook Islands (Rarotonga)

1937 Scott 110 2 1/2p dark blue 
Coronation of George VI
Overprinted on New Zealand " Elizabeth and King George VI" 
Quick History
The Cook Islands consist of 15 small islands spread out in the south Pacific Ocean. The Cook Islands became a British Protectorate in 1888, and a Dependency of New Zealand  in 1901. The population was 12,000 in 1936, and the Capital is Rarotonga. Stamps were issued beginning in 1892. Aitutaki (1903-32), and Penrhyn Islands (1902-32), part of the group, also have had separate stamp issues with the dates listed. Since 1965, the Cook Islands are in "free association" with New Zealand, and the inhabitants are New Zealand citizens.

Cook Islands naming history: British captain James Cook arrived in 1773 and 1777, and named them the Hervey Islands. But a Russian naval chart from the 1820s called them the "Cook Islands", and the name has persisted.

1935 Scott 92 1p dark carmine & black "Captain James Cook"
Has wmk. 61 and Perf 14
Big Blue Picture
Big Blue '97, on one page , has 37 stamp spaces from 1893-1937. The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 115 major stamp descriptions. Coverage by Big Blue is 32%.

The Cook Islands have no stamps over the $35 dollar cutoff for the "most expensive list", but have two stamp spaces (Scott 1 or 5, 44,) that miss it by a few dollars, and many more that are in the $5+-$10+ category. Inexpensive the Cook Islands are not. ;-) The 1893-1919 issues (12 stamp spaces) and the 1932-36 issues (7 stamp spaces) often have 2-3 Scott choices per space ; so also simple it's not. ;-) Then there are the 1944-46 issues, clearly ineligible for BB by dates, that mimic the 1932-36 "type"issues, and are often less costly. One should be aware of these impostors.

One is left then with few "additionals", but there are some curious exceptions. The Cook Islands "Silver Jubilee" issue of 1935 (Scott 98-100)- which consists of overprinted Cook Island stamps- are NOT in BB, even though the price is a modest <$1-$2+. Other "additionals" include the choices not taken in the checklist for the 1893-1919 issues, and 56,58,59,65,78,115 (<$1-$2+). That's it.

1932 Scott 84 1/2p deep green (center in black) "Landing of Captain Cook"
Has Perf 13 and is unwmk.
Big Blue Checklist
1p black (A1 design): 1 or 5 ($30+)

("Wrybill" design)
1/2 p blue: 15($5+)
1/2p green: 27($5+) or 30($2+) or 39($5+)
2p (Illust): 19 chocolate (5+) or 33 chocolate($5+) or 42 deep brown($5+)
1s carmine rose: 24($50+) or 38($50+) or 44($30+)
Note: stamps vary by unwmk/wmk61, perf, and paper

("Queen Makea Taku" design)
1p (illust): 9 brown($40+) or 16 brown($20+) or 40 red($5+)
Note: stamps vary by unwmk/wmk, and perf

("Queen Makea Taku" design-continued)
1p blue: 10($2+) or 17($5+)
1p rose: 28($10+) or 31($2+)
1 1/2p bright violet*: 11($5+) or 32($2+)
2 1/2p dull blue: 29($10+) or 34($2+)
Two blank spaces: suggest choices not taken above, or 13($10+) and/or 20($10+)
*Note: 1 1/2p Scott 18 violet($5+) and Scott 41 purple ($2+) ruled out for color
Note: stamps vary by unwmk/wmk61, perf

1919 (New Zealand stamps 1909-19 overprinted "Rarotonga" and surcharged)

1919 (continued)
50,51,53,52 3p chocolate*,55,57,($1+-$2+)
*Note: 3p Scott 54 violet brown($2+) ruled out for color.

1938 King George VI

1920-27 "Rarotonga" inscribed Pictorials
61 or 72 ($5+), 62 or 73 ($5+-$2+), 63($5+),76($5+),64($2+),77($5+)

1932-36 "Cook Islands" inscribed Pictorials
1/2 p: 84 deep green(2+) or 91 deep green($1+)
1p: 85 brown lake($5+) or 92 dark carmine & black($1+)
2p: 86 brown($2+) or 93 brown & black(<$1)
2 1/2p: 87 dark ultra($10+) or 94 dark ultra & black($1+)
4p: 88 ultra($10+) or 95 ultra & black(<$1)
6p: 89 orange ($2+) or 96 orange & black($1+)
Note: Scott 84-90 is unwmk, Perf 13; while Scott 91-97 is wmk 61, Perf 14.

1932-36 (continued)
1sh: 90 deep violet($10+) or 97 deep violet & black($30+)

Note: There are "1932-36 types",Perf 14, wmk 253?, issued 1944-46 and therefore not eligible for BB.
1/2p: 116 dark olive green & black(<$1)
1p: 117 dark carmine & black($1+)
2p: 118 brown & black((<$1)
2 1/2p: 119 dark blue & black(<$1)
4p 120 blue & black(($2+)
6p: 121 orange & black((<$1)
1sh: 122 dark red brown & black((<$1)
Differentiate by Color, Perf, and unwmk/wmk61 vs wmk 253?
(Note: 1944-46 issues wmk 253? Unclear to me in Scott)

1937 ( New Zealand Coronation issue overprinted "COOK IS'DS)

Cook Islands
Kinds of Blue
The '97,'69,'47, and '41 editions are all identical in content. Note that the Cook Islands are located before Cyprus in the '69 edition. In the '47 and '41 editions, the Cook Islands are located after Congo (Belgian Congo).

1936 Scott 93 2p brown & black "Double Canoe"
Has Perf 14 and wmk. 61
Big Blue Bottom Line
The Cook Island stamps are a little trickier than I expected. One may need the Perforation gauge, Watermark tray, and a keen eye for color to differentiate. Also there are no bargains to be had here.
I've really said nothing about the stamp designs themselves. Well, if one examines the Cook Island issues, one will immediately understand their popularity. ;-)

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.

If you enjoyed this post, or have some information to share, or have some constructive criticism, please share your thoughts and reactions in the "comment" section. Thanks!

Note: You will need to consult a Scott catalogue for specific pricing. I only give a very "ball park" price, and never the actual catalogue value.
<$1= less than a Dollar
$1+= more than a Dollar
$2+= more than two Dollars
$5+= more than five Dollars
$10+= more than ten Dollars
$20+..and so on.


  1. Very impressive work. I'm trying to fill a Minkus comprehensive album (up to 1958) and can identify with all your issues. Great job! I enjoy reading your blog.

  2. Thanks for the kind words-it's been fun. :-)

    Ice man, have fun with the Minkus!

    Jim Jackson

  3. Jim,
    Any insights or tips on how to tell genuine vs. forgery of the early (1892) Cook Island stamps?

    1. http://stampforgeries.com/forged-stamps-of-cook-islands/



      Chris- Here are some resources. I don't have any examples myself.

  4. Jim,
    Great, thanks! I looked at "stampforgeries.com" but they don't point out the specific differences, and I can't tell. I will look at the other two references.

    1. The third reference- "Number 1's of the World"- shows and describes in detail the genuine/forgery.

  5. Thanks a bunch, that third reference was exactly what I was looking for.