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, December 1, 2011


1938 1sh black & yellow "Spear Fishing at Night"
Quick History
Fiji is today an island country archipelago of 332 islands (110 inhabited), but most of the population lives on Viti Levu or Vanua Leva. The name 'Fiji" is derived from the pronunciation of "Viti" by their Tongan island neighbors, who called the island "Fisi". Fiji is located 1,300 miles northeast of New Zealand in the South Pacific Ocean. The Capital is Suva, and the population was 240,000 in 1943.

Fiji  had a strong connection to the Polynesian cultures of Samoa and Tonga. Cannibalism between warring tribes was common. The islands were subjugated ,and became a British Colony in 1874. Fiji gained independence in 1970.

1896 1p lilac rose "Fijian Canoe"
Into the Deep Blue
Affordable collectability
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1870-1951, 164 major stamp descriptions for regular, semi-postal, postage due, and war tax stamps.
Prior to 1900: 54 stamps: <$20 - 12 stamps; Of those 4 are <$5.
1900-1951: 110 stamps: <$5 - 64 stamps; of those 32 are <$1.
Total "inexpensive" stamps: 76
Affordability Index = 47%.

The 48 stamps issues prior to 1891 are fairly expensive. And the iconic "Fiji Times" nine stamp newspaper issue of 1870-71, the first issue, runs four digits. ;-)  But fortunately after 1892, the costs are within the realm of the frugal Deep Blue collector.

1903 1/2p gray green & pale green "Edward VII"
1904 1/2p green & pale green - SON with Suva, the Capital
Wmk Crown CA & wmk Multiple Crown CA respectively
A closer look at the stamps and issues
As stated, the earlier issues are expensive. But more notably, except for a two stamps, they do NOT show a portrait of Queen Victoria. Rather, they have a "Crown and C.R. (Cakobau Rex)" or a "Crown and V.R. (Victoria Rex?)" design, or a "V.R." overprint. Interesting. I'm not sure of the reason. Perhaps a reader knows? There is an illustration of the "Crown and V.R." design on the blog.

There is a nice "Fijian Canoe" design  found on four stamps between 1893-96. That design is illustrated above.

After 1903 with the King Edward VII issue, Fijian stamps follow the more traditional British Colony patterns.
As is usual with the King Edward VII issues, for a particular denomination, they are given separate major numbers depending on the watermark. See the illustration above.

Die I: 1912 1/2p green "George V"
Die II: 1922 1/2 green-note the crown is not dropped down as far

What is different about Fiji ( and some other British Colonies) is that the George V issues come in two engraving types: Die I or Die II. How to tell them apart?
1)  Look at the curlicue arabesque at the extreme outer lower right and left corners, and follow it as it becomes vertical. Die I will have a little "bud" sticking out along this line, while Die II will not.
2) The solid color side panels bearing the words "Postage" and "Revenue" are "squarer" on the inside top corners in Die I compared to Die II.
3) The second horizontal thick colored line below the name "Fiji" where it meets the crown is slanted upwards (diagonally)  in Die I, while slanted more vertically or slightly downwards in Die II. 
4)The base of the crown is below the inner white line around the vignette in Die I, while the base of the crown is aligned with the underside of the white line in Die II. 

1914 4p black & red on yellow
1922 5p dull violet & olive green
Here is another example. Can you determine which one is Die I and which is Die II? There is another way to tell, at least with the Fiji stamps. Die I is always watermark Multiple Crown CA (wmk 3), while Die II is Multiple Crown and Script CA (wmk 4). ;-)

1938 1 1/2p rose carmine "Outrigger Canoe"
Note the empty canoe
The 1938 King George VI pictorials come with some redrawn varieties. There are also different perforation varieties, which are given minor numbers in Scott. Finally, if you have the SG 1840-1970, they illustrate five consistent plate flaws to look for; and yes they are worth a lot more. ;-)

But back to the redrawn varieties. The original 1938 1 1/2p rose carmine illustrated above is worth $10+ mint. Why? Because the redrawn varieties of 1940,42,44 (with different perforations) show a man in the canoe! Check your collection to see if you have one or both varieties.

1938 2p green & orange brown "Map of Fiji Islands"
Redrawn 1940-48 2 1/2p green & orange brown 
Note the added inscribed "180 degree" below the "Fiji Islands" letters

The 2p, 2 1/2p, and the 6p redrawn varieties have the added "180 degree" script on the stamp as illustrated above. The redrawn 2p is worth $20+, so it may be worthwhile to check your collection. ;-)

Deep Blue
All the major Scott numbers for Fiji are found in Deep Blue. Not much of a chance I will ever fill any of the "Fiji Times" stamp spaces though. ;-)  What IS nice is Deep Blue provides 10 spaces for the minor number 1938 George VI issue perforation varieties. I am grateful as these perforation varieties are fairly common.

1892 1/2p greenish black "Crown and V.R."
Big Blue
Big Blue, on two pages, has 58 stamp spaces. Of interest is BB illustrates a one penny "Crown and C R" (Cakobau Rex) stamp. The date is listed for the five stamp row as 1878-91, and the other descriptions match the 1878 issues ($1+-$5+), which are "Crown and V R" design stamps.  But the illustration in BB sure matches the 1871 Scott 15 1p blue for $60+. ! So there is a "most expensive" stamp addition, if you choose the illustration, rather than the date restriction. ;-)  See below for a pic.

A Dilemma: The choice is-
1871 Scott 15 1p blue $62 for the "C R" stamp illustration, or
1879 Scott 40 1p ultra, a "V R" stamp, which would agree with BB's 1878-91 date

Simple Checklist
15 ($60+)( illustration) or 40 ($7)(date),41,57,42,(43)





79,80 or 94,81,96,97,98,83,
84,99,85 or 100,86 or 101,87 or 102,(88 or 103),(93),
Next Page


117,119 or 132, 120 or 133, 125 or 135

War tax

Postage due

A) See discussion about Illustration/Date dilemma (Scott 15 or 40)
B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1871 Scott 15 1p blue $62 if choose illustration, or 1879 Scott 40 1P ultra $7 if choose date restriction
1910 Scott 74 6p violet $15 mint
Scott 123 5p rose red & blue $13

BTW, the native King Cakobau renewed his offer to cede Fiji to great Britain, and this took place on 12 October 1874 according to the SG catalogue. After that date, the stamps were overprinted V.R., and later ( as illustrated above), stamps with the Crown and V.R. were issued. Must mean "Victoria Rex"*. ! ?  ;-)

*Note: Reader Dennis correctly provides the answer. The V.R. is for "Victoria Regina", and is the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria (1837-1901)

Victoria Regina
Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria
1848 Blockhouse Hill Cast Iron Cannon
Town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Out of the Blue
Interesting Die varieties and 1938-40 King George VI series re-engravings.

Note: Cannon pictorial image appear to be in the public domain.

Have a thought? Would like to hear from you!


  1. Victoria Regina?

    Thanks for the helpful and more thorough explanation of the differences between the two dies than the one found in the front of Scott catalogues. I will be bookmarking this thread for future reference.


  2. Thanks Dennis!

    I included more information about the Royal Cypher, "Victoria Regina" in the blog.

    Providing the classical WW collector with "show and tell" information on the more difficult issues for a country (if I have the material) is a goal I have. :-)