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...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

French Oceania (Polynesia) and Tahiti

1929 Postage Due 2fr brown red & dark brown "Tahitian Youth"
Quick History
French Oceania was a French colony formed in 1903 from several groups of South Pacific Polynesian islands. The islands included the Marquesas, the Tuamotu Archipelago and Gambier, and the Austral and Bass groupings. The most important group was the Society islands; and above all Tahiti with the Capital Papeete. The population was 51,000 in 1941.

French Polynesia on the globe
A French protectorate was established over the islands in 1889, but Tahiti has been a French protectorate since 1842. By 1880, Tahiti was declared a colony. Stamps overprinted "Tahiti" can be found on the French Colonies issues beginning in 1882. Overprinted stamps through 1903 are separately catalogued until Tahiti became a member of the French Oceania grouping colony.

French Polynesia
The French Oceania colony stamps began in 1892 with the familiar "Navigation and Commerce" issue. They were imprinted as "ÉTABLISEMENTS DE L'OCEONIE". French Oceania continued until 1946, when the Polynesians were granted French citizenship. Then the islands status became an overseas territory, and the name was changed to Polynésie Française. 

French Polynesia today
Finally, French Polynesia became an overseas collectivity of France in 2004.

1937 90c red "France and the Empire"
Paris International Exposition: Colonial Arts Exposition
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott classic catalogue has 59 major descriptions for Tahiti between 1882-1903 for overprinted regular and postage due stamps. A few are found in the $10-$40 CV category, but many are several hundred dollars in valuation. I don't have any. ;-)

For the French Oceania colony, Scott has 154 descriptions for regular, semi-postal, air post, and postage due categories from 1892-1940. Seventy-six stamps, or 49%, are valued at a very reasonable <$1-$2+.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1893 Scott 10 15c blue
Stamps of French Colonies
Handstamped in Black
As mentioned, Tahiti stamps can be found overprinted/surcharged on French Colony stamps from 1882-1903. This is illustrated above with a 1893 issue. If one was specializing, collecting some of these stamps ( minimum CV $10-$60) might be attractive.

1900 10c red "Navigation and Commerce"
Part of the first issue for French Oceania
The first issue for the new grouping of islands-French Oceania- has the familiar "Navigation and Commerce" design. This 20 stamp issue from 1892-1907 has five stamps valued <$5, and twelve more for <$20.

1927 20c brown red & dark brown "Tahitian Girl"
Part of a 34 stamp issue 1913-30
The first issue featuring local portraits/scenes was a 34 stamp three design bi-color series produced from 1913-1930. Twelve stamps had the striking "Tahitian Girl" motif illustrated above.

1926 50c gray & blue violet "Kanakas"
Second design in issue: SON Papeete Tahiti
Sixteen stamps in the 1913-30 issue had the "Kanakas" design. "Kanakas" means Pacific Island Worker. But, Polynesian men were often referred to as "Kanakas", which can also mean "boy". This word now has pejorative connotations, and is an offensive term for a Pacific islander.

1925 85c on 1fr dark blue 7 olive "Fautaua Valley"
Third design: Type of 1913-30 surcharged in red
The last design (illustrated above) was found on six higher denomination stamps, and CV is $3+-$15. Between 1916-27, thirteen of the 1913-30 series were overprinted/surcharged, as illustrated above.

1934-40 5c violet "Spear Fishing"
Part of a 37 stamp issue.
In 1934, a new series was produced featuring three local portraits/scenes. This design was found on the eight lower denomination stamps.

1938 80c violet brown "Tahitian Girl"
The second design had a "Tahitian Girl", obviously posing and looking at the us, as the subject. This motif is found on 14 stamps.

1939 1.60fr dull violet "idols"
The last design, found on 15 stamps, has totems or idols as the motif. Well designed; I like it. ;-)

Deep Blue
French Oceania has thirteen pages in Deep Blue, and I have stamps on ten pages. I didn't check the Fiji section, as I have no stamps presently.

First page of a two page layout for the 1913-30 issue in Deep Blue
One of the strong points of Bill Steiner's (Deep Blue) album is the simple, but elegant layout presented for a stamp series. Very visually attractive and appealing. And of course the stamps are listed in chronological Scott order for the most part which makes as easy transition into the album.

1924-27 Stamps of 1913-30 Surcharged
New values and bars
Small series are logically together and attractively presented. What's not to like? ;-)

1929 3fr green & dark brown "Papetoai Bay, Moorea"
Big Blue
Listed under "French Polynesia", BB '69 has four pages with 104 spaces for regular, semi-postal, air post and postage due categories. Coverage is 68%. Among the  more expensive stampsis the 1892 "Navigation & Commerce" 15c blue (quadrille paper) @ $12.


Simple Checklist

1892-1900
1,2,3,4,5,7,8,

1913-15
21,22,23,24,26,29,30,
33,39,40,41,47,49,

1916
56,

1922
25,27,34,36,43,60,

1924
64,65,66,

1925
61,

Next Page

1925
62,

1925-26
28,31,37,44,45,

1927
63,68,

1927-30
32,38,46,48,
51,52,72,

1934-38
80,
81,83,84,85,
86,87,88,89,
91,92,93,95,

Next Page

1934-38
96,98,100,101,
102,103,104,107,
109,110,

1938
117,120,

1937
118,119,121,122,

1939
82,90,94,97,
99,105,106,108,

Next Page

1940
111,112,113,114,

Air Post
1934
C1

Postage due
1926
J1,J2,J3,J4,J5,

1929
J10,J11,J12,J13,J14,
J15,J16,J17,

Semi-postal
1915-16
B3,B4,

1938
B5

Comments
A) ( ) indicates a suggested blank space choice
B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1892-1900 
Scott 8 15c blue, quadrille paper "Navigation and Commerce" $10+

1927-30
Scott 52 1.50fr indigo & black “Fautaua Valley” $10+

Semi-postal
1938
Scott B5 1.75fr + 50c bright blue “Curie” $20

1934 Air Post 5fr green "Seaplane in Flight"
Out of the Blue
It's not hard to find Papeete (The Capital) or Tahiti (Most populous island) postmarks on these stamps. A challenge would be to find them for the other island groups. ;-)

Would appreciate a comment!

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