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 by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

New Hebrides - Bud's Big Blue

New Hebrides, French: 1925 Scott 50 50c (5p) ultramarine
Upside down, Port Vila cancel
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

New Hebrides has attracted an enthusiastic cadre of specialists; so much the better for us generalists.

I particularly like Roland Klinger’s database (https://www.ro-klinger.de/NH/index.htm). He’s thorough and avuncular in a chatty sort of way -- and he brooks no non-sense, of which there is a sizeable amount when it comes to New Hebrides stamps. Check his web pages often as you fill Big Blue’s spaces.

For example, there is much excitement about a 1903 fantasy stamp which shows a missionary being roasted on a spit. The originals, of which three still exist, were printed on pink paper, according to Klinger. As might be expected, forgers have gone berserk faking a fantasy. A green flimflam currently being offered on eBay costs GBP39.99.

Make no mistake, a few early missionaries to the South Pacific were cannibalized. But none were commemorated philatelically, including the hapless Presbyter Cocidus named on the fantasy stamp. For images, if you must, google "roasted missionary".

The keen interest in New Hebrides stamps is no doubt largely attributable to the condominium arrangement wherein France and Great Britain shared a single colony. The French and British each had their own stamps, and also separate settlements, schools, churches, markets, and so forth. The stamps were designed by the French and printed by the British -- same images, different inscriptions in the banners (“New” and “Nouvelles”). The two colonizing powers got along well enough with each other; with the indigenous peoples, not so much.

As is the case in many South Pacific nations’ stamps, used New Hebrides stamps ordinarily command higher prices than mint stamps. All but two of mine are, alas, mint. One of the two (shown above upside down) is common, cancelled in Port Vila in December, 1931. Klinger labels this variety as PM6.

New Hebrides, French: 1911 Scott 12 10c red
Port Vila blue cancel

The second cancellation is more interesting. Since I could not identify it using Klinger’s categories, I sent him a scan of it and asked for his opinion. His response came the next day, and is quoted herewith:

Hello Bud,

The stamp you show here is postmarked with PM4 with two variations:

 1. Color blue, which is scarce. I didn't mention it when I made the postmark pages [in the database] many years ago. But this happened in the New Hebrides. Even postmarks in red can be found. They took everything very lightly in the islands.

 2. The day slug precedes the month. This happened, but very scarcely. As this postmark was used very rarely in the 1910s (most covers have PM2), I suppose that the date is (3)1 AU (192)3, the last digit being a "3" in my opinion.

 So, this is a rather unique variant of the postmark on this stamp. Changing the colors shows the postmark a bit better:

 Greetings from Germany.  Roland Klinger

"New Hebrides, French: 1911 Scott 12 10c red"
"Port Vila blue cancel", Note:  Color modified for clarity

Well, Klinger’s response made my day. Even a generalist sometimes finds a rarity or, as my grandmother often said, even a blind pig sometimes finds an acorn.

Altering colors of a scan for clarification of the postmark is a neat trick.

New Hebrides private local stamps can provide another source of rarities. But the two issued by the Australasian New Hebrides Company Ltd. (1897), shown below, are common. The scene represents ANHCo buildings in Port Vila. New Hebrides local stamps generally attest to the difficulties colonists had in getting their mail carried to nearby islands and to the outside world.

ANHCo local postage, 1897

Census: 47 in BB spaces, 32 on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations

The New Hebrides islands (now the nation of Vanuatu) are located in the South Pacific 300 miles (500 kilometers) north of New Caledonia. The islands were colonized by both the British and French in the 18th century, and mirabile dictu, rather than fighting over the colonial spoils, an Anglo-French condominium was formed in 1906.

Beginning in 1911, a joint issue was produced with the Coat of Arms design of both countries placed on either side of a "Native idols" central design. More joint issues were produced in 1925, 1938, and 1953.

The Condominium continued until 1980, when Vanuatu became independent ( although, even now, the French and the English communities maintain their own traditions and language).

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Comments appreciated!

1 comment:

  1. Fun piece of trivia, many diplomats in Britain regarded the duplication of all government functions by both Britain and France in the New Hebrides as less than ideal, and wags came to call the situation the "Pandemonium of the New Hebrides" because of constand jurisdictional disputes.