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...

Friday, December 9, 2022

Penrhyn - Bud's Big Blue

Scott #s 62-63, 1974
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Some 266 Polynesian Islanders live atop a “pie crust” reef that rests on a long-extinct volcano. Their 40-mile-long strip circles a 90 square mile lagoon (compare Oregon’s Crater Lake at 20 square miles). The Penrhyn Atoll, aka Tongareva, lies south of the equator and is the outermost part of the Cook Islands (see map in Scott #63, above). Total land area is 3.8 square miles. Its nearest neighbor is 220 miles to the southwest. Ships pass by rarely. Air transport is unscheduled and unpredictable.

Stamps were issued for Penrhyn Island two times in their history. From 1902 to 1920 stamps of New Zealand were overprinted for Penrhyn, followed by stamps like those of the Cook Islands but with “Penrhyn” inscribed, 1920 to 1932. In all, Scott list 31 major numbers while Stanley Gibbons counts 40. BB provides spaces for 19. 

Scott #8, blue with carmine overprint

Then, from 1973 to the present, Penrhyn stamps were again issued, this time with the additional inscription “Northern Cook Islands.” Recent issues have attracted a following of bird and fish topical collectors. Penrhyn Atoll has few terrestrial flora and fauna.

Scott #61

Remoteness and population decline have severely limited Penrhyn’s postal services. Today’s population is almost half what it was when the stamps in Big Blue were in use. Authentic cancellations, therefore, cost more than mint examples. Philatelically inspired cancels are commonly pinked on more populous islands.

Capt. James Cook, Scott #27, violet and black

My collection is entirely mint. There is no Penrhyn supplement page.

Census: 19 in BB spaces.

Jim's Observations

I suspect only philatelists, Pacific ocean yacht owners, and assiduous National Geographic readers are aware of Penrhyn Island. 😎

Page 1 Closeup



Comments appreciated!


  1. Thank you Bud for your excellent overview of Penrhyn Island. Personally, I enjoy learning more about these remote stamp issuing entities. In fact, I went out my to acquire a postally used Sc 8 and modern cover with a CDS "PENRHYN, NORTHERN COOK ISLANDS". Fun!

  2. Enjoy. #8 is attractive even though the mountains seem incongruous for Penrhyn, which rises short of five meters altitude.