Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Gilbert and Ellice Islands Postage Dues

Periodically individual used postage dues from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands can be seen for sale on eBay and other online auctions.  Complete used sets with a decidedly "philatelic" feel to them come up for sale less often.  The set of eight values was issued in August 1940, and used examples are priced at nearly double that for mint by Stanley Gibbons.  A forged Madame Joseph cancellation inscribed "POST OFFICE OCEAN ISLAND" dated "16 DE 46" can be readily found on all values of these postage dues.


The example illustrated with an indistinct postmark sold on eBay for US$14.83 on Wednesday, 17 August 2011.

Dr. J. L. Grumbridge. O.B.E., writing in Gibbons' Stamp Monthly in March 1948 gave a detailed account of the usage of postage due stamps in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands.  Dr. Grumbridge corresponded with a number of residents of the islands in the 1940's, and their attempts to find genuine usage of the stamps proved fruitless.  Efforts with deliberately underpaid covers also failed to produce usage of the postage dues.  One correspondent wrote in 1940:
Alas, your insufficiently stamped letter was not marked so, and even if it had been, I doubt if any tax would have been collected.  I have received many under-stamped letters, but have never been called on to pay tax, and I doubt if any tax has ever been collected here.
A cover was found posted from Curacao to Fanning Island in March 1944.  Underpaid and marked with a hand-stamped 'T' and manuscript '20', the postage due was paid with a normal 5d. postage stamp.  Another correspondent wrote in 1947:
Re Postage Dues.  I have never seen any used out here.  In fact I do not think they exist.  Unstamped letters were quite frequently received in war-time and I think occasionally a local scribe would write in pen or pencil that postage was due, but I have never heard of any being collected, nor has any application ever been made to me for such postage due on unstamped letters.
Eventually a postage due stamp was, however, discovered, and an attempt made to put it to the use for which it was designed:
I have managed to unearth for you a Postage Due stamp.  Our local postmaster did  not know anything about such things and has never handled any.  But I discovered our radio operator had once had a few when he was at Ocean Island.  I managed to dig one out of him, arranged for posting an unstamped letter, and for the local postmaster to affix the said postage due, and send the letter over by a policeman, to whom I promised in all good faith to pay up the penny due.  But the said policeman disappeared without waiting to collect it.
To add insult to injury, the postage due stamp had not been cancelled with the postmark.

No comments:

Post a Comment