Postage stamps and postal history of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

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1992 stamps of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

The postage stamps and postal history of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is linked to those of the two British colonies and of Australia to which the Indian Ocean archipelago was successively attached.

A postal agency existed there between 1933 and 1937, and permanently since 1952. The archipelago has issued postage stamps since June 1963 and had postal independence from 1979 to 1993. Between 1963 and 1979 with the Australian Post Office and since 1 January 1994 with Australia Post, the Cocos Islands' and Australia's stamps are valid in both these territories.

According to Stanley Gibbons catalogue,[1] the Australian Post Office issued 31 stamps between 1963 and 1979, compared to 264 by the local authority between 1979 and 1993. During the ten first years of postal responsibility, Australia Post issued 112 stamps.

Before 1955 and the Australian control[edit]

During World War I, the Battle of Cocos opposed the German Kaiserliche Marine and the Royal Australian Navy for the control of Cocos telegraphic post, that permitted communications between the United Kingdom and the Pacific Ocean Dominions.[2]

A postal agency was opened in the Cocos between 1 April 1933 and 1 March 1937. Postage stamps of the Straits Settlements were available successively picturing Kings George V and George VI.[3] The Cocos were administered from the Settlements.

During World War II, the British forces defended the islands' telecommunication devices against the Japanese advance.[3] The postal agency reopened on 2 September 1952 with stamps of Singapore.[3]

Under Australian control[edit]

Australian postal territory[edit]

In 1955, with the independence of Singapore being prepared, the United Kingdom gave control of the Cocos Islands to Australia. The Australian legislation was introduced, including the postage system, stamps and the currency, the Australian pound replacing the Malaya and British Borneo dollar.[3] However the post office was considered a non official one: the local postmaster was paid with a commission depending of his financial results.[4]

On 11 June 1963, the Australian Post Office issued six stamps bearing the mention "COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS", that appeared on all the islands' stamps until late 1993, and illustrated with subjects linked to the islands' life and geography. The series was drawn and engraved by E. Jones.[5]

On 14 February 1966, the Australian decimalisation imposed the use of stamps of Australian alone, whose denominations were in Australian dollar and cents.[3] The new definitive series for Cocos Islands in the new currency was issued on 9 July 1969. The twelve stamps pictured local fauna and flora.[6] They were replaced on 29 March 1976 by a new twelve stamp series about the ships of the Cocos history.[7]

Philatelic and postal independence[edit]

In the late 1990s, Australia bought the Clunie-Ross family's property of the islands and gave a large autonomy to the inhabitants. The post service became independent from Australia and issued its two first postage stamps on 1 September 1979 picturing the flag of Australia, map and the atoll landscape on the 20 cents, and the Statutory Council on the 50 cents.[8] Stamps of Australia were no more valid in the islands.

The philatelic program was entirely printed by printers in Melbourne. Topics were linked to the archipelago and its patriotism: fauna and flora, local and maritime history for the first ones, Australian flag and events of the Royal family for the second.[9]

Australia Post[edit]

Following the example of Christmas Island in March 1993, the postal service of the Cocos Islands was transferred from the local authority to Australia Post. Cocos Islands stamps issued since 1994 and bearing the mention "COCOS (KEELING) ISLANDS AUSTRALIA" are valid in Australia and the stamps of Australia are on the archipelago too.[10]

One or two annual issues have been issued since 1994, only about local topics, a large part about fauna.[10]

Synthesis[edit]

Years Stamps available
Value in Straits dollar.
1933–1937 Malaya / Straits Settlements
Value in Malaya and British Borneo dollar.
1952–1955 Malaya / Singapore
Value in Australian pound.
1955–1966 Stamps of Australia
1963–1966 Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Value in Australian dollar.
1966–1979 Stamps of Australia
1969–1993 Cocos (Keeling) Islands
1994- Cocos (Keeling) Islands Australia
and stamps of Australia
Key
italic mention on stamps

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Cocos (Keeling) Islands", Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, pages 112-117.
  2. ^ History of HMAS Sydney (I), on the Royal Australian Navy website, retrieved 27 October 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 112.
  4. ^ Richard Breckon, « Christmas Island's Stamps and Postal History: 50 Years of Australian Administration », Gibbons Stamp Monthly, October 2008, page 82.
  5. ^ With K. McKay for the five pence "Super Constellation". Reference: "Cocos (Keeling) Islands" stamps #1 to 6, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 112.
  6. ^ "Cocos (Keeling) Islands" stamps #8 to 19, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 112.
  7. ^ "Cocos (Keeling) Islands" stamps #20 to 31, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 112.
  8. ^ "Cocos (Keeling) Islands", stamps #32 and 33, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 112
  9. ^ "Cocos (Keeling) Islands", Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, pages 112-115.
  10. ^ a b "Cocos (Keeling) Islands", Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue. Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, pages 115-116.