Postage stamps and postal history of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands
The first mail service to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands was ad hoc, depending on which ships were calling at the various islands. A regular service began in 1911; Edward VII postage stamps of Fiji were overprinted GILBERT & ELLICE / PROTECTORATE and put on sale on 1 January of that year, followed in March by a set of four stamps depicting a Pandanus tree, inscribed GILBERT & ELLICE ISLANDS / PROTECTORATE.
These were followed in 1912 by George V stamps of the common type, inscribed GILBERT & ELLICE ISLANDS. A new definitive series came out starting 14 January 1939, featuring local scenery and a profile of George VI. These were updated in 1956 with a profile of Elizabeth II.
Queen Elizabeth II
A set of four stamps on 1 May 1960 commemorated the 60th anniversary of the discovery of phosphate at Ocean Island. The definitive series of 1965 depicted daily activities of the natives, but a decimal currency conversion necessitated surcharges in 1966 and a reissue of the stamps in 1968. The colony issued about 10-15 stamps per year thereafter, usually as sets of four, until the end of 1975.
Establishment of Kiribati & Tuvalu
In 1976, the islands became two separate colonies and later independent as Kiribati and Tuvalu. The first stamps of Kiribati were a pair issued on 19 November 1979 to mark the independence of the country. The Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau was established on 1 January 1976, which was the day the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony was dissolved and Tuvalu was established with separate British dependency status. The first postage stamp cancellation devices were put into use the same day. The first issue was a set of provisional overprinted definitive stamps and a commemorative set of three stamps.
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References and sources
- Vernon, D.H. (2001). Philatelic Handbook of the Gilbert & Ellice Islands. London: Pacific Islands Study Circle.
- Proud, Edward B. The Postal History of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and New Hebrides - Postal History of the British Colonies S. No. 43. International Postal Museum. ISBN 9781872465845.
- "Postal History of Tuvalu". TuvaluIslands.com. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
- "Gilbert and Ellice Island Type of 1971 Ovptd 'Tuvalu'". Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau. 1 January 1976. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
- "Seperation [sic] of Gilbert & Ellice Islands". Tuvalu Philatelic Bureau. 1 January 1976. Retrieved 18 May 2015.