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Australasian New Hebrides Co.

by Bonnie & Roger Riga

One of the more interesting local posts from the last years of the nineteenth century was the Australasian New Hebrides Company. Organized in 1887, it provided shipping and other services - including mail delivery - on steamers running between Australia and the New Hebrides at intervals of about three weeks. This provided a convenient mail service to almost sixty islands in the grouping, including Tonga. Unfortunately, this service proved to be unprofitable and the company closed down in 1899, when it entered into a contract with the Australian Post Office.

image1.jpg (23436 bytes)To pay the additional fee that this service incurred, two stamps were created. A one pence black and lilac rose and a two pence blue and red-brown paid the rates. The design on both stamps showed the port of Vila in New Hebrides with the company headquarters in the center. The stamps were lithographed on heavy wove unwatermarked paper and rouletted but are also known on a toned paper and with a "Specimen" overprint. In 1913 the remaindered stamps were sold to a Sydney stamp dealer, which accounts for their relative lack of scarcity even though only in use for a few years.

These are stamps that will appeal to many different collectors. Not only the local post and steamship collector, but the Australian or South Pacific fan will appreciate this issue. Postal historians will enjoy the chase for the very uncommon usage on cover. And cinderella collectors will want one of the classics of the genre for their album as well.

This column first appeared in Scott Stamp Monthly and has been edited for online presentation.
This page was last updated July 8, 2016.
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