Postage stamps and postal history of Norfolk Island

1957 Norfolk Island postage stamp depicting Warder's Tower

The postage stamps and postal history of Norfolk Island depended on Australia until 1947, when the island, an Australian territory since 1914, received its own stamps and a postal autonomy.

After the transfer of Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands' philatelic and postal services to Australia Post, Norfolk had been the last Australian territory to be postally independent. Consequently, the stamps issued by Norfolk had no value in Australia, and those of Australia Post could not be used in the island.

Before 1947

The formal postal history of Norfolk began with the second penal settlement organised on the island between 1824 and 1855. The first post office opened in 1832.[1]

The first postage stamps used there were sent by Van Diemen's Land, the colony administratively responsible for the settlement. Decided late 1853, the first stamps figuring Queen Victoria, worth sixteen pounds, travelled on the Lady Franklin. Part of them were lost when the prisoners aboard the ship mutinied and flew away. The second packet of stamps arrived finally to Norfolk and they were used between July 1854 and May 1855, when the penal colony was closed and all people evacuated.[2] The stamps used in Norfolk can be distinguished by the number marked by the cancellation: "72".[1]

Even if the island was repopulated in 1856 by migrants from the Pitcairn Islands, authorised by the United Kingdom, Norfolk received a postal service and postage stamps not before 1877. The British authorities asked New South Wales to provide them to Norfolk.[2] However, the stamp stock was not regularly reconstituted until 1898, and, with no postage stamp, the "NORFOLK ISLAND" cancel stamp sent in 1892 was not used until 1898.[1][2]

With the constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the stamps of Australia replaced those of New South Wales in 1913.[1]

After 1947

First issues

Norfolk, then an external territory since 1914, asked for its own postage stamps in 1923, and again in 1937. The latter was accepted and the first issue was previewed for 1940.[2] These postage stamps were designed and engraved by Frank Manley, printed and perforated eleven teeth per two centimeters. They represented Ball Bay and the "FOUNDED 1788" mention, starting year of the first penal settlement. The issue was cancelled when World War II began. They were later destroyed, but some stolen stamps and sheets that reached the philatelic market.[2][3]

Finally, twelve stamps from half-penny to two shillings were issued on 10 June 1947. Manley's Ball Bay design was used, with a different perforation of fourteen.[3]

To complete this series face values, a second of six stamps was issued on 10 June 1953 picturing human constructions of the island, from the Warder's Tower on the three pence and a half to the Blooding Bridge on the five shillings.[4] Two of these stamps, the seven pence and a half and the eight and a half,[5] were the first overprinted stamps of Norfolk to confront a change of postal rates.[2]

On 8 June 1956, was issued the first commemorative stamp marking the centenary of the arrival of Pitcairners,[6] the first permanent and non penal settlement on Norfolk. The second commemorative needed to overprint the Australian stamp for the 150 years of postal service in Australia picturing Isaac Nichols, the first postmaster of New South Wales. Worth four pence in Australia, it was overprinted five pence for use in Norfolk.[7]

After 1960

Starting 1960, the philatelic issues of Norfolk progressively were more numerous, with hiring of British printers in the 1970s.[8]

In 1960, a new definitive stamp series began using the island's fauna and flora, completed with new values afterwards, and renew regularly. Other series circulated too picturing ships and captains of the Pacific Ocean history, like James Cook.[8] A Christmas stamp had been issued every year, first by reusing the Australian stamp design until 1966.[2] On the religious topic, personalities of Anglicanism were honored by commemorative stamps.[8]

Political life of the island appeared too in 1960 with a two shilling eight pence stamp figuring Queen Elizabeth II by Pietro Annigoni and a map of Norfolk. It commemorated the institution of local government.[9] Institutional evolutions and anniversaries were topic of stamps: 50 years of the statute of territory in 1964, 125 years of annexion to Van Diemen's Land in 1969, the first Legislative Assembly in 1979, ten years of internal self-governing in 1989.[8]

Progressively, the philatelic program explored non local topics: commemorations of the Pacific War, life of Queen Elizabeth II and of the British Royal Family, historic events anniversaries as powered flights in 2003, etc.[8]

On a technical side, with the help of Walsall Security Printers, Norfolk issued between 1974 and 1978 fourteen self-adhesive stamps cut in the form of the island: two for the 150 years of its second penal settlement, four for the centenary of the Universal Postal Union using Norfolk landscapes, and eight about the Scout Movement.[8]


Year Stamps used
Value in pound, shilling and penny
1854-1855 stamps of Van Diemen's Land
Van Diemen's Land
1877-1913 stamps of New South Wales
New South Wales
Value in Australian pound, shilling and penny
1913-1947 stamps of Australia
1947-1966 Norfolk Island
Value in Australian dollar and cent
1966- Norfolk Island
italic mention on stamp

Sources and references

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Norfolk Island", Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 120.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 P. Collas, « Stamps of the Australian Territories: Norfolk », Pacific Union College website, date unknown ; page retrieved 29 December 2008.
  3. 1 2 "Norfolk Island" stamps #1 to 12, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, pages 120-121.
  4. "Norfolk Island" stamps #13 to 18, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 121.
  5. "Norfolk Island" stamps #21 and 22, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 121.
  6. "Norfolk Island" stamps #19 and 20, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 121.
  7. "Australia" stamp #331 and "Norfolk Island" stamp #23, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, 2007, respectively pages 41 and 121.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Norfolk Island", Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, pages 120-135.
  9. "Norfolk Island" stamp #40, Commonwealth Stamp Catalogue Australia, Stanley Gibbons, 2007, page 121.
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