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R. P. CLARK, POSTMASTER, SCHOOLMASTER & ELDER, PITCAIRN ISLAND

The Sesquicentenary of the City of Newcastle, N.S.W. (1797-1947) First Day Cover has the set of 3 stamps (2½, 3½ & 5½d) postmarked on day of issue at EPPING/ 8 SE 47/ N.S.W. It is addressed to Mr. Roy P. Clark P.M., Pitcairn Island, South Pacific Island and there is a double circle reception postmark PITCAIRN ISLAND/ 27.OCT.47/ POST OFFICE (Figure 1).

A cover with a blue 6 F French Polynesia stamp postmarked PAPEETE/ */ 18 -2/ 1954/ TAHITI has the same reception postmark of the double circle PITCAIRN ISLAND/ 25.MAR.54/ POST OFFICE, and it is addressed to Mr & Mrs Roy Clark, Post Master, Pitcairn Island, South Pacific (Figure 2).

Roy Palmer Clark was born in San Francisco on 2 October 1893, and he was taken by his father, Lincoln, to Pitcairn Island in 1909, their new home. Roy was 16 years old at the time. Lincoln, a seaman, had years earlier been shipwrecked on the ship Arcadia on Ducie Island, one of the Pitcairn Islands, and had made his way to Pitcairn, to seek passage back to his home port. One of Lincoln’s shipmates also making the boat trip to Pitcairn was Philip Cook Coffin. Lincoln returned to the United States, but Philip stayed on Pitcairn Island and quickly adapted to life there. He had 2 children by 2 different women, the first a son Ralph Chester in 1911 and a daughter Elvina Imogene in 1919.

Roy became friendly with Hyacinth May Coffin, the daughter of Philip Coffin who had been the shipmate of Roy’s father, Lincoln. Hyacinth, or “May”, as she was known on the island, received her name as the result of a request by Captain May of HMS Hyacinth. In a visit to Pitcairn he had asked that the next baby born on the island after his departure be named after him and his ship. Roy and May were married on February 17, 1913 and they had a son Blake Leslie Eugene in 1921.

As Roy got older he became an influential leader of the community on the island, becoming the Head Elder of the Pitcairn Island Seventh-day Adventist Church for a number of years, as well as Post Master in December 1940, a position he held for 18 years. Because of his superior American education, he also became the island schoolmaster. Roy was an avid reader, a keen student of the Bible, and was without doubt the most prolific on-island writer in Pitcairn’s history. He created a world-wide circle of friends by means of the thousands of letters he wrote to them throughout the years. Roy died on 10 May 1980.

An example of his world-wide correspondence is an On His Majesty’s Service stampless cover postmarked with the identical double circle Pitcairn Island postmark dated 19.FEB.52, with a manuscript ‘Postmaster’ beneath the postmark. The letter was addressed to England (Figure 3).

A philatelic item was produced by Roy Clark. In 1940, 500 booklets of stamps for use in the Island were produced in Fiji together with additional booklet covers and Roy Clark improvised his own booklets with one of each of the first 8 definitive stamp set. The selling price was 4 shillings 8 pence sterling and instead of the usual stapling, Clark used brass fasteners (Figure 4).

 


 
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