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NORFOLK ISLAND, PHILATELIC LAST DAY COVER, for AUSTRALIAN STAMPS

Yes, there are people who collect last day covers: most usually for last day postmarks of post offices that will close down, or perhaps for a change in country name, either prior to changes in currency or change in the issuing postal entity. It must be an unusual to celebrate the event by using large numbers of stamps and/or an excessive and totally unnecessary amount of postage. This registered long cover belongs to the latter reason.

The cover has a blue R.6 NORFOLK ISLAND/ NEW SOUTH WALES registration label, 2 blue AIR MAIL vignettes plus a bevy of 19 different definitive Australian stamps ranging from the cheapest orange ½d Kangaroo stamp ranging through to the red 5/-, purple 10/- and £1 Robe stamps first issued in 1938. The stamps were carefully postmarked with a series of eight postmarks NORFOLK ISLAND/ -6 JE 47/ AUST. The large number of stamps left no room for the receiver of the cover and his address (Figure 1).

 

The reverse had the addressee’s name of Mr. Ray Dawes, 21 George St., Epping, N.S.W. There were 3 postmarks on the reverse, one being an arrival G.P.O. SYDNEY 102/ 11A 17 JE 47/ N.S.W AUST and two were probably applied in Norfolk island, but both had an illegible (----) 10/ 17 JE 47/ AUSTRALIA, and they may have been examples of a relief cancel. The delay from the 6 JE 47 on the front to the 17 JE 47 on the reverse, seems excessive, for one would expect more frequent plane service from Norfolk Island to Sydney (Figure 2).

The vendor explains the last day cover status as follows: The cover is dated 6 June 1947, prior to the Ball Bay issues on 10 June. The 6th June was a Friday, the 10th a Tuesday, the Monday was probably a public holiday for King George VI’s birthday (not so, it was celebrated on June 8 th) . The first Norfolk Island stamps were 14 Ball Bay stamps of uniform design, from the orange ½d to the blue 2/- stamp (Figure 3).

Norfolk Island is 1610 k east-north-east of Sydney and it is a dependancy of Australia with an area of 3,367 hectares, located in the Pacific Ocean. The Island was discovered by Captain James Cook and named after the Howard family (the Dukes of Norfolk) in 1774 on his second voyage around the world.. From 1788 until 1813 it was used in conjunction with N.S.W. as a penal colony. It was left unoccupied for the next 12 years, but was re-occupied in 1825 as a punishment for those convicted of crimes in N.S.W.

From 1844 it was administered by Tasmania instead of N.S.W., and the first stamps to be used at Norfolk Island were those of Van Diemen’s Island (Tasmania), in 1854, the 1d and 4d denominations only. Covers of that short period of 1 year bearing VDL stamps with Norfolk Island postal markings are extremely rare, with probably no more than 2 or 3 known by philatelists. In 1855 the penal settlement was abolished and in the following year the descendants of the Bounty mutineers were transferred from Pitcairn Island to Norfolk Island, but many of these settlers later returned to Pitcairn. In 1913 the island became a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The first official postmaster for the island was Isaac Nicholls, the first postmaster for N.S.W., whose jurisdiction extended to the island.

Much of this information is derived from The Australian Stamp Catalogue 24th edition (1990) p.132.

 

 
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