Fiji. The way the world should be.
Well, the way the philatelic world is if you are amongst that growing band of collectors for whom the early pictorial sets of the reign of King George VI possess a certain captivation. These stamps were issued at a time when cruise ships explored increasingly exotic destinations for daring tourists, and stamps were deemed a convenient form of propaganda for countries eager to attract their fair share of the burgeoning tourist trade.
Fiji introduced its initial series of pictorial stamps for the reign of the then new monarch in 1938, and I have featured usage on commercial articles of some of the denominations between the ½d and 5/-. I would have included the 10/- and £1 issued in 1950 but for the fact that I have not yet seen them on a commercial article of any kind! Has any reader?
These are generally attractive stamps and good proponents of the appeal that pictorials in particular from the King’s reign hold for many collectors. I have only covers and stationery from this Fijian set, but for those who like to include mint stamps in their collections I can appreciate that a set of imprint blocks along for the ride would make for a handsome display indeed. And an eight-frame exhibit (120 pages) featuring this stamp series need not cost anywhere near the present day value of, say, a solitary rare inverted watermark variety of Australia!
Figure 1. Economy mail 1946 style
½d and 2½d used 2 Mar 1946 on air mail letter card from Lautoka to N.Z. The rate for such articles decreased from 7d to 3d in early January 1946. This was economical indeed, particularly when the sea mail rate at this time was fully 2½d. Value : $100 (stamps off ‘cover’ $1.50).
Figure 2. Try collecting your imprints on cover!
½d (3) and 1d imprint block of four comprise surface mail (2½d) plus registration fee (3d) for this 7 Jun 1948 item from Ba to Australia. Value : $80 (stamps off cover $3.25).
Figure 3. Manless boat in paradise
A popular little stamp when I was a kid was the 1½d ‘No man in boat’, which was replaced a couple of years later by a ‘manned’ design. This stamp was primarily for the Empire and Foreign postcard rate and here a postcard of 13 Oct 1938 makes its way from Suva to Germany, no doubt sent by one of the wave of tourists alluded to in the introduction above. Value : $75 (off ‘cover’ 50c).
Figure 4. Colourful tri-stamp franking
Frankings with a combination of stamp issues are often attractive and this trio of stamps certainly is no exception. The total of 11d for this 31 Aug 1948 item from Suva to Tasmania met the 8d airmail rate plus 3d registration fee. Value : $35 (stamps off cover $2.50).
Figure 5. Fiji. The way the world should be
Tourism again we have to thank for this delightful 8 Dec 1952 item from Suva to Australia. The 2½d was for nothing more exciting than the surface mail rate but we shan’t hold that against it. Value : $75 (off ‘cover’ 50c).
Figure 6. When rarity is a concession to condition
Not quite the quality I strive for in my covers, but this is the only commercial cover bearing the 5d ‘blue canes’ that I have encountered. Here we have a 26 Jan 1942 use from Suva to N.Z. by a Serviceman at the concessional airmail rate of 9d. It is possible to diminish the severity of the toning and in the fullness of time indeed I shall. Value (as is) : $150 (stamps off cover $10.50).
Figure 7. The curious 1/5d denomination had a specific purpose
13 Jun 1947 registered cover from Suva to Australia bears the 3d for registration fee and unusual 1/5d denomination for direct airmail rate. Ten days later the airmail rate more than halved to 8d. Value : $90 (stamps off cover catalogue only 40p in S.G. catalogue – the 1/5d at a poultry 10p (!) which appears unrealistically low for this rather uncommon stamp).
Figure 8. The flying kangaroo well established on the tourist route as early as 1953
The 1/6d denomination was a late addition (in 1950) to the series. This 30 Mar 1953 solo use from Suva to Canberra was for the increased registration fee (6d) plus 1/- airmail rate. Interestingly, there was a printing of this stamp issued 16 Feb 1955, well in to the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The QANTAS air mail etiquette is a welcome bonus. Value : $60 (off cover $2.75).
Figure 9. Double rate not so economical
The 5d ‘green canes’, unlike the ‘blue’ variety in Figure 6, is common on cover and here we have two together with a 2/- for a 3 Nov 1945 item Suva to Australia at double the 1/5d airmail rate (single rate shown in Figure 7). Rather an expensive service (compared to that in Figure 1) and consequently a scarce rate. Value $125 (stamps off cover $1).
Figure 10. Covers like this don’t grow on palm trees
Needless to say, one of my favourite covers from this stamp series. A franking of 14/2d composed with a 2d, 2 x 2/- and 2 x 5/- denominations met the quintuple 2/10d airmail rate to U.S. A fitting item to whet the appetite of a budding enthusiast for this series? Value : $400 (stamps off cover $5).
Rod Perry has been a philatelic trader since 1962 and a regular Stamp News advertiser since the 1960s. He founded Rodney A Perry Auction Galleries (now Millennium Philatelic Auctions) in 1971. As a collector he has exhibited nationally and internationally. Rod prefers his used stamps on cover and likens taking a stamp off its original cover to converting a tree to woodchips.