Tonga - Niuafo'ou stamps

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Flag of Tonga

Niuafo'ou is a tiny island in the Tonga group. It is an active volcano that thrusts steeply out from the ocean floor. There is no safe anchorage for ships. Because of its unusual geography, Niuafo'ou used unconventional means to receive its postal communications known as 'Tin Can Mail'.

When copra traders set up operations on the island near the turn of the century, a method of communications became necessary. At one time passing steamers would seal incoming mail for the island in 40-pound biscuit tins which were then thrown overboard to native swimmers. The swimmers towed the outgoing mail out in tins. The swimmers and ship would exchange mail containers and each would be on their way. From this unique method of mail delivery, the island became known as Tin Can Island and the letters carried thus are called Tin Can Mail. The swimming mail lasted until 1931 when a shark killed a swimmer. From then on, mail was brought in by outrigger canoe.

Following an eruption of the Island's volcano in September 1946, the 1,330 inhabitants were evacuated and eventually resettled at Eua Island, south of Tongatapu. In 1958, more than 200 former residents returned to Niuafo'ou and began rebuilding their homes and villages. By January 1962, the island had been repopulated. In 1983, an airstrip was completed eliminating the need for Tin Can Mail.

Tonga, however, continues to issue special stamps for use on mail originating from Niuafo'ou Island.

Map of Tonga

http://www.mapsouthpacific.com/pacific/index.html


#48#49

 Scott: #48-9O

Issued: 17.9.1984

Ausipex '84

#15 Inside #48: Australia #15O

#10 Inside #49: Tonga-Niuafo'ou #10O

#50

Scott: #50O


#74-5

Scott: #74-5O

Issued: 22.5.1986

25th Anniversary, Peace Corps in Tonga

Inside #74-5: Pseudo Stamp

1986

Scott: #75aO


#94#95

Scott: #94-5O

Issued: 18.5.1988

5th Anniversary First Niuafo'ou Stamps

#15 Inside #94-5: Tonga-Niuafo'ou #15O


#96#97

Scott: #96-7O

Issued: 18.5.1988

5th Anniversary Niuafo'ou Airport

#1 Inside #96-7: Tonga-Niuafo'ou #1O


#125-8Niuafoou125

Scott: #125-8O

Issued: 1.5.1990

150th Anniversary, Penny Black

#1 LJ Inside #125: G.B. #1

#2 Inside #126: US #2O

#1 Inside #127: Western Australia #1O

#178 Inside #128: Cape of Good Hope #178O

#125-8E


%23156-1#157-1

Scott: #156-7O

Issued: 3.5.1993

10th Anniversary, First Stamp

#4 Inside #156: Niuafo'ou #4O

%23117A Inside #156: Niuafo'ou #117AO

#7 Inside #157: Niuafo'ou #7O

#117B-1 Inside #157: Niuafo'ou #117BO

(Thanks to Eli Moallem for the scans)


#181Scan not available

Scott: #181O

Issued: 1.9.1995

Singapore '95

%23117A #117B-1 

Inside #181: Like #117AO, 117BO

#181a

Scott: #181a


#223

Scott: #223O

Issued: 22.5.2000

Stamp Show 2000 Exhibition

#1 TC Inside #223 - In margin of sheet (in show logo): G.B # 1


2002

Scott: #248O

Issued: 27.11.2002

Mail Planer

Animals 4v Inside #248 (In margin): Niuafo'ou #43O

Thanks to Attilio Papio


Best website related:

http://www.y2net.jp/tonga/image/spex03logo_eng.gif

http://www.y2net.jp/tonga/main.htm

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