Through the years since the first definitive issue of Pitcairn stamps was released in 1940, the philately of Pitcairn Island has enjoyed a much-sought-after status among stamp collectors throughout the world.
By 1850 the population of Pitcairn Island was 156 and increasing rapidly. Their friends in England and the Pacific were again discussing the question of emigration, for it was feared that land would soon become insufficient, and fish had deserted the coastal waters since the landslides caused by the great storm of 1845.
After their experiences in Tahiti, the islanders insisted that if they were compelled to emigrate it should be to an uninhabited island. After examining several possibilities, the majority of the community decided to move, with British Government aid, to Norfolk Island. It had much to recommend it. It was larger than Pitcairn and now uninhabited, but 60 years of convict labour had left hundreds of acres under cultivation. The island was well stocked with domestic animals and there were roads and houses.
In 1856, when the naval transport Morayshire arrived, all 193 islanders boarded her. A son, Reuben Denison Christian, was born to Isaac and Miriam Christian during the journey, bringing the population to 194. The Morayshire was a three-masted, full-rigged, 830-ton “emigrant ship” under the command of Captain Joseph Mathers. It was a 3,700-mile, five-week journey to Norfolk Island and the Pitcairners arrived there on 8 June 1856.
The arrival of the Pitcairn people provided a fresh dimension to Norfolk Island. They introduced and have maintained and cultivated their distinctive culture and language, and preserved the rich history and natural magnificence of the Island. The majority of the Islanders lived a subsistence lifestyle, growing their own food. In later years their incomes were supplemented by exporting produce and by whaling.
The return to Pitcairn from 1858 – 1864 is the second part of this fascinating story. It will be featured in a separate stamp issue in the near future.
The Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau is proud to join with the Norfolk Post Bureau in commemorating the sesqui-centenary of the Pitcairners’ migration to Norfolk. Both sets of stamps carry a link to each other and the anniversary, plus a joint cover carries both sets of stamps.
The stamps are in 50c, $1.00, $1.50, and $3.00 denominations. Mary Butterfield of Norfolk Island is the designer. The illustrators include Tracey Yager, Sue Draper, and Glenn Douran. The images on the stamps are taken from “Fletcher’s Mutiny Cyclorama” on Norfolk. Southern Colour Print, Dunedin, New Zealand, is the printer of the stamps by offset litho. The period of sale for the stamps is 7 June 2006, for a period of two years.
Pitcairn Stamp Issues
(Click small stamp images to see larger views.)
Since 1940, Pitcairn stamp issues have included: