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The first Tongan stamp, 1 penny, issued in 1886 that depicts George Tupou I of Tonga.
The 1949 U.P.U. omnibus issue of Tonga.
A 2000 commemorative stamp issued by Tonga in conjunction with the Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

The beginnings of the postal history of Tonga can be traced to the Wesleyan missionaries, who landed in the islands in 1826, and sent regular communications back to London and Sydney from the day of their arrival.[1] The Tongan Post Office was established in 1887, but even before then postage stamps featuring the image of King George Tupou I were produced in New Zealand.[2]

Tin Can mail[edit]

In the early part of the 20th century, philatelists began seeking out postal cancellations from Niuafo'ou, a volcanic Tongan island. Since Niuafo'ou lacked a deep water harbor to accommodate ships, postal deliveries were received via the so-called "Tin Can Mail" system of having mail thrown overboard in biscuit tins and retrieved by local swimmers.[3]

Self-adhesive stamps[edit]

In 1963, Tonga issued the world’s first self-adhesive stamps, an event which was celebrated by philatelists.[4] The stamps were also circular in shape and printed on embossed gilt-foiled paper, thus matching the design of the coins being commemorated.[5] Subsequent philatelic issues employed other off-beat designs – including stamps shaped like hearts, birds and fruit – and Tonga continued to issue self-adhesive stamps printed on paper.[5] Although several of the stamps were too big for placement on conventional first-class mailing envelopes, Tonga’s unusual postage stamps have become popular with philatelists around the world.[6]

Recent developments[edit]

In April 2008, the Tongan government announced the Tongan Post Office would be corporatized. However, the Tongan Post Office was not included in the 2008 effort to privatize other agencies and departments run by the government.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.stampboards.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=26814&hilit=postal+history+tonga, retrieved 27/06/2013 Archived here.
  2. ^ The stamps of Tonga. Handbook by A. A. Rosenblum. Orlo-Smith & Co, Melbourne, 1935
  3. ^ "Rhode Island Around the World - International Mail". Rhode Island Historical Society: Postal History Collection. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  4. ^ Michael Baadke. "Innovations range from practical to offbeat". Linn's Stamp Monthly. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  5. ^ a b Rodney A. Perry (July 2006). "Self-adhesive stamps of Tonga". Philatelic Database/Stamp News. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  6. ^ Earl R. Hinz & Jim Howard (2006). Landfalls of Paradise: Cruising Guide to the Pacific Islands. University of Hawaii Press. p. 157. ISBN 0-8248-3037-7. 
  7. ^ "Tonga Post Office to be corporatised". Radio New Zealand International. April 28, 2008. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Melville, Fred J. Tonga. London: Melville Stamp Books, 1909 65p.
  • Proud, Edward. The Postal history of the British Solomon Islands and Tonga. Heathfield (E.Sussex): Proud-Bailey Co. Ltd, 2006 ISBN 1872465498 296p.
  • Rosenblum, Alec A. The Stamps of Tonga: handbook. Melbourne: Orlo-Smith, 1935 72p.





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