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Stamps and postal history of the Falkland Islands

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the Falkland Islands.

Early mail service depended on occasional calls by ships connecting to the Brazil packet via Montevideo; the earliest recorded letter dates from 28 January 1827. From 1852 to 1880 a schooner (either a government boat or a contractor) called about every two months.

Before 17 July 1861 letters had to be paid for upon delivery to the ship, and from 1868 prepaid franks are known, issued by local officials acting as postmaster. The first stamps, 1p, 6p, and 1s values featuring the usual profile of Queen Victoria, were issued 19 June 1878. Unusually for a British colony, the first stamps were not on watermarked paper, but this was rectified in 1883. Additional values of this design appeared from time to time until 1896.

halfpence, 1891

In 1880, carriage of mail was made mandatory for any ship calling at Port Stanley, and regular service was contracted to the German Kosmos Line, which operated steamships on a route from Hamburg to Callao, Peru.

The first post office opened in Stanley in 1887.

On 1 January 1891 a need for 1/2p stamps resulted in the authorization of bisection and surcharge of existing 1p stamps. 1/2p stamps arrived in September, but the bisects were allowed until 11 January 1892, in order to use up existing stocks.

In 1900, the Pacific Steam Navigation Company got the contract, which operated until 1914, when the opening of the Panama Canal made Cape Horn roundings unnecessary, and regular mail service to the Falklands was not resumed until 1927.

2 1/2p "whale and penguins", 1929

In 1904 new stamps of the same general design, but depicting Edward VII, were issued, and likewise after 1912 for George V. Shortages of dyes due to World War I led to considerable color variations in the wartime printings of George V stamps.

The 2p purple stamp was surcharged 2 1/2p in 1928.

In 1929 a first pictorial design appeared, featuring small images of a whale and penguins beneath the profile of George V. This was followed up by the much-admired centennial issue of 1933, a series of 12 stamps featuring local scenes and wildlife evocatively rendered; a full set is today priced at about US$3,000.

Starting in the 1930s, the Falklands took part of the omnibus issues of the Empire; the Silver Jubilee issue of 1935, Coronation issue for George VI in 1937, and so forth. The new king also meant a need for a new definitive series, which came out in 1938 and featured scenes, wildlife, and ships, though in a somewhat plainer design than the pictorials of 1933.