For the collector who, whilst maintaining his interest in his general collection, is desirous of indulging his specialistic tendencies to a moderate extent, there are a number of small and straightforward issuing countries, which have sprung into being during the past decade and offer admirable opportunities for activity in this direction.
In the interest of those of our readers who are on the look out for a suitable country on which to try a ‘prentice hand in specialism, it has been our object in writing up a few of these countries from time to time to assist them in their choice.
The country, with which we are dealing this week, is one that is particularly well adapted to the requirements of the would-be specialist.
Its two small series of postage stamps are readily obtainable and are free from perplexing varieties, whilst the design is picturesque, and they are by no means prohibitive on the score of expense. It is, in fact, a great, compact, and attractive little country.
The British Solomon Islands are a group of coral islands lying in the Pacific Ocean in the south east of the island of New Guinea. The principal islands are Bougainville, Choiseul, Ysabel, and Malaita, in the northern district and Vella Lavella, Kulambangra, New Georgia, Guadacanar, and San Christoval in the southern.
Together they have an area of about 15,000 square miles and a population of 67,000, of whom only 110 are white.
The natives are savage and warlike and indulge in cannibalism.
The government is administered by a British Resident, representing the Commissioner of the Western Pacific.
Tulagi is the seat of government, the other settlements being Gavutu, Gizo and Shortlands.
The islands were discovered in 1567 by Alvaro Mendana de Meyra, and were christened Solomon by him in the supposition that they were the ‘Land of Ophir,’ from which King Solomon derived his riches.
In 1768 they were visited by the celebrated French explorer, Bougainville, from whom one of the islands takes its name.
A British Protectorate was established over a number of the islands in 1893, under the terms of the Samoa Convention, by which Germany renounced all claim to the islands of Choiseul and Ysabel.
The first postage stamps were issued early in 1907, and were roughly lithographed in Sydney, N.S.W. After about eighteen months they were replaced by a series of similar design printed in London from line-engraved plates.
To the latter series three high value stamps were added in the spring of 1909, thus completing the philatelic history of the islands to date.
First Issue 1907. February 14th.
Seven values. Design of lagoon with native war canoe in foreground.
Lithographed by W. E. Smith & Co., in Sydney.
Large Design. Coarse, white wove, unwatermarked paper Perf. 11.
The 2 ½ d. and 6d. stamps are known imperforate. There are a number of minor differences in all values caused by the crude manner of their production.
Second Issue 1908. October 27th.
Owing to the British Solomon Islands having entered the Postal Union on September 3rd, 1907, it became necessary for the colours of the ½ d. and 2 ½ d. values to be altered in order to conform to the regulations of that body in respect of low value postage stamps.
The Sydney stamps being deemed unsatisfactory, it was decided to have an entirely new series, produced in the finest and most up-to-date manner and the order was accordingly placed with Messrs. De la Rue & Co., the prominent London stamp printers, who prepared a handsome series of stamps printed from steel plates, the design based on the first series, but reduced to the regulation size.
The new series was printed in colours conforming to the Crown Agents’ Colour Scheme.
On receipt of the new issue the lithographed stamps were withdrawn from use, and early in 1909 the remainders were destroyed.
Reduced Design. Line Engraved.
Wmk. Multiple Crown CA. sideways. Perf 14.
½ d. yellow green.
2 ½ d. ultramarine.
5d. sage green.
6d. red lilac.
1s.black on green.
Early in 1909 the following three high value stamps were added to the above-listed series.
Design as before. Wmk. Multiple Crown CA. Perf. 14.
2s. purple on blue.
2s. 6 d. red on blue.
5s. green on yellow.