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British Solomon Islands

FIRST STAMPS New South Wales from 1896.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 14 February 1907.


1907, sterling.

Group of islands stretching east and south of New Guinea, first discovered by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Some of the islands still have the original Spanish names - San Cristobal, Guadalcanal and Santa Isabel. They were charted by the English and French towards the end of the 18th century. In 1893 Britain declared the southern islands to be a British protectorate and Germany laid claim to the northern area.

In 1898 some further islands, Santa Cruz to the south and the Lord Howe Atolls to the north-east, were annexed. Two years later in return for concessions in Samoa, Germany ceded all its possessions in the group to Britain except Bougainville and Buka. These two islands were subsequently captured during World War I and remained part of the territory of New Guinea or Papua-New Guinea (q.v.).

In World War II the group was overrun by the Japanese in 1942, but was recaptured by the Americans and Australians. The area was returned to civil control in 1945. A new constitution was enacted in 1960 and the islands were governed by a Legislative Council. A further constitution was agreed in 1974 and 'British' was dropped from the name of the group.

Postal History
All early mail was carried by private ship to Sydney where mail was franked with the stamps of New South Wales. A resident commissioner was appointed in 1896 and he applied a postmark to covers alongside the New South Wales stamps of which he held a small stock. These items were cancelled in Sydney on arrival.

First stamps were issued in 1907, in part to assist in the cost of the resettlement of labourers who had returned from Queensland. The British Solomons joined the UPU in 1907 as a British protectorate, but ceased to be a member from 1976-83 after gaining independence.

The first PO in the British protectorate was opened at Tulagi in 1907, followed by four other POs before World War I. After the capture of the German islands in 1914, they were placed under the control of New Guinea, and remained an Australian mandate. They now form part of Papua-New Guinea.

In 1939 there were four POs in operation but these closed when the Japanese invaded and stamps were taken to Fiji. The first P0 was reopened at Lunga on Guadalcanal in July 1943, but this was closed in 1946 when Honiara, the new head P0 for the group, was opened.

In 1952 airmail services started and were increasingly used to link the islands. All stamps bore the name 'British Solomon Islands' until August 1975 when the group was renamed 'Solomon Islands'

South-West Pacific to 1920
Click map for larger view

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