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New Caledonia



FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1 January 1860..


CURRENCY

1881, as France.
French (franc) and CFP (Colonial franc pacifique).



Island discovered by Captain Cook on 4 September 1774. Seized by the French in 1853 and colonized by them. This followed a dispute between the natives and the French traders who had begun to settle the island in the early part of the 19th century.


New Caledonia remained a French colony throughout this century. In 1940 it initially supported Vichy France, but declared for de Gaulle soon afterwards. During the Pacific war, the island was used as a base by Allied troops. It became a French overseas territory in 1946 and has remained such ever since.


Postal History
Early letters are uncommon and, although primitive local stamps were produced in 1860, New Caledonia had no regular mail service until Ligne T of the Messageries Maritimes was extended to Noumea in 1882-3. The first steamer left Marseille on 23 November 1882 and arrived on 13 January 1883.


When the first stamps were issued, they were not valid for postage outside the island, and, on mail for Europe, stamps of New South Wales had to be added as well. The stamps were suppressed in 1862 and French colonial stamps were used instead.


In 1876 the supply of stamps became exhausted and special cachets were applied to outgoing mail.


Stamps of New Caledonia were used in the dependencies of the colony; the Loyalty Islands to the north-east and the Isle of Pines to the south. They were also used in Wallis and Futuna Islands (q.v.) until 1920. In 1915 there were 54 POs, including 3 in the Loyalty group and 1 in the Isle of Pines.


During World War II some stamps were prepared for use under the short-lived Vichy regime but these were never issued. American and Australian Forces POs operated in the island during the war.



South-West Pacific to 1920
Click map for larger view


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