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New Hebrides

FIRST STAMPS New South Wales from 1888.



1908, sterling & French.
1938, 100 gold centimes = 1 gold franc.
1977, 100 centimes = 1 franc (New Hebrides).

Discovered by the Portuguese explorer Quiros in 1606; he believed it to be part of Australia and it was named Espiritu Santo. The French discovered they were islands in 1768; named by Captain Cook in 1774.

On appeal to the British government, became a protectorate in 1883. Although the British and French had agreed not to occupy the islands in 1878, the Australian colonies protested against French aggression in 1887 and, as a result, an Anglo-French Convention was signed in November of that year which placed the islands under a joint commission of French and English naval officers on the Pacific Station.

A further agreement in 1904 provided for jurisdiction over the islands and set up a commission to settle disputes between the English and French colonists. In 1906 a special convention bestowed equal rights on British and French citizens and this situation remained until the islands became independent on 30 June 1980 as Vanuatu (q.v.).

During World War II, New Hebrides was a base for Allied forces and at one time in early 1942 was threatened with invasion by the Japanese.

Postal History
The islands had no regular contact with Australia or other Pacific colonies before 1888. In that year a feeder line was established between, the group and Sydney, which connected with both the French and British services to Europe. Stamps of New South Wales and, occasionally, France were used to prepay mail and these were postmarked either Sydney or Noumea.

A New South Wales PA was opened on Aneityum in 1889 but this was short- lived. The mail was re-routed via Port Vila and a canceller was introduced in 1892.

In the same year the contract for the carriage of mail to Australia lapsed and the Australian New Hebrides Company and its French counterpart took over responsibility for the postal service. However, the companies, which had issued their own stamps, soon went into liquidation and PAs for New Caledonia were opened in 1903 and 1905. Stamps of both New South Wales and New Caledonia continued to be used until the P0 of the Condominium was established in October 1908. The former PAs were closed soon afterwards.

The struggle for independence in the 1970s led to a minor revolt and some islands declared their own independence.' Although this led to some disruption of mail, no special stamps were issued, the revolts were suppressed by a 'joint French and British force and the islands became Vanuatu on 30 June 1980.

South-West Pacific to 1920
Click map for larger view

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