1/05/2012 Falkland Islands
The first Antarctic theme set to be issued by any country were the Falkland Island "Fin Whale and Gentoo Penguins" stamps of 1929-37.
Whales and Penguins were of course integral to Falklands life for many years as the Islands were used as a base for Whaling Ships at least as early as the 1770's, with American whaling vessels anchoring at New Island around 1774. Christian Salveson and Company (based in Leith, Scotland) were whaling in the South Atlantic from the mid 19th century, and set up the first on shore Whaling Stations - on New Island (named Leith Bay) in 1908 and on South Georgia in 1909.
The Penguins were exploited on the Falklands from 1860 through to the 1880's, with Gentoo and Rockhopper Penguins being caught and rendered down for their oil. It was reported in 1867 that 50,000 gallons of penguin oil were produced that season - at about 8 penguins per gallon of oil. This was destruction on a large scale!
This much admired and sought after set was of course the first pictorial set from the Falkland Islands, previous stamps having exclusively featured the Monarch's head. It spoke to the world of the importance of this far away Isle. That on the far flung edges of the British Empire men were engaged in daring exploits in extreme conditions, recalling those romantic schoolboy tales of Ahab & Ishmael…