Fiji 1871 1d on rose laid batonne paper,SG 5

5/05/2012     Fiji

Largely through an increase in demand for Fijian cotton as a result of the US Civil War and the general increase in economic activity, the proprietors of the Fiji Times saw an opportunity to profitably improve the internal postal service of the islands.

Through the medium of their paper, a whole new postal system was proposed, including a modern distribution system with pre-payment of postal charges by postage stamps, and even the registration of letters. For these purposes, stamps of the denomination 1d, 3d, 6d, and 1s were printed by the newpaper press in sheets of 24 (6 x 4), with each sheet bearing all four denominatoions.

The first printing was done in 1870, and consisted of 500 sheets on pale rose quadrille paper, with the words Fiji Times Express and the value in the centre. The second issue of around 3500 sheets, as the illustrated stamp, were printed in the same format (apart from the substitution of the 3 last 3d values for 9d values) on rose laid batonne paper. All were cancelled by pen.

The new system was an immediate success, even though a Postmaster General was appointed and the rates rose by 3d a letter to pay his salary! All the stamps were sold out at the time for postal purposes, and by the time collectors and dealers became aware of them, stocks no longer existed. However the demand was so great that the proprietors of the Newspaper produced various "imitations" between 1876 and 1888, either on wove white or wove pink paper, which today are often mistaken for the originals.

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