Australasian New Hebrides Company
Australasian New Hebrides Company Local Post
Shipping Company Headquarters in Port Vila
Although the stamps of the Australasian New Hebrides Company are sometimes categorized as "cinderellas," it seems that they served a legitimate postal purpose. Organized in 1887, the Australasian New Hebrides Company provided mail delivery as well as shipping and other services to almost sixty islands including Tonga. The steamers ran at approximately three week intervals but they were unprofitable and the company closed down in 1899. Two lithographed stamps depicting the company headquarters in Port Vila were printed on heavy wove unwatermarked paper with rouletted perforations. The Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal ran the following notice in its "New Issues and Varieties" column on June 30, 1897:
We are indebted to Mr. Basset [of] Hull for the following information relating to a trading company that has recently issued some rather pretty stamps, which appear to be employed for bona fide postal purposes :— “The Australasian New Hebrides Company was formed in 1887, and its operations, at first very small, have grown to an enormous extent.
"During 1892-3 a steamer belonging to the Australian United Steam Navigation Company ran through the New Hebrides group, carrying cargo, passengers, and mails. This service was subsidized by the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria, but the subsidies ceased in 1894. At this time the operations of the Australasian New Hebrides Company had increased to such an extent that they purchased a steamer and inaugurated an intcrisland service.
“Subsequently a direct steam service to and from Sydney and Port Vila was added, and the steamer now leaves Sydney at intervals of three weeks, connecting with the interisland steamer, which makes a tour of the group, occupying the three weeks between the visits of the direct steamer.
"The New Hebrides are at present neutral ground, under the joint control of England and France ; but these powers, as a rule, only take action in criminal matters. The Australian New Hebrides Company being the only British company in the group, and controlling almost the whole of the commercial operations, is looked to by the residents to push British interests in the islands. There can be little doubt that the absolute control of the New Hebrides group will fall to the nation which makes the greatest commercial progress within its limits.
“This Company has just issued two stamps for prepay¬ment of postage on letters carried between the islands by their steamer. On and after the 1st June they will require all letters from the islands to Sydney to bear an interisland id. stamp in addition to the 2 1/2d. New South Wales stamp, which carries the letter to any destination. Of course, all letters from one port in the islands to another will be prepaid solely by the Company's stamps,
" The following are the interisland rates of postage :—
Letters. For every ½ oz. or fraction thereof .......... 1d.
Packets and magazines. not exceeding 4 oz. .......... 1d.
Packets and magazines. Every additional 4 oz. or fraction thereof .......... 1d.
Parcels. Every 8 oz. or fraction thereof .......... 1d.
Newspapers. Every 8oz. or fraction thereof .......... 1d.
Registration .......... 2d.
"The stamps bear a view of Port Vila, Sandwich Island, New Hebrides; they are lithographed by John Sands & Co., Sydney, on while wove paper, without watermark, and are rouletted."
1d., black centre, magenta frame.
2d., blue centre, brown frame.
A Sydney stamp dealer purchased the remaindered stamps in 1913. As a consequence, these legitimate local post stamps are more commonly found in stamp collections than might have been expected given their relatively short period of use.
"New Issues and Varieties." Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal. 30 Jun. 1897: 209-214.
Riga, Bonnie and Roger. “Australasian New Hebrides Company.” cinderellas.info.
Rigastamps. 25 Jul. 2010.
Web. 5 May 2014.
Direct comments, questions and corrections to:
© Grose Educational Media, 2014