10th December 2019 Fiji – Stamps and Postal History – Bryan A Jones

On Wednesday December 10th Banbury Stamp Society welcomed Bryan A Jones who presented his material on ‘Fiji – Stamps and Postal History’.  Bryan has been collecting this area for over forty years and started in the 1970’s when another collector advised him to specialise.  He started collecting both Mauritius and Fiji, but soon dropped Mauritius to focus on Fiji.

We were treated to two very different halves.  We started with George VI and the coronation issue, and then went on to the country’s first pictorial issue.  This had come about because it was felt that the ‘key plate’ issue was too plain and many other countries were issuing pictorial sets which acted as tourist advertisements.  Bryan had photographs of artists’ designs and essays that were submitted to the Post Office followed by an in-depth study of the stamps that were issued including plate numbers, different printers and even what is called ‘fly speck’ philately where tiny constant printing flaws allow the location of the stamp in the original sheet to be identified.  We heard that the 5d value, showing sugar cane crops, was originally printed in blue. The public objected and persuaded the post office to change the sugar cane to green when the stamps were reprinted.

Bryan also showed the stamps used on cover – where possible, paying the correct rate.  There was an interesting range of first day covers, local mail, registered mail and air mails.  Some war time mail was censored and we heard that this occurred particularly when mail was being sent from one theatre of war (in Fiji’s case, the Pacific) to another.

The second half was material largely from the past fifteen years and was a collection of the low value definitive set built up by Bryan with the help of the only stamp dealer on the island of Fiji.  The story started in the 1990’s when Fiji ordered new definitive stamps from Enschede in Holland, and were persuaded to order several hundred extra sheets as this ‘saved’ money.  Of course, inflation meant that some values became obsolete and so the postmaster came up with the idea of overprinting some of the surplus with new values, and proceeded to do this locally using a standard office computer and printer.  This started in 2006 and continues to this day, and with the result that there are a number of errors and varieties in the overprints, including inverted, missing or incorrect values.  Bryan had all of these in full sheets along with a range of covers that his Fijian colleague sent to him with the different issues.

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 7th January, 2020 at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre when society members will have a New Year social and display recent acquisitions. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.