Sunday 4 November 2007

A wrapper from the Kingdom of Samoa

So tempting to start a new collection of Samoa. At times Samoa was independent, at times under English, German, New Zealand and United States control. Since 1962 Samoa is again an independent nation. For philatelists and postal historians there is plenty to go for.

Collecting a cross-boundary item as I do – "Newspaper Wrappers Worldwide from Before 1900" – I sometimes touch on areas so fascinating that I get tempted to start up a new collection.

Looking for wrappers on the Internet in December 2006 I came across an unusual one at Ebay. The starting price was low. Having acquired some extra information from the seller I made what I thought was a fair bid 77 US $. You can imagine my surprise when I saw the price going steep upwards and ending at 1.981 US $. I am sure the seller was delighted and just as surprised as I was.

What is so special about this wrapper? According to the postmark dated August 16 (no year), it was sent from Apia on the Island of Upolo, which is part of the group of 14 islands that lies about 1600 miles north-east of New Zealand and bears the name of Samoa. The addressee is a Mr. Kusenach, in Lehe, which is a small town near Bremerhafen at the North West coast of Germany. The wrapper is directed to be sent via San Francisco in the United States.

The postage is made up of a 1 penny stamp from The Kingdom of Samoa (probably SG 35 issued in Mai 1890) plus a 1 cent stamp from the United States (Y&T 1931 no. 70 issued 1890 – 1893). This combination is unusual.

The reason behind this special rate is that the United States had joined the UPU in 1875. Samoa was however still not a party to the UPU cooperation, and therefore the question of the validity of Samoan stamps for oversees postage was raised. Mail from Samoa for e.g. Australia and New Zealand was accepted without surcharge by their postal authorities, but for delivery in the United States and onwards additional postage was needed. For a letter 5cent; for a printed matter 1 cent (at least according to our wrapper).

World History Stamp Atlas by Rossiter and Flower 1986/1991

Stanley Gibbons, British Commonwealth 2000 Edition

Yvert et Tellier Catalogue de Timbres Postes 1931

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