Papua Collector's Stamps
Comprising more than 600 islands, Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally and geographically diverse countries in the world. 97% of its territory is land owned by indigenous communities, and more than 850 languages are spoken among just 7 million inhabitants.
Talking about Papua New Guinea can be confusing, as it’s necessary to differentiate between New Guinea — the island which is shared with Indonesia, and which comprises the majority of the present country’s territory — and the various former colonies of German, Australian and British New Guinea, the latter of which was known simply as Papua between 1906 and 1952.
In this article, we’ll be focusing specifically on the rare stamps of Papua, the British colony.
History of Papua and Its Early Collectors Stamps
British presence in Papua dates back to as early as 1884. Between 1885 and 1901, British postal authorities used Queensland stamps in the region, stamped with the “BNG” abbreviation. In 1901, a series of definitive British New Guinea issues was produced. These featured an engraving of a lakatoi, a type of ship used by the island’s natives.
In 1906, control was ceded to Australia and the territory was renamed Papua. As a result, new stamps were required.
Authorities initially used an overprinted version of the 1901 issue. These are among the rarer Papua stamps on the collectors’ market today. They were followed in 1907 with a new, definitive series that retained the lakatoi as its signature design element, but was inscribed with “Papua” instead of “British New Guinea.” This design remained in place for a number of years — a wide range of colors, denominations and watermarks makes them a rich object of study for anyone interested in collecting rare Papua stamps.
Later Papua Stamps
In 1932, a new issue of five unicolor and 11 bicolor stamps was produced, partly in an effort to generate additional revenue for the island. These attractive pictorials celebrated Papua’s cultural heritage and featured a unique, Art Deco-inspired design.
Throughout the ‘30s, a series of commemorative issues marked significant milestones in the territory’s occupation, including the 1938 celebration of 50 years of British presence. Many of these stamps can be found fairly easily on the collectors’ market.
The unified territory of Papua New Guinea began issuing its own postage in 1952, and older Papua stamps were phased out the following year. Independence was achieved in 1975.
Buying Collectors’ Papua Stamps
Apfelbaum, Inc. frequently has rare Papua stamps for sale in our online store. If you’re looking to add to your collection, or to start exploring the rich word of pre-independence Papua stamps, we can help! Browse our online store to see what’s available now. You can also contact our office directly for assistance locating something hard-to-find.