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French Polynesia
First French Polynesia Issue

First French Polynesia Issue

The first French Polynesia issue depicted a girl with shells on a beach
(seen here) as well as a girl with a guitar and a man with a headdress.

After Britain declined an invitation to adopt Tahiti as a protectorate, chief turned to the French who made the island a protectorate in 1843. An official mail service was established in 1859 and the general stamp issue for French colonies went into use on October 25, 1862. Local "TAHITI" surcharges appeared and in 1893 it was ordered that all remaining stamps in stock be overprinted "Tahiti." Because there were post offices on six other islands apart from Tahiti, the phrase "ETABLISSEMENTS DE L'OCEANIE" was imprinted on the Navigation and Commerce type definitives of 1892-1907. In 1903 all of the islands were integrated into a single colonial administration headquartered in Tahiti. The same year a set of pictorial definitives based on sketches by postmaster Henri Lemasson was issued. This issued continued in use until 1930.

On November 3, 1958 new stamps inscribed "POLYNESIE FRANCAISE" replaced those inscribed "ETABLISSEMENTS DE L'OCEANIE." There were nine values in the new issue featuring three different designs: a girl with a guitar, a man with a headdress and a girl with shells on a beach. Four airmail issues were issued at the same time. They featured a mother-of-pearl artist, Gaugin's "Woman of Tahiti," Gaugin's "The White Horse" and night fishing at Moorea.

Stamp inscribed Etablissements de l'Oceanie

Pictorial issue of 1922 based on sketch by postmaster Henri
Lemasson. This is one of three designs used from 1913-1930.

Stamps of 1913-1930 inscribed "ETABLISSEMENTS DE L'OCEANIE" depicted a Tahitian Girl, Kanakas (depicted here) and the Fautaua Valley.


"French Polynesia." Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. 2008.

Lamb, Bob. "French Polynesia." American Philatelist. Dec. 2008: 1200.

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