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Search: TIN CAN (NIUAFO'OU) STAMPS

TIN CAN ISLAND (NIUAFO'OU) STAMPS

Tin Can (Niuafo'ou) Mint Stamps - Tin Can (Niuafo'ou) Newest Stamps


Nestled among the paradise islands of the Pacific is a tiny dog of land called Niuafo’ou that lies equidistant between Samoa and Fiji. Niuafo’ou is the northernmost island of the Tonga group. The island is actually just the peak of an enormous volcano which rises steeply from the Tonga trench, one of the deepest places in the ocean. There is no safe harbor, nor is there a good offshore anchorage.
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 23-26 NH MINT
Volcanoes. Better Set. (TCAN23-26H8-XS)
Price 1-2: $6.50
Price 3+: $2.39
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 42-45 NH MINT
Marine Wildlife (TCAN42-45H8-XS-CLUB)
Price 1-2: $7.50
Price 3+: $2.39
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 60-63 NH MINT
ROCKET MAIL (TCAN60-63H8)
Price: $6.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 64-65 NH MINT
Halley's Comet (TCAN64-65H8)
Price: $49.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 74-75 NH MINT
Ameripex/Peace Corps (TCAN74-75H8-XS)
Price 1-2: $4.00
Price 3+: $1.59
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 98 NH MINT
Australia Bicentennial S/S (TCAN98H9)
Price: $35.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 147 NH MINT
Columbus S/S (TCAN147H9)
Price: $22.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 179-80 NH MINT
World War II (TCAN179-80H9)
Price: $24.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 202-05 NH MINT
WWF Blue-crowned Lorikeet (TCAN202-05H8-XST-CLUB)
Price 1-2: $7.12
Price 3+: $3.95
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 205A VF NH MINT
W.W.F. Blue 1998Crown Lorked S/S (TCAN205AH8)
Price: $9.60
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 217-20 F/VF NH MINT
Fragrant Flowers (TCAN217-20H8)
Price: $4.65
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 268 NH MINT
Christmas 2011 Setn. Pr. (TCAN268H8)
Price: $6.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 269-70 NH MINT
Whales S/S (TCAN269-70H8)
Price: $7.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 271-74 NH MINT
WWF Zebra Shark (TCAN271-74H8)
Price: $5.87
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 275-86 NH MINT
Butterflies (TCAN275-86H8)
Price: $24.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 290 NH MINT
Personalized (TCAN290H9)
Price: $2.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 290 NH MINT
Personalized Set of 2 (TCAN290H8)
Price: $5.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 293 NH MINT
New Year 2013 S/S (TCAN293H8)
Price: $6.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 294-95 NH MINT
Tin Can Mail (TCAN294-95H8)
Price: $3.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 296-99 NH MINT
Royal Birth (TCAN296-99H8)
Price: $6.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 300 NH MINT
Royal Birth S/S (TCAN300H8)
Price: $7.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 301-12 NH MINT
Butterflies (TCAN301-12H8)
Price: $29.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 314 NH MINT
China S/S (TCAN314H8)
Price: $3.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 315-17 NH MINT
Christmas 2013 (TCAN315-17H8)
Price: $3.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 329 NH MINT
Princess Charlotte (TCAN329H8)
Price: $8.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott 344 NH MINT
400th Anniv. Dutch Landing Sheetlet of 4 Different (1) (TCAN344H8)
Price: $6.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott CE1-4 NH MINT
Barn Owls (TCANCE1-4H8)
Price: $49.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Year of the Rat (P/3 @ Face) (2) (TCANH610)
Price 1-2: $9.90
Price 3+: $6.93
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Birds of Prey 2019 (P/3 @ Face) (4) (TCANH610)
Price 1-2: $12.37
Price 3+: $8.66
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Birds of Prey 2019 Souvenir Sheet (P/3 @ Face) (1) (TCANH610)
Price 1-2: $12.37
Price 3+: $8.66
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Royal Wedding Prince Harry Souvenir Sheets (2) (TCANR575)
Price: $14.40
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Parrot Souvenir Sheet (1) (TCANR576)
Price: $7.50
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Seashells 2018 Souvenir Sheets (2) (TCANR576)
Price: $15.00
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Birds of Prey 2018 Stamps with White Borders (12) (TCANR588)
Price: $41.90
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUE NH MINT
Christmas 2019 (P/3 @ Face) (2) (TCANH609)
Price 1-2: $2.03
Price 3+: $1.42
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUES NH MINT
Sharks Sheetlet of 6 Different (1) (TCANR599)
Price: $11.33
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NIUAFO'OU Scott NEW ISSUES NH MINT
Sharks Souvenir Sheet (1) (TCANR599)
Price: $6.30
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Niuafo’ou’s volcanic soil produces some of the best coconuts in the world. This cash crop, dried on the island and bagged as copra, helped to immortalize Niuafo’ou’s postal history.
The Australian firm Osterman Dervy & Co. stationed W. Travers, a copra trader, on Niuafo’ou in the early 1880’s. Travers became despondent when he found out there were no arrangements for dispatching and receiving letters. He devised a plan whereby passing vessels on the Samoa-Fiji run would drop his mail (which had been soldered in a tin can) overboard into the pounding sea for a strong Tonga swimmer to collect. Outgoing mail, tied securely in oilcloth, was carried to the ship. A line was dropped from the ship and the mail packet was affixed by the swimmer and drawn up. In a short time the vessel was again under way.
Gradually, ship’s captains began referring to Niuafo’ou as “Tin Can Island” because of the method of mail delivery. At the turn of the century, a few attempts at “modernization” were made involving the use of signaling rockets. Mail was tied to a rocket and then the rocket was launched from the deck of the ship in the general direction of the island. This proved to be an unsatisfactory arrangement when some of the mail burned in flight. Other rocket launchings missed the island entirely, either landing soggily in the sea or being lost in the verdant forest of Niuafo’ou.
In the late 1920’s, a German copra trader named Walter George Quensell began applying simple markings to his letters that read “Tin Can Mail.” It wasn’t long before a few of these covers fell into the hands of stamp collectors, who created a demand for Quensell’s Tin Can Mail covers.
In 1932, the method of Tin Can Mail delivery changed from the early swimmer mails to a delivery and collection by outrigger canoe. This change evolved after a swimmer was eaten by a shark.
Cruise ships plying the South Seas began adding Tin Can Island to their itinerary, generating even more opportunities for collectors and passengers to use the Tin Can Mail service. Luxury liners realized this was a perfect medium to advertise their cruises and so began issuing their own cacheted envelopes for the passengers to send “wish you were here” messages from Niuafo’ou.
Quensell, who by now was calling himself the “Tin Can Mail Man of the South Seas” must’ve believed he was on to something. By the mid-1930’s, he was decorating both the front and back of his covers with a myriad of elaborate cachets. The collectors loved them and the revenue earned from selling his covers helped support Quensell’s large family.
During World War II, the passenger vessels ceased their pleasure cruise operations. Post communications were maintained at Niuafo’ou on an infrequent schedule by Tongan vessels. At the close of the war, Quensell expected to resume the Tin Can Mail when the cruise ships returned to service. Fate, however, intervened.
On September 9, 1946, the island of Niuafo’ou violently erupted in a spectacular volcanic display. The main village of Angaha, including Quensell’s office, store and residence, was destroyed by lava flow, and islanders were evacuated to other islands within the Tonga group, often against their will.
By the late 1950’s, the island was once again habitable and former Niuafo’ou residents successfully petitioned for a return to their home island. In 1962, Matson Line vessels once again added Niuafo’ou to their South Seas cruise itinerary. Outrigger canoes would paddle out to meet the gleaming white ships in the old way, while passengers peered from the decks as the mail transfer was completed.
The post history of Niuafo’ou came full cycle in 1983 when a small airstrip was completed close to the spot where the village of Angaha once stood.

Written by
Janet Klug

This has been reprinted from Global Stamp News – November 1990 – Issue #1

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