Postage Stamps and Postal History of Christmas Island - Postal Independence Under Australian Administration - 1958-1959 Transition

1958-1959 Transition

While Singapore prepared its accession to self-government, the United Kingdom decided to transfer Christmas Island administration to Australia, a country which had been controlling along with New Zealand the phosphate company, the British Phosphate Commission, since 1948. The Australian Christmas Island Act accepted the continuity of the Singapore legal system in the island, including the postal system. The Malayan dollar remained the currency because of the needs of South-East Asian workers. Consequently, the island's postal system was independent from Australia's and placed under the responsibility of the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission. Inhabitants could collect their mail at the post office in Flying Fish Cove. For outgoing mail, specific postage stamps would be issued even if the Australian Department of Territories asked the Australian post office to produce them. Postal rates remained those of Singapore, placing this State inside the interior rate zone of Christmas Island.

However, two modifications were made on the Singapore postal system in Christmas Island: the airmail postage rate to Australia was reduced and Australian cancelling stamps were sent in 1958 with the designation: "CHRISTMAS ISLAND / INDIAN OCEAN / AUST".

The first philatelic issue was released on 15 October 1958. It was an adaptation of Australia's 1 shilling 7 pence stamp of March 1955, using a bas-relief profile of Queen Elizabeth II by W.L. Bowles with floral ornament. The design by F.D. Manley was reshaped by engraver G. Lissenden to include a black "CHRISTMAS ISLAND" and encircled value in Malayan dollars overprint. The face values and part of the chosen colours were inspired by the last definitive stamps of Singapore in use in Christmas Island. Stamps were printed in recess for the effigy and the word "Australia" and in typography for the overprint by the Note Printing Branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Melbourne. The philatelic office in Melbourne, in charge of the Australian Territories stamp sales, delivered one hundred stamp sheets to the Phosphate Commission which expedited them to the island by ship sailing from Fremantle. The same royal effigy served for the registered postal stationery issued on 18 May 1959.

Read more about this topic:  Postage Stamps And Postal History Of Christmas Island, Postal Independence Under Australian Administration

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