Penrhyn Island Collectors' Stamps

Penrhyn Island
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An atoll in the South Pacific, Penrhyn is the most remote of the Cook Islands. With a population of only 213 inhabitants, according to a 2011 census, it's also one of the least populous. Penrhyn's major claim to fame is a large turquoise lagoon, which has made it a popular stopover for yachts and small cruise ships.

The regular presence of foreign visitors has influenced the local economy to the extent that weaving traditional hats for the tourist market is one of the most common occupations on the island. It's also partially for this reason that the island has been issuing its own stamps since 1902. To this day, Penrhyn Island collectors' stamps are highly sought-after, valued for both their exoticness and their rarity.

History of Penrhyn Island

For a sunny tropical island, Penrhyn has a dark history. It got its name from the Lady Penrhyn, a British slave ship which landed on its shores in 1788. Over the next 80 years, almost all of the island's indigenous population was kidnapped or sold into slavery. Those that remained were converted to Christianity by missionaries, many of whom were complicit with the slavers.

Penrhyn became a British protectorate in 1888. In 1900, along with the rest of the Cook Islands, it was annexed to New Zealand. To this day, Penrhyn and the rest of the Cook Islands remain freely associated with New Zealand.

Penrhyn Island Collectors' Stamps

In 1902, Penrhyn Island began using overprinted and surcharged New Zealand stamps for local postage. At the same time, Cook Islands stamps remained in circulation for inter-island use. These overprints are some of the more rare Penrhyn Island stamps, which is unsurprising given its small population and remote location.

In 1920, Penrhyn Island got its first definitive series, which used elements of a design shared by neighboring Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Nuie. As a result, many of these early Penrhyn Island collectors' stamps depict landmarks, such as the Avaruna Waterfront, located elsewhere. Despite this, the stamps were a success and the practice was repeated with a second series, issued seven years later.

Later Stamps

Between 1932 and 1973, Penrhyn Island exclusively used Cook Islands stamps, often New Zealand overprints. When Penrhyn Island began issuing its own stamps again, the focus was mainly on the international collectors' market.

Buying Rare Penrhyn Island Stamps

If you're looking to buy rare Penrhyn Island stamps, contact Apfelbaum, Inc. today. We frequently have Cook Islands and Penrhyn Island stamps for sale in our online store, as well as our buy-it-now sales. While Penrhyn Island may not be the best-known place in the world, its remoteness and uniquely tragic history make its stamps an interesting object of study.

In addition to sales, we also buy and appraise rare Penrhyn Island stamps — contact our office directly for more information.