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halfpenny stamp, 1891

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the Falkland Islandsmarker.

Early mail service depended on occasional calls by ships connecting to the Brazilmarker packet via Montevideomarker; the earliest recorded letter dates from 28 January 1827. From 1852 to 1880 a schooner (either a government boat or a contractor) called about every two months.

Before 17 July 1861 letters had to be paid for upon delivery to the ship, and from 1868 prepaid franks are known, issued by local officials acting as postmaster. The first stamps, 1d, 6d, and 1 shilling values featuring the usual profile of Queen Victoria, were issued 19 June 1878. Unusually for a British colony, the first stamps were not on watermarked paper, but this was rectified in 1883. Additional values of this design appeared from time to time until 1896.

In 1880, carriage of mail was made mandatory for any ship calling at Stanleymarker, and regular service was contracted to the German Kosmos Line, which operated steamships on a route from Hamburgmarker to Callaomarker, Perumarker.

The first post office opened in Stanley in 1887.

On 1 January 1891 a need for 1/2d stamps resulted in the authorization of bisect and surcharge of existing 1d stamps. 1/2d stamps arrived in September, but the bisects were allowed until 11 January 1892, in order to use up existing stocks.

In 1900, the Pacific Steam Navigation Company got the contract, which operated until 1914, when the opening of the Panama Canalmarker made Cape Hornmarker roundings unnecessary, and regular mail service to the Falklands was not resumed until 1927.

2 1/2d "whale and penguins", 1929

In 1904 new stamps of the same general design, but depicting Edward VII, were issued, and likewise after 1912 for George V. Shortages of dyes due to World War I led to considerable color variations in the wartime printings of George V stamps.

The 2d purple stamp was surcharged 2 1/2d in 1928.

In 1929 a first pictorial design appeared, featuring small images of a whale and penguins beneath the profile of George V. This was followed up by the much-admired centennial issue of 1933, a series of 12 stamps featuring local scenes and wildlife evocatively rendered; a full set is today priced at about US$3,000.

Starting in the 1930s, the Falklands took part of the omnibus issues of the Empire; the Silver Jubilee issue of 1935, Coronation issue for George VI in 1937, and so forth. The new king also meant a need for a new definitive series, which came out in 1938 and featured scenes, wildlife, and ships, though in a somewhat plainer design than the pictorials of 1933.

A last definitive series for George VI appeared in 1952. Of the 14 stamps of the issue, six were re-issued between 1955 and 1957 with a portrait of Elizabeth II. The next definitive series did not come out until 1960, the 15 values depicting various native birds.

In 1964, a series of four stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Falkland Islands became notable for the HMS Glasgow error, in which the wrong warship was printed on a few of the six-pence value.

During the Falklands War of 1982, occupied islands used stamps of Argentinamarker, cancelled "Islas Malvinas". Since that time, a British garrison has been maintained; while forces mail to home is free, mail to other destinations requires postage franked with British stamps, and as of 2003 was cancelled with two intertwined circles saying "Falkland Islands BFPO 655 Post Office".

Post Code

In 2003, the Islands were given their own UK postcode, FIQQ 1ZZ. This was in response to complaints that mail to the Falklands was being sent to the wrong destination (usually either Falkirkmarker in Scotlandmarker, where postcodes have the letters 'FK', or to the Faroe Islandsmarker). The introduction of the postcode, valid for all local addresses, also helped Islanders to fill in mail order forms online, many of which insisted on a valid ZIP or postal code.

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