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Polar Philately: Postal Service in the World's Coldest Places

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Polar Philately: Postal Service in the World's Coldest Places

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An introduction to Polar Philately presented at the Houston Philatelic Society meeting on March, 7, 2016. This presentation gives an overview of collecting the stamps of the North and South Poles (Antarctic and Arctic)

An introduction to Polar Philately presented at the Houston Philatelic Society meeting on March, 7, 2016. This presentation gives an overview of collecting the stamps of the North and South Poles (Antarctic and Arctic)

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Polar Philately: Postal Service in the World's Coldest Places

  1. 1. Postal Service in the World's Coldest Places Polar Philately
  2. 2. – Polar philatelists share an interest in stamps, covers and postal history of the polar regions of the earth, the North and South Poles. – Often collectors mix collecting with historical research – The American Topical Association has a polar stamp study unit What is Polar Philately?
  3. 3. Catalogs and Tools
  4. 4. › The Arch of Kerguelen: Voyage to the Islands of Desolation - (Greater reference on FSAT) › The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition › Shackleton’s Forgotten Men: The Untold Tragedy of the Endurance Epic › Alone – (Admiral Byrd’s personal recounting of being stranded for four months alone at an advance base near the South Pole) Other Books
  5. 5. › American Society of Polar Philatelists – APS Affiliate #31 – Ice Cap News – Membership application › Polar Postal History Society of Great Britain › The Antarctic Sun – online newspaper of the U.S. Antarctic program › Australian Society for Polar Philately Polar Philatelic Societies and References
  6. 6. The region north of the isotherm line – This is the region where the average temperature in July does not exceed 50° F. -or- North of 60° ARCTIC REGION › Greenland › Iceland › Parts of U.S., Canada, and Russia › Norway – Svalbard › Drifting Ice Stations › Ships
  7. 7. The continent of Antarctica and generally all locations south of or near 50° south latitude ANTARCTICA _
  8. 8. COUNTRIES WITH BASES IN ANTARCTICA _ Argentina Australia Belgium Brazil Bulgaria Chile China Czech Republic Norway Pakistan Peru Poland Romania Russia South Africa South Korea Ecuador Finland France Germany India Italy Japan New Zealand Spain Sweden Ukraine United Kingdom United States Uruguay Wikipedia includes a list of all Antarctic Research Stations
  9. 9. STAMP ISSUING ENTITIES ON AND NEAR ANTARCTICA _ Australian Antarctic Territory British Antarctic Territory Falkland Islands & Dependencies French Southern & Antarctic Territory Ross Dependency (New Zealand) South Georgia Private Posts
  10. 10. › Private Posts › Tristan da Cunha › Scandinavia › Phone Cards › Post Cards › Currency › Maps › Expedition memorabilia and artifacts Other “Polar” Area
  11. 11. Tierra del Fuego - 1891
  12. 12. Exploration, Science, Ships and Adventure
  13. 13. › “Exploration of the Antarctic Regions … is the greatest piece of geographical exploration still to be undertaken, and, in view of the additions to knowledge in almost every branch of science which would result from such scientific exploration, the Congress recommends that … this work be undrtain before the close of the century.” › List of Antarctic Expeditions › List of Arctic Expeditions › List of Polar Explorers Heroic Age
  14. 14. VICTORIA LAND & KING EDWARD VII LAND – FUNDING FOR THE SHACKLETON EXPEDITIONS Expedition Funding
  15. 15. Explorers on Stamps
  16. 16. Graf Zeppelin Over Franz Josephs Land
  17. 17. Polar stamps are rich in topical appeal, especially with regard to polar wildlife. PENGUINS, POLAR BEARS, AND WHALES
  18. 18. Penguins
  19. 19. Polar Bears
  20. 20. Whales and Marine Life
  21. 21. French Southern and Antarctic Territory (FSAT/TAAF)
  22. 22. Postal Service from Madagascar
  23. 23. This 1954 stamp from Madagascar (Malagasy Republic, Scott #C54) was issued to publicize France's claim to territory on the Antarctic continent. The region claimed was discovered by Jules Dumont d'Urville in 1840 and named in honor of his wife, Adéle. LAYING CLAIM
  24. 24. Post Office at Port Aux François, Kerguelen
  25. 25. The first stamp for the FSAT was an overprint on a stamp from Madagascar. FSAT’S FIRST STAMP
  26. 26. › One of the most sought after sets from FSAT features Scott #28. Key Set
  27. 27. FSAT Stamps are almost always relevant to the region
  28. 28. This sheet depicting Antarctic animals participating in Olympic style sports is one of several souvenir sheets issued over the years that depicts the desolate region in a comical light. COMICAL SOUVENIR SHEETS
  29. 29. › Stamps of FSAT are made available in limited quantities as imperforates, deluxe souvenir sheets, and trial color proofs. › Original artwork and prints signed by the stamp artist are also available. › Every 2 years FSAT issues “Voyage Books” which include postcards and stamps Imperfs, Deluxe Sheets, Proofs, Voyage Books
  30. 30. Imperfs and Deluxe Sheets
  31. 31. Trial Color Proofs
  32. 32. Philatelic vs. “Commercial” Covers
  33. 33. Registered Mail from Martin De Vivies
  34. 34. Postage Due
  35. 35. Falkland Islands & Dependencies
  36. 36. Located east of Argentina and north of the Antarctic continent, this tiny British colony took care of postal service for what is now the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia before both these areas began issuing their own stamps, starting around 1954. The British Antarctic Territory split from the Falklands in 1961 with the ratification of the Antarctic Treaty. South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands officially became a British Overseas Territory in 1985. Both are also considered overseas territories of the European Union.
  37. 37. Graham Land
  38. 38. Trans-Antarctic Expedition
  39. 39. Naturalists
  40. 40. British Antarctic Territory
  41. 41. Port Lockroy
  42. 42. Customers at the postal counter
  43. 43. Port Lockroy
  44. 44. The first definitive set of the British Antarctic Territory (Scott 1-15) features scenes of the Antarctic continent including icebreaker ships, sled dogs, skiers, the southern lights, snow machines, planes, and more. FIRST DEFINITIVE SET
  45. 45. MARINE LIFE
  46. 46. South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
  47. 47. Ernst Shackleton Memorial
  48. 48. Captain Cook
  49. 49. Shackleton
  50. 50. Australian Antarctic Territory
  51. 51. The Australian Antarctic Territory’s first set issued in 1957 featured explorers and other Antarctic themed designs. FIRST SET
  52. 52. Popular with Collectors
  53. 53. This sheet of 20 was issued in 2001 and tells the history of Australians in the Antarctic. TELLING THE HISTORY OF ANTARCTIC EXPLORATION
  54. 54. New Zealand – Ross Dependency
  55. 55. First Issue - 1957
  56. 56. This cover posted from the Ross Dependency in 1974 was mailed by a passenger on the Lindblad Explorer, a cruise ship that provides Antarctic tours. COVER FROM LINDBLAD EXPLORER
  57. 57. 2010 Whales
  58. 58. United States
  59. 59. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station http://www.southpolestation.com/ McMurdo Station http://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandma ps/mcmWebCam.cfm U.S. POST OFFICES IN ANTARCTICA
  60. 60. The Snow Cruiser – Failed Experiment
  61. 61. Operation High Jump
  62. 62. Scott Smith – Postal Clerk at the South Pole Read about Scott Smith's Service as the Postal Clerk at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
  63. 63. Argentina
  64. 64. Argentina
  65. 65. Chile
  66. 66. The first issues of Greenland were privately produced at Thule, the site of cryolite mines in remote north western Greenland. Prior to 1938, the stamps of Denmark were used in Greenland. GREENLAND - THULE
  67. 67. Greenland
  68. 68. Iceland
  69. 69. Icelandic Covers Icelandic Towns and Post Offices
  70. 70. Russia
  71. 71. Russia - Murmansk
  72. 72. Please visit my blog for future posts on polar stamps and philately in general. http://stewartstamps.get- spsteve.com/ Visit My Blog

Editor's Notes

  • List of Russian drifting ice stations:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drifting_ice_station 
  • While many of these countries have not issued stamps specifically for use in their Antarctic territory, there have been many issues recognizing polar research, famous polar explorers, and significant events.
  • Stamp issuing entities such as South Georgia and the Falkland Islands are not technically part of the Antarctica continent, but because of the significant role they have played in the history of exploration of the South Pole region, they are generally included in polar collections.
  • Some consider this to be the first polar stamps. Julio Popper, a gold mine operator, commissioned this stamp to pay the cost of local mail delivery to mining camps on the island at the extreme southern tip of South America.
  • Explorers such as Captain James Cook, Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jules Dumont d'Urville, Robert Perry, Douglas Mawson, Ernst Shackleton and many more led expeditions of exploration and discovery into these remote and forbidding lands. Their faces and names are found on polar bases and on stamps from many countries. Most of these explorers appear on enough stamps to make up substantial topical collections in their own right.
  • In 1895, the Sixth International Geographic Congress made a declaration urging the exploration of Antarctica. Expeditions to the Arctic were also discussed. This kicked off what has become known as the Heroic Age of exploration and over the next three decades, 22 expeditions to Antarctica were undertaken by men such as Ernst Shackleton, Douglas Mawson, Adrienne de Gerlache, Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen and others.
  • The first stamps issued specifically for use in Antarctica where issued by New Zealand in 1908 and when Scott #108a was overprinted with “King Edward VII Land”, Scott 121a, and taken by Ernst Shackleton on his expedition to Antarctica. Due to weather, Shackleton never landed on King Edward VII Land. Later issues bore the Victoria Land overprint (130d-131d).
  • An example of a famous issue for the North Pole region are the covers dropped from the Graf Zeppelin over Franz Josephs Land, close to the North Pole. The covers were flown from Berlin to a Russian post office on the island about 500 miles from the North Pole and returned via dog sled and ice breaker to be delivered to their final destination by regular mail. These covers are franked with Scott #C42, which includes the “Polar-Fahrt 1931” (Polar trip 1931) overprint on the 1928 Graf Zeppelin air post issue.
  • It’s difficult to distinguish philatelic covers from “commercial”, but most covers from the FSAT are created for collectors. I’d like to think the cover above was actual correspondence. It is franked with FSAT 22, 27, 28 (key issue), and C13
  • Mail from Polar bases frequently includes multiple catchets and the signatures of base personnel.
  • Falkland Island Dependency stamps
  • The Port Lockroy Post Office is operated by the United Kingdom Antarctic Trust and see some 18,000 visitors a year during the 5-month Antarctic cruise season. The post office doubles as a museum and was originally built by the British during World War II. A staff of four process close to 70,000 pieces of mail each year.
  • Only British Antarctic Territory Stamps can be used on the mail posted from this post office. There’s a reminder affixed on the royal mailbox.
  • Shackleton Memorial – Placed on the island in memory of the famous explorer who traveled more than 800 miles in a life boat and then scaled the mountains at South Georgia to bring rescuers to his crew trapped in Antarctica.
  • Since Australia began issuing stamps for its territories in Antarctica, there has typically only been one issue per year. All of the basic issues can be obtained for reasonable prices, making completion of this area an obtainable goal.
  • On the left is the 2009 issue for the International Polar Year. To the right is 1987 gutter overprint of number L75 for the Sydney Stamp & Coin Show. The overprint includes the names of each of the four AAT bases where post offices are in operation.
  • Covers like these were issued to publicize and fund Byrd’s third Antarctic expedition where he planned to use the gigantic snow cruiser to easily reach the South Pole.
  • Operation High Jump which took place from August 1946-February 1947 was officially a mission to establish the Little America Base in the Antarctic. The operation included 13 ships, 4700 men, and multiple aircraft. Conspiracy theories about the real purpose of the operation abound. They include hunting Nazis who had developed flying saucers and outright alien contact. This cover was canceled onboard the flagship the USS Mount Olympus
  • Mail out of Antarctica is much more common than mail to Antarctica. This cover addressed to Scott Smith was sent from the Falkland Islands to South Pole Station, but used the wrong zip code. It eventually made its way to Smith.
  • No discussion of Antarctica would be complete without mention of Argentina. This South American country borders on the southern continent and has been issuing stamps regarding it’s territorial claims for years. They also have six post offices operating year round in Antarctica, more than any other country. This cover carried by the Hesperides supply ship includes cancelations from all of Argentina’s research stations.
  • Back side of Hesperides cover
  • Chile also has strong ties to Antarctica and supports five year round post offices on the continent. While the picture on the post card looks like it might be a scene of the naval base, it is actually a view from Valparaiso, Chile, which is very north of Antarctica.
  • A registered cover from Brú to Reykjavik via Hólmavík, population 337 (town cancel on reverse of cover). The Wikipedia only has a stub record on Brú. It reads: "Brú is a farmstead and road junction in northwestern Iceland in Vestur-Húnavatnssýsla county. It is located in the Northwest Political constituency. It has a filling station and a guesthouse. It is located at the southern tip of Hrútafjörður where the river Hrútafjarðará has its estuary with the Arctic Ocean."
  • Female Antarctic Scientific Sport Expedition “Blizzard”
    Many covers related to both the north and south poles have been produced by Russia. It may be difficult to translate the text, but with some work you can learn a bit about the history of exploration and science in the poles. Another interesting area of collecting is Arctic floating ice stations, and many Russian polar covers feature cancellations from these temporary bases.
  • This covers commemorate the 75th anniversary of scientific field research in the Berents Sea and are canceled in Murmansk, the largest city in the world located north of the Arctic circle.
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