Sunday, December 22, 2013

Endangered Malau - Egg shaped Miniature Sheet

A latest addition to my odd shaped stamps collection. This sheet was issued on 9th April 2002 by the Tonga Postal Services General Post Office depicting the Endangered species - 'Malau' Megapodius pritchardii.

Niuafoʻou is a small island located in the northern most part in the kingdom of Tonga. The name literally means many new coconuts. It is a volcanic rim island of 15 km². Because of its unusual geography, Niuafo'ou used unconventional means to receive its postal communications known as 'Tin Can Mail'. At one time passing steamers would seal incoming mail for the island in 40-pound biscuit tins which were then thrown overboard to native swimmers. The swimmers towed the outgoing mail out in tins. The swimmers and ship would exchange mail containers and each would be on their way. From this unique method of mail delivery, the island became known as Tin Can Island and the letters carried thus are called Tin Can Mail. The swimming mail lasted until 1931 when a shark killed a swimmer. From then on, mail was brought in by outrigger canoe. In 1983, an airstrip was completed eliminating the need for Tin Can Mail.

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NOTE: Please click on the images for a larger view / closer look.

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