This picture features on the Notable Figures First Day Cover

Notable Figures of Pitcairn

       05 April 2002                      $1.50,$1.50, $1.50, $1.50                                Mint and CTO           $6.00
                                                                                                                                          FDC           $7.00

 Technical Details

Release Date : 5 April 2002
Denominations : $1.50 x 4
Stamp Design : Dave Gunson, Auckland NZ
Printer : BDT Security Printing, Dublin Ireland
Process   :  Offset Lithography
Paper : 110 gsm, PVA gum stamp paper
Stamp Size : 40.64 x 29.79mm four vertical stamps
Perforation Gauge : 13 per 2cms
Sheet    :  Panes of  2 x 25 stamps
First Day Covers  :  $7.00

Dr Herbert Ford of the Pitcairn Islands Study Center, at the Pacific Union College in Angwin California, has provided not only the concept of this issue but also the text which follows.

On a day in 1920, Gerald deLeo Bliss, postmaster at Cristobal, Colon, Panama, was enjoying a meal with a ship’s captain in the Strangers’ Club.  In his pocket, Bliss had a letter from England addressed to Pitcairn Island.  Learning that the captain’s upcoming Pacific voyage would take him close to the island, Bliss asked if he would deliver the letter.  The captain’s willingness to assist caused Bliss to send word to postmasters world wide advising that mail bound for Pitcairn would be given the quickest service if sent through him.  Previously mail could take six months or longer to reach the island.  Through Bliss, the time was reduced to less than two weeks.  As a consequence, captains agreed to take on mail from Pitcairn, knowing that Bliss would receive and send it on from Panama.  Bliss sent hand-stamp informational markings for use on Pitcairn which read Posted at Pitcairn Island/ No Stamps Available. Not only did Bliss revolutionise Pitcairn’s mail service, together with his wife Marbella Anna, he served as the island’s purchasing agent for more than a decade.  Mrs Bliss became an indefatigable bargain hunter for the always-cash-short islanders purchasing, among other large items, Pitcairn’s first wood-fired domestic stove.

When he retired in 1934, Gerald deLeo Bliss could look back on a distinguished postal career, the last 14 years of which included providing a valuable service to Pitcairn, which not only sped the delivery of mail but enabled increased opportunities for Pitcairners to sell their crafts and obtain all manner of supplies.

The first time that Arthur C Jones saw Pitcairn was on 5 May 1919, as an apprentice seaman aboard the steamship Katuna.  He traded clothing and soap with a Pitcairner in exchange for 2 baskets of fruit, a painted coconut and a piece of coral from Oeno Island and was captivated by the island and its people.  It was the first of more than 100 visits Jones would make during a career of more than four decades.

During a call in 1933 as an officer aboard the Shaw Savill & Albion cargo-liner Akaroa, Jones noted an unsightly, barren appearance of the island and he watched with disappointment as over the years deforestation and erosion tightened their grip on the island.  In the early 50s, as Master of the Corinthic, Jones started carrying shipments of young trees from New Zealand to help restore the island’s vegetation.

Trees were not all that he carried.  Supplies, mail and Pitcairners were carried in either direction and he would sometimes hoist the Pitcairn longboats aboard and carry them to Henderson Island, where the Pitcairners would harvest Miro for the carvings.  So much so did his name become synonymous with Pitcairn that he was known throughout the Shaw Savill Line as “Pitcairn Jones”.  On Pitcairn, he is remembered by the rocky point in Bounty Bay, named in his honour.

Pitcairner James Russell McCoy, an island diplomat to the world, was born on 4 September 1845, with the lure of the sea in his veins.  Before he died at age 79 in 1924, he had spent nearly half his life both at home and abroad championing the cause of a better life for the Pitcairn people.  During a period of 36 years from 1870, McCoy served as Pitcairn’s Chief Magistrate or President of the Island Council for seven terms, holding office for 22 years during that period.  In 1890, he became a lay missionary of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, when he chose to accompany the crew of the church’s schooner Pitcairn on her maiden departure from the island to minister to “the isles of the Sea”.

In the aftermath of a moral deterioration on Pitcairn in the closing years of the nineteenth century, a period which included murder, James McCoy is credited with stemming the advance of lawlessness and a lack of unity.

Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby, 1786 – 1877 was Commander-in-Chief of the British Pacific Naval Station, based at Valparaiso, Chile.  Upon his first visit to Pitcairn on 7 August 1852, he was charmed by the society he found there.  He arranged for the formal training of their clergyman George Hunn Nobbs, which led to his ordination.

Admiral Moresby’s unceasing concern for the community saw him ordering ships under his command to call at Pitcairn and assist where possible.  Noting the poverty that existed on Pitcairn, with the aid of his son Fortesque, he established a Pitcairn Fund Committee which through his generosity and that of others, saw the purchase of many agricultural tools and a whaleboat for the Pitcairners.

During this period, Admiral Moresby, noting the effects of Pitcairn’s increasing population on an island of limited resources, planned for the emigration of the community to Norfolk Island in 1856.