Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tonga's Typewriter Stamp

Janet Klug pens an interesting article in this week's edition of Linn's Weekly Stamp News about how developing business technology impacted mail and stamps.

Klug writes, "In the days before and for a while after the use of a new invention called adhesive postage stamps, letters were handwritten. Invoices and orders scribbled with poor penmanship were likely to be misread, costing a business or customer valuable time and money. Bookkeepers and clerks were hired based at least in part upon their ability to write a clear hand. Legible handwriting was essential, and business colleges taught lovely Spencerian script handwriting as well as bookkeeping and other business skills."

Then something happened around 1874 - the typewriter began making its debut in business offices throughout the country.

Klug points out, " In 1896, when the typewriter was still fairly new technology, at least one of the machines made their way to the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific. Tonga was experiencing a shortage of half-penny stamps. The typewriter was used to type 'Half-Penny-' on a small number of sheets of the several denominations of stamps that had already been surcharged once before."

She goes on to say, "Another stamp issue was produced entirely by a typewriter in 1895. A British missionary with a typewriter was drafted to use the machine to make postage stamps, which he did. These were simple things, with a "U" typed in the upper left corner and a "G" in the upper right corner for Uganda Government."

Shown above,  an 1896 overprinted ½p-on-1½p-on-2p stamp (Scott 36) from Tonga.

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM