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Before 1862 Usage of stamps of the universal issues for the French Colonies without special Indication of the country of origin
1862 - 1892 Usage of the same stamp issues with local overprint
1892 - 1958 Stamp issues inscribed: `Etablissements Français de l`Océanie`
From 1958 Stamp issues inscribed: `Polynésie Française`
 
  Stamp issues inscribed: `Polynésie Française`
On July 26, 1957, the official designation of the French Oceanic Settlements was changed to "French Polynesia" under which name Tahiti and the other French Pacific Islands in Polynesia obtained the status of a French Overseas Territory.
The philatelic implication of this change was, that all stamps of the preceding issues, showing the obsolete inscription "Etablissements Français de l'Océanie" were withdrawn from sale at the close of business on November 2nd., 1958, and gradually invalidated during the years to come, whereas an attractive new set of postage, airmail and postage due stamps, all inscribed "Polynésie Frangaise", was placed on sale on November 3rd.
Again of course, the famous "Vahiné" dominates some of the stamp designs, either playing a guitar or collecting shells on the beach.
The third postage design has been reserved for the portrait of a Polynesian "Tané" with his characteristic head­dress. In the designs of the four airmail values we find some more reproductions of paintings by Gauguin: "Women on the Beach", and "The White Horse", both from the collections of the Paris Louvre. The two other values show a Polynesian Mother­of­Pearl engraver at work, and a romantic scene of nighttime fishing along the Moorea coast.
Of special interest is the design of the postage due stamps, which shows the upper part of a bludgeon from the Marquesas Islands, an object frequently seen in the world's ethnological museums.
As we approach modern times, the stamp issues of Polynesia, like those of other countries, become more and more frequent, but also more and more artistic and interesting.
In 1959 a "Native Flora" stamp is issued, showing the breadfruit (Artocarpus Incisa L.), one of the most important indigeneous vegetables and one of the most useful plants of the world. Not only does the fruit provide excellent nourishment, but the bark is used for weaving, the wood is useful material in the fabrication of houses and boats, the leaves may serve as packing material, and the sticky milk­juice can be used as glue.
The breadfruit­tree played an important historical role as well; the reader may remember how towards the end of the 18th. century the British King ordered captain William Thigh to bring a number of breadfruit trees from Tahiti to the West Indies for transplantation. The well­known story of the Bounty Mutiny -subject of so many books and filmed several times-defeated this attempt, but later efforts were successful.
In 1960, several new values were added to the regular set. Colourful pictures all of them, showing harpoon fishing, a Tahitian dancing couple, the new Papeete post­office building, and a bird's eye view of Faaa airport. Native flowers were the subject of two further stamps, issued in 1962, and showing the Saraca Indica and the Hibiscus.
In the same year, four postage values were issued showing four varieties of tropical fish frequently found in Polynesian Seas. These include the curious Cowfish (Lactophyrs Cornutus), the beautiful Lionfish (Pteropterus Radiata), the Squirrelfish (Holocentrus Spinifer) and the Butterfly Fish (Chaetodon Unimaculatus).

In 1963 the First South Pacific Games were held at Suva, Fiji Islands. To commemorate the occasion, two stamps were issued by French Polynesia, depicting respectively Football and Javelin­Throwing. From these games, teams and individual athletes from Tahiti took along 4 gold, 2 silver and 4 bronze medals.

Text: R.H. HOUWINK
 
 
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