Issue Dates: 1892-1938
Scott Catalogue Value: $1,092.70
Mystic Price: $665.00
You Save: $427.70
Cook Islands collection contains 59 mint early Regular Issue stamps plus six album pages. (Some stamps are also never-hinged.) Collection begins with #1-7, the 1892 Cook Islands Federation stamps with a catalogue value of over $400. Other highlights include stamps from the Series of 1898-1900 with a total catalogue value of $173.
James Cook joined the British Navy in 1755, when the French and Indian War raged in North America. In 1759 he conducted a dangerous mission, entering French territory in Canada to survey the Saint Lawrence River for the navy. His accurate charts enabled the British to capture the city of Quebec later that year, a key turning point in the war.
Cook became one of the world’s greatest explorers. He sailed around the world twice, and commanded three expeditions to the Pacific. On his second trip to the Pacific, he became the first European to visit what would become known as the Cook Islands, located in the South Pacific, about 1,800 miles northeast of New Zealand.
The 15 Cook Islands have a total land area of 96 square miles, and are spread out over 850,000 square miles of ocean. Rarotonga, Mangaia, Atiu, Aitutaki, and Mauke are the main islands. Avura, the capital city, is located on Rarotonga. Rainfall varies greatly. Northern islands get as much as 128 inches of rain annually, while the south averages 80 inches. There is a great variety of vegetation, but animal life is limited to lizards and birds.
Polynesians from Samoa and Tonga were the original settlers of the Cook Islands. Great Britain took control of the islands in 1888, over a hundred years after Captain Cook first reached them. In 1891, the British gave administrative control to New Zealand. A new constitution was enacted in 1965, giving the islanders control of internal affairs. Today, the Cook Islands have a relationship of Free Association with New Zealand. In this arrangement, the islands are self-governing, yet the people are still citizens of New Zealand. That country also protects the islands militarily.
Agriculture, light industry, and tourism are the sources of the islands’ income. Cash crops, like citrus fruits, pineapples, tomatoes, cotton, coffee, and bananas are grown on the southern islands. Food crops include taro, sweet potatoes, yams, and breadfruit. Manufacturing includes fruit canning, clothing, and local crafts. Many islanders move to New Zealand to find employment. Health care is free, as is dental care for children. Education is also free, and all children between the ages of 6 and 15 must attend school. A college education is available in Fiji or New Zealand. Sales of Cook Islands stamps and coins are an extremely important source of revenue. Interestingly, old-age income programs, as well as other pensions, are funded through philatelic sales.