December 11th, 2014

The 75th anniversary of Byrd expedition visit commemorated with new stamps is glad to inform that Pitcairn Island Post has prepared for releasing as special commemorative issue on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Byrd expedition. The stamp issue consists of five stamps that are to be put into circulation on the 11th of December.

The expeditions of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd to Antarctica are well known, but many may not know there was a direct connection to Pitcairn Island as well. WWII was 3 months old. Ships with goods to sustain Pitcairn were not calling because of the perceived danger or the need to be elsewhere.

So when the USMS North Star, headed to Antarctica, stopped at Pitcairn for much-needed water on 13-14 December 1939, it was a welcome sight as the ship also had much needed supplies it was willing to share. Part of the sustenance bound for the Bay of Whales was beached at Bounty Bay – 4,000 pounds each of flour and sugar, 10 crates of both potatoes and lard cases, 10 gross of matches, a barrel of gasoline and five gallons of lubricating oil. The North Star later replenished its stores in New Zealand.

While some expedition members toiled conveying the larder, and others tended to the islanders' medical and communications equipment needs, 3 senior expedition members prepared to document the visitation in postal history. Richard B. Black; MD Alfred B. Geyer and expedition recorder Roger Hawthorne (see below) are credited with designing an intricate pictorial cachet (see cover) which was reproduced by mimeograph. Several proofs were made on the left side of un-imprinted government letter-size envelopes, one of which was "approved" for production by Admiral Byrd.

The North Star was also carrying an important piece of equipment to be tested in Antarctica. The "Snow Cruiser" (built at the Pullman Company at a cost of $150,000) was doomed to be an eventual failure, but at this point, it was being heavily promoted. In fact, the Armour Institute, which developed the "Snow Cruiser," partnered with the Fidelity Stamp Company to produce philatelic covers commemorating its use in the Antarctic.

So in fact, there were two different philatelic covers commemorating the North Star visit to Pitcairn. The "Snow Cruiser" cover is known to have been cancelled on the island as well as the North Star cachet. Personnel associated with the Armour Institute used that envelope for posting at Pitcairn rather than the North Star cachet. There were 794 North Star covers created on the mimeograph. Each North Star member received 10 cacheted envelopes.

Byrd expedition visit anniversary First Day Cover

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