January 18, 2015

1412 UNITED KINGDOM (Pitcairn Islands) - Daily life of the locals

The Pitcairn Islands, the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific, are a group of four islands spread over several hundred miles of ocean, but only one of these, Pitcairn, the second largest, measuring about 3.6km from east to west, is inhabited. All the residents are descendants of the Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them. This history is still apparent in the surnames of many of the islanders. With only about 56 inhabitants, originating from four main families, Pitcairn is the least populous national jurisdiction in the world. The only settlement is Adamstown, which practically houses the entire population, and currently holds the record for being the smallest capital in the world. Given all this, it can be said that half of the population of the island appears on this postcard.

Located just south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the island enjoys year-round warm weather, and the fertile soil of its valleys produces a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) and sugarcane are grown and harvested to produce arrowroot flour and molasses. Fish are also plentiful in the seas around the island. Spiny lobster and a large variety of fish are caught for meals and for trading aboard passing ships. Even if the island is accessible only by boat through Bounty Bay, tourism plays a major role, providing the locals 80% of their annual income. The sale of coins and postage stamps to collectors are also a major sources of revenue.

The once-strict moral codes, which prohibited dancing, public displays of affection, smoking, and consumption of alcohol, have been relaxed in recent years. There is now one licensed cafe and bar on the island, and the Government Store sells alcohol and cigarettes. Fishing and swimming are two popular recreational activities. A birthday celebration or the arrival of a ship or yacht will involve the entire Pitcairn community in a public dinner in the Square, Adamstown. The four photos shown in the postcard illustrates the daily life of the locals: a public dinner in the Courthouse, people boiling juice from sugar cane to make molasses, a fishing party at Water Valley, and the interior of the Co-operative Society's shop.

About the stamp

The stamp is part of the series of four stamps, designed by Lucas Kukler (Bangkok, Thailand) and issued on April 28, 2014 to celebrate the 225th Anniversary of the Munity on the Bounty. The HMAV Bounty left Tahiti on April 4th 1789 and headed for the Tongan Islands. Time on the idyllic island had made the crew soft, forcing commander William Bligh to order brutal floggings to bring them into line. Severely discontented, eighteen members of the crew, led by the acting Master, Fletcher Christian, conspired to mutiny. On April 28th they entered Bligh’s cabin, awakened him and pushed him on deck wearing only his nightshirt.

Eighteen of the loyal crew were put into the Bounty’s open boat with Bligh. In what is regarded as a remarkable feat of seamanship and navigation, Bligh navigated the overcrowded 7m open boat on an epic forty-seven day, 3,618 nautical mile (6,701 km) voyage to Timor, equipped only with a sextant and a pocket watch (without charts or compass). He then returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after his original departure.

Meanwhile, the mutineers returned to Tahiti to avoid detection, but feeling unsafe, they made an unsuccessful attempt at settling in Tubuai, before returning to Tahiti yet again and put some crew ashore. Finally Christian, eight other crewmen, six Polynesian men and twelve women, one with a baby, set sail hoping to elude the Royal Navy. The mutineers went in search of Pitcairn Island, which they knew had been misplaced on Royal Navy charts and upon discovery in January 1790, they then took ashore the stores and burned and sank the Bounty, in Bounty Bay. To this day remnants of her timbers, nails and ballast stones are still visible in the waters of the Bay.

This is a post for Sunday Stamps II-5, run by Violet Sky from See It On A Postcard. The theme of this week is: Organizations, special events. Click here to visit Violet’s blog and all the other participants.

Pitcairn Islands - Wikipedia

Sender: Pitcairn Islands Philatelic Bureau
Ssent from Adamstown (Pitcairn Islands), on 28.07.2014


  1. Thank you for sharing this story and the stamp. How lucky you have a stamp from Pitcairn.

  2. ooh, a stamp from an island with an unsavoury history - past and recent!

  3. I love the story, and the stamps is just wonderful.

  4. Thanks for the compliment, still one of my favourite issues to have done! lucas...

    1. It isn't a compliment, it's the truth. :)