Stamps and Postal History of the German Marshall Islands
13 -- Atoll Post
by Dirk H.R. Spennemann

 

Introduction

The internal mail within the Marshalls was handled by small sailing ships operated by the Jaluit Gesellschaft. These vessels serviced the various trading stations, dropped trade goods and picked up copra. During the early period captains would take on the mail as a matter or courtesy, hand it to the postmaster on Jaluit who would then frank it, cancel it and send it on its way. The system seems to have relied on the preparedness of individual captains to handle mail.

This was formalised on 25 June 1902 by the acting district administrator von Bunsen who decreed that (i) mail service was the prerogative of the German Post Office in Jaluit, and that (ii) captains of vessels visiting atolls of the Marshalls were obliged to carry mail and had to announce their departure 24hrs in advance (see here for full text ).[1] A directive issued by the German Post Office in Jaluit, dated the same day, specified that the letters had to be franked with the correct stamps and that the captain of the vessel had to cancel these letters by writing on them the name of the vessel and the date of receipt (see here for full text ).[2] This was the genesis of the famous Atollenpost of the Marshalls, which attracted much attention in collector circles, and which led to widespread abuse at a later stage.

On 16 June 1903 an agreement between the German administrator and the Jaluit Gesellschaft saw the establishment of formal procedures, whereby a single (white) trader was authorised to collect as well as to receive all mail from and to a given atoll (see here for full text ).[3]

The table below lists the traders who were appointed postal agents on the atolls (see here for biosketches)

Postal Agents outside Jaluit [[4] ]
Atoll/IslandPostal Agent
Ailinglaplaptrader Martin Nielson
Arnotrader Karl Hahn
Ebontrader James Milne
Kilitrader Wilhelm Evert
Likiepplanter Joachim de Brum
Majurotrader Felix Becker
Maloelaptrader Charles Henderson
Mejittrader Stephan Ashley
Militrader James Smith
Namoriktrader Karl Zunk
NauruDistrict Office Manager [*] Ludwig Kaiser
Ujelangtrader Eduard Schmuhr
*) Bezirksamtvorsteher

In addition to the formal shipping services provided by the captains of the Jaluit Gesellschaft, we also need to be aware that some traders may well have owned small vessels that may have carried their own mail if and when they went to Jaluit. Further, the Jaluit Gesellschaft vessels carried paying deck passengers, who may have carried mail on behalf of traders, mail that was handed to and paid for at the postmaster in Jaluit.

Handwritten cancellations exist from other German colonies as well, some created in response to the Marshall Islands atoll post covers.

 

Genuine Mail Items


A number of covers are known with the name of the ship only as prescribed in initial regulations: Aeolus, Hercules, Gazelle, Mercur, Neptun, Eanijen Rakijen, Triton,

 

Philatelic Covers


These covers were discussed in the philatelic press in January 1908 , which then created a demand by the stamp collecting fraternity.[7]

 

Mass Production


The practice of covers seems to have continued until 1913. W. Beck reports a hand cancelled cover dated 'Kwajlin' 5 May 1913, postmarked Jaluit 9 June 1913 and registered there, with an arrival back stamp Berlin 14 September 1913.[8]

 

Documentation


Ailinglaplap


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Ailinglaplap can be found here

Philatelic atollpost cover sent from Ailinglaplap on 21 December 1907 [XXX]

Arno


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Arno can be found here
XXXXX

Ebon


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Ebon can be found here

Philatelic atollpost cover created by Carl Domnick addressed to himself sent from Ebon on 8 April 1908 [XXX]

Jaluit


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Jaluit can be found here

Kwajalein


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Kwajalein can be found here

Philatelic atollpost cover created by E. Heyne addressed to herself sent from Kwajalein on 15 April 1909 on board of the Eanijen Rakijen[XXX]

Likiep


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Jaluit can be found here Laup, in his seminal study of the atollpost cancels, shows that several such handwritten cancels exist. He depicts the following hand-cancels for Likiep:
  • "Neptun 26/2 03 Likiebt", on 10Pfg Yacht; ;[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2610 no 65]
  • "Likieb 28/3 03 p. Triton", received Jaluit 23 February 1903 (date?); on 10Pfg Yacht; handwriting Krümling;[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2610 no 66]
  • "Likieb 12 II 1904", received Jaluit 15 February 1904; on 10Pfg Yacht; handwriting deBrum.[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2607 no 33]
  • "Likieb 27 VIII 1904", received Jaluit 31 August 1904; on 2x 5Pfg Yacht; handwriting deBrum.[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2607 no 34]
  • "Likieb 10/12 1905", received Jaluit 13 December 1905; on 10Pfg Yacht; sent to Landeshauptmann Jaluit, [Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2607 no 32]
  • "Likieb 27/4 09 "Vilma" ", received Jaluit 29 April 1909 (registered to); on 2 x 10Pfg Yacht; handwriting C. Jeschke[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2611, n˝ 76]
When the philatelistic demand for these letters began, the former postmaster Carl Domnick, now owner of the local hotel and pub "Germania, commenced the production of such covers on a larger scale. All covers of a single 'batch' carry the same dates. We have a series of known covers hand-cancelled Likiep 25 May 1908 with a Jaluit receiving cancel dated 3 June 1908.[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2602] These are offered in occasion at auction.
  • "Likieb 25/5 1908", received Jaluit 3 June 1908; on 10Pfg Yacht;[Charles Leski Auctions, Auction 185 no 495C (not sold). Same item: Premier Philately Auction #88 General Public Auction Saturday 23rd June 2001; http://www.premierauctions.com.au/auction88/88gercol.htm]
  • "Likieb 25/5 1908", received Jaluit 3 June 1908; on 2x 5Pfg Yacht;[Nutmeg stamp Sale 33 - April 9, 2001. http://www.nutmegstamp.com/Sale_33/33_28.html]
By 1909 a formidable production 'ring' had been formed, comprising of Carl Domnick, His wife Auguste Domnick, Captain Carl Jeschke, Ms E. Heyne and the Marshallese Likojur.[Laup 1929] The material is often signed by the originators, such as E.Heyne. Laup depicts one item:
  • "Likieb 8. III 07;" received Jaluit 23 March 1907; on 2x 5Pfg Yacht; handwriting E.Heyne;[Laup 1929, op cit. p. 2602]

Philatelic atollpost cover created by Carl Domnick addressed to his wife Auguste and sent from Likiep on 25 May 1908 and received on Jaluit on 3 June 1908.[http://www.leski.com.au/catalogues/a185/images/0495.jpg]

Majuro


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Majuro can be found here

Philatelic atollpost cover created by Carl Domnick addressed to his daughter Anna sent from Majuro on 1 June 1908 and received on Jaluit on 3 July 1908.

Maloelap


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Maloelap can be found here
The cover shown below is intriguing as it is a prefabrictated philatelic cover franked with a 3Pfg brown and addressed to H. Sommerfeldt, Gelsenkirchen (Germany). The letter then has a superimposed inscription in a different handwriting "For ### Capt. W. Lemmin, Jaluit."

Philatelic atollpost cover created sent from Maloelap on 2 March 1908 [XXX].

Mile


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Mile can be found here

Philatelic atollpost cover created by E. Heyne addressed to herself sent from Mile on 1 April 1909 on board of the Eanijen Rakijen

Ujelang (Providence)


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Ujelang can be found here

Philatelic atollpost cover created by Carl Domnick addressed to himself sent from Ujelang on 9 September 1909 and received on Jaluit on 18 September 1909.



Nauru


Additonal covers (both recto and verso views) from Nauru can be found here

Hand cancelled post card "Nauru 7 February 1907," counter cancelled "Deutsche Seepost Jaluit Linie 8 February 1907".



[Contents]


Bibliographic citation for this document

Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (2002). Postage Stamps used in the German Marshall Islands. Atoll Post
URL: http:/marshall.csu.edu.au/Marshalls/html/Stamps/Marshalls/Stamps_atollpost.html

CONTACT:
Dirk H.R. Spennemann, Institute of Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789, Albury NSW 2640, Australia.
e-mail: dspennemann@csu.edu.au


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