A Wallis and Futuna airmail stamp with cross-topical appeal
Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller
The Territory of Wallis and Futuna Islands is an island collectivity of France in the South Pacific Ocean east of Australia and north of New Zealand. The nearest island nations are Tuvalu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Tokelau. The population, which has been declining mainly due to emigration, is about 12,000.
The territory comprises three main islands and several smaller islets. The first human inhabitants arrived between 850 B.C. and 800 B.C. They were subsequently subjected to waves of conquest from Fiji and Tonga.
The first European contact was in 1616 with the Dutch. French missionaries arrived in 1837, and the population was converted to Roman Catholicism.
The islands became a French protectorate in 1887. From 1961 to 2003, it was an overseas territory of France. Since 2003, it has been an island collectivity of France.
The first stamps for Wallis and Futuna were issued in 1920 by overprinting stamps of New Caledonia. Modern stamps of Wallis and Futuna feature many interesting topics and the high design and production qualities of France and area stamps.
The modern stamps of Wallis and Futuna in mint, never-hinged condition are generally overvalued in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, often by 50 percent or more.
A Wallis and Futuna stamp with appeal across several topics is the 600-franc airmail (Scott C157) picturing Roland Garros and a Bleriot monoplane issued Feb. 18, 1988.
Garros (1888-1918) was a French athlete who played tennis, soccer and rugby; a pioneer aviator; and World War I hero. Both the tennis stadium in Paris and the French Open tennis match are named for him.
As a pioneer aviator, Garros flew in many early air races, set height records and was the first man to fly nonstop across the Mediterranean Sea. As a pilot in the nascent French air force, Garros fastened deflector plates to the propeller of his airplane, allowing him to shoot through the whirling blades. He shot down four enemy aircraft before his plane crashed behind enemy lines due to a clogged fuel line.
Captured by the Germans, he spent more than three years as a prisoner of war before escaping on Feb. 18, 1918. Returning to the air war in a Spad XIII, he claimed two more victories before being shot down and killed on Oct. 5, 1918.
The Scott catalog values the 600fr Roland Garros airmail stamp at $17.50 in mint, never-hinged condition. You can find it offered at $10 or less.
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