Postage stamps and postal history of Guam

Postage stamps and postal history of Guam

The postage stamps and postal history of Guam is an overview of the postage stamps and postal history of the Pacific Ocean island of Guam. Its postal service is linked to those of the Philippines during the Spanish Empire and, since 1898, to the United States of America. A peculiarity is that, for a short period in the 1930s, Guam had a local post service.

Because the US Postal administration issued the same stamps in Guam as in the United States, cancellations are the only way to identify a stamp as having been used in the island. Between the 1930s and 1970s, during the creation of trans-Pacific airways, stops at Guam were commemorated with special illustrated marks.

panish colonization

During the Spanish Empire, Guam was considered part of the Mariana Islands that were claimed by Spain since the 16th century. Between 1876 and 1882 stamps used are those of the Philippines illustrating a portrait of King Alfonso XII, the Spanish coat of arms (1881–1888) and, after 1890, the child profile of Alfonso XIII.

Following the victory of the United States in the war of 1898, in December 1898 Spain agreed by the treaty of Paris to sell the island of Guam, while the others Mariana islands became part of the German Empire. US troops had been present since an invasion the previous June.

Territory of the United States

In 1899, when it began to administrate the island, the US Navy issued eleven postage stamps overprinted "GUAM".cite web | last =Miller | first =Rick | authorlink = | coauthors = | title =U.S. collection going nowhere? Try possessions | work = | publisher =Linn's Stamp News | date =July 25, 2005 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-07-30 ] These were from the definitive series illustrating with portraits of US presidents or major personalities. This series was first issued between 1890 and 1894. The denominations and colors used for Guam are from 1895 and 1898–1899 issues.

When the United States Post Office Department (USPOD) took charge of the postal service of Guam in March 1901, the local population, soldiers from the US Navy base and indigenous Chamorros, had to use US stamps without any distinctive marks. Since 1901, only a Guam town cancellation indicates domestic posting. This situation is common to others insular unincorporated territories of the United States, such as, Northern Mariana Islands since 1944, Virgin Islands since 1917, Puerto Rico since 1900 and American Samoa since 1899. The existence of a local post at the beginning of the 1930s and the Japan occupation periods were exceptions.

Since its annexation, Guam was the subject of one postage stamp produced by the United States Postal Service. On June 1, 2007 a 90-cent stamp, part of the airmail series "Scenic American Landscapes" depicting a sunset on a beach and the Hagåtña Bay was released. [Donna Houseman, « "Star Wars, rate change, duck stamp pane », article published in "Scott Stamp Monthly", n°25-7, July 2007, page 29.]

The island's name was included on the central label of the 50th Anniversary of the World War II miniature sheets of ten stamps each, issued between 1991 and 1995.

Guam Guard Mail

Until the 1930s, the USPOD office in Guam didn't take all mail to addressee's home. To achieve home delivery, the military governor, Willis W. Bradley Jr., created a local post service in 1930. Men of the Guam Guard were asked to deliver mail in the island.

Labels were issued to mark the payment of this service. In April, two stamps of the Philippines [From the first series of Philippines under US administration used without being overprinted US stamps.] were overprinted "GUAM / GUARD / MAIL" : they are the 2 cents green "José Rizal" and 4 cents red picturing president William McKinley.

In June of the same year, two stamps were created depicting the Guam coat of arms. These 1-cent and 2-cents are bicolor black and red, perforated 11 and without gum. [ [ of the June 1930 stamps] on a commercial philatelic website.]

But, in August and December, Philippines stamps were overprinted « GUAM / GUARD / MAIL ». The 2-cent and 4-cent were used again and also a 6-cents violet « Magellan », 8-cent brown « López de Legazpi » and 10-cent blue « Henry Ware Lawton ».

This local service ceased on April 8, 1931 when the US postal administration took over all mail delivery on the island.

The Guam Guard has regularly continued to issue stamps and stationery, whose use is limited to mail between their posts and offices, or for Christmas and New Year wishes of the Guam Guard families. The stamps have been illustrated with Guam topics: the coat of arms, US Navy ships that halted to the island, first trans-Pacific planes, and the portrait of Kimberley Santos, Miss World 1980. [From the Guam Guard Mail stamps illustrating « Guam, île-clef de l'aérophilatélie trans-Pacifique », article published in "Timbres magazine" #81, July—August 2007, pages 69 and 71.]

Japanese occupation

Right after the attack on Pearl Harbor Japanese forces conquered Guam on December 10 1941. The Japanese administration used the same stamps as those issued for the occupied Philippines. At first the former US administration stamps were overprinted with messages commemorating the Japanese victories in the Pacific, then new stamps, with an evolution in the
Filipino ("REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS") were released.

As previously, only the cancellation proves a Guam use.

The island was recaptured after the Battle of Guam, between the July 21 and August 10, 1944 and US stamps were once again reintroduced.

pecialised collections

Aerophilately and astrophilately

October 1935 marked the new status of Guam as Pan American Airways stop. The goal of PanAm was to create new trans-Pacific airways between Northern America and Asia. Until the 1970s, the openings of new lines furnished an aerophilatelic collection.

From the beginning, with the first test flight arrived in Guam on October 1935 from San Francisco, following stops in Honolulu and Midway, mail was brought by the crew, illustrated with commemorative marks in Guam. Before and after World War II each new first-flight to new destinations received commemorative marks in Guam, like any other stops and destinations.

Astrophilatelic collections of Guam also exists/ In the 1960s and 1970's, the presence of a NASA tracking station produced special covers when a US space launch took place. [In article « Guam, île-clef de l'aérophilatélie trans-Pacifique », published dans "Timbres magazine" #81, July—August 2007, pages 73, the example cover wears a mark for the launch of Apollo 14 ("1 FEB 1971 0703 am") and the station director's signature.]

Maritime marcophily

Paquebot cancellations appear on mail posted aboard ship that was delivered to the Guam postal service. The presence of the US Navy base means that Guam cancellations can appear on soldiers' mail. Since the late 20th century, Japanese tourists in particular have been attracted to Guam by the climate and landscape arriving by planes [First direct service between Guam and Tokyo in May 1967, said a commemorative cover of the PanAm flight reproduced in « Guam, île-clef de l'aérophilatélie trans-Pacifique », published in "Timbres magazine" #81, July—August 2007, page 72.] and by liners. The latter passengers' mail will be cancelled in Guam if posted on board, even if it was franked with Japanese stamps.


This table summarises the main periods of philatelic history of Guam.

See also

*History of Guam
*Postage stamps and postal history of the United States of America

References and sources

Stamp catalogs
*cite book| last =| first =| authorlink =| coauthors =| title ="Catalogue de timbres-poste", tome 3, "Outre-mer"| publisher =Yvert et Tellier| date =1961| location =Amiens, France| pages =
** pages 522–523 : US stamps 1890–1899,
** pages 626–627 : Guam, including the local post,
** pages 1140–1141 : Philippines stamps 1870's–1890's,
** page 1142: Philippines stamps 1906–1914,
** pages 1156–1158: Japanese occupation of the Philippines stamps 1942–1944.| url =| doi =| id = | isbn =

* Articles « Guam » and « Mariannes », in cite book| last =Delafosse | first =Jacques | authorlink = | coauthors = | title ="Dictionnaire des émissions philatéliques" | publisher =Timbropresse | date =2004 | location = | pages =respectively pages 65 and 96 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn =2908101106


* The Guam part told the story of the Guam Guard post.
* After a postal history summary, the article told the story of Guam aerophilately.

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