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Postal History

The Gilbert Islands Post Office issued new cancellation devices to all post offices on January 1, 1976. They were double-ringed steel datestamps with the island name at the top and "Gilbert Islands" at the bottom, separated by arcs on each side.

Ocean Island and all sixteen islands of the Tungaru group received cancellation devices. Tabiteuea has two post offices, Tabiteuea North and Tabiteuea South, and received a device for each office. Tarawa's four post offices received devices, located at Abaokoro, Bairiki, Betio and Bikenibeu. Another special cancel inscribed "Philatelic Bureau, Gilbert Islands" was for that office on Betio.

In the Line Islands, Christmas, Fanning and Washington Island all received devices. There was no device issued for Canton in the Phoenix Islands.

The first stamps placed on sale consisted the last Gilbert and Ellice Islands definitives, 1c to $1, overprinted "The Gilbert Islands", along with a separation commemorative issue. This was followed a few months later with a new pictorial definitive set inscribed "The Gilbert Islands."

On independence day, July 12, 1979, the last definitive set was reprinted, but inscribed Kiribati. New cancellation devices were issued to all post offices, similar to the previous ones, but inscribed "Kiribati" at the bottom. Banaba replaced Ocean Island on that device, to comply with the official name change. However, Fanning and Washington Island kept their old names on the devices, and did not receive any inscribed with Tabuaeran and Teraina until 2002.

The United States continued to operate a post office on Canton Island up until Kiribati independence in 1979, when the British-American condominium officially ended and the island was handed over to the Republic of Kiribati. A postmark was issued by Kiribati shortly after, with the old spelling, "Canton" instead of "Kanton".

The old Gilbert & Ellice Islands registration handstamps continued to be used on all islands up until independence in 1979, when new ones inscribed "Kiribati" were issued.



Kiribati Banaba Postmark
Banaba, KiribatiPostmark
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