Niuafoʻou (Tonga) 1995 "Singapore World Stamp Exhibition '95"

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Issue Date 01.09.1995
ID Michel: 289-291, Bl. 16 Scott: 181a-181b, 182 Stanley Gibbons: 233-235 Yvert: 226-227, 14 Category: pR
Designer Derek Miller
Stamps in set 3
Value S45 - Iguanodon, Brachiosaurus and Rhamphorhynchid in background
S60 - Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus
T$2 - Plesiosaurus
Size (width x height) stamps 80 x 30.6 mm, Souvenir-Sheet 110 x 70 mm
Layout Mini-Sheet of 10 stamps, Souvenir-Sheet with 1 stamp
Products FDC x2
Perforation 12 x 12¼
Print Technique Offset, multicolor
Printed by Walsall Security Printers of London, UK
Issuing Authority Post office of the Government of Tonga
Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on stamps of Niuafoʻou 1995

On September 1st of 1995, the Post office of the Government of Tonga on behalf of Niuafo'ou Island, issued a set of 2 stamps and a Souvenir-Sheet for the first Singapore's World Stamp Exhibition 1995, which took place from September 1 to September 10 in Singapore.
The logo and the name of the exhibition can be seen on every stamp of the set.

Dinosaurs on stamps of Niuafo'ou Island 1993
Dinosaurs on stamps of Niuafo'ou 1993, MiNr.: 240-241, Scott: 117B-117C
The dinosaur stamps issued a Mini-Sheet of 10. The stamp with face value of 45 Tongan sentini on the upper row, the stamp with the face value of 60 Tongan sentini below. Therefore, they are often offered as stripes.
Two herbivorous dinosaurs, most likely Iguanodon and Brachiosaurus and pterosaur Rhamphorhynchid âre shown on the first stamp.
The second stamp shows the classic scene "Fight between Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus".
Both stamps reuse the designs of two stamps from a set of four stamps, "Evolution of the Earth" (IV) from 1993, see on the right.
During the "Dinosaurs Time" the Island did not exist. Niuafo'ou is a subaerial shield volcano formed by submarine explosive and effusive activity during the Holocene. (The Holocene is the current geological epoch, which began approximately 11,650 years before present).

Explosive volcanic activity - means the eruption of volcanic ash into the atmosphere, which then settles out as ash deposits around the volcano.
Effusive volcanic activity - the eruption of lava that flows down the sides of the volcano, eventually cooling to form lava flow deposits.

The Souvenir-Sheet with Plesiosaurus was specially designed for the stamps set.
Perhaps, some Plesiosaurus swam in the area where the Island exists today.

Plesiosaurus is a genus of extinct, large marine sauropterygian reptile that lived during the Early Jurassic.
Plesiosaurus had a wide distribution in European seas and around the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, North America, and Asia.
Plesiosaurus lends its name to the order Plesiosauria, of which it is an early, but fairly typical member. It contains only one species, the type, Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus. It is known by nearly complete skeletons from the Lias of England.

Plesiosaurus on stamp of UK 2013
Plesiosaurus on stamp of UK 2013, MiNr.: 3535, Scott: 3237

The first complete skeleton of Plesiosaurus was discovered by early paleontologist and fossil hunter Mary Anning in Sinemurian (Early Jurassic)-age rocks of the lower Lias Group in December 1823.
Plesiosaurus swam by flapping its fins in the water, much as sea lions do today, in a modified style of underwater “flight.” The nostrils were located far back on the head near the eyes.
Plesiosaurus is distinguishable by its small head, long and slender neck, broad turtle-like body, a short tail, and two pairs of large, elongated paddles and were a moderately sized that grew to a length of about 3.5 meters. These marine animals had approximately 40 neck (cervical) vertebrae, with different specimens preserving 38 to 42 cervical vertebrae.
On the early reconstruction Plesiosaurus were shown with the neck in a swan-like pose above the sea surface; providing an extended reach or a swift strike at prey; or allowing breathing whilst the animal lay concealed at depth.
According to the last research, based on the anatomy of the articular faces of contiguous cervical vertebral centra, neural arches, and cervical ribs, the plesiosaur neck was mainly adapted for ventral bending, with dorsal, lateral and rotational movements all relatively restricted.
Plesiosaurus may have fed by swinging its head from side to side through schools of fish, capturing prey by using the long sharp teeth present in the jaws.
The neck of the animal was adapted for use beneath the body, suggesting feeding in the water column, close to the sea floor, or within soft sediments on the sea floor. Numerous features of plesiosaurs, including cranial and dental form, cervical vertebral morphology, body shape and limb-based propulsion, conform to this model.


Tonga did not issue any imperforate stamps from this set. The only imperforate forms known for this issue are genuine plate proofs. The plate proofs came from Walsall Security Printers' archives.
Plate Proof [2] Monochrome Proof [3] Mini-Sheet
Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995 Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995 Dinosaurs on stamps of Niuafoʻou 1995
FDC Artwork (scan of another copy is here)
Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995 Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995 Plesiosaurus artwork of Niuafoʻou 1995
Cromalin Proof - Error [1] Cromalin Proof - Corrected [1] Plate Proof [2]
Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995 Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995 Plesiosaurus artwork of Niuafoʻou 1995
Specimen [3] Used covers
Plesiosaurus on stamp of Niuafoʻou 1995 Dinosaurs and Plesiosaurus on FDC of Niuafoʻou 1995

[1] The first cromalin proof, issued in 1 copy only, did not have lines around the border of the Souvenir-Sheet - without the lines around the four sides, the top left corner blended into the margins of the Souvenir-Sheet, so after checking the first cromalin proofing, the officials decided that to avoid this problem, Walsall Security Printers should draw in border lines around the four sides, then a second corrected cromalin proofing was done showing the border lines which is the cromalin proof for sale in this listing.

The Cromalin Proofs are on thick cardboard and in full colour, a proofing method used by Walsall Security Printers in which full color proofs are produced directly from the color separations prior to final production of the printing plates. Each color is layered on top of the next thus building up to the full color design. As only 3 or 4 were done, cromalin proofs are quite scarce and have been in the archival material until now. These proofs are lovely looking, very high quality, with a glazed finish. And as only 3 or 4 were done, cromalin proofs are the scarcest of all proofing methods done by Walsall Security Printers for Tonga.

[2] The Plate proof is printed on gummed paper, while the cromalin proof is printed on thin card with no gum.
Only 20 plate proofs were done for the dinosaur stamps and 5 late proofs were done for the Souvenir-Sheet.

[3] The "SPECIMEN" overprint text in black was the normal specimen overprint done for most sets from 1981 to 1997. In most of the cases, Niuafo’ou's stamps were printed in sheets of 20. The printers overprinted 10-20 sheets of stamps with the word “specimen”.
About half these were sent onto the Philatelic Bureau in Nukualofa (the capital of Tonga) to give to large new issue buyers, and the Combined Philatelic Agency (CPA), who represented Tonga kingdom (including Niuafo’ou Island), kept about half the specimens to sell themselves.

  • [R1] Technical details and stamps presentation: Stamp designer Derek Miller
  • [R2] Plesiosaurus: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica.
    "An integrated approach to understanding the role of the long neck in plesiosaurs", by LESLIE F. NOÈ, MICHAEL A. TAYLOR, and MARCELA GÓMEZ-PÉREZ. (

  • Many thanks to fellow collector Dr. Jon Noad from Canada, for sharing a scan of the Artwork from his collection.
  • Many thanks to Mr. Greg Jorgensen from Australia, who sells philatelic materials from the archive of Walsall Security Printers on the Internet under nickname tonga2, for explanations about their printing process.
  • Many thanks to Dr. Peter Voice from Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Western Michigan University, for the draft page review and his very valuable comments.

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