NEW CALEDONIA is a special French collectivity (population 270,000) in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The French government took formal possession of New Caledonia in 1853, following a dispute with the natives. It became a penal colony; and in 1864 nickel was discovered and as a result the French imported workers from Japan, Dutch East Indies and French Indochina. New Caledonia issued its first stamp in 1860 – a mediocre lithographed 10c depicting Emperor Napoleon III; its use extended to 1862 when stamps of the French colonial series came into use. These remained in use until 1881 when 5c and 25c stamps were sold out. It was then decided to overprint the other available denominations with the inscription NCE” – Nouvelle Caledonie. The first local definitive series was issued between 1905-1907. The colors of many denominations were changed in 1927-1928 and numerous overprints became necessary to adjust to the needs of new rates. ********

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