The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

Hawaiian Missionary Stamps

The Dawson cover, a rare cover with Hawaiian Missionary stamps that was found stuffed in a fireplace 35 years after a factory shut down.

Hawaiian Missionaries are some of the rarest stamps in the world.

We’ve written about rare stamps before, but the Hawaiian Missionaries have a particularly intriguing past.

These were the first postage stamps of the Kingdom of Hawaii, issued 1851.

Why are they called “Missionaries”, you ask? These stamps were usually found on the letters of missionaries working in Hawaii, hence the name. Only a small number of the stamps have survived to this day.1-4

In 1920, new Missionaries showed up on the market from someone named Charles Shattuck, who said that his mother had connected with a missionary family in Hawaii. The stamps were sold to a dealer for $65,000. But in 1922 a court case deemed the stamps as forgeries. Since then, numerous studies have been done on the stamps, but no one has quite agreed on whether they’re real or not. Someone even published a book in 2006 titled The Investigation of the Grinnell Hawaiian Missionaries by the Expert Committee of the Royal Philatelic Society London. If you’re feeling kept in suspense on the investigation’s results, know that the Society has declared the stamps as counterfeit — though some may still disagree.Two_Cent_Hawaiian_Missionary

One of the most peculiar tales surrounding the stamp seems like something pulled straight from a crime novel. A wealthy man named Gaston Leroux was found murdered in his home in Paris, and the police could think of no motive – until they found a 2-cent blue Hawaiian Missionary missing from his collection. The police contacted every stamp shop, but no luck; they then contacted Leroux’s friends and found that one, Hector Giroux, was a stamp collector who happened to own a collection of Hawaiian stamps, including the 2-cent blue. Giroux confessed to offering the buy the stamp from Leroux, and when he was refused, killed Leroux in a fit of rage. Giroux was hanged for the crime — a crime committed all for a single stamp.

5 Responses to “Hawaiian Missionary Stamps”

    • S&C ETC.

      Good point — I’d forgotten that Charade featured a Hawaii Missionary stamp. If it’s worth killing over then it definitely makes for a plausible plot!

  1. oneviewandtwo

    I love the beautiful simplicity of these stamps. I have seen photographs of them for years, but have little real chance of ever owning one.


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