Graham Land #2L3 (1944)

Graham Land #2L3 (1944)

Graham Land #2L3 (1944)
Graham Land #2L3 (1944)

Graham Land is the closest part of Antarctica to South America, the portion of the Antarctic Peninsula that lies north of a line joining Cape Jeremy and Cape Agassiz. The southern portion of the peninsula is called Palmer Land with the dividing line at roughly 69 degrees south. On July 21, 1908, Graham Land was made a dependency of the Falkland Islands along with South Georgia, South Orkney, South Shetlands, and South Sandwich Islands. In 1962, South Orkney, South Shetlands and Graham Land were constituted as a separate colony of British Antarctic Territory.

Until the discoveries of the British Graham Land Expedition of 1934–1937, it was generally supposed to be an archipelago rather than a peninsula. The mountains of the Graham Land are the last range of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western “backbone” of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. Graham Land is named after Sir James R. G. Graham, First Lord of the Admiralty at the time of John Biscoe’s exploration of the west side of Graham Land in 1832. Argentina calls the area Tierra de San Martín (Land of Saint Martin) and also calls the northern peninsula (Trinity Peninsula) Península Trinidad or Tierra de la Trinidad. Similarly, Chile calls the entire Antarctic Peninsula Tierra de O’Higgins (Land of O’Higgins). Today, it is claimed by Argentina (as part of Argentine Antarctica), Britain (as part of the British Antarctic Territory) and Chile (as part of the Chilean Antarctic Territory).


The territorial scope of the Falkland Islands Dependencies varied as particular territories were claimed, annexed, and commercially exploited over an extensive period of time starting with South Georgia in 1775. Responding to repeated inquiries by the Government of Norway in 1905–07, Britain confirmed that the areas in question (between 35° and 80° west longitude) were British based on discoveries, and issued the 1908 Letters Patent extending the Dependencies to incorporate the South Sandwich Islands and Antarctic mainland territory (Graham Land), with a permanent local administration in Grytviken, South Georgia, established in 1909.

The territories constituting the Falkland Islands Dependencies in 1908 were listed by the Letters Patent as “the groups of islands known as South Georgia, the South Orkneys, the South Shetlands, and the Sandwich Islands, and the territory known as Graham’s Land, situated in the South Atlantic Ocean to the south of the 50th parallel of south latitude, and lying between the 20th and the 80th degrees of west longitude”. In 1917, the Letters Patent were modified, applying the “sector principle” used in the Arctic; the new scope of the Dependencies was extended to comprise “all islands and territories whatsoever between the 20th degree of west longitude and the 50th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 50th parallel of south latitude; and all islands and territories whatsoever between the 50th degree of west longitude and the 80th degree of west longitude which are situated south of the 58th parallel of south latitude”, thus reaching the South Pole.

A British expedition to Graham Land led by John Lachlan Cope took place between 1920 and 1922. Between 1934 and 1937, John Riddoch Rymill led a geophysical and exploration expedition to the area called the British Graham Land Expedition (BGLE). The expedition determined that Graham Land was a peninsula. The expedition used a combination of traditional and modern practices in Antarctic exploration, using both dog teams and motor sledges as well as a single-engine de Havilland Fox Moth aircraft for exploration. Transportation to the Antarctic was in an elderly three-masted sailing ship christened the Penola, which had an unreliable auxiliary engine. Additional supplies were brought on the ship Discovery II. This was one of the last privately sponsored Antarctic missions, with only part of the cost covered by the UK government. Although the expedition had a very small budget, it was successful in its scientific objectives. Air survey photography and mapping was carried out for 1000 miles (1600 km) of the Graham Land coast.

The new international legal regime introduced in the Antarctic territory south of 60° south latitude by the 1961 Antarctic Treaty prompted Britain to separate the part of Dependencies that became subject to the Treaty. That was done by a 1962 Order in Council that established the British Antarctic Territory, leaving in the Falkland Islands Dependencies only the island groups of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, including Shag Rocks and Clerke Rocks. Eventually, in 1985 the Dependencies became the distinct British overseas territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The first stamps specifically for the Falkland Islands Dependencies were issued in 1944 and consisted of overprints on stamps of the Falkland Islands for the FID territories of Graham Land, South Georgia, the South Orkneys and the South Shetlands. The stamps of the individual islands are listed in the Scott catalogue following those of Falkland Islands Dependencies (which are prefixed “1L”).

Scott #2L3 was released as part of a set of eight Falklands Islands stamps overprinted GRAHAM LAND / DEPENDENCY OF in red ink on February 12, 1944. The 2 pence rose carmine and black stamp depicts a black necked swan (Cygnus melancoryphus), the largest waterfowl native to South America. The smallest member in its genus, it is found in freshwater marshes, lagoon and lake shores in southern South America. The black-necked swan breeds in Chilean Southern Zone, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and on the Falkland Islands. In the austral winter, this species migrates northwards to Paraguay and southern Brazil. The wetlands created by the Great Chilean earthquake like Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary in Cruces River have become important population centers for the black-necked swan.



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