This 110 XPF stamp issue, designed by Roberto Lunardo, is the third installment in the stamp series dedicated to iconic steamships in New Caledonia and shows the Dupleix, a Compagnie des Messageries Maritimes mail packet.
Scheduled to sail the Far Eastern route, the Dupleix was built at La Ciotat shipyard to design plans by Vesigné, and launched on 27 July 1862. A mixed propulsion (sail and steam) ship fitted with a two-cylinder vertical engine and a propeller, the Dupleix, like her two sister ships the Meinem and the Bourdonnais (both built at La Seyne-sur-Mer), was rigged as a three-masted barque. Averaging a speed of 12 knots, she was an iron steamship with a length of 84m, a beam of 9.57m and cabin accommodation for 100 passengers.
The Dupleix was the first ship to sail the Shanghai-Yokohama route and, in 1865, became the first French merchant vessel to reach Yokohama. She sailed this route from 1870 to 1871, then returned to Marseille in 1871 for an overhaul. Her hull was lengthened to 92.80 m and she was fitted with a more powerful triple expansion steam engine.
From 1873 onwards, she was used as a station ship on secondary Madagascar and Indian Ocean shipping routes before being assigned, probably in 1883, to the Sydney-Noumea-New Hebrides route, carrying passengers, mail and goods.
The Dupleix was bought by Australian shipowner J.C. Ellis, who renamed her as the Jubilee. She underwent another overhaul (mizzen mast removed, boat decks modified) before being resold to another Australian, J.P. Franki, in 1889. She then sailed a route linking Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.
After 36 years of service on the high seas, this grand old steamship was retired and broken up in Sydney in August 1898.