A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Saturday, February 12, 2011


1898 Scott 192 2ab black/magenta  Dated "1316"
National Seal: Mosque Gate and Crossed Cannons
Quick History
Afghanistan is  a landlocked mountainous tribally controlled Islamic country. Since 1970, has been continually at war. During the latter 19th century, Afghanistan served as a buffer state between Russia and the British. In 1919, Afghanistan regained  control over its foreign affairs from the British.

1932 Scott 264 60p violet "National Assembly Chamber"
The Big Blue Picture
Starting coverage in 1910, Two pages total in Big Blue (1969) has 34 stamp spaces + 2 blank stamp spaces = 36 spaces.
Scott Complete Specialized Catalog 1840-1940 starting in 1909 has 116 stamp descriptions listed in regular postage and air mail..
Big Blue offers ~ 31% coverage.

But a closer examination shows many interesting issues and stamps that could be added.

The "Tiger's Head stamps ( 108 varieties) were issued between 1871-1878, and are famous (infamous?) for having a piece torn or cut to cancel. What an interesting stamp; I would love to have one in my collection. There are nine of the Tiger's Heads (10,29,30,39,70,75,94,104 & 108) that Scott values for $5+.
(Note: although the Scott catalogue call these "Tiger Head", they should more correctly be called "Lion Head", according to the comment section discussion.)

The closely related "1298" stamps ( 68 varieties) issued between 1881-1891 have twelve stamps (113,116,117,118,123,125,126,126A,127,128,129& 133) valued at $5+. Moreover seven stamps (109,109A,110,111,111A,112 &115) are valued at $2+.

The Kingdom of Afghanistan between the years 1891-1909 had 40 stamps issued (  217-219, 229-235, 241-244, 262, 265, 267, 268, 277,280, 282-284, 286-289, 306, 309-310, 337, 322A, 328, 328A, 328C, 328D, 329 &332) that are valued at $1+-$2+.

 Quite surprisingly, Big Blue does not include any of the 1934-38 Darrah-Shikari Pass, Hindu Kush series  (290-305). Cost could not have been a factor as 8 stamps are 25 cents or less. Addendum: some of the mystery is solved, as the 1947 Scott Standard catalogue only lists 4 stamps of the series and they were a bit more expensive than what Scott was putting in the Album at the time. When the Scott catalogue eventually ( I don't know when) recognized 16 stamps in the series, many of them cheap, the Scott International Album was never changed.

Finally, Big Blue includes none of the Official, Parcel Post, or Postal tax stamps; 14 of them are valued at $1+-$2+.

Clearly if you are interested even a little in Afghanistan, be prepared to add  supplementary pages to Big Blue for all the choices available for a bit more.

1909-19 Scott 210 1rup lilac brown
Coat of Arms Definitives
Big Blue Checklist
Note: First choice among a group of choices for a stamp space is usually the least expensive.
Note: Blank spaces are sometimes limited by which stamp will fit.
Note: Some Scott numbers appear out of sequence. That is because I follow the layout of the page.

Scott 207 ( or 205, 206) ($1+)
Scott 208 ( or 208C, 209) (<$1-$2+)
Blank space: suggest picking from 207 or 208 group, or Scott 210 ($5+)

Scott 227, 228 ($1+)

Scott 238 ( or 237) (<$1-$2+)
Scott 239 ( or 240) (<$1-$1+)
Scott 241 (or 242) (<$1-$1+)
Blank space: suggest picking from 241 group, or Scott 243, 244, 245, 246 ( ~ $1+)

Scott 281 ( or 282, 283, 284) (<$1)
Scott 283A, 284A, 269, 273, 270, 271, 272, & 274 (<$1)
Scott 263, 264, 275, &276 (<$1-$1+)
Scott 315 ($2+)

Scott 317 ($1+)
Scott 330 ( <$1)
Scott 318 ( or 318A) (<$1)
Scott 331 (<$1) ( also 331a shade)
Scott 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, & 327 (<$1)

Checking Scott numbers for the 1947 Standard catalogue, the numbers are definitely not the same beginning with Scott 263 in 1932. I tried to collate the differences, but got dizzy and gave up. :-)  Clearly the 1947 Standard catalogue numbers for Afghanistan should not be used after 1932 unless one wants to "fix the glitch".

1928-30 Scott 241 25p carmine rose "National Seal"
Kinds of Blue
The 1997 edition and the 1969 edition are identical.
Compared to the 1969 edition, both the 1947 edition and the 1941 "Junior" edition have the following changes.

Postal Tax  1938
RA1,RA2 ($2+)

330,331 (<$1)

1932 Scott 267 2af ultramarine
Formation of the National Council Issue
Big Blue Bottom Line
 Many more stamps could have been put in Big Blue with a minimal increase in cost. This is an interesting country, and I plan to add a few supplemental pages to Big Blue's offering.

Map of Afghanistan

Note: Map appears to be in public domain.

Note: You will need to consult a Scott catalogue for specific pricing. I only give a very "ball park" price, and never the actual catalogue value.
<$1= less than a Dollar
$1+= more than a Dollar
$2+= more than two Dollars
$5+= more than five Dollars
$10+= more than ten Dollars
$20+..and so on.


  1. Just a note that the first stamps of Afghanistan show a lion, not a tiger--many of the reference books are mistaken. See the helpful site on these early stamps, http://www.afghanphilately.co.uk/

  2. Thanks James.

    I based the term "tiger heads" on the standard Wikipedia entry, and the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History which states:
    "Early designs featured a tiger's head, symbolizing the name of Ami Sheri ( tiger) Ali."

    Now it could be simply a matter of Scholarly study on these stamps revealing a "lion" rather than a "tiger", and that information has not reached the broader unwashed masses of collectors. Still, I suspect it will be a long time before these stamps are not known collectively as "tiger's heads".

    Lion ot Tiger, they are wonderful stamps. :-)

    1. I had the opportunity to view the website listed by James, and a nice one it is for Afghan Philately. The argument rests on "Sher" in Hindi meaning "Tiger", while in Dari meaning "Lion". Since Dari is closer to true Afghan language, hence should be called "Lion's Heads".

  3. Adding fuel to the debate, there is no historical evidence that the asiatic Lion ever roamed Afghanistan, while there is clear evidence that the now extinct Caspian Tiger did so. So even if interpreted as "Lions", they might in fact been Tigers. ;-)

  4. Interesting about the animals themselves, but as far as stamps go they've always been called by those in the know about Afghan philately as "lions". The language spoken in Afghanistan isn't just closer to Dari (a variety of Persian, as is Pashto, the other native language): Dari is the official language. Apparently the misreading of "sher" came from expatriate Europeans more familiar with Hindi-speaking India. So not much of a debate, I'm afraid!

  5. I'm aware that Dari (Farsi as the native speaker would say) is part of the language mix in Afghanistan as well as Pashto.

    Of interest is the Persian form of Farsi would have "Lion" as a legitimate word as the asiatic Lion was found in Iran!

    1. Dari,Persian and farsi is same language afghan people speaks dari the difference between dari and farsi is only the accent and maybe few words that is it

  6. "Farsi (فارسی‎ fārsi),[or Parsi (پارسی‎) has been the name for Persian used by all native speakers until the 20th century. Since the latter decades of the 20th century, for political reasons, in English and French, Farsi has become the name of the Persian language as it is spoken in Iran.

    Dari (دری‎ darī) was a synonym for fārsi in Persian, but again for political reasons, since the latter decades of the 20th century, has become the name for the Persian language as it is spoken in Afghanistan, where it is one of the two official languages: it is sometimes called Afghan Persian in English." From Wikipedia

    Thanks Waheed.