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...

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Quick History
This country of a million people (1930) is located in southeastern Europe with Tirana the capital.
Albania's modern stamp history began when the Prince fled at the beginning of WW1, and Albania was declared an independent country by Italian General Ferrero. But interestingly in 1928, it was declared a Monarchy, and President Ahmed Zogu was then a king. In April, 1939, Italy invaded resulting in occupation stamps being issued. Albania declared its' independence in 1943.

1913 Scott 37 10q rose red 
"Skanderbeg (George Castriota)"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Albania 1913-1940, 301 regular, 8 semi-postal, 53 air post, 2 special delivery, and 39 postage due descriptions. Total = 403. Of those, the stamps that were issued prior to 1922, none are as low as CV$1+; while after 1922, 99 are CV <$1-$1+. Total = 25%. Albania is fairly expensive for the early issues, and a number of issues are marred by counterfeits.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
40 Paras = 1 Piaster = 1 Grossion
100 Centimes = 1 Franc (1917)
100 Qintar = 1 Franc
1913 Scott 24 2gr blue & violet 
Scott has, from 1863-1883, a listing of Austrian Post in Albania (353 descriptive numbers!), which used Stamps of Austrian Offices in the Turkish Empire, or Lombardy-Venetia stamps. All are expensive, and a specialist's delight. I will say no more about them.

Above is an interesting issue from 1914 which used a typewriter! to put in the value. I have no idea if it is genuine or not: I suspect the latter. One of the realities of WW classical collecting, even if one arms oneself with a library of books on forgeries, is that one's knowledge is often superficial and spread out, not deep. ;-)

1913 Scott 35 2q orange brown & buff
"Skanderbeg (George Castriota)"
A six stamp nicely typographed issue was produced in 1913.

A 15th century Albanian nobleman, George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was highly effective in organizing Christian resistance against the Ottoman expansion. He is Albania's most important national hero.

1914 Scott 50 1gr on 25g dark blue,
Surcharged in Black
The 1913 issue was surcharged in 1914: this time in Paras and Grossion. CV is $2+-$4 for five stamps.

1917 Scott 59 25c blue & black "Double Headed Eagle"
In 1917, and 1917-18, a 8 stamp and a 7 stamp issue was produced respectively with different script on the side panels. The design was basically as shown, and a 1917 stamp issue is illustrated. CV is $2+-$10+.

But this stamp is a forgery, as are most stamps in general collections. ;-)

A genuine stamp will not be so cleanly impressed, with small ink spots scattered around the eagle, and the wing tips will be attenuated or broken.

1 Frank green "Prince Zu Weid"
1914 (A14 Type)
Illustrating the chaotic Albania of 1914, the prepared but never issued original seven stamp set of Prince Zu Weid (A14, and also the A15 issue) was probably stolen during WW I, and put on the philatelic market. They are not listed in the Scott catalogue. The overprinted or surcharged Type A14 and A15 stamps were finally issued in 1920.

1921 Mirditi Issues 10 Quintar "Coat of Arms"
Never authorized, but in every collection
The familiar to anyone that opens an Albanian stamp collection, the 1921 "Mirditi Issues"- five regular, one surcharged "25 Qint", and five postage dues overprinted "Taske", were unauthorized, and consequently have no Scott number. 

1923 Scott 152 1fr dark violet "Korcha"
A seven stamp issue with Albanian geographic scenes was produced in 1923. 

Korca today
A town of about 100,000 now, Korca lies in southeastern Albania on a 2800 ft plateau.

.1924 Scott 158 2q red orange
"Opening of the Constituent Assembly"
Five of the preceding stamps were overprinted as shown in 1924. CV is a robust $10+-$20. "Counterfeits are plentiful".

1925 Scott 175 25q dark blue "Bridge at Vezirit"
"Proclamation of the Republic"
Seven stamps were overprinted in 1925 with another change in government structure. The Vizier's Bridge crosses the Drin valley near Kukes. I suspect this wonderful old bridge is now inundated by a hydroelectric dam.

1925 Scott 187 2g red brown 
"President Ahmed Zogu"
The President appeared on an eleven stamp issue produced in 1925. CV ranges from <$1-$6+.

1927 Scott 205 2fr green & orange , black overprint
An eleven stamp issue was produced by overprinting in various colors the preceding 1925 issue. Unclear, the reason, but perhaps it had to do with the next event in the president's life.

1928 Scott 233 50q lilac rose "King Zog"
"Kingdom of Albania"
Yes, the President became King in 1928 with a change to a monarchy by constitutional amendment. Wouldn't you rather be a king too? ;-)

1939 Scott 300 2g orange red, overprinted 
Issued under Italian Dominion
Unfortunately, the Italians spoiled the party by invading on April 7, 1939. King Zog left, but did not abdicate. The King of Italy, Victor Emmanuel III, - all 5 feet 0 inches of him-acquired the crown.

So what happened to King Zog? After WW II he was reinstated as King- but never returned, and the country became a socialist's People's Republic in 1946.

Deep Blue
1922 Postage Dues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 35 pages for Albania, and provides spaces for all Scott major numbers. In addition, Deep Blue has spaces for all the common -but Scott numberless- issues (1921 Mirditi stamps etc) that populate most Albanian collections- thank goodness. 

1914 Scott 51 2gr on 50q
Surcharged in Black
Big Blue Picture
On 4 pages, Big Blue (1969) has 110 stamp illustration/description spaces and 3 blank spaces for 113 total spaces from 1913 to 1940.
The Scott Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has 392 descriptions for regular postage, air post, special delivery, and postage due. This includes the occupation stamps printed by Italy beginning in 1939.
Big Blue offers 29% coverage.

Still, reviewing the stamps that are in Big Blue, they appear to represent a nice selection of attractive stamps in long runs. As with some other Southeastern European countries, the mint stamps of 1920-1930 Albania are often less expensive to collect today. The stamp ball park Scott prices listed here are for the least expensive -often mint.

Nevertheless, I counted 71 stamps that run between $1-$4 ( often closer to $1) that are not in Big Blue. So it is quite likely you will find these stamps in collections. I am planning to add a few supplementary pages to Albania in anticipation. The stamps Scott numbers are listed below.


1925 Scott 181 10q carmine "Gijirokaster", Overprinted
Big Blue checklist
35,36,37 ($2+)

129 ($5+)
130 ($10+)
Two blank spaces:suggest 133 & 134 @ $10+ each

147,148,149,150 ($1+)

186,187,188,189,190,191,192 (<$1)

197,198,199,200 (<$1)
201 ($5+)
202,203 (<$1)

227,228,229,230 (<$1-$2+)
231 ($10+)
232,233 (<$1)
One blank space:suggest 238 or 239 (<$1)
Note: 234, a logical sequence stamp ($1+) does not fit space!

250,251,252,253,254,255,256 (<$1)

261,262,263,264,265,266,267 ($5+)

271,272,273,274,275 (<$1)
276 ($1+)

281,282,283,284,285 (<$1)
286 ($2+)
287 ($2+)
288 ($5+)
290,291,292,293,294,295 (<$1-$1+)
296 ($5+)
297 ($5+)

Air Post
C1,C2,C3,C4 ($2+)
C5, ($2+)

C29,C30,C31,C32 ($1+)

Italian Occupation
299,300,301,302,303,304 ($1+)

310,311,312,313,314,315,316 (<$1)
317 ($1+)
318 ($2+)
319 ($2+)
320 ($5+)

1940 Special Delivery
E1 ($2+)
E2 ($10+)

Air Post
C43,C44 ($2+)
C45 ($2+)
C46 ($10+)

C47,C48,C49,C50 ($1+-$2+)
C51,C52 ($5+)
C53 ($10+)

1940 Postage Due
J40,J41,J42,J43,J44 ($37+) !

The 1947 Scott Standard catalog has the same numbering system.

Note: The 1940 Italian occupation postage dues seem quite expensive - $37+- why?, and why are they in Big Blue? Remember, I found 12 Postage dues that are not in Big Blue that are $1-$4! (See above list) Checking their cost in the 1947 Scott standard catalog, they would have prices in today's dollars of about $5-$25. So they have increased in price more than expected since they were put in Big Blue. So we-and our wallets- are stuck with them.

1928 Scott 235 2fr green & slate "King zog"
"Kingdom of Albania" Black overprint
Kinds of Blue
The 1997 edition and the 1969 edition are identical.
Compared to the 1969 edition...
Added ( 1947 and 1941 edition)
1930 Postage Due
J35,J36,J37,J38 ($2+-$10+)

Compared to the 1969 and 1947 edition...
Deleted (1941 edition)
Air Post
C5 ($5+)

Deleted (1941 edition)
Air Post Italian Occupation
C52,C53 ($5+-$10+)

Air Post 1938 Scott C4 50q dark green
"Airplane crossing Mountains"
Bottom Blue Line
Generally inexpensive stamps in long runs-often mint- that are attractive. Probably need  supplementary pages for  the relatively inexpensive stamps that did not make it into Big Blue. There are some expensive outliers in the higher denomination stamps and the Air posts. Especially expensive are the 1940 Italian occupation postage dues - total Scott value $185-Ouch!

Note: The "Into the Deep Blue" section and most of the scans were added in March, 2014.


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