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, July 17, 2011


1904 Scott 73 5l on 20l orange "Hera"
Quick History
Crete, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, was a Province of Turkey (Ottoman Rule). But after civil wars, an "Autonomy" was declared in 1898 by France, Russia, Great Britain, and Italy. In 1908, the Island voted to join Greece, and this occurred in 1913. Meanwhile, stamps were issued by the British Sphere of Administration in 1898, and by the Russian Sphere in 1899. Cretan Government issues commenced in 1900 and continued through 1910. The Capital of Crete was Canea, and the population was 330,000 in 1913.

Of historical interest: Crete was the center of Minoan civilization (c2700-1420 BC)

1899 Scott 5 20pa rose. Perf 11 1/2
British Sphere of Administration
Note: Gunman & Stangel in Athens, Greece did the original printing
And the subsequent Forgery illustrated here ;-)
Big Blue Picture
Big Blue '97, on four pages, beginning in 1898, has 65 spaces for Regular, Postage due, and Official stamps.
The 2011 Scott Classic specialized catalogue has 144 major stamp descriptions. Coverage by Big Blue is 45%.

There is also in the Scott catalogue 185 major stamp descriptions from 1863-83 for the Austrian Empire post offices (In Candia, Canea, and Rettimo) in Crete. All values are rather expensive for Big Blue, so nothing more will be said about them here.

Big Blue presents a nice selection of these (mostly) classical mythology themed stamps. Included are four issues from the 1899 British Sphere Administration stamps. But there are 18 additional stamps from the 1899 Russian Sphere of Administration that are not in Big Blue, and could be collected.

And, forced by a blank space, Crete presents us with a 1909 Scott 97 5l on 20l carmine rose for $120+ ! But Crete mostly has reasonable stamp values (<$1-$1+), that should not be a drain on the treasury.

Other than the Russian stamps, I only found four additional stamps that would fit a Big Blue collector's modest wallet. Good job Big Blue!

District of Rethymnon Russian Sphere
1899 Poseidon's Trident
Note: 18 stamps! Series not in BB.

Issued by Cretan Government


Postage Due

1905 Scott 77 20l blue green 
"Kydon and Dog" (Cydonia Coin)
Big Blue Checklist
District of Heraklion (Candia) British Sphere

Issued by Cretan Government
50,51,52,53($1+),54*,59($1+), (<$1 eN)
*Note: 54 red O.P., 59 black O.P.
eN=except noted

1901 (without O.P.)
Blank space: suggest 70($10+)



74,75,76,77($1+),78($1+),(<$1 eN)


1908 (1900-1907 stamps overprinted black)
85,86,87,88,89,90($2+),(<$1 eN)

1909 (overprinted or surcharged)
Blank space*: suggest 1909 Scott 97 5l on 20l carmine rose ($120+ mint)!
*Note: Scott 97 by default; no other choice. Other 1909 stamps do not fit the space. If you want to "cheat" ;-) consider 1908 Scott 91 50l yellow brown($2+).

1909 (1900-07 stamps overprinted)

1909-10 (overprinted in red or black)
111,112,113,114,115,116,117($5+),(<$1 eN)

Postage Due

J10,J11,J12,J13($2+),(<$1 eN)

J19,J20,J21,J22($1+),J23($5+),(<$1 eN)
Blank space: suggest J24($10+)

Official stamps



1909 Scott 103 10l brown red 
Hermes by Praxiteles
Kinds of Blue
The '97,'69,'47, and '41 editions are all identical in content.

1909-10 Scott 116 25l ultra
Triton (Itanos Coin)
Big Blue Bottom Line
Hermes, Hera, Minos, and Triton; all part of the Cretan-Greek mythology. These "classical" stamps reflect the classical Greek era. Perhaps that is why I find these issues so very attractive.

Note on the Checklist format: I've completed the bolding of Scott catalogue numbers, as well as underlining the titles or categories in the checklist. One should now be able to pick out the Scott numbers without getting lost amid all the surrounding "helpful notes"  ;-)

Note: Map in Public domain.

If you enjoyed this post, or have some information to share, or have some constructive criticism, please share your thoughts and reactions in the "comment" section. I've recently changed the settings, so any reader should be able to post. Thanks!

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.

Map of Crete and Region


  1. Hi Jim

    Very Nice Site. I like your write ups, and find Big Blue very helpful as reference. I will begin using it much more frequently to help me learn about the various stamps in my collection.

    First of all, thank you for visiting my site on Dead Countries, and actually recommending it on Big Blue. Your comments on DCStamps are quite nice.

    Since I am finishing up organzing my Autonomous Crete stamps, and will be putting up a post in a few days, I thought I would visit Big Blue to see what you said about Crete. I find it interesting that for the Occupational Powers in 1898-1909, Scott lists the British and the Russian occupation stamps under Crete, while the Italian, French (and the Austrians) as BOB "offices in Crete" in those respective countries. Not sure I know why.

    Oh, by the way, unfortunately the British Occupation stamp image you have up is a reprint (or forgery).

    Again, thank you again for a great site.


  2. Hi Michael

    Thanks for the nice words, and glad I can be helpful.

    Your Dead Countries web site is absolutely excellent.

    As far as the 1899 "Scott 5" 20pa rose, yes indeed it is a forgery. In fact, I have the complete forgery set (Scott 2-5). ;-)

    When I put this blog post together, I did not have have the information to call the 20pa rose a forgery- although I was suspicious. ;-) Now I do.

    According to Varro Tyler's Focus on Forgeries (Edition 2000), the small circle with dot above the numerals is incomplete at the bottom, and hence a forgery. As the set is perf 11 1/2,- like the originals-, it was supposedly made by the original printers, Gundman & Stangel of Athens Greece. But the stamps then were not reprinted on the original stone, so they are not reprints- but forgeries.

    Tyler also says some of the forgery stock was sold to Francois Fournier, who gave them an 11 perforation. Another forgery from the Gunman & Stangel supply was sold and perforated 11 1/4.

    I've made an update note on the Crete blog post, so to not lead people astray.

    That is one thing I appreciate about your Dead Countries web site and virtual albums is the meticulousness and accuracy.

    Now if I can do likewise. ;-)