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...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Great Britain - Postage Due, Official, Offices

1896 Official Army Scott O54 1/2 p vermilion
Quick History
This blog will cover the Scott "Back of the Book" categories for Great Britain: namely Postage Due, Official Stamps, and British Offices Abroad.

The Offices Abroad category encompasses WWII occupations, including Offices in Africa (Middle East Forces) and Eritrea, and East African Forces ( For use in Somalia, and for use in Tripolitania).

WW II East Africa 1940

Other Offices Abroad stamps are found for China, Morocco, and the Turkish Empire.

1917 Scott 3 4c scarlet Stamps of Hong Kong 1912-14, overprinted
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue have 38 stamp descriptions for Postage Due (1914-52), 83 descriptions for Official Stamps (1840-1904), 138 descriptions for WW II British African Forces (1942-1951), 27 descriptions for Offices in China (1917-27), 271 descriptions for Morocco and Tangier (1898-1952), and 64 descriptions for the Turkish Empire (1885-1921). Total count is 621 major stamp descriptions.

Stamps <$4 CV:
Postage Due 24 (63%)
Official Stamps 6 ( 7%)
WW II British African Forces 95 ( 69%)
Offices in China 11 ( 41%)
Morocco and Tangier 187 ( 69%)
Turkish Empire 29 ( 45%)

A closer look at the stamps and issues

Postage Due

1924-30 Scott J9 1/2p emerald wmk 35
All of the Postage Due issues between 1914-1939 had the same basic design, as illustrated above. The difference between the four issues is one of watermarks.

wmk 33 Crown and GvR
wmk 35 Crown and Block GvR Multiple
wmk 250 Crown and E8R Multiple
wmk 251 Crown and GvR Multiple
Here are all the watermarks for the four Postage Due issues from 1914-39. I also posted samples of these watermarks in the Great Britain 1900-1950 blog. It might be helpful to review them with the Scott catalogue illustrations.

1938-39 Scott 27 1p carmine rose wmk 251
1924-30 Scott J12 2p black brown wmk 35
1936-37 Scott J21 3p violet wmk 250
1914-24 Scott J8 1sh blue wmk 33
As one can clearly tell, watermarks are very important to separate out the Postage Due issues. ;-)

The 1914-24 issue (wmk 33)  had eight stamps ( 5 with CV <$4), the 1924-30 issue (wmk 35)  had nine stamps ( 7 with CV <$4), the 1936-37 issue (wmk 250)  had eight stamps ( 2 with CV <$4), and the 1938-39 issue (wmk 251)  had eight stamps ( 6 with CV ><$4).

Official Stamps
Official stamps were generally issued between 1882-1904, and hence their CV is higher. Of interest, the 1840 Penny Black was produced with a "V R" in the upper corners, but was never placed in formal use ( CV $20,000+).

1882-85 Scott O4 1p lilac overprinted
Between 1882-85, a nine stamp issue was produced with "I.R." (Inland Revenue) and "Official" script overprintings.  The 1p lilac (shown above) is CV $2+, but the others are CV $20+-$22,000+!.

1888-89 Scott O11 1/2p vermilion overprinted
The 1/2p vermilion was overprinted as the first issue  in 1888-89. CV is $3+.

1902-04 Scott O20 1p carmine overprinted
Edward VII was on the 1902-04 eight stamp issue. Two stamps are CV $1+-2+, but the others are CV $100-30,000+!

1896 Scott O55  1p lilac Army overprinted
The Army had nine Official overprinted stamps produced between 1896-1903. Five are CV <$6. The 1p lilac illustrated  is a modest CV $3.

Other categories of Official Stamps include O.W. ( Office of Works), R.H. (Royal Household), Board of Education, and Admiralty.

Military Forces (Offices) in Africa

1942-43 Scott 2 2p orange overprinted "M.E.F."
During WW II and afterwards, 95 stamps were overprinted for British African Forces. The Middle Eastern Forces overprinted stamps were for use in Ethiopia, Cyrenaica, Eritrea, the Dodecanese, and Somalia.

The above issue had eight stamps (CV <$1-$4). Of interest, there were four (subtle) changes in overprints (London or Cairo printings), with some variations having a CV of hundreds. Consult Scott for details.

                 For use in Eritrea
1948 Scott 7 50c on 6p rose lilac ; 1951 Scott 28 10c on 1p ultra
"B.M.A." stands for British Military Administration, and "B. A." for British Administration. There were 43 stamps issued for Eritrea, 23 with CV <$1+ .

East African Forces: For use in (Italian) Somaliland                                               
1943 Scott 4 3p violet; 1948 Scott 12 20c on 2p light orange
Thirty-one stamps were issued for (Italian) Somaliland between 1943-50. Twenty-two have a CV of <$2+.

For use in Tripolitania
1948 Scott 3 3l on 1 12p red brown 
Between 1948-1951, 34 stamps were issued for use in Tripolitania. Seventeen are CV <$2+. "M.A.L." stands for Military Authority Lire.

Offices in China

1917 Scott 6 10c ultramarine 
Stamps of Hong Kong, 1912-14, overprinted
Between 1917- 1927, two issues of 16 stamps (1917), and 11 stamps (1922-27) were produced using the stamps of Hong Kong for Offices in China.  The earlier issue had wmk 3 (Multiple Crown and C A), while the later issue had wmk 4 (Multiple Crown and Script C A): therefore watermarking is necessary for these issues. The CV for 17 stamps is <$6.

Offices in Morocco

Interestingly, the stamp issues were in three separate denominations: Spanish (100 Centimos+ 1 Peseta), British ( 12 Pence = 1 Shilling; 20 Shillings + 1 Pound), and French (100 Centimes= 1 Franc). 

The "Spanish" Morocco Agencies stamps were issued between 1898-1952, the "British" between 1907-1951, and the 'French" between 1917-1937. 

For Tangier, the issue years were 1927-1951.

Spanish Currency

1914-18 Scott 49 5c on 1/2p green; Scott 53 25c on 2 1/2p ultra
British stamps of 1912-18 surcharged
In 1898, stamps of Gibraltar were first overprinted "Morocco Agencies". In 1907, British stamps were surcharged. Above, we have examples of the 1914-18 nine stamp issue.  Through 1923, 29 stamps can be found with CV <$5.

1936 Scott 79 10c on 1p crimson; Scott 79a 
Notice the longer "Morocco" on 79a?
Here we meet a rather unhappy appearing Edward VIII, who only had one issue ( 1936 Great Britain Scott 230-233) before he abdicated the throne. Of interest, the overprint exists in two forms for this 1p crimson stamp.

British Currency

1936 Scott 245 1 1/2p bright ultra; Scott 245a 
Note the script is longer on the 245a?
The 2 1/2p bright ultramarine is, interestingly, also found with a longer script (245a) with the British currency denomination stamp on the Edward VIII design.

French Currency

1917-24 Scott 402 5c on 1/2p green wmk 33
A nine stamp "Morocco Agencies" issue was released during 1917-24 using French currency.  All of the stamps have CV of <$3+. Note the watermark is 33 (Crown and GvR).

1925-26 Scott 413 15c on 1 1/2p red brown; Scott 418 1fr on 10p dull blue
Watermark 35 (Crown and Block GvR Multiple)
A second George V "Morocco Agencies" surcharged issue was produced between 1925-26. All eight stamps are CV <$2. This issue has wmk 35, so evaluation of watermarks will need to be done to determine which issue one has.

1935-37 Scott 431 50c on 5p yellow brown
Then between 1935-37, a nine surcharged stamp issue with George V and the solid background was produced. Nine of the stamps have a CV of <$1.

1937 Scott 439 15c on 1 1/2p purple brown
Coronation of George VI  and Elizabeth
This happy occasion was celebrated with the "Morocco Agencies" surcharged coronation stamp. One can also find a surcharged Spanish denomination version.


1936 Scott 513 1 1/2p red brown; 1937 Scott 516 1p scarlet
Several examples of the Tangier overprint  is shown above for the International Zone of Tangier.. These overprints were issued beginning in 1927. Some 39 stamps are available with a CV of <$1+.

Offices in the Turkish Empire

1902-05 Scott 8 40pa on 2 1/2p ultra; 1906 Scott 13 1pi on 2 1/2p ultra
British stamps of 1902 surcharged
Beginning in 1885, Stamps for Offices in the Turkish Empire were produced. 

Between 1902-06, seven Edward VII stamps were issued with surcharge as shown above. Five have a CV of <$5.

1905 Scott 15 & 16 1/2p pale green & 1p carmine
Overprinted "Levant" for "Rising" or East"; meaning the Ottoman Empire
"Levant" was also used as a term for the Ottoman Empire, and here these 1902 Great Britain stamps are overprinted as such. This 10 stamp issue ( CV for four stamps <$4) has the British currency, rather than the Paras/Piaster denominations.

1911-12 Scott 38 1p scarlet re-engraved
Similarly, this 1912 George V 1p scarlet is overprinted "Levant". Of interest, this stamp can also be found overprinted with the original engraving (Scott 36). CV for the two stamp George V ( Both original and re-engraved types) is a modest <$1-$1+.

Compare and contrast: Different perforation and overprint
1906 Scott 13 and 1911 Scott 39 1pi on 2 1/2p ultra
Although these stamps look similar, they are not. ;-) The second stamp (1911) is a Harrison printing ( the first is a De La Rue), and has 15 X 14 perf rather than 14 perf. Also, the OP is different. Among other differences, note the long lower horizontal stroke on the "E" compared to the first stamp "E" overprint?

1913-14 George V Scott 41 1pi on 2 1/2p ultra
A six stamps issue (CV <$4 for four stamps) was produced with this 1912-13 George V design . Other stamps of this era carried the "Levant" overprint.

1921 Scott 55,56, & 59
The "Piastres" is a new overprint
Finally, in 1921  the last issue- 10 stamps- was produced ( CV for six stamps <$2). All of the stamps (except the 30 Paras) had a new script overprint as shown.

This concludes the review of British Offices Abroad.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has a generous 26 pages for these areas.

It follows the Scott catalogue exactly.

One advantage of the Steiner is it includes the 1940-1952 years for the British Commonwealth.

1942-43 Middle East Forces issue
Logically, it makes sense to follow/ collect  all the British Commonwealth stamp issues until the end of the George VI reign. And the Classic Scott catalogue also includes these issues.

1943 Scott 9 2sh 6p yellow green "M.E.F." overprint
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has sections for Postage Dues, Official Stamps, Offices in Morocco, China, and the Turkish Empire. There are 145 stamp spaces. There were 398 stamps ( cutoff 1940) in the Scott catalogue for these categories. Coverage is 36%.

Grand total for all of Great Britain is 276 spaces.

Coverage actually appears generally good for these less popular categories, but let's look at specifics.

A) The number of expensive stamps dropped off significantly compared to the 1840-1900 and 1900-1950 blog lists. Still, thirteen stamps have CV of >$10; and of those, here are the "Most Expensive" stamps ($35 threshold):

Official Stamps
1902 Scott O40 2p green & carmine "Edward VII" ($40)
1887-92 Scott (O34) 6p violet/rose "Victoria" ($37+)

B) Since Scott always has a color specified if there is no illustration cut, this results in a  number of stamps that are more or less arbitrarily excluded. ( Unless one ignores the color criteria.) The most absurd example here is in the Postage Due section. The date specification is 1914-39, which possibly admits four series that differ by watermark. But many of the possible candidates were excluded by (subtle) color changes. Perhaps the best (worst?) example is "2p brown black", which eliminates three examples of "2p black brown". ;-)
( One is of course free to ignore these subtle changes, and put the banned stamps into BB.)

C) Be aware that the Offices in Morocco section actually has three different currency overprints- Spanish, British, and French, plus Tangier overprints. No wonder there are 79 spaces in BB for Offices in Morocco.

D) For this checklist, there are a number of choices for a group of blank spaces. For example, I have 7 choices for 4 blank spaces; and in another, 13 choices for 5 blank spaces. Since these choices were all inexpensive, why not?  ;-)

Simple Checklist

Offices in Morocco

(Spanish currency)


20 or 27, 21 or 28, 23 or 30,







(British Currency)

201,202,211 or 221, 212,
( 4 choices: 209,210,213,214,216,220,222,)



Next Page

Offices in Morocco

(French Currency)

( 5 choices: 402,403,404,405,408,414,415,416,417,427,429,430,431,)
409 or 418, 434,












Next Page

Offices in China

1 or 17,2 or 18,3 or 19,4 or 20,5 or 21,6 or 22 ,7,(8 or 23),

Offices in the Turkish Empire






35 or 37, 36 or 38,



Next Page

Official Stamps





Postage Due

1/2p: J1 or J9 or J18 or J26
1p carmine rose: J10 or J19 or J27
1 1/2p red brown: J3 or J11
2p brown black: J4
3p violet: J5 or J13 or J21 or J29
4p gray green: J6
5p bistre: J23 or J31
1s blue: J8 or J16 or J24 or J32
2sh 6p: J17 or J25 or J33

A) (   ) around a space/ numbers either indicates a choice or several choices.

B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
Offices in Morocco
1936 509 1p carmine 'Silver Jubilee" >$10+
Offices in the Turkish Empire
1921 Scott 51 5p yellow brown ($10+ mint)
1921 Scott 52 6p dull violet ($10+)
Official Stamps
1891 Scott O14 2 1/2p violet/blue ($10+)
1901 Scott O16 1/2p blue green ($10+)
1897 Scott O37 1p lilac ($10+)
1902 Scott O40 2p green & carmine "Edward VII" ($40)
1891 Scott (O32) 2p green & carmine rose ($20+)
1887-92 Scott (O34) 6p violet/rose "Victoria" ($37+)
1902 Scott (O39) 1p carmine ($10+)
1896 Scott (O56) 2 1/2p violet/blue ($20+)
1903 Scott O72 1/2p gray green ($10+)
1903 Scott (O78) 1/2p gray green ($20+)

C) * Offices in China 1916-22 : I included the 1922-27 wmk 4 issue.

D) *1903 O78: I include O78 ($20+) as a choice, as it is in the second 1903 issue, even though the overprint cut adjacent to the space is for the first 1903 issue because... the cheapest remaining choice for the first issue is $130!

E) *Postage Due 1914-39: Four issues are eligible ( different watermarks), but many were ruled out because of (subtle) color changes.

F) * 438 (French-centime) Morocco Agencies - put the 1936 Scott 438 A99 15c on 1 1/2p red brown in the space, as alas! BB has a descriptive error (10c on 1p crimson) for the space. BB's description doesn't exist in the Scott catalogue for the French centime issues. No doubt the Scott 438 15 centime on 1 1/2p red brown was actually intended by BB for the space.

1887 Scott 4 40pa on 2 1/2p violet/blue
Turkish Empire: 40 Paras = 1 Piaster
Out of the Blue
The "Back of the Book" British stamps were refreshingly inexpensive, compared to the 1840-1950 regular issues. I now only need to acquire some.  ;-)

Note: Map is from http://africanhistory.about.com

Have a comment? Would like to hear from you!


  1. 1887 Scott 4 40pa on 2 1/2p violet/blue does it have any value?

  2. i've got very old pastage stamp book not sure what the values are of each stamp, can you help?

    1. Mot directly. :-)

      But here are some links for advice...




  3. Ray McIntire, Springfield, TNJanuary 29, 2017 at 3:40 PM

    Hi Jim, using the '47 BB, I'm wondering if there's a mixup between BB and Scott for #438. BB shows for 437 and 438 a 5 centime on 1/2p, and a 10c on 1p crimson. Scott Cat shows 438 as 15c on 1 1/2p red-brown (album I bought has a blank for that space, but a 15c hinged in the margin. Have you seen this, is it maybe a mistake in BB?

    BTW, I bought 2 more '47 BB's on eBay about 3 weeks ago, and one of them is just fantastic. The GB had some really nice CV stamps in it...several in GB like 136,137,138,179..and other countries also. Think I made a nice score on this one... :) Thanks again, Ray

    1. Congratulations on the eBay '47 BBs!

      There is indeed a mistake by BB, and thanks for pointing it out. There is no "10c on 1p crimson" for the Morocco Agencies (French) Centimes Surcharge on the A99 stamp. Yes, there is a stamp that exists for the centimos surcharge, but that is not what is wanted for the space. So, logically, the centimes Scott 438 15c on 1 1/2p red brown would be put in there. Both my modern 2017 Scott catalogue and my 1947 Scott catalogue agree.
      I checked my '69 BB edition and my '43 BB edition, and they both have the erroneous description for the space. It is curious that your '47 only has a blank space.

      I will make a notation for the checklist regarding the BB descriptive error.

      Put the Scott 438 15 centime on 1 1/2p red brown stamp in the space, as the checklist already states.

      Thanks for noticing this.