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...

Thursday, August 8, 2013


1912-22 Scott 3 5c green "Victor Emmanuel III"
Stamps of Italy, Overprinted in black
Quick History
The Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12 between Italy and the Ottomans resulted in the capturing of the provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica. These provinces of the territory of Libya ( The name used by the Greeks for North Africa)  were turned into colonies by the Italians. From 1912 to 1927, the territory was also known as Italian North Africa. The territory was then governed as two colonies, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, from 1927 to 1934.

Libya, consisting of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica
In 1934 the Italians  adopted "Libya" as the official name.

The capital was Tripoli, and the population was 890,000 in 1938.

From 1924 to 1934, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica also issued their own (Italian printing office) stamps.

Then, between 1943-1951, Libya was under the occupation of the Allies.

In 1951, Libya became independent as the United Kingdom of Libya.

1924-40 Scott 55 50c black & olive green
"Ancient Galley leaving Tripoli"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1912-1940, 96 regular, 60 semi-postal, 42 air post, 14 special delivery and air post special delivery, 3 semi-postal special delivery, 3 authorized delivery, 24 postage due, and 24 parcel post  major number category descriptions. Total = 266.

Of those, 88 are CV <$1-$1+, or 33%. While about 1/3 are reasonably priced, Libya continues the Italian colony habit of being overall rather expensive.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centisimi = 1 Lira
1915 Scott 1 15c brown 
Stamps of Italy, overprinted in black
Between 1912-22, 15 stamps of Italy were overprinted "Libia" in black. There are actually two types of overprints: Type I with thicker letters, and Type II with thinner letters. The Type II are minor numbers, and are have a higher CV. The examples I will show for this post are Type I.

CV for 9 stamps is <$1-$2+.

1921 Scott 22 5c black & green "Roman Legionary"
In 1921, an engraved set for Libya was produced with four designs. Very nice, I like it! CV is <$1-$3+ for 9 stamps. The stamps were perforated 14, and had the following watermark.....

Watermark 140-"Crown"
The perforations, and the watermark especially are important, as they will distinguish this set from the next one.
1924-40 Scott 53 25c dark blue & blue
"Diane of Ephesus"
The 1924-40 issue has the same designs and colors as the 1921 issue, except the stamps are unwatermarked, and have perforations 13 1/2 to 14. There are 14 stamps with the major numbers. In addition, there are 10 stamps ( 9 minor, 1 major number) with perforation 11.

1924-40 Scott 58 1 l dark brown & brown "Victory"
The higher denominations have this striking design. Remember to check for presence or absence of watermarks, and then check perforations. There can be a huge difference in CV- even hundreds of dollars!

1931 Scott 42 1.75 l orange 
"Libyan Sibyl"
Between 1924-31, there was another issue of six stamps with the Michelangelo's "Libyan Sibyl" design.
Michelangelo's "Sibyl", in the Sistine Chapel
 These stamps were unwatermarked, and had perforations 14 1/2 X 14 for the major numbers. CV is <$1-$1+ for 5 stamps. There is also a minor number set of four with perforation 11.

1938 Scott 71 5c brown 
"Roman Wolf and Lion of St. Mark"
For the 12th Sample Fair in Tripoli, a six stamp issue was released. CV is <$1-$1+.
1938 Scott 79 25c dark yellow green
"Augustus Caesar"
The fascist aggressive government of Italy under Mussolini is reflected in the stamp design selection here for Libya. A six stamp set was released in 1938 honoring the past glories of Imperial Rome. CV is <$1-$1+.

1939 Scott 87 1.25 l gray blue
"Desert City"
The 13th Sample Fair provided an opportunity for a five stamp release in 1939. I like the scene- sparse, open, and effective. CV is <$1.

1940 Scott 92 75c crimson
"Oxen and Plow"
The Triennial Overseas Exposition in Naples afforded a reason for this 1940 seven stamp issue. The design here is almost like a painting. CV is <$1-$1+.

1936 Scott C25 50c purple "Arab on Camel"
Overprinted on 1932 air mail stamp of Cyrenaica
1937 Scott C26 50c rose carmine , overprinted
"Airplane over Columns of the Basilica Leptis"
On 1931-32 air mail stamp of Tripolitania
Between 1923-34, Tripolitania and Cyrenaica had their own stamp issues. Here several of the air mail stamps are overprinted "Libia", which was the official name of the territory since 1934.

1939 air mail Scott C36 25c green "Arab and Camel"
Libya has a lot of air mail stamps (42), and here is a 1939 example. I like the  severe landscape on this design.
1940 air mail Scott C41 2 l + 75c indigo
"Plane over modern city"
Some of the air mail issues also included semi-postals as this 1940 production. Scott keeps the regular and semi-postals together in the catalogue  if they are primarily produced for a regular issue. 

By the way, I don't have any semi-postals to show ( 60 were issued), as they have a higher CV ($4+ on up), and a WW classical collector would have to specifically find these stamps, as they do not often show up in general collections.

Deep Blue
1939 regular issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 20 pages for Libya, and naturally provides spaces for all the major Scott numbers. In addition, the perforated 11 minor number 1926-29 and 1924-37 issues (14 stamps) are given a space. Nice.
1938 Scott 82 1.25 l dull blue 
"Goddess Abundantia"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, has 9 pages for Libya, and has 69 spaces for regular, 60 spaces for semi-postal, 3 spaces for semi-postal special delivery, 6 spaces for special delivery, 6 spaces for parcel post, 14 spaces for postage due, and 37 spaces for air post. Total = 195. Coverage is 73%!

• BB continues to provide way more coverage for the Italian colonies than they do for most any other country. Was Scott paid off by Italian dealers? ;-)  Every semi-postal stamp issued by Libya is included in BB!

• Expensive stamps in abundance- 32 stamps are $10-$24 CV, and 11 more stamps are >$35! And the more expensive stamps are very expensive- $80,$80,$105,$105,$105,$125,$125!

• Be aware that the 1921-31 choices include wmk "Crown" vs unwatermarked major numbers. Also, minor numbers with perforation 11 are eligible.


1912-17 (Actually 1912-22)

20 or 47, 21 or 48, 22 or 49, 50, 23 or 51,
24 or 52, 25 or 53, 26 or 54, 27 or 55, 28 or 56, 57,
29 or 58, 59, (30),

1921 (actually 1922)

Next Page





Next Page




Next Page






Next Page


B30,B31, B37, B32,B33,


Next Page

(semi- postal)



Semi-Postal Special Delivery


Next Page

Special Delivery




Parcel Post

Postage Due


Next Page

Air Post






Next Page

(air post)






A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1921 (Scott 30) 5 l black & dark blue ($20+)
1934 Scott 64G 1.25 l blue ($50)
1937 Scott 69 50c copper red ($10+)
1937 Scott 70 1.25 l sapphire ($10+)
1915-16 Scott B2 15 + 5c slate ($10+)
1915-16 Scott B4 20c on 15c + 5c slate ($10+)
1927 Scott B10 1.25 l + 30c blue & black ($20+)
1929 Scott B17 30c + 20c maroon & black ($10)
1929 Scott B18 50c + 20c green & black ($10)
1929 Scott B19 1.25 l + 20c scarlet & black ($10)
1929 Scott B20 1.75 l + 20c blue & black ($10)
1929 Scott B21 2.35 l + 50c yellow brown & black ($10)
1929 Scott B22 5 l + 1 l purple & black ($125) !
1930 Scott B27 2.55 l + 45c deep green ($10+)
1930 Scott B28 5 l + 1 l deep orange ($10+)
1930 Scott B29 10 l + 2 l dark violet ($10+)
1931 Scott B37 10 l + 2 l brown ($42+)
1931 Scott B36 5 l + 1 l dull violet ($10+)
1932 Scott B47 10 l + 2 l brown violet ($105) !
1932 Scott B46 5 l + 1 l deep blue ($20+)
1933 Scott B48 10c deep violet ($30+)
1933 Scott B49 25c deep green ($10+)
1933 Scott B51 50c purple ($10+)
1933 Scott B52 1.25 l dark blue ($40)
1933 Scott B54 10 l + 2.50 l carmine ($80)
1933 Scott B50 30c orange brown ($10+)
1933 Scott B53 5 l + 1 l olive brown ($80)
1927 Scott EB1 1.25 l + 30c purple ($10)
1927 Scott EB2 2.50 l + 1 l yellow & black ($10)
1915 Scott E1 25c rose red ($20+)
1923 Scott E6 2 l dark blue & red ($10+)
1929 Scott C1 50c rose red ($10)
1929 Scott C2 80c brown violet & brown ($30+)
1932 Scott C4 50c dark blue ($10)
1932 Scott C5 1 l orange brown ($10)
1932 Scott C6 2 l + 1 l dark gray ($20+)
1932 Scott C7 5 l + 2 l carmine ($105)
1933 Scott C11 2 l + 50c purple ($10+)
1933 Scott C12 5 l + 1 l orange brown ($20+)
1933 Scott C13 10 l + 2.50 l gray black ($20+)
1934-35 Scott C16 5 l + 1 l deep green ($105)
1934-35 Scott C17 10 l + 2 l dull violet ($105)
1934-35 Scott C18 25 l + 3 l orange brown ($125)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1921-31- choices include wmk "Crown" vs unwatermarked major numbers. Also, minor numbers with perforation 11 are eligible.
1940 air post Scott C40 1l brown violet
"Plane over Oasis"
Out of the Blue
If one enjoys Libyan stamps (I do!), or if one is attempting to fill all the spaces in Big Blue- well, it is going to cost you. ;-)

Note: Map, Michelangelo's "Sibyl" pic appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Those "above $10" stamps would add up to over $1000. Those are not very "common" stamps which is the purpose of the Big Blue album.

    I wonder if the availability of Libyan stamps was greater at some point earlier in the century, for some reason? French colonies and English colonies are scattered among many listings throughout the album, so perhaps they are not so noticeable?

    It would be interesting to know the ranking order of the numbers (and perhaps even current total catalogue value) of colonial stamps in Big Blue. I'm assuming Britain and France would come first and second. So would Italy be third? Even more than the Belgian Empire (Congo, etc.)? There were quite a few stamps issued for the Congo up to independence in the 1950s.

    Spain had many smallish colonies, and stamps weren't common until after Spain had lost many of its larger colonies.

    The U.S. had only a minor empire fairly briefly.

    Germany's empire was dismantled early in the century, so didn't last long enough to produce many stamps.

    The Dutch had the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and a few other spots past World War II, but they may not have issued so many stamps.

    It may be that the stamps of Italy's colonies like Libya (etc.) seem so profuse because they are concentrated in only a few colonies (so more noticeable) and because Italy held onto its few colonies a fairly long time.

    Beautiful stamps, very classical looking. Of course, Italy also had Italian East Africa (Ethiopia and Somalia, I believe). Nice write up on an interesting area. One last factor -- like Algeria for France, Libya for Italy was a nearby colonial region so it made perhaps some sense as a colony that Italy felt "justified" in controlling. A very different situation from most of the rest of the colonial world.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Drew, interesting questions.

    As far as how many stamps are in Big Blue from the respective colonial empires, that data could be compiled. Perhaps,if I have an idle weekend, I will do that. I would find the results interesting also.

  3. Hi Jim - I love your write ups and I learn a lot about the various stamps issued for these countries. I am keen to read all of your entries (even if the countries are still alive) -- keep up the good work.

    I haven't been able to touch my stamps for the last 2-3 months, but will be back in the swing of things in the fall. Although you probably know this, I do have a transition chart for all of the Libyan countries which helps put the various stamp issueing entities in perspective. It can be found under "Libya Area" at:

  4. Michael

    Thanks for the nice words. :-)

    As always, your transition charts are superb!

    I look forward to your posts this fall.


  5. Hey Jim, you can see my progress in breaking down the 2 collections (actually 4), by the alphabet! This one is stumping me, and it's not in BB, but hoping you can find it. It's the Overprinted A58 design, and all I can see in the Scott Classic specialized is a 15c slate, Libya #16 and #19. Nowhere is the 20c value found, but neither is the #17 and #18, with no footnotes. My guess is that it wasn't issued and removed from Scott's? I'd be glad to send you a scan if you like....thanks much, Ray

  6. Ray McIntire, Springfield, TNFebruary 18, 2017 at 12:02 PM

    Sorry, I hate to use anonymous.....so I'll at least post my name on this one.....Thanks again!

  7. Hi Ray

    You are making quick progress.

    I suspect your 20c stamp is 1918 Scott 7 20c brown orange with A50 design. The A50 and A58 designs differ only slightly.