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, September 13, 2013

Macao (Macau)

1894 Scott 59 3a on 20r carmine, green surcharge
"King Luiz"; On stamps of 1888
Quick History
Macao (Macau) , a small 6 square mile Portuguese Overseas Territory during the classical period, is located at the mouth of the Canton River off the coast of China, and close to Hong Kong. Today, along with Hong Kong, it is a special administrative district of the People's Republic of China.

(Note: Macao is the spelling used in the Scott catalogue, but Macau seems more prevalent. I will use both.)
Macao ( Macau)
Macao today is known for tourism, and especially gambling casinos. Both Cantonese and Portuguese are official languages.

But back to history. The Portuguese had a permanent settlement by 1557. Portuguese trade and commerce was then restricted to the port of Macau in 1631 by the Chinese. In 1887, an agreement was reached with China that allowed a permanent occupation and government by Portugal in Macau.
Macau 1870
During WW II, Macau was not formally occupied by the Japanese, but was required to have Japanese "advisors", none the less.

Portugal finally relinquished all sovereignty in 1999 to China.

1888 Scott 39 40r chocolate "King Luiz"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic specialized catalogue has, for Macao 1884-1938, 372 major number descriptions. Of those, 61 are CV <$1-$1+, or  16%. Macao is somewhat expensive due to the hot China market.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
1000 Reis = 1 Milreis
78 Avos = 1 Rupee (1894)
100 Avos = 1 Pataca (1913)
1884-85 Scott 6a 25r rose "Portuguese Crown"
The initial 1884-85 issue has the "Portuguese crown" design,and has 15 major numbers. The issue is found with either 12 1/2 or 13 1/2 perforations, and major and minor numbers are scattered throughout both varieties. The CV ranges from $5+- $70+. Reprints were also issued. Consult Scott for details.

1885 Scott 20 20r on 50r green 
Also, in 1884-85, the stamps were surcharged, resulting in 8 major numbers. An example is illustrated. CV is $5+- $10+ for 5 stamps. 
1887 Scott 24 5r on 80r gray
In 1887, a  five stamp set was surcharged as shown. CV is a rather high $9- $90.

1887 Scott 32 5r green & buff  "Coat of Arms"
A local provisional three stamp set was created in 1887, when revenue stamps were surcharged in red as shown. Actually there was an additional portion of the revenue stamps (the label), that was usually removed before use. CV is $5+-$10+.
1888 Scott 36 10r green "King Luiz"
A 10 stamp issue was created in 1888 with the King Luiz portrait. The 10r "green" illustrated really looks chalky blue to me. ;-)  CV is $4-$20+ for 8 stamps.

Luis  was King of Portugal and the Algarves between 1861-1889. He was interested in science and marine biology, and funded the research vessels which obtained  marine specimens for the Aquarium in Lisbon.

1894 Scott 49 20r lavender "King Carlos"
In 1894, a 12 stamp issue for King Carlos was produced. CV ranges from $3+-$20+ for nine stamps.

1894 Scott 58 1a on 5r black , red overprint
The denominations was changed to Avos/ Rupee in 1894, and consequently a 10 stamp surcharged issue was released.  Note "Provisorio" was printed diagonally across the stamp. CV is $4+- $20+.

1898-1903 Scott 76 1a orange "King Carlos"
A large 29 stamp set was issued between 1895-1903. The "King Carlos" design is quite familiar to all Portuguese Colony collectors. CV ranges from $1-$20+.

On February 1, 1908, King Carlos and his son Luis Filipe, the heir apparent, were assassinated while returning to Lisbon in the royal carriage.

1900 Scott 104 5a on 13a violet 
A four stamp surcharged issue was produced in 1900 as shown. The CV is $3+-$10+.

1902 Scott 109 6a on 10r green
On stamps of 1884-85
More surcharged stamps were produced in 1902 on the stamps of 1884-85 with the new "Avos" denomination. These 11 stamps have a CV of $3+-$10 for 7 stamps.

1902-10 Scott 122 6a on 25r green 
On stamps of 1894
More stamps were surcharged between 1902-10 with the 1894 "King Carlos" design. The 12 stamps have a CV of $2+-$5+. (That 25r "green" stamp sure looks blue!)

1902 Scott 132 2a yellow green
Stamps of 1898-1900 overprinted
Overprinted "Provisorio" stamps were released in 1902, a four stamp set. CV is $4-$20+.

1911 Scott 147B 1a orange
Lisbon overprint
With the establishment of the Republic in Portugal in 1910, overprints as shown were released for Macau in 1911. The Lisbon overprint has a flat top "A", while the local surcharged overprint (1913-not shown) has a pointed top "A". The Lisbon overprint has 16 stamps with a CV of <$1-$10+. The local surcharged overprint of 1913 has 19 stamps, with a CV of $3+-$20+.

1913 Scott 185 2a on 18a on 75r, green overprint
The 1913 surcharged overprinted local issue of 1913, discussed above, was surcharged again on four stamps in 1913, as shown on this quite interesting example. Note the sharp top "A" of the local "Republica" overprint. CV is $4.
1923 Scott 214 3a orange "Ceres"
The familiar "Ceres" issue was released for Macau between 1913-24. The 29 stamp issue has a CV ranging from <$1-$10+ for 23 stamps.

Update: The Afinsa specialized catalogue for the Portuguese colonies has a further breakdown of the orientation of the stars on either side of the Ceres issue colony name. See the blog post for Portuguese Congo for specifics.

1915 Scott 252 18a on 2 1/2r brown
On 1893-94 Newspaper stamp Scott P4
In 1915, some 14 previously issued stamps were overprinted in carmine. Here a newspaper stamp of 1893-94 with the overprint is shown.
1933 Scott 259 1a on 24a slate green
Between 1931-33,  nine stamps with the 1913-24  "Ceres" design were surcharged. CV ranges from $4-$20.
1934 Scott 271 3a violet 
"Portugal" and "San Gabriel" Flagship
The above design was released in a 21 stamp set in 1934. Nice to see something different for a Portuguese colony. ;-) CV is <$1- $5 for 17 stamps.

1938 Scott 296 10a bright red violet
Common Design Type
Most (All?)  of the Portuguese colonies had this common design type released in 1938. Macau's share has 17 stamps, with a CV of <$1-$5+ for 14 stamps.

Air Post 1936 Scott C5 8a bright blue
Stamps of 1934 overprinted
The "Portugal" design stamps of 1934 were overprinted or surcharged in 1936 for air post use. The six stamps have a CV of <$1-$4.
1938 Scott C14 70a rose carmine
Common Design Type
Seventeen air post stamps of the common design type was released in 1938 for Macau. CV is <$1-$5+ for 14 stamps.
Postage Due 1904 Scott J1 1/2a  gray green 
"Numeral of Value"
An 11 stamp postage due set was released in 1904, as shown. CV is $1+-$5 for 9 stamps.

1911 J12 1/2a gray green
Issue of 1904, overprinted
The preceding issue of 1904 was overprinted in 1911 with the change in government in Portugal. The 11 stamp set has a CV of <$1-$5+.

Deep Blue
Air Post stamps of Macao in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 25 pages for Macao, and follows the Scott catalogue. Of interest, the first 1884-85 "Portuguese Crown" issue comes in either 12 1/2 or 13 1/2 perforations, and major and minor numbers are found scattered in both. The Steiner provides complete spaces for both perforation varieties.

1894 Scott 46 5r yellow "King Carlos"
Big Blue
The '69 Big Blue, on 5 pages, has 118 regular, 13 air post, 7 postage due, 3 war tax, 4 postal tax, and 3 postal tax due stamp spaces. Total = 148. Coverage is 40%.

• There are no stamps that reach the $35, threshold, one stamp @ $20+, and four stamps @ $10+. So, although Macao stamps are more expensive in general than most Portuguese Colony stamps, Big Blue's selection is quite reasonable.
• The War Tax 1919 9a green stamp, which is in Big Blue, was only used as a revenue stamp according to Scott, and hence no number is assigned.
• There are no Newspaper, Postal Tax, Postal Tax Due, or 1914 local overprint Postage Dues in Big Blue.
• But combing the 224 stamps not in BB, only 38 have a  CV $4 or less. So there are only a modest  number that really could be added.











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Update: 1913-1924 Ceres Issue was parsed into 1913 Perf 15 X 14 chalky paper, 1919 Perf 15 X 14 ordinary paper, and 1922-24 Perf 12 X 11 1/2 varieties, and given new numbers in ~2014 Scott. The original (old) numbers here are from 2011. I will present both numbering systems here for the BB spaces..

Old numbers...

1913-15 Ceres

Current numbers...

1913-15* Ceres
*Note: Because BB requests "1913-15"dates, I am not including here choices from
the 1919 and 1922-24 issue.


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Old numbers...

1923-27* Ceres
Note: Although BB states "1923-27", all of the stamps
here were issued by 1924.

Current numbers...

1923-27 Ceres
232, 234*, 236, 237, 238A, 238C, (238E), (238F),
*Note 234- is 3a "orange brown" in 2014 catalogue. Was "orange" in 2011
catalogue and BB.




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Air Post


Next Page

Postage Due


War Tax
MR1, 9a green*, MR2

Postal Tax


Postal Tax Due


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1885 Scott 5 20r rose ($10+)
1885 Scott 7 25r violet ($10+)
1885 Scott 11 50r blue ($20+)
1888 Scott 37 20r carmine   ($10+)

B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

C) *9a green-1919 War Tax stamp was for revenue use, according to the Scott catalogue, and today is not given a number. CV = $10.
Out of the Blue
The stamps of Macao (Macau) seem to be the most expensive of any Portuguese colony so far. No doubt, the reason being that it is now part of China, albeit a special administrative district. Big Blue, though, managed to thread through the issues with minimal damage to the philatelic wallet. Nice!

Note: Map, photo appear to be in the public domain.

Macau today


  1. Certainly makes Portugal's stamp designers look lazy, doesn't it? That you couldn't be bothered to show some of the rich history of the region or the colony but instead used standardized templates is awfully disappointing. I know later Macao issues included a good deal more, but these early classic era stamps are entirely formulaic. Too bad. Having a few on cover would add some interest to a collection, I think. Good write up, as usual.

  2. Thanks Drew.

    Yes no pictorials showing native arts/peoples, which is typical of Portuguese colonies.

    But the overprints- especially the Local vs Lisbon- adds some spice.

    I was so close to Macau when I was in Hong Kong for a week several years ago- but I didn't visit it. I regret that now.

  3. Jim,

    Drew and I continue to hack away at the inadequacies of Portuguese stamp designers, albeit in an untimely manner. Why didn't we speak up a hundred years or so ago? At any rate, the Macauese (is that a word?) seem to be driving the price of the colonial stamps up, so someone must like them.

  4. Thanks Bud for the -as usual- witty comment. ;-)

  5. It is one of the great mysteries, why only the French colonies (and the Belgians in the Congo) really saw a benefit in issuing attractive pictoral issues for their colonial holdings. My guess is that since the cost of printing postage stamps would have been paid by the colonies, and most colonies were financially very limited in resources, the decision to use standard designs with a cheap printing of the colony name made the most financial sense. Perhaps the French colonies were given greater support from the French govt in the hopes that philatelic revenue from having more elaborate designs would balance the cost of production.

  6. I agree with your assessment. Also, with the "Liberty, Equality" framework of the French, they may have been more open- and perhaps saw more value - in illustrating the native peoples on stamps.