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, October 13, 2013


1922-26 Scott 108 6p olive green & violet  "Malta"
Quick History
When Napoleon Bonaparte ejected the Order or Knights of Malta, which had ruled for 270 years, in 1798, the ouster was initially welcomed. (The Sovereign International Order of the Malta, now based in Rome, continues to do charitable works, and issue their own stamps.) But the Maltese soured on the French occupation, and the archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea eventually became a British colony in 1814.

Malta's strategic location between the Strait of Gibraltar and the the Suez Canal (1869) was advantageous indeed. And it was on the trade route to India.
The Capital was Valletta, and the population was 272,000 in 1943.

Malta suffered and fought bravely during the Siege of Malta in 1942, which caused King George VI to award the entire colony the collective George Cross.

Malta eventually gained independence in 1964, although various earlier stamp issues of 1922 and 1947 are also overprinted with "Self Government".

1911 Scott 39 4p scarlet & black/yellow "Edward VII"
Into the Deep Blue
The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, from 1860-1938, has 199 regular, 1 air post, 20 postage due, and 2 war tax stamp descriptions. Total = 222. Then, from 1943-1953, the catalogue has 41 additional regular issue stamp descriptions. Total (1860-1953)  = 263 major stamp descriptions.

Of those, 120 are CV <$1-$1+, or 46%.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
4 Farthings = 1 Penny
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
1875 Scott 3 1/2p yellow buff "Victoria"
"One Half Penny Yellow"
In 1860, the 1/2p buff/bluish with the illustrated design of Victoria was issued for Malta. This was followed by six more major number catalogue stamps issued between 1863-1882 with similar buff or yellow colors. These major numbers also differ in watermarks (None, wmk 1,wmk 2), or perforations. In addition, Scott lists some 13 stamps as minor numbers because of color variations. The 1/2p "yellow" issues, as they are known, vary in CV from $20+-$500+.

The particular 1/2p shown here is an 1875 Scott 3 "yellow buff" with watermark 1, and perforation 14.

Of interest, the 1/2p "yellow" could only be used on mail within Malta itself.  Otherwise, British stamps were used on mail destined for overseas until 1885.

1885 Scott 8 1/2p green "Victoria"
The 1885 1/2p changed colors to "green", and is shown here. The CV is quite inexpensive @ <$1. The color, by the way, was changed as Malta joined the UPU.
1885 Scott 10 2p gray "Victoria"
The 1885 issue consisted of six stamps, and one can find four designs. Shown here is the 2p gray. The other two designs are shown elsewhere on the post blog. The issue ranges in CV from <$1-$10+, well within the means of most classical WW collectors.

1885 Scott 12 4p brown "Victoria"
Note "A25" obliterator cancel
I'm showing this 1885 4p brown stamp mainly to illustrate the "A25" obliterator cancel that was used on Malta and Gozo in the early years. There are some 74 different Great Britain stamps with "A" prefix Scott numbers in the catalogue, and used in Malta between 1860-84. They are identified by this "A25" obliterator, and generally have a high CV.
1899 Scott 17 2sh6p olive gray "Malta"
Other stamps issued in 1886 and 1889 show the "Maltese Cross" and "St. Paul after Shipwreck". Those stamps are expensive (CV $70+-$90+), and I don't have them. ;-) But another design , this time on a higher denomination stamp, shows the human representation of the Maltese people, or "Malta"( "Melita"). The name is derived from a Roman settlement on the island that eventually became known as "Mdina".

1901 Scott 19 1f red brown "Valleta Harbor", wmk 2
1910 Scott 29 1f dark brown, wmk 3
A "Farthing" denomination intended for newspaper delivery was issued in 1901, and then again in 1910 with a different watermark and color.

1902 Scott 20 1p on 2 1/2p dull blue
The overseas rate for British colonies dropped to one penny in 1902, and consequently the 2 1/2p dull blue 1885 stamp issue was overprinted as shown.

Note, there is a "One Pnney" overprinted error found on one stamp of the 120 stamp sheet (CV $30+).

1903-04 Scott 27 1sh violet & gray "Edward VII", wmk 2
The Edward VII design was introduced in 1903-04 with seven stamps on watermark 2 paper. CV is <$1-$10+.
1905 Scott 31 1p carmine & black "Edward VII", wmk 3
More Edward VII stamps were issued between 1904-11, this time with watermark 3. The fourteen stamps have a CV of <$1-$6+.
British Colonial and Crown Agent Watermarks
Upper row: wmk 1,2; Lower row: wmk 3,4
This might be a good time to review all the British colonial watermarks found for Maltese stamps. So here they are, ;-)
1911 Scott 43 4 1/2p orange "Gozo Fishing Boat"
Also, between 1904-11, two designs featuring a "Gozo Fishing Boat" and an "Ancient Galley" were used on watermark 3 paper on four stamps. (The designs had originally been introduced in 1889 on wmk 2 paper.)

1914-21 Scott 54 3p violet/yellow "George V", wmk 3
Between 1914-21, an 11 stamp set with "George V" was issued with watermark 3. The familiar key plate design had an added touch of displaying the Maltese Cross on either side of the "Malta" inscription. The Maltese Cross, of course, is associated with the Knights Hospitaller (Knights of Malta) since 1567.

1914-21 Scott 59 1sh black/green, chalky paper
1915 Scott 62 1sh black/green, surface colored paper
The 1sh denomination can be found on either chalky paper (colored through), or surface colored paper. One would need to look on the reverse of these stamps to be sure. ;-)

1921-22 Scott 66 1/2p brown, wmk 4
In 1921-22, a seven stamp "George V" set was produced, this time with watermark 4. One really cannot collect British colonies without having a watermarking tray handy. ;-)

1915 Scott 52 2p gray "George V", wmk 3
1921-22 Scott 69 2p gray, wmk 4
The 1914-21 wmk 3 and the 1921 wmk 4 stamps have the same design except for the 2p gray, as illustrated above. Now you know. ;-)

1915 Scott 63 4p black "Valletta Harbor"
In 1915, an engraved "Valletta Harbor" design stamp was produced in black for the 4 pence. Quite striking, No?
1922 Scott 80 6p dull lilac & red violet, wmk 3
1922 Scott 90 2 1/2p ultrmarine, wmk 4
Stamps of 1914-21 overprinted
"Self Government" overprinted stamps on both wmk 3 and wmk 4 "George V"  stamps were issued in 1922. The seventeen stamps in total have a CV of <$1-$1+ for 11 stamps. One should note that, although greater autonomy no doubt occurred, Malta did not gain full independence until 1964.

1922 Scott 97 1f on 2p gray
"One Farthing" was overprinted on the 1921-22 2p gray design stamp in 1922. CV is <$1.

1922-26 Scott 103 2p olive brown & turquoise "Malta"
Between 1922-26, the "Malta" motif was used for a 16 stamps issue. These nicely designed stamps have a quite modest CV of <$1-$3+ for 12 stamps.

1922-26 Scott 109 1sh olive brown & blue 
"Britannia and Malta"
And here is the motherly "Britannia" protecting the smaller "Malta" on the higher denominations. Ah, for the good old days of colonial imperialism, when all was right in the world. ;-) ;-)

 1926 Scott 119 1 1/2p orange brown
Stamps of 1922-26 overprinted
The 1922-26 "Malta" issue was overprinted "Postage" in 1926 on 14 stamps. CV is <$1-$3+ for eight stamps. Of interest, the postmark "Cospicua"  on this and an earlier image is from an old fortified town on the Grand Harbor on the eastern side of the Capital Valletta.

1926-27 Scott 139 4 1/2p yellow buff & violet "George V"
Inscribed "Postage" 
A new "George V" design was issued in 1926-27 on 10 stamps. Notice the "Postage" inscription.

1928 Scott 149 1/2p green "George V"
Overprinted "Postage and Revenue"
Then in 1928, the preceding 1926-27 set was overprinted "Postage and Revenue" on 12 stamps. CV is <$1-$2 for 11 stamps.
1928 Scott 160 1sh black "Valletta Harbor"
Overprinted in Red
Also in 1928, seven  engraved stamps, originally issued in 1926-27, were overprinted as shown.

1930 Scott 173 3p dark violet
Inscribed "Postage & Revenue"
Finally, a 10 stamp set of the "George V" design was issued in 1930, this time with a "Postage & Revenue" inscription. The Maltese certainly spent much effort getting the "Postage' or the "Postage & Revenue" inscriptions right. ;-)
1930 Scott 179 2sh deep violet & black "Notabile (Mdina)"
Also, the higher denominations pictorial engraved stamps were  re-issued in 1930 with the "Postage..Revenue" inscriptions. These stamps have a rather high CV of $9+-$60+.

1938 Scott 202 2sh dark blue & light green "Mdina Cathedral"
In 1938, as was true for many British colonies, a pictorial 13 stamp "George VI" issue was released. The CV for these stamps ranges from <$1-$4.

1938 "George VI" pictorial issue
Here is a pic of the 1938 set. If one is using Big Blue as the album, and one wants to stay true to dates, then only these color denominations should be put in. ;-)

1943 Scott 197A 3p blue 
"St. John's Co-Cathedral"
In 1943, six stamps of the 1938 pictorial type were released, but in different colors.

1943 "George VI" pictorial issue
This pic shows the colors of the 1943 set.

1948 Scott 216 6p rose red & olive green
"Statue of Antonio Manoel de Vilhena"
Stamps of 1938-43 overprinted
In 1948, a 15 stamp set with "Self Government 1947" overprint was released on the 1/2p-3p 1943 issue, and the 4 1/2p-10sh 1938 issue.

"Self-Government" overprinted issue of 1948
Above is a pic of the 1948 issue.

1953 Scott 238 2 1/2p rose red 
"De I'Isle Adam entering Mdina"
Then, in 1953, six stamps with the "Self-Government 1947" overprint were issued, but in different colors than the 1948 issue.
"Self-Government" overprinted issue of 1953"
The 1d-4 1/2d denomination stamps of 1953 in different colors than those of 1948 are shown here. One of the advantages of the Steiner album is it provides spaces for these issues with their color changes, (As it provides coverage of British Commonwealth to 1952-53), while BB stops with the 1938 issue.

1949 Scott 224 1 Pound dark blue
"Silver Wedding Issue"
I don't usually show the 1949 "Silver Wedding" omnibus issue, as they are basically all the same for the colonies. But, since I have the much less frequently seen 1 Pound denomination for Malta (CV $40+), here it is. ;-)
1950 Scott 231 1sh gray black "Princess Elizabeth"
Since our classical collection ends at 1952 for British commonwealth, there are not many stamps of Princess Elizabeth. But Malta issued a three stamp set in 1950 upon her visit.

1951 Scott 233 3p purple 
"Madonna and Child"
Finally, to end the regular issue stamps, here is a scan of the 3p purple for the three stamp 1951 set honoring the 700th anniversary of the presentation of the scapular to St. Simon Stock.

Air Post 1928 Scott C1 6p red & violet
Scott 140 overprinted
Only one airmail stamp was issued by Malta during the classical era, and here it is. ;-)

Postage Due 1925 Scott J17 4p olive green "Maltese Cross"
In 1925, a plain typeset group of 10 postage dues was released by Malta. Although six are CV $1+=$5+, I don't have any. ;-)

Shown above are the next set of postage dues, issued in 1925 with 10 stamps. Of interest, six denominations (1/2p-2p, 3p,4p) were reissued in 1953-57 on chalky paper in slightly different colors. I suspect I have a mixture in my own collection. ;-)

War Tax 1918 Scott MR2 3p red violet & gray "Edward VII"
Two overprinted stamps were released by Malta as war tax stamps in 1918. One of them was an "Edward VII" stamp, shown above, 8 years after his reign. ;-)

Deep Blue
1922-26 "Malta" issue in Deep Blue
The Deep Blue (Steiner) album has 19 pages for Malta, and gives all the major Scott numbers a space. Quite logical layout and presentation.

1885 Scott 9 1p carmine rose "Victoria"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages, from 1860-1938,  has 69 spaces for Malta. Since there are 222 major stamp descriptions during this period, coverage is only 31%. I found 87 stamps in the catalogue during BB's period coverage that have a CV of <$1-$1+.

Why the sparse coverage?
*The 1914-21 wmk 3 and the 1922 wmk 4 "George V" key plate issues are only given one space choice, which, of course, is typical for BB. But the "Self-Government" overprinted George V stamps are given no spaces.
*The 1926 "Malta" issue with overprinted "Postage" has no spaces in BB
*The 1926-27 "Postage" inscribed Scott 131-141 are in BB, but the 1930 "Postage & Revenue" inscribed issue is not.

Of interest, the "George V" 2p gray key plate design has a descriptive space, while the next space shows a 2p gray illustration, but a slightly different design!  (See the image scan in the "Into the Deep Blue" section.) Therefore,  the Scott 52 wmk 3 stamp goes in one space, while the Scott 69 2p gray wmk 4 (different design) in the other space.

There are no stamps in BB that cross the  $10 threshold.


1/2 penny "A1" space : "Buff"-Scott 1 or 2 or 3 or 5 or 6 or 7,  or "Green"- Scott  8

19 or 28 or 29, 20,



49 or 66, 50 or 67, 51,52*,69,53 or 70,(68),



Next Page




Postage Due


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) (  ) around a space indicates a blank space choice
C) *1914-22: wmk 3 or wmk 4 choices. 
D) *52 is the 2p gray description, while the next space shows a 2p gray illustration! But this is actually O.K., as they differ in design! (See the image scan in the "Into the Deep Blue" section.) Therefore,  the Scott 52 wmk 3 stamp goes in one space, while the Scott 69 2p gray wmk 4 (different design) in the other space.
E) *1922 -The "Malta" issue with overprinted "Postage" has no space in BB
F) *1926-28- The "Postage" inscribed Scott 131-141 is in BB, while the "Postage & Revenue" inscribed 1930 issue is not in BB.
G) *1938- This the original 1938 issue. Do not confuse with the different colored 1943 issue or the "Self-Government" overprinted 1948 and 1953 issues.

1938-43 Scott 203 2sh6p rose red & black
"Statue of Neptune"
Out of the Blue
Malta is perhaps one of the more interesting British colonies with a number of pictorials and overprinted stamps. There are expensive stamps, but still enough less expensive ones to interest the general classical collector.

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.



  1. Scott always tended toward the most basic representation of a country's stamps and that meant omitting anything repetitive, high value,and sometimes overprints, it seems. Too bad as some of that is fun. But I suppose that had an album to sell and too many pages would make it more expensive to produce and so on . . . . A few blank pages would take care of the missing Malta stamps, I suppose.

    I've never been much of a fan of British Commonwealth stamps with their repetitive royal heads, but Malta's stamps happily included quite a few pictorials along with the endless parade of royals. Nice looking stamps, too.

    The many overprints are quite strange, especially since Malta apparently really really really wanted "self-government" and kept announcing it on different stamp issues. I'm not sure if this is funny or whether there was some actual development these overprints were supposed to be honoring? As for the "postage and revenue" overprints, what were the stamps issued for if not for that purpose? Or were the Maltese just making really really sure every stamp purchaser knew this? It's the oddities like this that make stamps interesting to me.

    Good writeup although I'm not quite sure the difference between the island of Malta and the Sovereign Order of Malta and how the latter also gets to issue stamps, as well? Are they used only in their headquarters like UN stamps? Isn't that really odd?

    Finally, maybe it's your photo lighting but a couple of the blue pictorials are gorgeous, especially the two cathedral stamps. But what exactly is a "co"-cathedral, I'm wondering? Maybe Malta is just a strange place with all these philatelic oddities. I hope so anyway.

    1. The Self-Government overprints reflect Malta's constitutional development.

      After the Sette Giugno riots of 1919 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sette_Giugno), Malta was granted self-government in October 1921, with Joseph Howard as the first Prime Minister. This constitution was suspended in 1933 due to the language question, that is whether Italian or English should be the official language of Malta along with Maltese. After this Malta was once more administered as a crown colony.

      After World War II, a new constitution re-introduced self-government in 1947, with Paul Boffa as Prime Minister. This lasted until 1958, when Dom Mintoff resigned as Prime Minister and George Borg Olivier declined to form a new government.

      Malta got self-government once again in 1962, with Borg Olivier as Prime Minister, and finally became independent in 1964.

      The overprinted stamps of 1922 and 1948-53 reflected the new constitutions of 1921 and 1947 respectively. There were no stamps for the 1962 constitution.

      The postage & revenue overprints reflected changes in the procedure regarding what stamps could be used for postal or fiscal needs.

      From 1899 to 1914 Malta had separate postage as well as revenue stamps. In 1914, stamps valid for both postage and revenue were introduced. In 1925 a new set of revenues was issued, and the "Melita" stamps were overprinted POSTAGE in order to prevent fiscal use. However, in 1928 the revenues were withdrawn and postage stamps once again became valid for fiscal use. This was followed by the definitives overprinted POSTAGE AND REVENUE. This lasted until the 1970s. To sum it up:

      1899-1914: separate postage and revenue issues
      1914-1925: dual purpose postage and revenue issues
      1925-1928: separate postage and revenue issues
      1928-1970s: dual purpose postage and revenue issues

    2. Thank you for the very informational reply on the reasons for the overprints, the changes in constitutional government, and changes in postage/revenue status. Just what I was looking for!

  2. The Sovereign Order of the Malta is very much still alive and well. A number of countries have an agreement with them and accept their stamps (The United States does not).


    My middle Daughter's Father-In-Law was involved with the charitable works of the Western Province for the United States, and they recently help fund a medical clinic in an under-served area in Oakland.

  3. A co-cathedral is a cathedral of a diocese that shares its function with another cathedral in the same diocese. Usually this occurs in a geographically large diocese where it is difficult for the bishop(s) to travel to the parishes.

  4. As Bud said...

    "St. John's was the conventual church of the Hospitallers (the Knights of Saint John). Conventual in the sense of the convent and over time grew to equal prominence with the archbishop's cathedral at Mdina. The name, Co-Cathedral, refers to its later, dual role. In the 1820s, the Bishop of Malta, whose seat was at Mdina, was allowed to use St John’s as an alternative see, hence the name Co-Cathedral. "