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...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


1924 Scott 4 10c multi/gray blue "Scepter of Indra"
Surface Tinted Paper 
Quick History
Mongolia, the least populated country by land area in the world, is well marked in world history with the rise of the 13th century Mongol Empire under the brutal Genghis Khan.

Boundary of the 13th century Mongol Empire
The area in red is where Mongolian is spoken today
The Mongolian language is spoken by about 5 million people currently, and the script is now usually written in the Cyrillic alphabet, although the traditional Mongolian script can also be found.

The Capital is Ulan Bator (formally Urga) and the population was 540,000 in ~1940.

China, during the early 20th century, considered "Outer Mongolia" to be part of its own territory. But the White Russian forces, Chinese forces, and Red Russian /Mongolian Partisan forces fought over the territory in 1921, with the Bolsheviks winning. Consequently, Mongolia's "independence" was declared on July 11,1921, albeit with heavy Russian influence and alignment.

The Mongolian People's Republic was formed in 1924. (Stamps were also introduced in 1924.)

(About the same time-1921- the Republic of Tannu Tuva in northwestern Mongolia came into existence. The territory was likewise very closely aligned with the Soviet Union. But the colorful stamp issues, first introduced in 1926- and Tuva itself- will need to await a future blog post. ;-)

Collectives for livestock was instituted in 1928, Buddhist monasteries were destroyed, and the Stalinist repressions began.

But Imperial Japan invaded adjacent Manchuria in 1931, leading to the Soviet-Japanese Border War of 1939.

After WW II, there were still simmering land disputes between China and Russia. China agreed to a referendum over Outer Mongolia, and on October 20, 1945, according to "official" figures, 100% of the populace voted for independence (severing all ties with China).

As one would expect, after China became a People's Republic, the relationship softened, and both Russia and China affirmed Mongolia's mutual recognition on October 6, 1949.

But Mongolia continued to align itself closely with the Soviet Union even after the Sino-Soviet split of the later 1950s. The Soviets still had 50,000+ troops in Mongolia in the 1980s.

Today, after perestroika and the introduction of a new constitution in 1992, a market economy, if somewhat rough, now exists.
1932 Scott 65 10m dull green "Government Building"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Mongolia 1924-1932, 57 major stamp number descriptions. Of those, 15, or 26% are CV <$1-$1+. If one increases the CV up to $11, then 29, or 51% qualify. The last set-issued in 1932, and consisting of 13 stamps- are quite available and inexpensive. But the rest- even if the CV is modest- are actually fairly scarce, according to one dealer I talked to, who specializes in Mongolia.

What that means for the classical WW collector is that stamps of Mongolia - except for the ubiquitous 1932 set- may be difficult to find.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Cents = 1 Dollar
100 Mung = 1 Tugrik (1926)
1924 Scott 4 10c multi/gray blue "Scepter of Indra"
Surface Tinted Paper 
I love this stamp. Exotic design (Scepter of Indra), multi-colors (light blue, blue, red). The script is Mongolian and Latin (English).

The Scepter (vajra) was given to the guardian who stood at the entrance of Buddhist temples, and used it to drive away evil spirits. It represents both a thunderbolt (irresistible force) and a diamond (indestructibility).

Indra was the leader of the Devas or Gods.

This stamp is part of the initial 1924 issue, which consisted of seven stamps, each differing in design somewhat, and in size. CV is a robust $5-$30+.

1926-29 Scott 32 5m lilac & black 
"Yin Yang and Other Symbols"
Mongolian and Latin script is on this stamp, which is part of a 1926-29 twelve stamp issue. The stamps are found with Type I/II design variations (consult Scott), and in different sizes. The CV for ten of these stamps is <$1-$8+. They appear to be less common than their CV would indicate.

1932 Scott 64 5m indigo"Mongol at lathe"
The rest of the stamp illustrations will be from the 1932 set. Again, Mongolian and Latin script is found. The stamps in the set are inexpensive ( CV <$1-$1+ for 11 stamps), and are ubiquitous in collections.  The stamp subjects reflect the outlook of the revolutionary People's Republic, closely aligned in attitude with Soviet Russia.

Here is a depiction of the people self-industrializing. 

1932 Scott 66 15m deep brown "Young Mongolian Revolutionary"
The Cyrillic script on the flag reflects the heavy Russian influence on the development of the People's Republic.  
1932 Scott 67 20m rose red 
"Studying Latin Alphabet"
This is an interesting scene indeed. Here a group is studying the Latin alphabet, which is placed on the side of a wall.
1932 Scott 69 40m gray black "Sukhe Bator"
Damdin Sükhbaatar (Suke Bator) was the leader of the Mongolian Partisan Army during the Mongolian Revolution of 1921, and a founding member of the Mongolian People's Party. He is considered the "Father of Mongolia's Revolution". He died without good explanation at age 30 in 1923. Popular rumor is that he had been poisoned.
1932 Scott 71 1t dull green "Lake and Mountains"
The higher denominations show the a quite dramatic "Lake and Mountains" scene. In reality, though,  most of Mongolia consists of steppes. CV for the three highest denominations is $1+-$10+.

Wmk 170- "Greek Border and Rosettes"
Where was the 1932 set, with the revolutionary themes, printed? A big clue is the paper watermark- "Greek Border and Rosettes". This watermark is also found on Russian stamps of the era.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has four pages for Mongolia 1924-32, and provides a space for all major Scott numbers.
1932 Scott 68 25m dull violet "Mongolian Soldier"
Big Blue
Mongolia in the '69 is found after Martinique, and is on one page with 21 spaces. Coverage is 37%.

There are five stamps with CV $10-$20 in BB.

Although 1929 Scott 34-37  is only CV <$1-$1+, I haven't been able to find any: if you find some, snap them up. ;-)

The complete 1932 thirteen stamp set is found in BB. Some of these stamps appear in every international album I've examined, so they are widely distributed.





A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1924 Scott 1 1c multi/bister ($10)
1924 Scott 4 10c multi/gray blue ($10+)
1929 Scott 44A 5m lilac & black ($20)
1932 Scott 73 5t brown ($10)
1932 Scott 74 10t ultramarine ($10+)

1932 Scott 70 50m dull blue 
"Monument to Sukhe Bator"
Out of the Blue
Fascinating. I especially like the earlier Mongolia. Now, if I could just find them. ;-)

Note: Maps, Ger pic appear to be in the public domain.


The traditional Ger (Russian: Yurt)


  1. Lovely stuff (as usual)... Mongolia was one of my first 'deep attractions' with stamps, and it's always interesting to see what others have in their collections.

  2. Thanks Keijo

    If I could, I would pick up more Mongolia as I do find the designs very attractive.

  3. I wonder whether Mongolia issued any stamp during 1921-22, when it was ruled by the mad Baron Von Ungern-Sternberg. He had an extensive correspondance with China and other European countries. I don't know if he used ex-Chinese stamps (but Mongolia became independent from China that year so I don't think they were valid for postage) or specially newly printed ones for the change of regime. For sure he issued banknotes, so he might have issued stamps too.

  4. Thanks for bringing up that bit of Mongolian history. Scott only lists Mongolian stamps from 1924, so I am not aware of any produced issues during that interesting historical time.