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...

Monday, February 10, 2014


1903 Scott 15 2 1/2p ultramarine & black "Symbol of the Colony"
Quick History
Montserrat, one of the five presidencies of the British Leeward Islands colony during the classical stamp era, is part of the West Indies archipelago. It is located  300 miles east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 30 miles southwest of Antigua.
Montserrat in the Caribbean Sea
Montserrat (10 miles by 7 miles) was named by Christopher Columbus in November, 1893, after the Monastery of Montserrat in (now) Spain.

The English, though, had control of the island by 1632, and Montserrat became known as "The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean": partially for its lush greenery, but more because the Irish were transported there as slaves, servants, and prisoners.
Symbol of the Colony and Coat of Arms (1909)
The Coat of Arms, formally adopted in 1909, but understood as a symbol of the colony before, shows a lady in green (Erin) with a golden harp (part of the coat of arms of Ireland) embracing a cross (Christianity). The Symbol of the Colony motif is found on Montserrat's stamps from 1903-1913.

After the initial influx of Irish labor, African slaves were imported for the plantations and production of sugar, rum, arrowroot and cotton. Later, lime trees were planted.

On March 17, 1768, an unsuccessful  slave uprising occurred.  Montserratians today celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, to commemorate that day of slave revolt, as an official public holiday.

Montserrat used their own stamps from 1876-1890; then the stamps of the Leeward islands were exclusively used. Montserrat stamps were resumed in 1903, along with the concurrent use of Leeward island stamps, until 1956.

I will say little about the other Leeward Islands and their stamp production here, because I covered that aspect in the Leeward Islands blog post.

Montserrat and the exclusion zone
The population of Montserrat was 12,000 (1942), and the Capital was Plymouth.

I say "was", because more recent climatic and geographical events have occurred.

• Hurricane Hugo struck in 1989, damaging more than 90% of the structures on the island.
• The previously dormant Soufrière Hills volcano became active in 1995, and destroyed the capital city of Plymouth. 8,000 people have left the island (primarily for the U.K.), and the population today is only 5,000. The southern half of the island is in an exclusion zone, and only the northern half is now inhabited.

Montserrat continues to be a British Overseas Territory.

1923 Scott 56 1p deep violet "King George V"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Montserrat 1876-1885, 1903-1951, 130 major stamps descriptions. Of those, 60 are CV <$1-$1+, or 46%. Most of these less expensive stamps tend to be from later issues, as one would expect for a British colony.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
100 Cents = 1 Dollar (1951)
1876 Scott 1 1p red "Queen Victoria"
Stamps of Antigua Overprinted in Black
The first stamp for Montserrat was borrowed from the 1873 Antigua 1p lake, which was then overprinted. An overprinted 6p green was also issued. Antigua, 30 miles from Montserrat, was the more populous.

Note that Scott labels the color "red" for Montserrat, but "lake" for Antigua, even though, by presumption, the same stamp. The WW classical collector needs to take the color labeling in the catalogues with a grain of salt.
1903 Scott 13 1p carmine & black
"Symbol of the Colony",wmk 2
There were some "Queen Victoria" stamps issued between 1880-84, but we will pick up the issue thread with the 1903 "Symbol of the Colony" designed stamps. This nine stamp issue introduces the colony motif, as discussed in the "Quick History" section. Lovely, no? These had the "Crown and C A" watermark.

 1904 Scott 22 1/2p green & gray green
"Symbol of the Colony", wmk 3
Between 1904-08, another "Symbol of the Colony" themed set, some nine stamps, was issued. Most are the same color as the 1903 issue, except with the "Multiple Crown and C A" watermark. Get out the watermarking tray. ;-)

By the way, there is also a high value- the 5sh carmine & black that is printed in large format with "King Edward VII", for the preceding two issues. With a CV north of $100, please send me one if you have duplicates. ;-)

1908 Scott 32 1p carmine
 "Symbol of the Colony", ordinary paper
Then, between 1908-13, some eleven stamps were printed as the preceding two issues, but in different colors. These can be found on ordinary (lower values) or chalky (higher values) paper. This issue is also wmk 3. Regarding paper, the only stamp one has to differentiate in the issue is the 3p violet/yellow, which is found in both chalky and surface-colored paper varieties.

1908 Scott 36 6p red violet & gray violet
"Symbol of the Colony", chalky paper
Above is an example of the 1908-13  issue on chalky paper.  One must admit that the typographed design is stunning when enlarged and viewed on a monitor.

1916 Scott 43 1/2p green 
"King George V", wmk 3
Between 1916-22, an eleven stamp set was released with "King George V" portrait embedded. Fortunately, Montserrat kept its individuality with the "Symbol of the Colony" image also found on the stamp. Think how more attractive the British colony stamps would be today for today's collectors if more of them did not have the generic "key plate" design!

1922 Scott 54 1/2p brown
"King George V", wmk 4
Between 1922-29, more stamps (21) were released with the dual image, this time with watermark 4 (Multiple Crown and Script C A). As some are the same colors as the wmk 3 stamps, keep the watermarking tray handy.

1932 Scott 76 1p red "New Plymouth and Harbor"
Tercentenary Issue
For the 300th anniversary of the colonization of Montserrat in 1632, a 10 stamp set with this design was released. As is typical for many British colonies, the lower denominations are affordable (<$1-$1+), while the higher denominations require wallet opening ($10+-$100+). If one is collecting classics WW, one may need to be resigned to more empty spaces in the British colonies if an eye is kept on the budget.

1942 Scott 93 1p carmine "Sea Island Cotton"
In 1938, a ten stamp "George VI" pictorial with three designs was released- all with perforation 13. Then, in 1942-43, the stamps were released again, but with perforation 14. My 1947 Scott catalogue notes the different perforations, but only assigns one major number for each denomination. But the 2011 Scott assigns the 1942-43 perforation 14 stamps, which have a lesser CV, with the major numbers, and gives minor numbers to the 1938 perforation 13 issue.

If one is collecting with BB, and want to be obsessive about specified dates, one will need to put the more expensive (($10+-$20+ for six stamps) minor numbers into the album. Me?- I'm not that obsessive. ;-)

1951 Scott 122 24c emerald & rose carmine
"Picking Tomatoes"
Deep Blue (Steiner) pages for the British Colonies cover through the George VI era, and happily have spaces for this interesting thirteen stamp 1951 pictorial set. The set has seven designs: here showing "picking tomatoes". 

War Stamp 1917 Scott MR1 1/2p green
Overprinted in Red
Montserrat had three stamps issued for war tax, and this one is the 1/2p green with the red overprint. There is also a black overprint stamp, and one that is orange & black in color- shown elsewhere in the post.

Deep Blue
1922-29 "King George V" wmk 4 issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 11 pages for Montserrat, and follows the modern Scott catalogue for all major numbers.

1942 Scott 94 1 1/2p rose violet  "Sea Island Cotton"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages, has 43 spaces for the issues of Montserrat. The country is located in the '69 between Montenegro and Mozambique.

• Only one stamp crosses the $10 threshold, and none the "Most Expensive" ($35) threshold.
• The "1938" pictorial series is interesting, because Scott now gives the perforation 14 stamps the major number. These were actually issued in 1942-43. The 1938 perforation 13 issue is given a minor number. The 1938 issue is also more expensive, with four stamps @ $10. One can, of course, put in either variety, because, if a minor number is eligible, the major number is eligible for the space also.
• One can complain a bit about the stamps not put into BB- the three 1918 War Tax stamps ( <$1) for instance. There is plenty of space to add more stamps on the second page. ;-) ( I note that a War Tax space was dropped by the '69 editors.)


5, 3 or 7 or 8,

12 or 22 or 31A, 13 or 23, 32,33,34, (35 or 41),

54,43 or 55, 44,56,58,59,60,45 or 61,
46 or 62,64,47 or 65,48 or 66,49 or 68,(57),(63),(50 or 69),




Next Page



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1885 Scott 8 2 1/2p ultramarine ($20+)
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) * 1879-85- The 2 1/2p space can be filled by the 1880 Scott 3 red brown ($200+), the 1884 Scott 7 red brown ($70+), or the 1885 Scott 8 ultramarine ($20+). Of interest, the 1876 1p red ($10+) is not given a space.
D) *1916-29: wmk 3 vs wmk 4 choices
E) 1938*- actually, the Scott major number perf 14 issue is a 1942-43 issue! The minor number 1938 Perf 13 issue is a 1938 production. Of those, four have a CV of $10. So, technically, either the major or minor variety could be put in these spaces.

War Stamp 1918 Scott MR3 1 1/2p orange & black 
Out of the Blue
The Leeward Islands stamps, proper, are all "key plate" designs, as they could be used on any of the islands. But, happily, the individual island colonies- here Montserrat- generally keep more of their own identity. That may be, at least, one of the reasons that the British West Indies stamps are popular- and more expensive.

Note: Maps, Coat of Arms image, appear to be in the public domain.



  1. Jim, I am working on the Leewards Islands cluster now. Of course checking your posts on the islands. You seem to be consistently speaking of four presidencies in the Leeward Islands, whereas I count five: Antigua, Dominica >1940, Montserrat, Saint Kitts & Nevis and the Virgin Islands. Am I double counting here?

    1. Gerben

      You are right- there are five.

      I'm not too surprised there is some confusion considering I have several posts on the Leeward islands, and the sub-set islands.

      I do have the correct number on my Leeward islands post which looks at the presidencies most directly.

      From my Leeward islands post...

      "The "British" Leeward Islands issued stamps from 1890-1956, and they could be used on any of the islands. But the group was divided into Presidencies:
      1) Antigua (along with Barbuda and Redonda)
      2) Montserrat
      3) St. Christopher (St. Kitts) with Nevis and Anguilla
      4) the British Virgin islands
      5) Dominica.(Until 1940)

      Each Presidency issued their own stamps valid within their territory.

      Islands with their own stamp issues up to 1952
      • Antigua 1862-1951 (Only Leeward island stamps were used from 1890-1903)
      • Barbuda 1922
      • Montserrat 1876-1951 (Only Leeward island stamps were used from 1890-1903)
      • St. Christopher 1870-1888 (Replaced by Leeward island stamps in 1890. For later issues, see St. Kitts-Nevis)
      • St. Kitts-Nevis 1903-1951 (Only Leeward island stamps were used from 1890-1903)
      • St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla 1952
      • Nevis 1861-1890 (Replaced by Leeward island stamps in 1890. For later issues, see St. Kitts-Nevis)
      • Virgin islands 1866-1952 (Only Leeward island stamps were issued from 1890-1903)
      • Dominica 1874-1951 (Only Leeward island stamps were issued from 1890-1903), ( Dominica became a separate colony under the governor of the Windward islands in 1940).

      Composed of a group of quarrelsome sibling islands looking out for their own interest, the Leeward Islands Federation was only partially successful. They were rivals in selling their products (The sugar trade). St. Kitts and Nevis opposed sharing government funds with bankrupt Antigua and Montserrat. Unpopular though it was, "the one governor, one set of laws" for the Leeward Islands remained from 1871 until it was dissolved in 1956."

    2. Thanks Jim. Should have read the Leeward Islands post first I guess. Alas, I am working my way towards a profile on the Leeward Islands by developing profiles for the individual islands first.....

    3. Gerben- glad you are in high gear with your country profiles.

      I changed the "four" to 'five" for the blogs with the incorrect number of presidencies. Thanks!