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, February 8, 2015

Portuguese Congo

1915 Scott 137 50r blue
Provisional Issue of 1902 overprinted
Quick History
The Portuguese Congo (now the Enclave of Cabinda and the northernmost province of Angola) was a strip of  land on the west coast of Africa separated by 40 miles (60 kilometers) from Angola and the Congo River.

Present day Angola and the Cabinda Province ( formerly Portuguese Congo)
Cabinda (the settlement) originally served as a harbor and port for Portuguese slave trade.

Portugal proclaimed sovereignty over the territory in 1885, and it was given the status as a protectorate of the Portuguese crown.

Stamps were first issued in 1894.

1922 Map with Angola, Belgian Congo (Congo Free State), French Congo,
and Enclave of Cabinda (Portuguese Congo)
At one time the Portuguese Congo territory had the Congo River as the boundary with Angola, but the 1885 Conference of Berlin gave the northern bank to the Congo Free State.

Although cut off physically from Angola, administratively, the protectorate was joined to that colony by the 1920s.

Stamp production for Portuguese Congo continued until 1918, when the stamps of Angola were then used.

Although the enclave is still part of Angola today, because of the reality of being physically separated from Angola proper, as well as the distinct history, the Enclave of Cabinda has had a number of recent separatist movements.

1911 Scott 73 500r black & red/blue
Issue of 1898-1903 Overprinted
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Portuguese Congo 1894-1918, 137 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 84 are CV <$1-$1+, or 61%. Raising the bar to CV $3+, yields 33 more stamps for a total of 85%. Clearly, a representative collection should not be too difficult to acquire, cost wise, for the classical era collector. Of interest, unused is a bit more expensive than used for issues, except for the "Ceres" stamps, where used is more expensive.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
1000 Reis = 1 Milreis
100 Centavos = 1 Escudo (1913)
1898 Scott 16 15r brown "King Carlos"
A 12 stamp "King Carlos" set was issued in 1894, and has the portrait visage of the stamp shown below. CV ranges from <$1-$3+ for eight stamps.

The next 23 stamp issue, shown above, was another "King Carlos" portrait, and released between 1898-1903. CV is <$1-$2+ for 15 stamps.

Note the obvious "CTO" - like cancellation. Considering the obscurity of the protectorate, and, no doubt, the low literate population of inhabitants, a "real" postally used cancellation for this issue would be less common.

Both "King Carlos" stamp sets should be quite familiar in appearance, as they are also found for most other Portuguese colonies.

1902 Scott 44 130r on 100r brown/yellow "King Carlos"
Surcharged in Black, On Issue of 1894
A surcharged 12 stamp issue on the 1894 set was produced in 1902. CV is $2+-$4+ for the group..

1902 Scott 50 25r sea green 
Overprinted in Black
Also,  four stamps of the 1898 issue were overprinted as shown in 1902. Most other colonies have the same overprint issue. The sameness to stamp issues for many Portuguese colonies makes them, perhaps, less exciting to collect for some WW classical era enthusiasts. 

1911 Scott 58 25r on 200r red violet/pinkish
Angola stamps of 1898-1903 overprinted or surcharged
But this issue is unique! In 1911, a six stamp issue (including a 2 1/2r gray with either a thick bar or thin bar) was produced by surcharging and overprinting Angola stamps of 1898-1903. Interesting! CV is <$1-$2.

1911 Scott 62 10r light green
Issue of 1898-1903 overprinted
The "usual" 1911 "Republica" overprinted issue found for Portuguese colonies is also found here on 15 stamps. CV is a very modest <$1-$2+.

1913 Scott 77 1c on 2a red violet
Vasco da Gama Issue Surcharged
On stamps of Macao
The 1913 "common issue" Vasco da Gama set is also found here. The stamps were overprinted and surcharged on the stamps of Macao (8 stamps), Portuguese Africa (8 stamps), and Timor (8 stamps).

1913 Scott 84 1/2c on 5r red
Vasco da Gama Issue surcharged
On stamps of Portuguese Africa
The CV ranges from $1+-$2+ for surcharged Macao, <$1-$1+ for surcharged Portuguese Africa, and $1+-$2+ for surcharged Timor. "Used" stamps have the same valuation as "Unused" stamps in the Scott catalogue. I suspect "real" postally used stamps from these sets are not common, though.

1914 Scott 110 20c yellow green "Ceres"
A 16 stamp set of the "Ceres" motif was released in 1914. By contrast, Angola has 40 "Ceres" stamps in the catalogue.

Update: DJCMH contributed a comment that needs to be added here (Thanks DJCMH!). The Afinsa specialized catalogue for the Portuguese colonies states that the "short named" Portuguese colonies ( Congo, Guinea, India, Macao, Tete, Timor) have stars placed on either side of the colony name for the Ceres issue. But the star can be oriented up (type 1), down (type 2), 45 degrees to the right (type 3), or 45 degrees to the left (type 4). And each star (the left one and the right one) can have their own orientation! Who knew? (I didn't ;-) For instance, the 20c yellow green shown above is Type II-II. !

I will need to re-check my Ceres issues for these short named Portuguese colonies with the stars on either side of their Ceres issues, and re-check my feeder albums also. !!

As DJCMH points out, this is a good argument for the WW classical era collector to pick up specialty catalogues for reference.

1914-18 Scott 126 50r on 65r dull blue, Red Local overprint
Issue of 1905 Surcharged
Between 1914-18, ten stamps that had a "local" overprint of "Republica" were issued. One of the overprints was placed on a previously surcharged 1905 issue, and that is shown here.

1915 Scott 135 115r on 2 1/2r brown
Provisional Issues of 1902 Overprinted
The surcharged and "Provisorio"  issues of 1902 were also overprinted "Republica" in 1915 on nine stamps, but these overprints are from Lisbon. Shown above is an example on a newspaper stamp, but another example is shown heading the "Out of the Blue" section.

As mentioned, "Portuguese Congo" was subsequently absorbed into Angola, and Angola stamps were then used for the former protectorate.

Deep Blue
1914 Ceres Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 10 pages for Portuguese Congo, and includes spaces for all the major Scott numbers.

1913 Scott 88 7 1/2c on 75r violet Brown
Vasco da Gama Issue surcharged
On stamps of Portuguese Africa
Big Blue
On one page (except for one line for "Portuguese Africa"), Big Blue '69 has 35 spaces for Portuguese Congo. Coverage is 26%. 

The page is located just before the "Portugal" section.

It appears the 40s editions have the same coverage. That page is located after the "Portugal" section.

* No "Expensive" (CV $10+) stamps in BB.
*There is no coverage for...
- The 1902 surcharged issue (The CV is $1+-$3+ for 12 stamps)
- The 1913 Vasco da Gama issue (CV <$1-$1+ for 20 stamps)
- The 1914-18 "Local" overprinted issue (CV <$1-$1+ for 7 stamps)
- The 1915 "Provisional issue of 1902 Overprinted" lacks spaces for six stamps with CV <$1.







1914 (-1920*) Ceres
99 or 115*,100,101,102,103 or 116*,104,105,106,


Newspaper Stamp

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1914 (-1920) Ceres - The Ceres issue was parsed by Scott in 2015? into chalky (1914 Scott 99-114) and ordinary (1920 Scott 115-116) paper. I added the ordinary paper 1920 Scott 115* 1/2c olive brown and 1920 Scott 116* 2c carmine as choices, as they are now in my 2017 catalogue.

1915 Scott 130 130r on 75r rose
Provisional Issue of 1902 overprinted
Out of the Blue
I suspect I would never have known about the Enclave of Cabinda if they had not issued stamps. And the 1911 surcharged Angolan stamps for the Portuguese Congo are interesting and inexpensive.

As for the rest of the generic Portuguese colony issues for the Portuguese Congo.......Meh!

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Hi Jim! I just got a copy of the Afinsa 2001 specialized catalog for the Portuguese Colonies and discovered some very neat info regarding the Ceres issue for several of the Portuguese colonies. Those colonies with short names that had stars placed on either side of their name at the bottom of the stamps (Port Congo, Port Guinea, Port India, Macao, Tete and Timor) have varieties based on the relative orientation of the stars.

    Afinsa lists 4 types of star orientation, top point right side up is type I, upside down is type 2, top rotated 45-degrees to the right is type III and top rotated 45-degrees to the left is type IV. Stamps can have stars of different orientations on each side to boot. So for example the 20c Ceres you depict here is listed in Afinsa as # 110II-II (since both stars are upside down). But if the stars were right side up (making it # 110I-I in Afinsa) the stamp would have a CV 8x that of the type II-II.

    Fascinating stuff that shows why sometimes its not a bad idea for general collectors to consider investing in specialized catalogs. Ceres issues are a dime a dozen, but if you know what to look for you can snag a rare variety for just pennies.


  2. And your 1/4 c shade (released in 1920 acc to Afinsa) is a variety. The normal stamp is 99I-I with a hinged CV of Euro 0.90, but you have a 99III-IV by the looks of it and that cataloged in 2011 Afinsa at Euro 5.00. DJCMH

  3. DJCMH- great stuff! I had no idea, but now that you "pointed it out", (so to speak ;-) , I see it!

    Except for the 1/4c shade, it appears my other Ceres stars are either pointing up (type 1) or pointing down (type 2).

    I will need to check the other short named colonies for Ceres star variations, as well as re-check my feeder albums. Thanks for the information!

    I will add an update to the post, "pointing out" your findings based on the Afinsa catalogue.

    BTW, where is a good place to obtain one of these catalogues? And, while we are at it, which French catalogues do you recommend for the WW classical era collector?


  4. See www.collectura.com this is a dealer in The Hague, Netherlands who has a great selection of specialized catalogs from around the world. And he has the Colonias 2011 on sale now (it wasn't as cheap when i bought it last month...go figure!). Bonus the dealer ships parcels using nice collectible Dutch sheetlets for postage.

    As for the French area, I really love my Maury catalogs. They are very detailed, but the wealth of information they provide can repay itself with just a lucky find or two from a dealer unaware of the specialized information. (as someone we know online says, Knowledge is Power :) ) The only bad thing is that like Yvert the Maury catalogs split the colonial empire into different geographical regions, so for Maury you need 4 catalogs - Afrique, Europe et Asie, DOM-TOM and Principautes et Terres Polaires - to cover the entire empire. Amazon.fr is actually a good source for these catalogs and the shipping charges are much cheaper than from dealers direct. Oh and Maury's -Timbres de France- is an absolute gem as well. DJCMH

  5. Can't post an image here but here is a direct link to a scan of the Congo Ceres issue page to give you an idea of the detail Afinsa gives.



  6. Two more great tips!

    The website- www.collectura.com - looks very good indeed, and I located the Afinsa catalogue for the Portuguese colonies.

    I have the Maury's Timbres de France , and I love it!

  7. Fascinating stuff that shows why sometimes its not a bad idea for general collectors to consider investing in specialized catalogs.

    True... The only downside is that often times it is hard to know in advance what resource / catalog is a good buy, and what is not. It's somewhat ludicrous how hard it is to find proper reviews on some specialized literature; especially when considering the costs involved. That is one of the reasons why I do make/publish reviews in my blog from time to time.