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 by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Trains on Classic Era Stamps

New Brunswick 1860 Scott 6 1c red lilac "Locomotive"
The first image of a train on a stamp
Into the Deep Blue
One of the joys of collecting stamps is there are so many different ways one can go about it. Many collectors find a thematic approach a great way to focus a collection.

Although my general interests are broad- namely WW 1840-1940, what would happen if I looked at the collection through the prism of a thematic subject?
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
One of my favorite movies was the 1987 comedy with Steve Martin and John Candy called "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles".

How about if I took those themes and looked at the first 100 years of philately?

But I will need to pick one theme for closer focus.

And the choice was easy.

What did I long for, while poring over the tattered pages of the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogues as a child?

A train set.

(And no, I never  received one, and then my interests moved on.)

Shall we see what the classical era of stamp issues offer us for "trains"?

(And the classical era is defined for the purposes of this post as 1840-1940 WW and 1840-1952 British Commonwealth.)

Stanley Gibbons Thematic Catalogue
Now this post is not a serious attempt at exhaustively exploring the theme of "Trains on Stamps", but a whimsical snapshot of "train and railroad" images found in my collection for the classical era.

But if one gets seriously hooked with "Trains on Stamps", there is plenty of information published or on the internet.  I'm not going to list resources here, because a brief search should get you started quickly.

U.S. 1869 Scott 114 3c ultramarine "Locomotive"
Let's  begin with the United States, and the little steam locomotive has been chugging on this stamp since 1869. This was part of the first pictorial issue of the United States, and is considered by many to still be one the most beautifully engraved issues.

The locomotive is a classic 4-4-0* of the period, and probably a wood burner because of the flared shape of the smokestack.

( 4-4-0*- Steam locomotives used the Whyte system for wheel arrangement in North America, and consists of three digits: The number of wheels before the driving wheels, the driving wheels, and the trailing wheels, if any.)

The 3c rate was the "workhorse" of the 1869 issue, as it paid the domestic 1/2 oz rate.

Although it was not specifically stated, the 3c locomotive design was probably selected because of the completion of the trans-continental railroad in 1869.

 The 1869 issue is beloved today, but it was not popular at the time (small size? radical change in subject?).

There was a special reprint of the 3c in 1875 (Scott 125) for the Centennial International Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia. Only 1,406 of them became ultimately available, and CV is now $3,150.

U.S. 1901 Scott 295 2c carmine & black "Empire State Express"
The Pan-American Exposition Issue (in Buffalo, NY) of May 1, 1901 is, for some collectors, the most beautiful of all U.S. issues because of the classic bi-color engraved designs.

The 2c carmine & black shows a 4-4-0 locomotive and passenger cars. It is the "Empire State Express" of the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad.

Did the train actually exist?

The photograph by A.F. Yates of No. 938
Yes, and here is the photograph on which the stamp image was based! The information was published first in "Stamps" of May 22, 1937 by Allan M. Thatcher. The photograph resides in the Smithsonian Institute.

The No. 938 was a standard locomotive of class 870 built by Schenectady Locomotive Works beginning in 1891. The No. 938 was built in 1898.

U.S. 1913 Scott Q5 5c carmine rose "Mail Train"
In 1913, there was a 12 denomination series, all in carmine rose, issued that was intended exclusively for parcel post. And the regulations at the time specified that only these parcel post stamps could be applied to parcel post mail!

The same color for all of the denominations, the size (often too large for the parcel tag), the awkward sheet number (45!), and the restrictive regulations themselves made this issue highly unpopular with postal clerks, and the official usage period was only six months. Then, any stamp could be used for parcel post.

The 5c carmine rose shows a moving "mail train" approaching a suspended mail bag. The design was based on a photograph of a still train at Union Station, Washington, D.C. The train appears to be a 0-8-0 of the period, but I found no information that the train has ever been identified.

U.S. 1913 Scott Q9 25c carmine rose "Manufacturing"
The 25c carmine rose is labeled "manufacturing", and is based on a photograph of a steel plant in South Chicago. There is a rail car in the foreground.

Although the Parcel Post stamps themselves were unpopular among the postal clerks, the concept of introducing parcel post service in 1913 was an important one: for now, the post office raised their weight limit from 4 pounds to ultimately 50 lbs, and there was little restriction on what could be mailed.

Canada 1929 Scott 157 20c dark carmine "Harvesting Wheat"
Canada is surprisingly not a major contributor to trains on stamps for the classical era. In fact, most of the British Commonwealth, with their tendency for having monarchs on the stamps, provide little or no train designs during the classical era.

Canada does have a few train images if one looks carefully.. The focus of this 1929 stamp is the wheat harvest. But in the background, the transcontinental is going by.

Canada 1951 Scott 311 4c dark gray 
"Trains of 1851 and 1951"
Canada also has this design, recalling the steam trains from 1851, and the "modern" trains of 1951. The occasion was the Centenary of the British North American postal administration.

Canada Special Delivery 1927 Scott E3 20c orange
"Five Stages of Mail Transportation"
The Canada 1927 Special Delivery stamp show various "stages" of mail transportation. Dog sleds are included, but I don't see a motor vehicle. ;-)

Newfoundland  1928 Scott 149 5c slate green "Express Train"
Newfoundland has, from the 1928 fifteen stamp issue, an image of an express train crossing Newfoundland. This stamp was re-engraved for the 1929 issue.

A steam locomotive is hauling a coal car and four passenger coaches.

Newfoundland Railway- Main and Branch lines
The Newfoundland Railway operated from 1898 to 1988. The gauge was a narrow 3'6", and the main line was 548 miles.

Newfoundland 1932 Scott 210 24c light blue
"Loading Iron Ore at Bell Island"
A 1932 Newfoundland issue stamp shows the iron ore docks at Bell Island. As I grew up on the shores of Lake Superior close to the Mesabi Iron Range, the scene is familiar indeed!

Bell Island Pier, Circa 1900
The iron ore was delivered via train. The 1932 stamp does not directly show a train, but the association is so strong in my mind, that I had to exhibit the stamp. ;-)

New Brunswick 1860 Scott 6 1c red lilac "Locomotive"
The earliest representation of a locomotive on stamps that I have is from New Brunswick 1860 - engraved, from the American bank Note Company. The depiction is said to be Engine No. 9 of the European and North American railway.

In fact this stamp is considered to be the first depiction of a train on a stamp.

Engine No. 9
Here is a pic of Engine No. 9.

Map of the European and North American Railway
The illustration shows an 1850 map of the European and North American Railway. The railroad clearly goes through New Brunswick. The map is found at the U.S. Library of Congress website.

Argentina 1921 Scott 286 3c violet "Allegory, Pan-America"
In Argentina, for the 1st Pan-American Postal Congress in 1921 in Buenos Aires, six stamps were issued with this allegorical design. Note the train on the right.

Austria 1937 Scott 385-387
Centenary of Austrian Railways
For the centenary of railways,, Austria in 1937 issued a three stamp set depicting the first locomotive "Austria", a modern steam locomotive, and a modern electric train.

A general comment: I noted an increase in train and railroad themed stamps for many countries during the 1930s, celebrating a centenary of railroads.

Belgium 1895 Scott Q20 50c carmine 
The 1882-1997 Belgium Parcel Post and Railway stamps all have this stylized design of an engine. "Chemins de Fer" is a French phrase for "Railroad". "Spoorwegen" is the similar Flemish one.

Belgium 1916 Scott Q75 1.10fr ultramarine
The Belgium 1916 lithographed "railway" issue of 20 stamps have a "winged wheel" and the train  design. Of interest the 1.10 franken denomination script here is then found as "1.10 frank" for the 1920 issue stamp.

These are known as the Le Havre issue, as they were printed by Waterlow & Sons for the Belgium government in exile in Le Havre, France.

Belgium 1920 Scott Q94 1fr gray
The Belgium 1920 "winged wheel" and "train" issue of 21 stamps changed the design. Note the thick bar and solid circle below "FR".

Belgium 1920 Scott Q125 3fr deep rose
The 1920-21 issue of 29 stamps has two bars under the "FR".

Belgium 1934 Scott Q182 4fr red violet "Modern Locomotive"
The 1934 three stamp set is printed by photogravure.

Belgium 1935 Scott Q184 10c rose carmine
"Modern Railroad Train"
The Belgium 1935 engraved 24 stamp issue consists of two "train" designs: Here the "Modern" train is shown.
Belgium 1935 Scott Q203 20fr green
"Old Railroad Train"
The other design shows an old train. The issue was in commemoration of the Centenary of the Belgium State Railway.

Brazil 1924 Scott 273 10r red violet "Railroad"
Brazil had, between 1920-24, four typographed stamps from four different issues ( 1 unwmked, 3 kinds of wmk) illustrate a train, and scripted "viacao" for "railroad"

This is the only classic era stamp with a "train" theme for Brazil.

Bulgaria 1939 Scott 346 1 l yellow green "Early Locomotive"
For the 50th anniversary of the Bulgarian State Railways, a four stamp issue was produced in 1939. The printing was through photogravure.

Bulgaria 1939 Scott 347 2 l copper brown "Modern Locomotive"
Combing through the 1840-1940 Scott catalogue, it is apparent that there was an increase during the 1930s of "train" issues, because of anniversary commemorations.

Bulgaria 1939 Scott 348 4 l red orange "Train Crossing Bridge"
Here, a viaduct supports a railroad with the stamp image showing a train crossing. There are a number of stamps in the classical era where a viaduct or bridge is illustrated, but it is not always clear if the viaduct or bridge is for a road or a railroad.

China 1913 Scott 205 3c blue green "Junk"
The famous and iconic "Junk" issues of China have a surprise for those that carefully look at the stamp: A train in the background!

China 1923 Scott 256 7c violet
The three major issues (1913- London Printing, 1915- Peking printing, 1923 re-engraved) all show the train, but with subtle differences.

Costa Rica 1929 Scott 150 13c on 40c deep green
Telegraph stamp surcharged for postage
In 1929, Costa Rica had a group of telegraph stamps surcharged for postage. And so, another train enters the scene. ;-)

Czechoslovakia 1938 Scott 249 50h deep green
"View of Pilsen"
Scenes of "industry" on stamps need to scrutinized for railroad tracks or trains. Here, this 1938 engraved Czechoslovakian stamp has such.

Ecuador 1908 Scott 174 1c red brown "Locomotive"
Ecuador has this 1908 engraved specimen printed by Waterlow & Sons. The issue was for the opening of the Guayaquil- Quito Railway.

Building this quite spectacular narrow gauge railroad in 1908 took 4,000 lives, including 2,700 Jamaican laborers. The 282 mile line climbs to 11,480 feet.

By 2008, only 10% of the Ecuadorian railway network was operational because of El Nino 1980s-1990s rains and floods destroyed the tracks.

But the Guayaquil-Quito route has been recently restored, and the four day, three night luxurious journey using a restored old steam locomotive, colored cherry red, can now be booked for $1,200. :-)

Ecuador 1930 Scott 309 16c red & yellow green "Landscape"
For the centenary of the founding of the republic in Ecuador, an attractive bi-color thirteen stamp issue was produced.  The 16c red & yellow green, with the pictorial theme "Landscape", suggests that Ecuador is the place for tourists. A close look will reveal a train in the landscape.

Ecuador 1936 Scott 346 1c rose red
Tobacco stamp overprinted in black
Note the train on the left for this Ecuador tobacco stamp that is overprinted for postal use.

Egypt 1933 Scott 168 5m brown & gray "Locomotive of 1852"
For the 1933 International Railroad Congress held in Heliopolis, a four stamp set was produced by Egypt showing various trains. 

France 1937 Scott 327 30c dark green "Electric Train"
For the 13th International Railroad Congress held in France in 1937, a two stamp engraved issue was released. This illustration depicts an electric train.

France 1937 Scott 328 1.50fr dark ultramarine
"Streamlined Locomotive"
An art deco design is apparent for this "modern' streamlined locomotive.

French Equatorial Africa 1937 Scott 33 1c brown & yellow
"Logging on Loeme River"
For this 1937 French Equatorial Africa stamp, the subject is "logging". But a careful look will reveal a train crossing over the viaduct.

Germany 1935 Scott 459 6pf dark green
"The Eagle"
For the Centenary of Railroad in Germany, there was a four stamp issue released in 1935.

The "Eagle" ("Alder" in German) was built by Robert Stephenson in Newcastle, England in 1835, and delivered to the Bavarian Ludwig Railway for service between Nuremberg and Furth.

"Adler" photograph 1850s
This steam locomotive had a wheel arrangement of Whyte 2-2-2.

Germany 1935 Scott 460 12pf copper red
"Modern Express Train"
European travel by train is still a viable possibility for many- contrast that with U.S. ;-)

Germany 1935 Scott 461 25pf ultramarine 
"The Hamburg Flyer"
The Fliegender Hamburger was the world's fastest between stations at the time (77 mph), and the diesel powered train carried passengers between Berlin and Hamburg beginning in 1933.

Germany 1935 Scott 462 40pf red violet
"Streamlined Locomotive"
The four set issue has a CV of  <$1-$1+.

Gold Coast 1948 Scott 135 3p blue "Manganese Mine"
The Gold Coast has a depiction of tracks and a train at a manganese mind for their 12 stamp 1948 issue.

Guatemala 1921 Scott 174 15c black &  vermilion
"La Penitenciaria Bridge"
Guatemala has a 1921 issue stamp showing a train crossing a bridge.

I've encountered this stamp before. From my Guatemala blog post...

For some reason, I was quite fascinated with this stamp and the meaning behind the design. I imagined this depicted the Penitentiary, which no doubt is isolated. Then there is an elevated railroad bridge with a train that is entering the Penitentiary. The train may be the only way in or out of this enclosure. Is it bringing supplies or prisoners? What are the life stories of those incarcerated?

A little internet research yielded some of the answers...

"This bridge was built in 1894, during General Jose Maria Reyna Barrios' term of office, for the Southern railway. Its name comes from its location, next to the prison, or penitenciaria"

Perhaps I shouldn't have such an active imagination. ;-)

Honduras 1898 Scott 103 1c brown "Railroad Train" 
For Honduras, an 1898 set of eight stamps shows a "Railroad Train". The Scott has a note about "excellent counterfeits" existing.

India 1937 Scott 158 4a dark brown "Mail Train"
During the British Commonwealth era, as mentioned, stamps favored mostly monarch portraits. But this 1937 India stamp does depict a mail train.

Iran Scott 1935 Scott 793 1r red brown & purple
"Railway Bridge over Karun River"
For the 10th anniversary of the reign of Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran in 1935, a nine stamp pictorial issue was released showing infrastructure advancements.

By 1939, the Trans-Iranian Railway from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf was opened. It crossed the 7,000 foot pass between Tehran and the Caspian Sea. The railway had more than 3000 bridges and 126 tunnels through the Zagros Mountains. 

Italy Scott 1939 410 20c rose red
"Wood Burning Engine and Streamlined Electrical Engine"
For the Centenary of Italian railroads in 1939, a three stamp set was printed on photogravure.

Manchukuo 1939 Scott 130 2f deep orange, black & deep blue
"Network of State Railroads in Manchukuo"
The Japanese puppet state of Manchkuo (Manchuria) illustrated the extensive rail road map of the country on a 1939 issue.

Manchukuo 1939 Scott 131 4f deep blue & indigo
"Express Train Asia"
The two stamp issue was in commemoration of having attained 10,000 km of railway mileage in Manchuria.

Manchukuo 1937 Scott C4 30f deep blue
"Railroad Bridge"
A 1937 air post stamp of Manchukuo highlights a railroad bridge.

Middle Congo 1933 Scott 67 4c olive green
"Viaduct at Mindouli"
For this Middle Congo 1933 stamp, the viaduct appears to be for railroad transport. A close look at a collection to pick out "train" or "railroad" themes is sometimes necessary.

Mozambique Colony 1918 Scott 130 15c carmine & black
"Scene on Beira R.R."
There is a wonderful bi-color engraved 37 stamp issue produced between 1918-31 for Mozambique Company. Two of the stamp denominations show a train on the Beira railway

The port of Beira was linked to Salisbury (now Harare) in Rhodesia (now Zimbawe) in 1899.

Mozambique Company 1935 Scott 164 1e dark blue & black
"Zambezi Railroad Bridge"
Mozambique Company, for 1935, has this stamp image of a railroad bridge crossing the Zambezi River.

Dona Ana Bridge 
This appears to be the Dona Ana Railway Bridge on the lower Zambezi River which was constructed in 1934 by the Portuguese. It linked the Moatize coal fields and Nyasaland (now Malawi) with the port of Beira. At the time of construction, it was the longest railway bridge ( 2.3 miles) in Africa.

Nicaragua 1890 Scott 28 5p lake
"Locomotive and Telegraph Key"
A ten stamp set with this design was produced for Nicaragua by the infamous Nicholas Seebeck in 1890. All of the stamps in the set can be found unused even today at minimum catalogue value.

I'm not complaining though- a very nice design. ;-)

Nicaragua 1937 Scott 670 7 1/2c red orange "Train"
A 1937 six stamp issue for the 75th anniversary of the postal service in Nicaragua includes this train themed design.

Nicaragua 1932 Scott C68 20c blue green
"El Nacascola"
In Nicaragua, the opening of the Rivas Railroad between San Jorge to San Juan del Sur on December 18, 1932 was the reason for this five stamp lithographic issue on soft porous paper. These air post  stamps were printed in sheets of 4, without gum. The stamps are poorly rendered in my view.

Nicaragua 1932 Scott C72 15c purple
"Bridge at Santa Lucia"
Another 1932 air post five stamp lithographic issue for the opening of the  Leon-Sauce Railroad was done likewise. Only sold for one day. (But reprints were produced also.) These issues are clearly intended for collectors and their wallets.

Nicaragua Zelaya Province 1912 Scott 1L119 
35c brown & black "Locomative"
The Province of Zelaya is along the eastern Atlantic coast. The capital was Bluefields.

Special stamp issues were required, as Zelaya (and Cabo Gracias a Dios) used silver money, while the rest of Nicaragua used paper money.

The 1912 engraved fifteen stamp issue had this illustration.

Nigeria 1942 Scott 64 5sh orange & black "Niger at Jebba"
A railway bridge crossing the Niger river at Jebba is depicted on this 1942 Nigeria stamp.

Peru 1871 Scott 19 5c scarlet "Locomotive and Arms"
This embossed  1871 imperforate (known as the "Trencito") is considered one of the very first commemorative stamps produced. The occasion was the 20th anniversary of the completion of a railroad line between Lima and Callao, the first railroad  in South America.

Peru Scott 1936 C13 35c gray black 
"La Callao, First Locomotive in South America"
For the centennial of the founding of the Province of Callao, this single air post stamp was issued in 1936.

I couldn't find anything about the locomotive specifically, but no doubt it used the first railway in Peru, the Callao-Lima 8 mile long standard gauge railway, opened on May 17, 1851.

Contrary to the claim on the stamp, this was not the first railroad in South America: British Guiana had one in 1848.

Russia 1922 Scott B36 (20r + 5r) gray blue "Railroad Train"
This is a Russian 1922 semipostal imperforate that Scott states is inscribed " For the Hungry".  !!

Russia 1932 Scott E3 80k dull green  "Locomotive"
The 1932 three stamp special delivery issue has a "locomotive" on the 80k denomination. This issue is printed with photogravure.

El Salvador 1896 Scott 157D 3c yellow brown "Locomotive"
El Salvador also had Seebeck inspired issues between 1890-1899.  The 1896 twelve stamp issue, either found with a "Liberty cap" watermark, or unwatermarked, has a "locomotive' design for the 3c denomination. Very nice.

South West Africa 1937 Scott 110 1 1/2p violet brown, pair
"Mail Transport"
The rather lovely 1937 thirteen stamp pictorial issue for South West Africa has an image of an airplane, a ship, and, yes, a train under the subject of "mail transport".

Southern Rhodesia 1937 Scott 39 2p brown & green
"Queen Elizabeth, George VI"
For the coronation of George VI and Elizabeth, Southern Rhodesia issued a four stamp set. It depicts Victoria Falls with a train in the foreground!

Sweden 1936 Scott 258 40p olive green "Mail Train"
Another mail train is depicted on this 1936 engraved Swedish 40p stamp, part of a fifteen stamp issue in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Swedish Postal Service.

Turkey 1939 Scott 830 6k chestnut "Locomotive"
For Turkey, the completion of the railway link from Silvas to Erzurum of the Ankara-Erzurum Railroad was celebrated with a four stamp 1939 issue.

Uruguay 1899 Scott 114 5c greenish blue "Locomotive"
Finally, the 1895-99 22 stamp engraved issue has a "locomotive" design for the 5c denomination.

This particular Scott number-114- is described as "greenish blue" in color. I note the old 1947 catalogue also listed a 114a "blue" variation, and the stamp illustrated here might fit that color description better.

Nicaragua Zelaya Province 1932 Issue
Out of the Blue
I hope this brief foray into "trains" and "railways" for the classical era has given birth to your own ideas about the possibilities of thematic collecting.

Note and acknowledgements:
For information on U.S. train stamps, I used the Trains on U.S. Stamps website.

Although I found most of the stamp images by leafing through the Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue, other ones were "discovered" by reading the "Trains on Stamps" thread on Stamp Community Family Forum.

The Stanley Gibbons "Collect Railways on Stamps" catalogue scan pic is courtesy of Rodney Allen. Thanks Rod!

Other Pics and maps illustrated on this blog post appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Thanks NBstamps

    I enjoy your posts about North Borneo as well.

  2. Jim,
    You must really love trains! I think this is one of your longest posts :>)

    Nice job!

  3. Chris- I do!

    Also, the "train" post is derived from a talk/slide show I gave to our local stamp club. ;-)

  4. Replies
    1. Translated from Portuguese:" "Cool!, I liked it"

      Thanks for the nice comment Railways Brito!

  5. Great article and selection of stamps.
    How do i get to see the valuations of those that are not in Stanley Gibbons Collect Railways on Stamps catalogue.

    1. Well, you may need to track down the stamp in the general catalogues issued by Stanley Gibbons or Scott.