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, July 29, 2015

St. Thomas and Prince Islands

1869 Scott 4 25r rose "Portuguese Crown"
Quick History
St. Thomas and Prince Islands (Sao Tome and Principe) are located about 190 miles (300 kilometers) off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa in the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean, and about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from each other. They are volcanic, and about 30 miles long by 20 miles wide (50 X 30 km), and 20 miles long by 4 miles wide (30 X 6 km), respectively.

The climate is hot and humid, and the temperature varies little monthly. The rainy season is October through May.

 Sao Tome and Principe in the Atlantic Ocean
The islands have been under Portuguese control since 1470. Sugar cultivation, using the labor of slaves from Africa, was prominent in the 16th century. By the 17th century, Sao Tome became a transit point for the slave trade. In the 19th century, cocoa was the major export, and remains so today.

Although Portugal abolished slavery in 1876, forced labor practices continued throughout the 19th century and the early 20th century.

Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome (the main settlement) is the capital on Sao Tome island, and the population was 60,000 in 1940. ( Most of the population is found on Sao Tome island.)

Stamps were introduced in 1869. The subsequent issues follow the Portuguese colonial issue model.

The Nationalist movement grew after the 1953 Batepa massacre, when hundreds of native creoles were killed in a clash with the Portuguese landowners.

Independence was achieved in 1975.

The culture remains a mixture of African and Portuguese influences.

Today, Sao Tome and Principe is the second smallest African country (Seychelles is smaller), and is the smallest (in population) of the  Portuguese speaking countries.

1887 Scott 15 5r black "King Luiz"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for St. Thomas and Prince Islands 1869-1939, 423 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 229 are CV <$1-$1+, or 54%. Clearly, the colony is affordable for the WW classical collector.

A closer look at the stamps ans issues
1000 Reis = 1 Milreis
100 Centavos = 1 Escudo (1913)
1869 Scott 1 5r black "Portuguese Crown"
Type I
The "Portuguese Crown" design of 1869-75 (nine stamps) and 1881-85 (five stamps) lead off the issues for the colony.

Of interest, the "5" numeral can be found upright (Type I) or slanting (Type II). The 5, 25, and 50 reis stamps have these "5" types. The 5r black illustrated above, and the 50r dark blue shown below are type I. Type II is illustrated for the 25r rose header above the "Quick History" section. (I'm not sure what to make of it, but Scott only lists Type I for the 25r rose, yet this is clearly a type II. ;-)

There really isn't any difference in CV, whether the "5" numerals are upright or slanting.

A similar "types" situation exists for the "1" of the 10 reis, and the "4" of the 40 reis.

1881 Scott 14 50r dark blue, Type I
CV for the 1869-75 and 1881-85 issues (14 stamps total) is $1+-$3+ for seven stamps.

1887 Scott 20 50r blue "King Luiz"
A typographed  issue (nine stamps) with the embossed head of King Luiz was released in 1887.

1895 Scott 31 25r green "King Carlos"
In 1895, the first "King Carlos" issue of 12 stamps was produced. CV is <$1-$3+ for eight stamps.

1903 Scott 48 50r brown "King Carlos"
The second "King Carlos" issue was released between 1898-1903, and had 23 stamps. These designs, as well as the preceding designs, are shared by essentially all the Portuguese colonies.

1902 Scott 88 50r blue
Stamps of 1898 Overprinted
Four stamps of the 1898 issue were overprinted as shown in 1902. Portugal at the time was going through another bankruptcy.

1911 Scott 102 200r red lilac/pinkish
Stamps of 1898-1903 Overprinted in Carmine or Green
The October 5, 1910 revolution in Portugal, which did away with the regime and created a republic, is reflected in the many overprinted issues of this era. This 15 stamp OP issue was produced in 1911.

1912 Scott 113 100r brown/light green "King Manuel II"
Overprinted in Carmine or Green
This 1910 Portuguese design was overprinted "republica"in 1912 for the colonies. Since Manuel II of Portugal was overthrown so quickly, non-overprinted stamps of this design for the colonies were never issued.

1913 Scott 142 5r orange
On Stamps of 1898-1903 Overprinted in Black
In 1913, a virtual torrent of stamps (55 of them) were overprinted and issued: all OP in black, but with two different OP scripts.

The issue shown above was overprinted on the "King Carlos" 1898-1903 issue, and is found on 12 stamps.

1913 Scott 180 1c on 10c red violet "Embarking at Rastello"
Common Design Type: Vasco da Gama Issue
On Stamps of Portuguese Africa
The 1898 Vasco da Gama issue was also overprinted for the colony, using the previous issues of Macao (eight stamps), Portuguese Africa (eight stamps), and Timor (eight stamps).

The new Republican government was definitely emptying out the stamp vaults. ;-)

1926 Scott 216 24c ultramarine "Ceres"
A 40 stamp "Ceres" issue was released for the colony between 1914-26. Meanwhile, in 1926, there was a political change in Portugal, which lead to a National Dictatorship (Ditadura Nacional).

1934 Scott 299 5e apple green "Ceres"
The "Ceres" motif was used again in 1934 on a nineteen stamp issue.

But let's return to history...

The right wing dictatorship of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (Estado Novo) began in 1933. Portugal remained neutral in WW II. The Estado Novo regime persisted until 1974, when it was overthrown by the Carnation Revolution. The new shaky democracy pledged to end the colonial hegemony, and cooperate with the independence movements.

 Portuguese Colonies in Africa during the Estado Novo Regime (1933-1974)
Portugal then withdrew from the African colonies and East Timor (East Timor was subsequently invaded by Indonesia). Portuguese Guinea became independent in 1974 as Guinea-Bissau. In 1975, independence was declared for Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and yes, Sao Tome and Principe.

It was not necessarily a happy outcome for the newly independent states, partially because Portugal left so abruptly.   Both Angola and Mozambique entered into a prolonged and deadly civil war.

Several hundred thousand Portuguese citizens, who not uncommonly had roots in the colonies for generations, left (or escaped), and returned to Portugal (retornados).

Happily,  Sao Tome and Principe mostly avoided turmoil after independence.

1938 Scott 306 20c slate "Vasco da Gama"
Common Design Type; Inscribed "S. Tome"
But we are still in the colonial era with these stamps. ;-) The 1938 "common design type" eighteen stamp issue was inscribed "S. Tome".

1939 Scott 324 5c orange brown
Inscribed "S. Tome e Principe"
In contrast, the 1939 eighteen stamp issue is inscribed "S. Tome e Principe". The two issues are rather inexpensive CV wise, with 29 stamps @ <$1-$1+.

1939 Scott C18 10e magenta "Plane over Globe"
Common Design Type
Inscribed "S. Tome e Principe"
Similarly, the 1938 and 1939 air post "common design" issues are inscribed "S. Tome" and "S. Tome e Principe" respectively.

1911 Scott J14 30r orange
Overprinted in Carmine or Green
The 1904 postage due issue (ten stamps) was overprinted in 1911, with the change in government.

1921 Scott J47 6c light brown
If you like hunting for the "rare" stamp, this 1921 ten stamp set has possibilities. ;-)  In each sheet, one stamp is inscribed "S. Thome" rather than "S. Tome".  Check your stock. (I don't have any.) Actually, the ten stamp set with "S. Thome" inscriptions is valued @ $60, while the normal set is $2.60.

1893 Scott P12 2 1/2r brown
Newspaper Stamp
This 1893 Newspaper stamp design is common for many Portuguese colonies.

1925 Scott RA2 15c orange & black 
"Planning Reconstruction of Lisbon, 1755"
Pombal Postal Tax Issue
The 1925 postal tax issue of three stamps is found in several colors, depending on the colony (Here, orange & black). 

1925 Scott RAJ1 30c orange & black
"Marquis de Pombal"
Postal Tax Due Pombal Issue
CV for the "common design type" Pombal issue for the postal tax/postal tax due stamps is <$1.

On the whole, I found the St. Thomas and Prince Islands Portuguese issues to be less than inspiring, but the history and geography made up for it. ;-)

Deep Blue
1911 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 25 pages for the classic era stamps of St. Thomas and Prince Islands. The pages follow the Scott catalogue, and all major numbers have a space. Because Scott has been recently revising their 1914-26 "Ceres Issue" (parsing new spaces and giving new numbers for perf 12 X 11 1/2 and perf  15 X 14, among other changes), the Steiner pages may be out of date in a few years. (Steiner has, in the past, revised his pages with a change in catalogue numbers, so perhaps that will happen here also.)

1895 Scott 27 5c yellow "King Carlos"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has 140 spaces for the stamps of this colony. Coverage is 33%.

No surprises in the coverage, and there are no stamps that cross the CV $10 threshold.

The 1913 Vasco da Gama common design type eight stamp spaces overprinted for the colony have three choices: Those of overprinted Macao, overprinted Portuguese Africa, and overprinted Timor. Macao and Timor OP stamps might be preferable, because the denomination shown is theirs in the spaces, but Portuguese Africa OP is included in the explanatory script by BB.










170 or 178 or  186,171 or 179 or  187,172 or 180 or 188,176 or 184 or 192,177 or 185 or 193,

Next Page

173 or 181 or  189,174 or 182 or  190,175 or 183 or  191,

*2017 Update: The Ceres issue presented here below originally had the (now "old") numbers in the 2011 catalogue. By 2015, Scott had parsed the Ceres into 1914 Perf 15 X 14 chalky paper, 1920 Perf 15 X 14 ordinary paper, & 1922-26 Perf 12 X 11 1/2 ordinary paper & glazed paper, all with major numbers. I will present both here: "old" and "current" numbers.

1914 Ceres (Old Numbers)

1922 Ceres (Old Numbers)


1926 Ceres (Old Numbers)

1914 (-1922) Ceres (Current Numbers)
First row: 194 or 210 or 214, 195 or 215, 196, 197 or 211 or 217, 198 or 218, 199 or 220, 200,
Second row: 201 or 212 or 227, 202 or 228, 203 or 213 or 229, 204, 205 or 232, 206, 207,

1922 Ceres (Current Numbers)
First row: 216, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 230,
Second row: 231, 233B, 233E, 233G,

268, 269, 270,

1926 Ceres (Current Numbers)
219, 233, 233A, 233D, 233F, 233I,

Next Page


302 or 323,303 or 324,304 or 325,305 or 326,306 or 327,
307 or 328,308 or 329,309 or 330,310 or 331,311 or 332,
312 or 333,313 or 334,(335),(336),

Next Page

Air Post
C1 or C10,C2 or C11,C3 or C12,C4 or C13,C5 or C14,C6 or C15,

Postal Tax

Postal Tax Due


Postage Due


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):None
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1913- Macao and Timor OP stamps might be preferable, because the denomination shown is theirs, but Portuguese Africa OP is included in the explanatory script by BB.
D) *Air Post 1938-39*- choices are "S. Tome" vs "S. Tome e Principe" script.
E) *2017 Update: The Ceres issue presented here below originally had the (now "old") numbers in the 2011 catalogue. By 2015, Scott had parsed the Ceres into 1914 Perf 15 X 14 chalky paper, 1920 Perf 15 X 14 ordinary paper, & 1922-26 Perf 12 X 11 1/2 ordinary paper & glazed paper, all with major numbers. I will present both here: "old" and "current" numbers.

1898 Scott 44 20r gray violet "King Carlos"
Out of the Blue
What interested me about Sao Tome and Principe was, not so much the stamps themselves, (which are, on the whole common to all Portuguese colonies), but the interesting geographic location and the history of this little country.

Note: I should mention that somewhere along the way, Sao Thome and Principe turned to the "dark side", in terms of runaway stamp production. St. Vincent, which will be the next blog post, also became a victim of the malady. We will explore this phenomena a little further with the next post.

Note: Pic of Pico Cao Grande and the maps appear to be in the public domain.

Comments Appreciated!

Pico Cao Grande on Sao Tome


  1. Unfortunately this isn't one of the colonies that has the star in various position varieties that Afinsa lists. But plenty of other varieties in other issues to keep one busy for a while :)

    Oh and shameless plug time...I've started my own philately blog, in part inspired by what you have accomplished with this blog over the last several years! It's at http://djcmhphilately.blogspot.com/ and as soon as I figure out how to do it I'll add a link to your amazing resource of a blog!

  2. DJCMH- Love it! Based on your musings and insights here, your stamp blog should be a good one. I've added a link- and congratulations. :-)