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, June 12, 2016


1894 Scott 29 80r light green "King Carlos"
Quick History
Situated in the Malay Archipelago, off the northern coast of Australia, the mountainous and coastal mangrove swamp island of Timor was divided between Portuguese Timor (Colony founded-1702), and the Dutch East Indies by the Treaty of Lisbon in 1859. The colonial powers agreed to split the island between them: the Portuguese inhabited the eastern section, while the Dutch colonized the western part. The border was finalized in 1914 - it is still the official border between modern day East Timor and Indonesia.

Location of Portuguese Timor (now East Timor)
The capital of Timor has been Dili on the northern coast since 1879, and the population was 460,000 in 1936.

The Portuguese mainly ruled through liurai (local tribal chieftains). Timor remained somewhat of a backwater trading post for the Portuguese.

Originally known for sandalwood, coffee exports became important in the mid-nineteenth century.

The island of Timor
Stamps were introduced in 1885 by overprinting the stamps of Macao.

In 1910-12, a Timorese rebellion was put down by bringing in troops from Mozambique and a gunboat from Macau, resulting in 3,400 deaths for the East Timorese.

Although Portugal was neutral in WW II, the island was attacked by Japan in the Battle of Timor in 1942. Ultimately, there were 40,000 to 60,000 civilian casualties.

After WW II, Portugal reclaimed the colony, while Dutch West Timor was absorbed into Indonesia, which became independent as a nation in 1949.

The Portuguese began a withdrawal program in 1974-75, and the territory was declared independent.

But then Indonesia promptly invaded. However, the United Nations did not recognize the annexation. The territory continued to be occupied by Indonesia until 1999.

Finally, the former Portuguese colony became independent as East Timor in 2002.

1905 Scott 105 10a on 12a dull blue
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Timor 1885-1938, 296 major number descriptions. Of those, 134 are CV <$1-$1+, or 45%. There are enough inexpensive stamps for the WW collector to have a nice grouping.

As is usual, the stamp designs of Timor should be familiar to collectors, as they share the same designs as the other Portuguese colonies.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
1000 Reis = 1 Milreis
78 Avos = 1 Rupee (1895)
100 Avos = 1 Pataca
1887 Scott 18 100r yellow brown "King Luiz"
The initial ten stamp issue of 1885 consisted of overprinted "Timor" script on stamps of Macao. The stamps can be found with both 12 1/2 and 13 1/2 perforations. CV is $1+ -$4+ for each stamp in the set, but I don't have any at the moment.

The first issue for Timor proper was released in 1887, and consisted of ten stamps with the "King Luiz" embossed vignette. CV is $1+-$3+ for four stamps.

1892 Scott 21 30r on 300r orange
Macao 1888 Scott 44 Surcharged in Black
In 1892, an 1888 Scott 44 300r orange Macao stamp was surcharged in black for use in Timor.

1894 Scott 30 100r brown/buff "King Carlos"
The 1894 issue had twelve stamps, and has the portrait of King Carlos. CV is <$1-$2+ for the stamps in the set.

1895 Scott 38 6a on 40r chocolate
Stamps of 1887 Surcharged in Red, Green, or Black
1895 saw a change in currency from Reis to Avos.

The 1887 Timor issue was surcharged in 1895 in red, black, or green on ten stamps.  CV is <$1-$3 for six stamps.

1898 Scott 50 12a  violet brown 
"Archangel Gabriel, the Patron Saint"
Vasco da Gama Issue: Common Design Types
The Vasco da Gama eight stamp issue of 1898, a common design type issued for Portuguese Colonies, is, of course, found for Timor.

1898 Scott 59 4a sea green "King Carlos"
The familiar "King Carlos" design, used in many colonies, was issued on thirteen stamps in 1898, on two stamps for 1900, and on twelve stamps for 1903. Considering the tropical climate, it makes sense that this set was mostly issued without gum. CV is <$1-$3+ for 24 stamps.

1902 Scott 86 6a on 300r orange
On Issue of 1887: Surcharged in Black
Utilizing the 1887 set, the nine stamp 1902 issue was surcharged in black.

1902 Scott 97 9a on 75r rose
On Issue of 1894
Likewise, the 1894 set was issued surcharged in 1902 on eleven stamps.

1911 Scott 114 13a red lilac
Stamps of 1898-1903 Overprinted in Carmine or Green
Reflecting the political turmoil in Portugal, the "King Carlos" stamps of 1898-1903 were overprinted "Republica" on fourteen stamps in 1911.

1913 Scott 121 5a on 25r green
On Provisional Issue of 1902: Overprinted in Red
A locally overprinted "Republica" nine stamp set on the provisional issue of 1902 was released in 1913. CV is a bit more expensive @ $4-$8.

1913 Scott 143 31a brown/straw
Stamps of 1898-1903 Overprinted in Red
Twelve more locally overprinted "Republica" stamps, this time on the 1898-1903 set, and oriented diagonally down, were released in 1913. CV is $1+-$5+ for ten stamps.

1913 Scott 149 1a red  "Fleet Arriving at Calicut"
Vasco da Gama Issue of 1898 Overprinted or Surcharged in Black
1913 also saw the eight stamp Vasco da Gama common design set overprinted or surcharged.

Back then, these frequent Portuguese stamp issues were considered excessive, and only offered to milk the collector. Sound familiar? ;-)

1914-23 Scott 170 16a slate "Ceres"
Timor had twenty-seven stamps of "Ceres" issued between 1914-23, using the Scott "old" numbers. As many collectors are aware, Scott has been renumbering the set for the various Portuguese colonies the last several years. The two perforations (15 X 14, 12 X 11 1/2)  for the issue are now both major numbers.  In addition, the stamps can be found on various papers (ordinary, chalky, glazed), which again are given major numbers.

For Timor, I will be using the "old" numbers, mainly because my 2014 catalogue does not yet show the upgrade. I have been, however, going through my collection, and upgrading the catalogue numbers for earlier (in the alphabet) Portuguese countries. This has left more holes to fill. ;-)

1914-23 Scott 156 1/2a olive brown
Perf 15  X 14; Star orientation I-I
As an example of possibilities, let's review the 1/2a olive brown.

The "old" Scott number is 156, and here I have a 15 X 14 perforation example.

Also, for Timor (as well as other Portuguese colonies with short names), there are "stars" on either side of the country name tablet for the "Ceres" issue. These stars can have four orientations (Information from 2011 Afinsa Selos Postais catalogue for Portuguese Colonies). Here, the star point is at the 12 o'clock position for each star (Star orientation I-I). (If the star point was at the 6 o'clock position, that would be orientation II.)

1914-23 Scott 156 1/2a olive brown
Perf 12 X 11 1/2; Star orientation III-IV
Under the "old" Scott catalogue, this 1/2a olive brown stamp would still be Scott 156, despite the 12 X 11 1/2 perforation. No doubt the updated numbering system has a new major number though.

Also, note the stars? They are in orientation III (1 o'clock position), and orientation IV (11 o'clock position), respectively. Some of the "Ceres" stamps can be found with multiple star orientations - and value!. This information is in the Afinsa catalogue - a good reason to obtain one. ;-)

1935 Scott 203 1a olive brown 
"Portugal" and Vasco da Gama's Flagship "San Gabriel"
The "Portugal" and "San Gabriel" issue was produced for Timor on twenty-one stamps in 1935. If the design looks familiar, it is because it has been used for other Portuguese colonies also- I noticed Macao has this issue.

CV is <$1-$2+ for fourteen stamps.

1938 Scott 224 2a orange brown
"Vasco da Gama"
Common Design Types
Seventeen stamps were issued in 1938 of this common design type.  CV ranges from <$1-$2+ for thirteen stamps.

1938 Scott C2 2a purple "Plane over Globe"
Common Design Type
The first air mail issue in 1938 was also a common design type. The issue had nine stamps, and the CV is <$1-$1+ for six stamps.

1904 Scott J7 24a dull blue
In 1904, a ten stamp postage due issue as shown was released for Timor. None of the postage due issues during the classical era had gum applied before shipment to Timor.

1911 Scott J18 40a carmine
Overprinted in Carmine or Green
The 1911 political upheaval resulted in a "Republica" overprint on ten stamps. All the overprints were in carmine, except for this shown 40a carmine example, which is in green.

1913 Scott J24 6a deep orange
Overprinted in Red or Green
The 1913 ten stamp issue had a local overprint (diagonal down) applied. These are a bit more expensive for CV: $6-$10.

1892 Newspaper Scott P1 2 1/2r on 20r bright rose
"King Luiz"; Stamps of Macao Surcharged in Black
The three stamp 1892 newspaper issue for Timor consisted of surcharged stamps from Macao.

1895 Scott P5 1/2a on 2 1/2r brown
In 1893, the 2 1/2r newspaper stamp for Timor was issued.

With the change in currency, a surcharged newspaper stamp (in Avos) was produced in 1895.

Postal Tax: 1925 Scott RA1 2a lake and black
"Matquis de Pombal"; Common Design Types
Postal Tax Due: 1925 Scott RAJ3 4a lake and black
"Pombal Monument, Lisbon"; Common Design Types
Postal tax stamps are curious. Basically, the stamp had to be added to postal mail for a set period of time. If the stamp was not added, then a "Postal Tax Due" stamp was applied at twice the cost. ;-)

Deep Blue
1902 Issue in Deep Blue
Stamps of 1894 Surcharged
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 20 pages for the classical era stamps of Timor. All the major numbers as of the 2014 catalogue have a space. But my 1914-23 Ceres Issue in Steiner has the "old" numbers, which Scott no doubt changed in the 2015 or 2016 catalogue.

1913 Scott 129 3a gray green
Preceding Issues Overprinted in Red: On Issue of 1903
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has 143 spaces for the stamps of Timor. Coverage is 48%. The coverage, in my view, is actually not bad for a representative album,

The 40s BB editions have the same coverage.

There are no expensive stamps ($10+) required for the BB spaces.











Next Page





*2017 Update: The Ceres issue presented here below originally had the (now "old") numbers in the 2011 catalogue. By 2016, 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)

1914 (-1922)  Ceres (Current Numbers)
156 or 171, 157 or 171 or 174, 158 or 172 or 176, 159, 160 or 177, 161, 162,

1914 Ceres (Old Numbers)

1914 (-1922) Ceres (Current Numbers)
163 or 182, 164, 



Next Page

1923 Ceres (Old Numbers)

1923 Ceres (Current Numbers)
175, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182A, 182B, (182D),



Next Page



Postal Tax

Postal Tax Due

Newspaper Stamps



Air Post


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *2017 Update: The Ceres issue presented here below originally had the (now "old") numbers in the 2011 catalogue. By 2016, 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.

1902 Scott 104A 12a rose
Stamps of 1898 Overprinted in Black
Out of the Blue
I will never physically visit the island of Timor, but, with these stamp issues, I feel like I have.

Note: Maps and Dili Bay photo appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?

Dili Bay, 1930s


  1. Thanks for your in-depth write-up on Timor. I have a near complete collection of the colonial stamps, missing only some of the later, hard to find, postal tax issues. Some of those are expensive as well, in catalog price. Steve ISPP #809 (member since 1991)

    1. Steve- My pleasure.

      It sounds like you are a fairly serious collector of Timor!