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...

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Ireland - Bud's Big Blue

Clogheen Post Office
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Because hostile tempers prevailed during the Irish War for Independence and long thereafter, I find curious the new Irish Free State’s continuing with overprinted British stamps. Was obliterating the British crowed head with Gaelic inscriptions in some sense a satisfying defiant gesture for the Irish political psyche? Was it a reluctant admission of Ireland’s reliance on continued relations with Britain? Was it simply a matter of convenience devoid of any anti-British animus? In any case, the practice of overprinting British stamps continued until 1935. Covers with overprinted British stamps are rarer than those with stamps with Irish designs. Still rarer are covers with mixed franking. The Irish likely preferred to use stamps with Irish designs.

The supplement page scans (below) show a modest run of the overprinted varieties, although it’s far from complete. Some of the super expensive “seahorses” are missing. The overprinted stamps differ, as Jim explains in the main Ireland post, by Gaelic inscriptions, colors of ink, size of the overprints, and British printing companies’ redesigns. The stamps on the supplement pages follow the ones on the BB page in, I think, Scott order. The first three are pre-war Dublin cancels.

I like the Clogheen post office (above) with its staff of pigs. Clogheen had in 2006 a population of about 500 souls and is located in County Tipperary. The photo likely predates the Irish Free State.

Census: 34 in BB spaces, two tip-ins, 66 on supplement page.

Clogheen  cancel, circa 1880
Jim's Observations
This bland introduction that follows belies the tumultuous history between Ireland and Great Britain.

Ireland was part of the United Kingdom from 1801 until December 6, 1922. 

From 1845-49, the Great Famine caused 1 million deaths, with another 1.5 million emigrating primarily to the United States.

After the Irish War of Independence, a revolt begun in 1916, and then a guerrilla war initiated in 1919 by the Irish Republican Army against the British government, a ceasefire was agreed to in July 1921. This lead to the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December, 1921. The treaty allowed Northern Ireland to opt out of the Free State, and indeed that is what they did.

On February 17, 1922, stamps of Great Britain, 1912-19, were overprinted in Irish Gaelic "Provisional Government of Ireland". And so began the Irish stamp issues.

Ireland Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!


  1. Hi - I don't know anything about stamps but two things strike me about the initial use of British stamps with the Irish Free State's name (in Irish) printed over the King's head. Firstly the Irish Free State was extremely strapped for cash in its early years and it is not surprising that they chose not to junk whatever stamps they had lying around. Secondly, the Anglo-Irish Treaty establishing the Irish Free State left the King as Ireland's head of state, a situation that only changed in the 1930s, so keeping his head on the stamps might not have seemed too outlandish.

  2. Thanks for the insights, Ian. They're more plausible than what I suggested.