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...

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Macao - Bud's Big Blue

General Post Office, Macao
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
I’m attracted to colonial post office architecture. Macao has preserved a gem! Many of BB’s Macao’s stamps passed through this grand old GPO. Built in 1929, it still functions as the city’s main post office.

Neighboring Hong Kong knocked down their GPO in 1976, replacing Edwardian gingerbread with modernist brutalism. Now the replacement faces demolition too, its harborfront real estate being too valuable for mere postal transactions (I suppose).

Macanese affection for their GPO led to a souvenir sheet featuring it -- issued in 2019 for the 135th anniversary Macao’s postal service. The sheet depicts a side view while the postcard focuses on the tower and corner entrance.

Issued in 2019 for the 135th anniversary Macao’s postal service.

Harbors, channels, and rivers played important roles in Macao’s postal history; much of the international mail was transported by steamer (paquebot) to Hong Kong or up the river to Canton. As a consequence, Macao cancels often appear on Hong Kong stamps. The reverse is true, too, although less frequently. Sometimes a Chinese (Canton) cancel can be found on a Macao stamp.

Macao (Macau) cancel on Hong Kong, Paquebot cancel,
Canton cancel on Macao

I found BB’s Macao spaces difficult and often expensive to fill, likely because the Macanese, and the Chinese in general, have become avid stamp collectors. For 1884-5 issues, mint stamps are more readily available than are interesting used examples. The number of world-wide stamp collectors in the 1880s exceeded the stamp-using population of Macao. 

Bisects, as is common in Portuguese colony collections, are plentiful. But the supplement pages (below) show only one such.

Census: 148 in BB spaces, 1 tip-in, 71 on supplement pages

Jim's Observations
Macao (Macau) , a small 6 square mile Portuguese Overseas Territory during the classical period, is located at the mouth of the Canton River off the coast of China, and close to Hong Kong. Today, along with Hong Kong, it is a special administrative district of the People's Republic of China.

(Note: Macao is the spelling used in the Scott catalogue, but Macau seems more prevalent.)

Macao today is known for tourism, and especially gambling casinos. Both Cantonese and Portuguese are official languages.

But back to history. The Portuguese had a permanent settlement by 1557. Portuguese trade and commerce was then restricted to the port of Macau in 1631 by the Chinese. In 1887, an agreement was reached with China that allowed a permanent occupation and government by Portugal in Macau.

During WW II, Macau was not formally occupied by the Japanese, but was required to have Japanese "advisors", none the less.

Portugal finally relinquished all sovereignty in 1999 to China.

Macao Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!


  1. Nice collection of stamps. However, as a specialist in Portuguese colonies, the pages illustrate why I have moved away from Part I of the Big Blue International. Since I have complete sets of almost all the pre-1940 issues; missing just a few ultra-rarities; blank quadrille pages have been the way to go. Steve B.

    1. Steve - thanks for your comments.

      Yes, as a specialist in Portuguese colonies, quadrille pages makes sense for you.

      For a WW collector such as myself, using the Steiner pages (which include all the spaces for major Scott numbers) works for me. I then supplement with quadrilled pages.

      For a more general intermediate WW collector, the Big Blue pages still will offer quite a challenge.

    2. I, too, being a generalist, will probably continue with the status quo, Big Blue expanded by an ever increasing number of supplement pages. The big disadvantage, of course, is not being able to display full sets in one place.
      Taking apart BB to insert additional pages gets a bit dicey, too. As merely a matter of preference, I prefer pages without quadrilling, which makes getting lines of stamps straight challenging.