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, October 6, 2020

Mohéli- Bud's Big Blue

Mohéli, Scott #s 18, 19, 22
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Does anyone, besides stamp collectors, know about the tiny island in the Indian Ocean called Mohéli (aka, Mwali)? It’s the same size as Fresno, California, but with less than seven percent of Fresno’s population.

Even so, as it turns out, some people do know about it.

European shipping companies have depended on Mohéli ever since the early 1500s because it’s located in a major maritime trade route. Much earlier, Arab and African sailors conducted business there.

Lots of humpbacks surface and forage near Mohéli. Years ago, but no more, they attracted whalers to the surrounding waters. Today, adventure-seeking tourists swim with Mohéli’s whales.

Swimming partner wanted (apply below)

A map of 18th Century British trade routes (shown) reveals Mohéli’s centrality to world commerce. This importance continues, although to a lessening degree, into the 21th Century.

The red dot pinpoints Mohéli and its sister islands (1)

So, France’s dime-a-dozen “Navigation and Commerce” key-types actually befit Mohélian colonial life in the early 20th century. They suit Mohéli's sister islands, too -- Anjouan, Grand Comoro, and Mayotte.

Scott # 15, violet and rose, Mohéli 1909 cancellation

There’s more. Military planners worry about Mohéli. Its location in the northern Mozambique Channel has strategic importance -- a potential maritime chokepoint. Volcanologists study the Pleistocene-era eruptions that created the Comorian archipelago. A Parisian perfumer offers expensive unisex scents, Eau Moheli. 

Still, Mohéli remains obscure with a weak economy. Its sister islands have a few advantages -- more land, deeper berthing for ships, better access to fuel and provisions -- but they’re obscure and weak, too.

The Suez Canal (opened 1869) made things worse. Commercial shipping declined headlong. By the time the “Navigation and Commerce” stamps arrived (1906 for Mohéli, a decade or more earlier for the sisters), navigation and commerce were sorely ailing. However, military logistical importance continued and, as strategists warn, that would increase sharply if terrorists bombed the Suez Canal or regional instability shut it down.

Mohéli’s stamps, like its sisters’, were widely counterfeited. Collector skepticism is required.
Census: eight in BB spaces, eleven on supplement page.

(1) Map illustration: James Cheshire, Spatial Analysis. The Guardian, 13 Apr 2012.

Notice: Human swimmers seeking whale partners and whales seeking human swimming partners, apply in the comment box below. Limited availability. Preference given to stamp collectors of both species.

Jim's Observations
The Sultanate of Mwali was established in 1830 over Moheli. But in 1886, France made the island a protectorate, under the French resident of Anjouan. French colonial stamps were issued between 1906-1912. The French abolished the sultanate in 1909, and Moheli was annexed.

The postal service was based on Mayotte, and although each colony had their own stamps, the postmark "Mayotte and dependencies" can be seen on used stamps.

The Comoro archipelago was administratively united with the Madagascar colony in 1912, and individual colony stamp production ceased.

Moheli Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!


  1. Hey Gentlemen! I have a question for both of you. I am a Big Blue'r with a collection organized much like Bud's, in Scott Internationals with lots of supplemental pages. My question is about sources and sinks for feeder albums. I too enjoy the heck out of the treasure hunt, but what tends to be your source of feeder albums, and how are you getting rid of them once you have taken the few stamps you need? I have found that my real limiting factor is selling collections. I sometimes sell to my local clubs members, I use Hipstamps, and occasionally Ebay, but it seems tough. Anyway, thanks to both of you for putting a huge amount of very helpful information for the worldwide classical collector!

    1. Hi Jim
      Congrats on using Bud's Big Blue scheme - I think it makes sense. As far as feeder albums, most are found through local dealers in the area. I usually buy country collections. I do at times use Ebay also for certain dealers that break down collections into country lots. As far as selling the leftovers, I don't have time (or patience) to do it individually. I had a local dealer come in, offer me a sum for the whole lot, and he hauled away 35 banker boxes of feeder leftovers. ;-)

  2. Thanks for your encouragement, Jim C. I’ll address your questions about feeder albums using solely my own experiences and opportunities, which I realize may or may not be available to you or other readers.

    I acquire feeder albums from six sources, listed here in order the number of stamps I’ve collected from each source. 1) Albums bid in at general public auctions, not stamp specialty sales. 2) Albums bid in at stamp specialty auctions. 3) Albums purchased from dealers. 4) Albums that dealers have allowed me to pick and choose from, paying only for the stamps I take. 5) Albums purchased from friends who no longer collect. 6) Albums and album pages purchased online. I also buy a few individual stamps online and at shows.

    Last month I worked through about 40 albums from these sources, but netted only a few stamps for my collection, none of them of great value.

    While I have kept two fairly good feeder albums as “back-ups” in case I ruin or misplace a stamp, most have been sold or returned with thanks to the dealer. Almost all that I’ve sold have gone via the internet, usually eBay. I take my chances, but have more than broken even financially. Also, some internet dealers who sell album pages will resell the pages I buy after I have picked out what I want. Other internet dealers will sell individual stamps on commission if they are marketable. Again, I take my chances, but have not done as well selling returned pages or individual stamps as with albums. Further, some online dealers will accept albums that can be broken apart and sole by the page or by country lots, and I’ve done that, too.

    The key to these strategies is, of course, finding feeder albums that are sufficiently robust that they don’t appear to be stripped of all value when resold. Taking only a few stamps from a rough looking album works, too. Above all, having good working relations with a couple of dealers helps greatly, both for buying and for selling.

    One further thought: When I find clean but largely empty country pages, I often keep them to be filled as I work through feeder albums. When they look reasonably saleable, I send them to an online dealer who specializes in country page lots to sell in my behalf.

    I hope you find these comments helpful.