Jules Ferry, a French politician, had declared at the outset of the European scramble for Africa, "The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races." West African annoyances blew the lid off such cruel, ill-logical and deceptive claims.
Nevertheless, France tried to manage its colonial headaches by redrawing administrative frontiers and changing colony names – hoping to strengthen its control. Niger provides a case in point. In 1899 French Sudan split up and part of it was renamed Upper Senegal and Middle Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Moyen Niger). The name changed in 1902 to Senegambia and Niger (Sénégambie et Niger) and it stayed that way just long enough for a few stamps to be issued. Then the name changed again (1904) to Upper Senegal and Niger (Haut-Sénégal et Niger); new stamps were printed. Less than a decade later Niger became a separate military district (1911), although on maps and in stamp albums it was still considered a part of Upper Senegal and Niger.
Finally, in 1922, Niger became a separate colony with civilian administrators and, yet again, new stamps were issued, the first of which were the overprinted camel and rider stamps of Haut-Sénégal et Niger. The Territoire du Niger overprint typically blocks out the inscribed Haut-Sénégal et Niger. The same series was also overprinted for the new French Sudan, which was the remaining part of Haut-Sénégal et Niger.
Only four stamp designs are unique to Niger: a water well, a boat on the Niger river, a fortress, and a prostrate camel peering at a Timbuktu caravansary in the distance (even though Timbuktu was no longer near the Niger border). Camels and water were/are essential in Niger, and therefore apt selections for stamp designs. Ever efficient in deserts, a typical camel can gulp down a beer keg of water in less than a minute. When fully hydrated, it carries about 53 gallons in its hump.
All other classical era Niger stamps are French Colonial common designs.
Collectors who use BB Part 2 will notice that Niger has no “France Libre” overprints. During World War II, Niger was loyal to German dominated France and Marshal Pétain’s Vichy government, while other colonies supported de Gaulle. “France Libre” appears only on the stamps of colonies where de Gaulle was organizing resistance.
Census: 102 in BB space, 14 on the supplement page.
And that, perhaps ironically, is one of the attractions of WW classical stamp collecting.