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...

Monday, May 2, 2022

Northern Nigeria - Bud's Big Blue

Frederick D. Lugard,
organizer of Northern Nigeria Postal Service
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

(The changing 19th and early 20th century colonial boundaries for Nigeria are discussed here, here, here, and here. )

Northern Nigerian stamps (1900-1912) are boring unless you like key plates with British crowned heads as vignettes.

However, Northern Nigeria does offer an intriguing case study of how postal service gets started in a colony where none exists, or almost none, for the Royal Niger Company, the predecessor of Northern Nigeria, did operate a few post offices prior to 1900.

Typical Royal Niger Company hand stamp

The story is best told through the annual reports of the Northern Nigeria High Commissioner, F. D. Lugard (1). What follows is a series of excerpts from his annual reports from 1901 to 1915.

From the report of F. D. Lugard, High Commissioner, 1901

Arriving at the end of December, 1899, I took over the administration from the Royal Niger Company, and the Union Flag was hoisted in place of the Company's, at 7.20 a.m,, at Lokoja, on January 1st, 1900, in presence of a parade of all arms, at which all civilians were present in uniform. …

I regret to say that owing to the continual illness while in Nigeria, and subsequent resignation, of Mr. Adye, the difficulty of procuring any trained Postal Clerks and other causes, I found this Department, on my return, at the close of 1901, in a somewhat chaotic state. Statistics, furnished by the Acting Postmaster, of the number of letters, parcels, &c, received and sent are as follows; they are possibly inaccurate. The Department needs, and will receive, thorough re-organisation. There are two regular Offices, viz., Jebba and Lokoja. Letters received 315,480; letters sent 31,196; parcels received 1,440; parcels sent 641.

Scott # 7 green and black

 From the report of F. D. Lugard, High Commissioner, 1902  

The great increase in [postal] revenue (£783 in excess of the estimate) was due chiefly to the large orders for stamps given by collectors, which will probably not be maintained. The cost of the postal service of course has been very greatly increased during 1902 by the inclusion of the new and distant Provinces. I have recently drawn up full postal regulations, with the assistance of Mr, Somerville, and planned as effective a scheme of postal delivery as is possible with the means at command. The General Post Office is at Lokoja, with a branch at Zungeru. The headquarters station of each Province is a sub-postal station, and the Resident is the Postal Officer.

The nitty-gritty of Lugard’s postal organization and regulations appears in a document titled Order in Council and Proclamations … Protectorate of Northern Nigeria … October, 1904. (2)

Scott #12 violet and orange, cancel 22 July 1909 at Lokoja,
on the Niger and Benue rivers, where Lugard “took over”

From the Commissioner’s report of, 1909. [Lugard left Northern Nigeria in 1906 to become the Governor of Hong Kong, in part because his wife found Nigeria’s climate inclement.

A satisfactory increase is shown in all branches of the department. The total number of articles dealt with in 1908 was 450,380, as compared with 413,290 in 1907. The revenue collected during the year under review amounted to £7,296—an increase of 25 per cent, over the revenue collected in 1907.

Scott #28 green, Minna cancel 16 September 1912,
today a rather peaceful city

From the report of F. D. Lugard, Governor General, 1912. [Lugard returned to Nigeria in 1912 to oversee the amalgamation of Northern and Southern Nigeria].

At the date of their institution the postal and telegraph services were almost entirely employed for official purposes. During recent years the services performed for the general public have increased at a rate commensurate with the development of the economic resources of the Protectorate. The deficit between expenditure and revenue of the postal and telegraph services is therefore annually being reduced. The total revenue actually collected during the year [1912] amounted to £10,536, and the value of the work performed free for the Administration is estimated at £11,870. For the first time it can be recorded that the number of postal packages dealt with during the year exceeded one million, an increase of 39.8 per cent, over the number for the preceding year. The mail services have been improved. Formerly all mails received from or dispatched to. the United Kingdom or the Coast Colonies were sorted and bagged at Zungeru or Lokoja, but during the year under review direct mails have been instituted between the United Kingdom and the Coast Colonies on the one hand, and Zungeru, Minna, Lokoja, Zaria, Kano, Jemaa, Ilorin, and Naraguta on the other. Mails are now received at Zungeru and Kano within 18 and 20 days, respectively, of the date of their dispatch from Liverpool. Before acceleration had been made possible by the extension of the railway system these mails took 28 and 49 days, respectively, to arrive at their destination.

Scott #31 ultra, Maiduguri cancel 7 July 1917, three years after amalgamation,
today a city terrorized by Boca Harem 

From the colonial report of F. D. Lugard, Governor General, 1913 

The total revenue collected during 1913 was £15,517, being an increase of 50 per cent, over the revenue for 1912. The value of services performed free for the Administration is estimated at £10,513, or an increase of £243 on the figure for 1912. This increase is small, on account of improvements in the railway service, which have enabled the post to be used where formerly the telegraph was necessary.

From the colonial report of F. D. Lugard, Governor General, 1915  

The shortage of £8,597 in postal and telegraph revenue has been caused, for the most part, by a striking shrinkage in the amount spent by stamp dealers in 1915 in the purchase of stamps from Nigeria.  

For his efforts as a colonial administrator, Lugard was raise to peerage as 1st Baron Lugard of Abinger. In retirement, he wrote a book titled The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, 1922 (3), the two mandates being “to open Africa to the civilized world and at the same time open the African mind to civilization.” He regarded postal and telegraphic services as essential for both mandates.

Widely acclaimed in his day, Lugard’s views have been severely criticized if not wholly rejected in recent years. Citing Lugard’s brutality, a Nigerian professor recently observed “no matter how wide the gate of heaven is Frederick Lugard will never get there.” (4)

Baron Lugard of Abinger

Census: 19 in BB spaces, eight on supplement page.

1) All quotations are taken from the “Annual Report of the Colonies, Northern Nigeria” for the years indicated. These are available online and found by searching the words in quotation plus the year of the report.

2) The actual postal regulations developed by Lugard can be accessed at the following web address, then using the provided search function for “postal”: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Orders_in_Council_and_Proclamations/9VgSAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=inauthor:%22Nigeria,+Northern.+Compilations%22&printsec=frontcover

3) https://ia600205.us.archive.org/8/items/cu31924028741175/cu31924028741175.pdf

4) https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/03/lord-lugard-will-never-make-heaven-prof-darah/

Jim's Observations

Northern Nigeria was more isolated, less developed, and mostly Muslim. Southern Nigeria had more economic development, with a large Christian missionary influence. So they were larger differences between the protectorates than their similar names and proximity would suggest.

In fact, in modern Nigeria, those differences persist, and continue to cause internal tension within the country.

Northern Nigeria had stamp issues between 1900-1912. In 1914, their stamp production ceased when they were united with Southern Nigeria and Lagos colony to form the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

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Comments appreciated!


  1. Interesting postal history.

  2. Lugard is an interesting fellow, though not of the type remembered well today. He presided over the founding in HK of one of the best universities in modern China and railway building of railways in the private company period colonial Uganda.

    I wonder what people will be saying of the modern Nigerian professor in 125 years?

    1. It's difficult to predict how Lugard (or the fault-finding professor) might be regarded a century from now; or, for that matter, how the whole colonial endeavor will be reputed. Nigeria is a nation to watch to see how this unfolds. A century from now Lagos, the capital, will be the world's most populous city. Africa as a whole can be expected to exert much greater international influence than it does today.