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...

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Quelimane, Tete, Zambezia - Bud's Big Blue

Map credit: Gerben van Gelder, Stamp World History
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

I’ll comment on the stamps of Zambezia (1894-1920) and its two districts – Quelimane and Tete – in a single post. Scans for all three are shown below. They’re straight forward Portuguese colonial stamps, but not well understood philatelically. At the turn of the 20th century, social turmoil in the Mozambique part of Portugal’s empire makes anything said about its philately highly conjectural.

If you like research and are willing to risk not coming up with much, then the stamps of Zambezia, Quelimane and Tete might be the topic on which to build an internationally acclaimed reputation. Be forewarned, however, that existing literature is scant and often contradictory, analytical history almost nonexistent, and official documents scarce and inaccessible. A familiarity with the Portuguese language will help, though.

If you or anyone you know are interested in such a venture, here’s what I’d like to know about these stamps:

·       Why and when exactly was Zambezia split into two districts, Quelimane and Tete? Current philatelic literature posits three dates: 1902, 1907, and 1913. Or was it never really a split?

·       Was military action involved when the split occurred, perhaps in Tete?

Scott Tete #s 38 (brown on pink), 39, (orange on salmon) and 40 (green on blue)

·       If the earlier date is more accurate, why were Zambezia stamps continued in use and Quelimane and Tete stamps not issued until 1913-14? And why were overprinted Zambezia stamps issued in 1915?

  Scott Zambezia #s 86 (light green), 75 (yellow green, local overprint) and 87 (carmine)  

 Why was the Zambezia Company not a charter company that had control over postal services, such as was the case with the Nyasa Company and Mozambique Company?

·       In what ways did the prazo system of land tenure in Zambezia affect postal service? Through prazo, large feudal estates were controlled by Portuguese traders and soldiers in the Zambesi River basin. Prazo-holders’ loyalty to the Portuguese crown was minimal and they operated independently sometimes supported by their own armies.

·       Apart from the overprint “Republica” on the Vasco da Gama series, how did the coup d’état in Portugal (5 October 1910) affect colonial postal services? 

Scott Quelimane #s 23 and 7, bister brown

·       Why were the Vasco da Gama stamps recycled for use 20 years after they were first issued? Do the recycled stamps differ from the originals in ways other than the overprints? Was there a huge oversupply?

Scott Tete #10, red

Why are Quelimane and Tete stamps usually found in mint condition while Zambezia’s are commonly in used condition? Were the former issued mainly for sales to collectors and not so much for local use?

·       Why are Quelimane and Tete stamps exact duplicates, except for the key plates and overprints of the districts’ names? Inhambane has similar issues.

·       Why are covers from this area scarce and expensive? What can be learned from covers that do exist?

·       To what extent were stamps of the various Mozambique districts used interchangeably, say, Inhambane stamps cancelled at a Tete post office?

·       How scarce were stamps in Tete and Quelimane? Some covers exist that have only a small fraction of a stamp on them.

Ambitious researchers need not start from scratch. Three sources provide something of a head start: 1- Gerben van Gelder’s Stamps World History site has discussions about the stamps of all Mozambique districts. See for instance: https://stampworldhistory.com/country-profiles-2/africa/quelimane/. 2- See also relevant articles in the UK-based Portuguese Philatelic Society Bulletin. 3- Writing in Portuguese, Luís Brito Frazão focuses on general Portuguese philately and has a book titled Contribuição para a história postal do Baixo Zambeze (2008) Contribution to the Postal History of the Lower Zambezi.

Frazão’s book cover showing Scott Quelimane #27, olive brown. Currently out of print.

A final caution: Portuguese officials sometimes grossly overstate the quality of life in the African colonies. Franco Nogueira, Portuguese Foreign Minister (1961-69), boasted: “We alone, before anyone else, brought to Africa the notion of human rights and racial equality. We alone practiced the principle of multi-racialism, which all now consider to be the most perfect and daring expression of human brotherhood and sociological progress…. Our African provinces are more developed, more progressive in every respect than any recently independent territory in Africa south of the Sahara, without exception.”(1) Nogueira uttered these falsehoods during the Mozambiquan war for independence (1964-75) that cost one million lives, displace five million citizens, and created nearly two million international refugees.

Ordinary life in Tete, much as I saw it on my last visit. (2)

Census: Quelimane, 20 in BB spaces, 15 on supplement page. Tete, 21 in BB spaces, 19 on supplement page. Zambezia, 37 in BB spaces, 41 on supplement page.

(1) Cited by Gerald J. Bender, Angola Under the Portuguese: The Myth and the Reality, (1978) p xxi.

(2) Photo credit: Cgreenhaf. Accessed via https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tete,_Mozambique.jpg. In public domain.

Jim's Observations

I haven't visited the area as Bud has, but my contribution is linked below...


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Comments appreciated!

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

How I collect and add to my WW 1840-1940 (-1952 Commonwealth) collection

St. Vincent Sept 1 1881 Scott 31 1/2p on half of 6p yellow green
1880 Scott 28 6p yellow green Bisected and Surcharged in Red

Into the Deep Blue

This post is going to be a bit of "show & tell" showing some of my recently acquired St. Vincent's collection.

But more so, it will outline how I tend to collect these days. 

Currently,  I  have a 61% filled Deep Blue (51,000+) and a 90% filled Big Blue (31,000+).

Recall that I put my stamps into Deep Blue - Steiner pages that provide a space for all the major Scott numbers.  The Steiner pages, for 1840-1940 WW (-1952 Commonwealth), provide 83,000+ spaces in total. 

If I just picked up random WW lots or collections, I would probably already have 99% of the stamps. Not a good approach. 

I have two strategies.

1) The obvious strategy of creating want lists for a certain country, and finding stamps with dealers, auctions, or the internet ( APS site not uncommonly, some e-bay). One will usually pay more CV wise, but one gets the stamp one desires.

2) The second strategy is buying relatively complete or specialized country collections. Yes, there will be overlap with stamps one already has, but often the new collection yields a significant number of new stamps, or there are quality additions, and even surprises! 

This approach works especially well the last several years as there is a glut of country collections available  ( See Is the Stamp Hobby for WW collectors changing?). Often the CV for a nice country collection is in the 16%-20% range from dealers.

Ok, what I will show now is several pages from my "before" St. Vincent collection in Deep Blue; then a stock page from the recently acquired St. Vincent collection; then showing again the several pages of St. Vincent with the new stamps in place after using the stock page. What interesting stamps will we find?

The "before" St. Vincent in Deep Blue

St Vincent Deep Blue 1880-81 Before

Note: The upper section of this page is already filled with stamps from the new collection.

St Vincent Deep Blue 1883-97 Before

St Vincent Deep Blue 1885-98 Before

New collection St Vincent Stock Page 

The "after" St. Vincent in Deep Blue

St Vincent Deep Blue 1880-81 After

Sept 1 1881 Scott 31 1/2p on half of 6p yellow green
Bisected and surcharged in red

The big addition (and a surprise!) is this bisected Scott 31 - CV $190.

St Vincent Deep Blue 1883-97 After

You will note I tend to put duplicates on the same page (if possible). It is helpful to spot a minor number color shade, or show off an interesting cancel. 

1883-84 Perf 12 Scott 35, 36, 39

The new stock page yielded three stamps that were Perf 12 - 1884 1/2p green (CV $40), 1883 4p ultramarine (CV $55), 1883 1sh orange vermilion (CV $65). The perfs were checked and the wmks were checked. The collector that put together the stock page was quite accurate - but not perfect. For instance, one of his "perf 12" 1sh orange vermilion stamps turned out to be perf 14. Always recheck!

1883 Scott 40 2/12p on 1p lake
Second example (new) - a SG 40w - Wmk inverted - 10x CV $1.75 = $17.50

Another surprise! An advantage of double checking wmks is finding unusual examples - here an inverted one. This variety is only listed in SG, not in Scott.

1883 Scott 42 1p drab (new); 1885 Scott 43 1p rose red;
1886 Scott 44 1p pink (new); 1897 Scott 45 2 1/2p bright blue (new)

The Perf 14 Crown wmk 2 spaces here yielded three new stamps: 1p drab (CV $60 unused), 1p pink (CV $190), & 2 1/2p bright blue (CV $2.10).

Admittedly, the "1p pink" is a tentative  (and a bit hopeful) color identification- would need to be certified. There are three colors listed in Scott: 1885 rose red, 1886 pink, 1889 carmine red. 

1883 Scott 46 4p ultramarine (new); 1886 Scott 48 4p lake brown;
1893 Scott 49 4p yellow 

The 4p ultramarine (CV $85) is new. The 4p yellow is not, but I might have a new color variation. (see below)

Scott 49a 4p olive yellow?

Is this the much less common "olive yellow" color (CV $350), or merely some oxidizing (sulfuretting)?

1897 Scott 50 5p gray brown (new); 1888 Scott 51 6p violet (new)

The 5p gray brown (CV $8.75 unused) is new. Also new (if the color is correct) is the 6p violet (CV $225). Compare with the more common color below.

1891 Scott 52 6p red violet (new- two examples); 1888 Scott 54 5sh carmine lake;
Scott 53a 1sh red orange (new); Scott 53 1sh orange vermilion (two examples - one sulfuretted)

I have the 6p red violet (CV $3/$25), which is new. (Compare with the 6p violet above.) Also, it appears I have minor number 1sh red orange (CV $13, but fiscal).

1885 Scott 55 1p on 2 1/2p on 1p lake (new)

This resurcharged 1p is new for me (CV $37.50).

Scott 56b 2 1/2p on 1p gray blue (new); 1890 Scott 56 2 1/2p on 1p bright blue;
1893 Scott 89 5p on 6p deep lake

The 1p gray blue color variation is new (CV $ <$1).

Scott 60a 3p on 1p reddish lilac (new); 1897 Scott 60 3p on 1p lilac

The reddish lilac color is new (CV $35).

1898 Scott 67 5p lilac & black (new); Scott 68 6p lilac & black (new);
Scott 69 1sh green & carmine rose (new- fiscal)

Finally, the Victoria issue of 1898 yields three new stamps ( CV $8.25, $14.50, $16, but fiscal) respectively.

Out of the Blue

Well, that was fun. 😎

Monday, August 28, 2023

Queensland - Bud's Big Blue

Queensland, credit Gerben van Gelder
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

When Queensland became a colony separate from New South Wales (1859) its existing post offices had already been allocated numerical identification codes for canceling stamps. The practice continued and, as new post offices opened, each was given its own defining numeral cancel.  Queensland’s numbers range from 5 to 896, with gaps, and continued in use until 1915. The numbers have surrounds, rays or bars, that vary somewhat. These have been meticulously identified by Dr Jeremy Hodes and can be viewed online at https://queenslandstampnumerals.blogspot.com/.

Collecting these cancels, although a well-developed specialization, can be an interesting diversion for generalists. Most collections will have some of them. If the number is clear enough to read, one can easily find out a great deal about the post office and town where the stamp got branded. Two examples from my collection follow. 

1883 Queensland, Scott 68

Laidley, a rural town in the Lockyer Valley region, began in the early 1830s as a wagon stop on the way from Ipswich and Toowoomba. It opened its post office in 1861 and was assigned the number 32. Although small (Laidley’s population today is shy of 4000), a major railway passed through it giving its postal service greater importance than it would have had otherwise.

Laidley Post Office, about 1901 (credit Gordon Davenport)

Gordon Davenport has collected pictures of old Laidley, including its post office, some of which can be viewed at:


1890 Queensland, Scott 90

A costal city, Townsville was founded in 1864 and, because of its proximity to gold mining areas, it developed into the main city of North Queensland. Its cancel number is 59. In 2021, its population exceeded 179,000.

Townsville Post office, about 1910

With comparatively few stamp designs to choose from (commonly called the Chalon, Sideface and Commonwealth varieties), Queensland stamp enthusiasts have largely turned to the plethora of cancels. Their choice is a good one; it combines interesting history and geography with their philately.

Census: in BB spaces, 34, tip-ins 2, on supplement pages 44.

Jim's Observations

The Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Queensland 1860-1909, 164 major descriptive numbers (This does not include the 52 Postal Fiscal stamps in the catalogue). Of those, 31 or 19% are CV <$1-$3+. The earlier 1860-1881 issues (83 stamps) tend to be moderately expensive ($10+) to quite expensive ($100+), and the WW classical collector may only have a small representative collection for the era. 

Overall, Queensland stamps are fairly complicated with multiple watermarks, paper, perforation and printing types. Queensland stamps are a good realm for the specialist, less so for the generalist.

Nevertheless, I recently acquired a nice early Queensland collection, which I will show in a future post. 😎

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Comments appreciated!