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, January 16, 2012

French Equatorial Africa

1937 Air Post 8.50fr red brown & yellow
"Trimotor over Stanley Pool"
Quick History
French Equatorial Africa stamps were issued exclusively after 1936, but the name has existed since 1910. Then Gabon and Middle Congo with its military dependencies were politically united as French Equatorial Africa, although each colony had administrative autonomy and had their own stamp issues. Ubangi-Chari-Chad was made an autonomous colony in 1915, and then in 1920 Chad was made an autonomous colony. The four colonies listed above were administratively united as one colony in 1934, and consequently the separate colonies stopped their own stamp issues in 1936. So to summarize: French Equatorial Africa consisted of four dependencies; namely Middle Congo, Ubangi-Shari, Chad and Gabon.

The Capital was Brazzaville, and the population was 3,400,000 in 1936.

French Equatorial Africa ( In Purple) 1920-1960

1937 1.50fr ultramarine Paris International Exposition Issue
Common Design Type: "Cultural Treasures of the Colonies"
Into the Deep Blue
The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, beginning in 1936,  has 167 descriptions for regular, semi-postal, air post, and postage due categories. 139 are less than $5. Affordability index= 83%. Although "affordable", they are not cheap, as many are valued in the $1-$2 range. The most expensive are two air post stamps (1940-41 C9 & C11) @ $240.

A close look at the stamps and issues

1936 1c brown violet "Timber Raft on Ogowe River"
Overprinted 1932 Gabon
The first "official" French Equatorial Africa production was 10 stamps, overprinted on a 1932 Gabon issue.

Note: Since Big Blue provides no spaces for this issue in the FEA section, these stamps were found in the margins of  Gabon in my feeder albums.

1936 2c dull blue "Viaduct at Mindouli"
Overprinted 1933 Middle Congo
Likewise, another 16 stamp production were overprinted on a 1933 Middle Congo issue.

So does any "French Equatorial Africa" overprint mean the stamp can be found in the French Equatorial Africa section of the catalogue?

1924 Middle Congo 1c olive gray & brown
Here is a 1924 Middle Congo stamp that is overprinted "French Equatorial Africa", but is part of the stamp production from 1924-30 of the Middle Congo!  Remember, these colonies were politically grouped together since 1910 as "French Equatorial Africa", but issued their own stamps. Some of them have overprints like this-very confusing. ;-) So "French Equatorial Africa" overprints before 1936 go in the respective colonies stamp section.

1937 15c blue & buff  "People of Chad"
Part of a 40 stamp issue 1937-40
From 1937-40, an issue with six designs and 40 stamps was produced. Fairly attractive, but one has to wonder if 40 stamps are a little much?

1937 20fr olive black & dull yellow
"Governor Victor Liotard"
The high end of the 1937-40 issue had a 20 Franc stamp illustrated above. How many do you think were used for postage as opposed to ending up in a stamp collection? ;-)

1937-40 25c copper red & blue
Type I: wide numerals (25c); Type II: narrow numerals (25c)
The 1937-40 25c has an interesting twist: two types of numerals as illustrated above. The Type II narrow numeral variety is valued @ $2.75: much more than Type I. Check your album to see which one you have. :-)

1940-41 1c brown & yellow "Logging on Loeme River" with carmine overprint
1940-41 3c blue & yellow with lower case black overprint?
In 1940, the 1937 issue was overprinted "Afrique Francaise Libre" or just simply "Libre", no doubt because of WWII. Scott recognizes 46 major descriptions, and the overprint on some stamps is found in either carmine or black. But I cannot find the black lower case overprint on the 3c blue & yellow illustrated above in Scott. Do any readers have a clue? ( The non-overprinted variety is @ 30 cents, while the "overprinted" variety catalogues @ $2, so a fake? ;-)

1940-41 30c gray & green "Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza" carmine overprint
1941 30c chalky black, indigo & buff with black overprint "Libre"
Here is a same denomination stamp that was produced in different colors, and each stamp comes in either carmine or black overprint! BTW, the 1940-41 overprinted issue is much more expensive than the 1937 issue, with several stamps in the $65 range.

1940 1fr on 65c "Émile Gentil" 
Has carmine surcharge
Finally, the 1940 overprinted issue has two surcharged varieties issued in 1940.

So, to summarize, French Equatorial Africa had two major issues between 1937-41 of 40 and 46 stamps respectively. No wonder I find a lot of FEA stamps in Big Blue collections. ;-)

Deep Blue
Deep Blue has 14 pages for French Equatorial Africa, and I managed to place stamps on 12 of those pages. Not bad. ;-) Deep Blue follows the Scott catalogue exactly. The puzzler was the black lowercase overprint I found on the 1940-41 3c blue & yellow, when Scott only has an uppercase carmine overprint variety listed.

1938 1.75fr blue issued for Centenary of Gabon
Count Louis Edouard Bouet-Willaumez and His Ship "La Malouine"
Note "AEF" for "French Equatorial Africa" 
Big Blue
The 69 BB has 63 spaces on three pages for regular, semi-postal, air post and postage due categories.
Coverage is 38%. BB does not provide any spaces for the 1936 overprinted Gabon and Middle Congo stamps. Twelve of them range from <$1-$1+. For the 40 stamp 1937-40 issue, BB provides 30 spaces. No coverage of the overprinted 47 stamp 1940-41 issue in BB, although Part II (1940-48) does have spaces if you happen to have that volume.

Simple Checklist


Next Page




Next Page

Postage Due

Air post

A) ( ) around a number indicates a suggested blank space choice
B) Expensive stamps ( $10 threshold):
Scott B1 1.75 + 50c bright ultramarine “Curie” $20+

1937 postage due 2fr dark blue & buff
"Numeral of Value on Equatorial Butterfly"
Out of the Blue
What is interesting is to see the separate stamp issuing colonies come together finally as French Equatorial Africa. So what happened during WWII and afterwards? As a collector, one can tell from the "Libre" overprinted FEA stamps of 1940-41, that French Equatorial Africa was on the side of the Free French Forces. Gabon was briefly Vichy French from June-November, 1940.

The Federation was represented in  the French parliament from 1946-58. But after 1960, the territory became independent Chad, Central African Republic (former Oubangui-Chari), The Republic of the Congo (former French Congo), Gabon and Cameroon. (Cameroon was never technically integrated into the FEA.)

Map appears to be in the public domain.

French Equatorial Africa - Bud's Big Blue

Would like to hear from you!


  1. "But I cannot find the black lower case overprint on the 3c blue & yellow illustrated above in Scott. Do any readers have a clue?"

    Check for year 1941, Scott #135.

  2. Thanks Keijo. I'm returning from the China trip, and will check the catalogue when I am home.

  3. Oubangui-Chari was not included in the Big Blue?

    1. http://bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com/2016/09/ClassicalStampsofUbangi-Shari.html

      In BB, it is labeled "Ubangi".

    2. I thought they would have respected the original name and sought under "O", thanks Jim !