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, May 15, 2012

Gold Coast

1891 Scott 15 2 1/2p blue & orange "Queen Victoria"
Quick History
With the defeat of the Ashanti in 1874, the British proclaimed the former coastal protectorate a crown colony, the Gold Coast Colony, on July 24,1874.

The Ashanti people were and are the major ethnic group of the Gold Coast (now Ghana), and established an empire in west Africa lasting from 1700-1896.

Ashanti Empire in the 19th Century
The peace treaty required that the Ashanti give up any claim to the coastal territory, and the British proclaimed a protectorate over the interior Ashanti kingdom. The British sphere of influence gradually expanded, and the Ashanti territory became part of the colony in 1901 after a final defeat.

Map of Gold Coast 1896
The Capital of the newly formed  Gold Coast Colony, between the French Colonies of Dahomey and the Ivory Coast, was moved to the former Danish castle at Christiansborg in Accra.  The population was 4,000,000 in 1942.

Cacao trees were introduced in 1878, and by 1950, more than half of the world's cocoa supply was exported from the Gold Coast. 

The export of Timber and Gold was also significant.

The first Gold Coast postage stamp issue occurred in July, 1875. 

1948 2 1/2p light brown & red "Position of Gold Coast"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 154 major description for stamps from 1875-1952. Of those, 81 are <$4 CV. "Affordability" Index is 53%.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1884 Scott 13 1p rose & Scott 17 4p dull violet "Victoria"
Watermark "Crown & C A"
Between 1875-79, eight "Queen Victoria" design stamps were issued with watermark "Crown & C C". They had the same design as those illustrated above. Three have a CV of <$12, but I don't have any. ;-)

Of interest, a handstamp surcharged "1D" on a 4p red violet is listed as Scott 9 in the catalogue. There are supposedly 1-3 copies that exist. There is one in the British Museum. Some experts question the legitimate status of the stamp. In fact, SG mentions the stamp, but does not list it.

Between 1883-91, an eleven stamp issue was produced with a watermark "Crown & C A". The 1p and 4p are illustrated above.  Eight have a CV between $1+-$6+. Classic design.

1898-1902 Scott 26 1/2p lilac & green
watermarked "Crown & C A"
In 1898, another "Victoria" series was introduced as illustrated above. This ten stamp series has four stamps with a CV of <$1-$2+. Some of the colored numerals are on a colorless background tablet (2p,3p,6p).

Upper left: wmk 2 "Crown & C A"
Upper right: wmk 3 "Multiple Crown & C A"
Below: wmk 4 "Multiple Crown and Script C A"
Since we will be getting into watermark differences, here is a refresher pic of the relevant watermarks.
Generally with British colonies, it is important to ascertain the watermark.

1902 Scott 43 6p violet & purple & Scott 44 1sh green & black
King Edward VII: wmk 2
The King Edward VII issues were produced in 1902 with an eleven stamp bi-colored set. Five stamps have a CV between <$1-$4. These "Baldies" have wmk 2.

1904-07 Scott 51 2p violet & red orange
1905 Scott 53 3p violet & orange- these issues have wmk 3
Another seven stamp set of bi-colored "Baldies" was issued between 1904-07, all with wmk 3. Three are CV <$1-$2. Several stamps of this issue were produced as chalky paper varieties in 1906.

1907-13 Scott 59 2 1/2p ultramarine
Single color issue; all wmk 3
A ten stamp third set of "Baldies" was issued between 1907-13. The lower denominations are on ordinary paper, while the higher (3p and up) are found on chalky paper. They are easy to distinguish, as the stamps are single color, although the higher denominations are printed on colored paper. Seven stamps range from CV <$1-$3.

A different design for King Edward VII was produced in 1908 for the single 1p carmine (Scott 66). An illustration of this stampt heads the "Big Blue" section of the blog. The same design was used for the subsequent 1p "George V" issues.

1913-21 Scott 71 2p gray & Scott 74 6p dull violet & red violet
"King George V": Die I types; wmk 3
The Gold Coast colony is one of those that has both Die I and Die II varieties for the "George V" stamps. We will have a primer for Die I/Die II types later in the blog.

The 1913-21 "George V" design was a fourteen stamp issue, as illustrated above. They are characterized by wmk 3 and Die I types. Nine of the stamps range in CV from <$1-$3+.

1922 Scott 84 1p brown & 1925 Scott 90 1sh black/emerald
1921-25 issue; wmk 4(mostly), Die II
The second "George V" issue was produced between 1922-25, and had wmk 4 (Except for 15sh & £ 2), and Die II type. This thirteen stamp set has eight stamps between CV <$1-$4. Note the 1p design similar to the "Baldy" Scott 66.

Now, let's refresh our memory on the Die I/Die II differences...

1922 Scott 85 1 1/2p carmine Die II
1913-21 Scott 69 1/2d green Die I
Die I has the crown above King George V dropped down further into the solid background around George V compared to Die II. Also the solid background side panels for "POSTAGE" and "& REVENUE" on the top inside corners are "square" in Die I, and "diagonal" in Die II. There are other differences also.

Let's take a closer look...

Upper stamp differences Die II vs Die I
The differences are:
A) The Die II bottom of the crown (thick horizontal colored line) is even with the inner white line on either side of the crown. Note on Die I, the inner white line intercepts the crown above the bottom of the crown.

B) Thick horizontal middle (colored) line that intercepts the crown on either side of the crown is "squarer" in Die II; while "diagonal" in Die I.

C) The solid vertical background panel for "POSTAGE" and "& REVENUE" on the inside upper corners is  "diagonal"" in Die II while "squarer" in Die I.

Lower stamp difference Die II vs Die I
Observe the little curly-cue at the bottom outer edges of the design? Follow the little curly-cue up until it is vertical. There you will see a little nubbin come out on the outer side in Die I, but none in Die II. You may need to enlarge the image to see it well.

1928 Scott 100 1 1/2p scarlet & Scott 102 2 1/2p yellow
"Christiansborg Castle"
In 1928, a ten stamp set was produced as illustrated above. Six stamps are CV <$1. The formerly Danish Christiansborg Castle in Accra serves as the Capital building.

1938-41 Scott 121 6p rose violet "Christiansborg Castle"
Eight stamp design
In 1938, a series was issued as illustrated above. All the stamps are inexpensive. But this is one of my favorite stamp series for a personal reason. 

When I became interested in stamp collecting as a child, my Father gave me the red Scott "Modern" stamp album that was his. In it, I recall vividly this set for the Gold Coast. My Father must have bought this inexpensive series at some time. Since he was a child of the Depression, he did not spend frivolously. Yet there was this wonderful design to my eyes -MINT! 

He has passed away now some 20 years. But whenever I come upon these stamps, I think of my Father. :-)

1938-41 Scott 125 2sh dark violet & deep blue
The five higher valued denominations in the set are horizontal in format, as illustrated. CV ranges from <$1-$10.

1948 Scott 133 2p chocolate "Talking Drums"
Scott 137 6p orange & black "Cocoa Farmer"
Although the Scott Classic catalogue (and Deep Blue) cover up to 1952 for British Commonwealth, most of the stamps found for the British Colonies during 1945-52 are Omnibus series; such as the Peace issue, the Silver Wedding issue, and the UPU issue. Not real exciting.

Here, though, is a  twelve stamp series issued in 1948 that has local pictorial images.  Refreshing! The set ranges in CV from <$1-$7+.

Cocoa is an important export for the Gold Coast, so appropriate to see the farmer depicted here.

1948 Scott 135 3p blue "Manganese Mine"
Scott 138 1sh red orange & black "Breaking cocoa pods"
More images depicting local mining and the important cocoa industry. Extractive and low-tech, to be sure, but these stamps offer a glimpse into the ordinary life of the Gold Coast.

1951-52 Postage Due Scott J5 black /chalk surfaced paper
The original 1923 design was the same as shown above, except the 1951-52 stamps are on chalk surfaced paper.

1918 War Tax Scott MR1 1p scarlet
The war tax stamp is overprinted on a 1913-18 Scott 70a 1p scarlet, which has this interesting "George V" design. The design is similar to the 1p brown  "George V", and the 1p carmine "Edward VII" stamps.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has ten pages for the Gold Coast. and I have stamps on all pages. The Steiner has all of Scott's major numbers represented, including the dubious Scott 9 discussed at the beginning of this section. Perhaps I could borrow the stamp from the British Museum to put there. ;-)

Of interest, the chalk surfaced 1951-52 Postage Due's (4 spaces) are not represented in the classic Steiner Gold Coast pages. Either they are in the full Steiner page set (probable), or they were missed by Steiner.

1908 Scott 66 1p carmine "King Edward VII"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages, has 61 stamp spaces. Subtracting for the stamps issued after 1940, coverage is 46%.

Big Blue, as we all know, is a "representative" album. Nevertheless, it is still annoying when otherwise fine inexpensive stamps are not included. Here are the Gold Coast issues where BB cuts off 1-3 stamp spaces early...

Stamp series where BB could have included more stamps for a nominal CV include:
1884-91 (one-Scott 19)
1898 (two- Scott 30,31)
1907-11 (one-Scott 62)
1913-16 (two- Scott 75,76)
1921-15 (three- Scott 83,86,89)

Simple Checklist



38 or 49, 39 or 50, 40 or 51, 42 or 53, (43 or 54),(44),



69,70,71,72,73 or 81,74,




Next Page



War Tax stamp

Postage Due

A) Most expensive stamps ($10 threshold)
1935 Scott 110 6p indigo & green "Silver Jubilee" ($10+)
1923 Postage Due Scott J1 1/2p black ($20)
B) (   ) around a stamp number indicates a blank space elective choice

1948 Scott 140 5sh gray & red violet "Surfboats"
Out of the Blue
Between the watermarking and Die I/II evaluations for the classic issues, and the Pictorials found in the later issues, the Gold Coast offers a lot: to say nothing about the exotic name and location.

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Gold Coast - Bud's Big Blue

Drop me a comment!


  1. No need to post, but I have 61 in Big Blue.

  2. Joe, I published your comment, because it uncovered an omission error I made. Thanks for the vigilance! The 1908 Scott 66 1 p carmine ( the pic heads the Big Blue section of the blog) was not put in the checklist, and hence my wrong count!

    I will correct on Monday when I get back into town.

    Thanks Joe. :-)


  3. There was a 20/ stamp of which almost the entire stock was stolen from the post office. It was replaced with a stamp in new colors that is a part of the standard definitive. An interesting story.

  4. Interesting comment, but could you be more specific? I would like to know more of the story. ;-)

  5. Please,
    I really like to be informed about what happened exactly with the Gold Coast stamp SG 24 QV 20 S which was stolen. Is there any news, story or article what speaks about the big theft between 1889-1893? Pls be so kind to reply or give your comments to me. Regards, J. Wubbeling

    1. Hello J. Wubbeling

      Well, here is what I learned, based on the catalogues.

      The 1889 Scott 24 20sh green & red "Victoria) (Scott A3 design)(SG 24) was withdrawn from sale April, 1893 when a large part of the stock was stolen. No 20sh stamps were available until April, 1894, when the 1894 Scott 25 (SG 25) 20sh violet & black/red was issued. Catalogue values are $3,500 (unused) for Scott 24, and $40 (used) for Scott 25. I'm sure there is more to the story.

  6. Dear Jim,
    Thanks for your quick reply. The reason for my question is that I am for a long time in the possession of a Gold Coast, 1889 QV 20 S red and green stamp, in very fine used condition. However, the problem is that no Catalogue recognise or give any vanue to a used stamp QV 1889 20 S red and green. That means I cannot find any description and/or estimation of the catalogue value of this stamp, as used (stamped), in any catalogue. Not in the Michel, not in the Yvert et Tellier and not in the Stanley Gibbons.
    My stamp goes with a Certificate of authenticity, issued by the Union des Sociétés Philatéliques Suisses (No.319 50), dated 5 June 1950, and signed by expert Dr. G. Fulpius, Geneva, Switzerland.

    From my own investigations I understood that this particular stamp (SG24, 1889, 20 S Green and red) has been in use for a short period and withdrawn from sale in April 1893 when a large part of the stock was stolen. April 1894 the particular withdrawn stamp was replaced by the Queen Victoria 20 S, Dull mauve and red/black (SG 25).

    It was during my stay as a Governmental Development worker in Ghana from 2000 till 2013, that I have been informed by a historian of the Ghana Post Head Office, Accra, that although the Queen Victoria stamp, 1889, 20 S green and red, was issued from 1889 till end 1892, were sold during that period. After the theft the left issues were destroyed while waiting for a replacement that came around 1894.

    However, a certain number of stamps were still circulating and (most of them) are in the possession of stamp collectors at this moment. But (!), without doubts, at that time, from 1889 till 1892, some of these particular stamps are definitive also sold and used for shipment (to mail heavy letters/parcels). And although the huge theft was discovered between March-April 1893 and withdrawn end April 1893, it took till 1894 before the British authorities changed the 20 S Green and red stamp and replaced it with the 20 S, with the colours dull mauve and black/red, which was much more difficult to forge.
    At this moment I sent my stamp QV 1889 green red (fine used) with the original certificate to David Brandon, Guildford Surrey, UK, as leading expert in this field and asked him for a 2nd opinion about the stmp and certificate. It cannot be that experts of the past, because of lack of information just ignore the fact that there is (are) may be one or more originl used (genuine) stamps.
    So you can imagine that I am very interested if there is really more information, like a report, an article or another official document about this "huge theft" that made it necessary to withdrawn a complete issue of a just introduced stamp...
    I hope this will be continued!
    J. Wubbeling

    1. Wow! Thanks for the back story and congratulations!

      I have several thoughts....

      There is probably more information on the theft buried in some obscure philatelic literature or Society notes. Keep looking!

      I expect you do have a genuine 20 sh red & green. I was going to suggest you get an updated (modern) certificate, but looks like you are in the process of doing so.

      The sticky part is the "used" condition. It would be nice if there was some clue about the cancel. One does have to worry about a "fake" cancel applied later to increase value. Is it postally used (Would be more valuable)? Was it used as a revenue stamp (Would probably be less valuable)? (The 20 shilling has both "postage" and "revenue" permitted uses.) If revenue, what kind? The Stanley Gibbons catalogue has a note for the Gold Coast: "USED HIGH VALUES: Until the introduction of airmail in 1929 there was no postal use for values over 10s. Post Offices did apply postal cancellations for high value stamps required for telegram fees."

      Anyway, good luck with your quest!

    2. Dear Jim,
      it seems to me extraordinary that I initially asked a question on your website on July 13, 2019 in response to a comment by an unknown person on September 30, 2012, based on your Blue Books publication about the ‘famous’ Gold Coast stamp, known as the SG 24, Queen Victoria 1889, 20 S.
      By your comments and incentives I became as obsessed to this mystery that I I've found the answer to the question that I originally posted to you in public.
      By your comments and incentives I became as obsessed to this mystery that I started more intensive with my investigation and research and (yes) I have found the answer to the question that I initially put forwards to the readers in the forum of your blog.
      But only thanks to your incentive to me to search even deeper into the dusty archives of some fossil philatelists. Therefore I like to thank you in advance, truly and genuine.
      I don’t like to make it more exciting, but I do like to send you the denouement of this exceptional event in the postage stamp history:
      Important to know is that the Administration of the British rulers were situated at the castle Christiansborg in Accra (till present called “the Castle”). The Queen Victoria 1889, 20 Shilling stamp was printed and issued for a certain purpose. In his requisition dated 5th January 1889, the Colonial Secretary stated that this stamp will be required almost exclusively for legal purposes, i.e. for fiscal use, and in fact very few can have been used for postal purposes.
      It is not clear, however, why mint copies should be so rare since 13,320 copies were supplied by De la Rue to the Colony between May 1889 and October 1893. Of these, however, some 3,000 were sent out about the time or just after the stamps had been withdrawn from sale and demonetised on 6th April 1893 and the net number available for issue may, therefore, be taken as approximately 10,000.
      The withdrawal from sale referred to above followed on the theft on 3rd February 1893 of twenty-four sheets (1,440 stamps) from the strong-room at Accra by a messenger in the Colonial Secretary’s office. He had, apparently, been admitted to the strong-room for the purpose of clearing away litter and ‘having abstracted a packet of stamps dropped it among the litter and swept it out therewith'. The theft was not discovered until 4th April but was soon traced to the messenger; several receivers were also identified, the principal of whom, a Book Binder in the Government Printing Office, confessed to having 956 copies at his house. These stamps, plus a few others (996 in all) were recovered, thus leaving 444 unaccounted for.
      In the official view only some 40 of these stamps had been accepted for use during the period between 3rd February and 6th April 1893. What happened to the balance is not known although Spowart in his handbook (1929, by SG Ltd) suggests they were thrown into the sea and subsequently recovered, but that is doubtful. All the 20 S stamps in hand, including those recovered, were duly destroyed, approval being given by the Colonial Office on 11th September 1893. A requisition for a new supply in mauve and black on red was sent to De la Rue on 2nd January 1894.
      The thief and two of the receivers were each sentenced to five years penal servitude (sentenced to prison with hard labour).
      So, my dear Jim and other interested stamp collectors, this is the story behind the Queen Victoria 1889, 20 Shilling, green and red (SG 24). Always at your service, Johannes Wubbeling, Belgium

    3. Johannes- Great story! Thanks for sharing with the readers!