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...

Sunday, July 8, 2012


1938 Scott 7 30o blue "Polar Bear"
Quick History
Greenland, an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, was a Danish colony, and a colonial possession of Denmark (along with the Faroe Islands and the Danish West Indies). The Capital is Nuuk ( Godthaab) at 64 degrees north Latitude, about the same latitude as Fairbanks, Alaska (Incidentally, my brother lives in Fairbanks). The population was 16,000 in 1930; about 88% Inuit, and 12% Danes. It is the least densely populated country in the world.

Presently Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.

According to the Icelandic sagas, Erik the Red and his family settled there, and called it "Greenland", in the hope that the attractive name would bring settlers.

The Greenland ice sheet covers 80% of the country. Therefore, the villages and towns are along the ice free coast.

Map of Greenland and the ice sheet
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic specialized catalogue has nine regular stamps listed for 1938-46, and eleven major number, and seven minor number Parcel Post stamps for 1905-1937. The Parcel Post stamps are CV $60-$700+; rather expensive, I don't have any, and I will say no more about them. ;-)

As mentioned, Greenland only issued a regular stamp set beginning in 1938.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1938 Scott 2 5o rose lake "Christian X"
Five of the stamps issued in 1938 had the Danish King, "Christian X", on the portrait design. A sixth stamp, with 20 Ore denomination, was issued in 1946. CV is  <$1-$2+ for the stamps.

A rather striking design with the icebergs and ice shelf  in the background.

1938 Scott 9 1k light brown "Polar Bear"
Two of the 1938 stamps show a polar bear among the ice floes. What an attractive stamp! There was an additional 40o "Polar Bear" stamp issued in 1946. CV for the "polar bears" range from $5-$10+.

Deep Blue and Greenland
Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has one page for the regular issues (illustrated above), and two pages for the parcel post issues. Of interest, Deep Blue also has a page for a five stamp 1935-38 Thule Local Post set; an issue that is not in Scott.

1938 Scott 3 7o yellow green "King Christian X"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one page, provides spaces for the seven stamp 1938 regular issue. CV for this stamp stamp set is <$1-$5+.


1938 Scott 1 1o olive black "Christian X"
Out of the Blue
I regret having to stop my collection at ~ 1940, as the Greenland stamp issues are just getting started. ;-)

Note: Map and picture image appear to be in the public domain.

Greenland - Bud's Big Blue

Would like to hear from you!

Village of Ittoqqortoormiit


  1. Greenland was the only Danish colony?

    Danish West Indies? Faroe Islands?

    Just go right past 1940 to include the whole set and don't think twice about it. We'll all keep your secret.


  2. Ha-Ha

    What was I thinking? :-)

    And the Danish West Indies have some of my favorite stamps.

    "Just go right past 1940 to include the whole set and don't think twice about it. We'll all keep your secret."

    I did!

    Thanks Dennis

  3. I love Greenland stamps. They're beautifully designed, and I do collect them. It must be at least a little relief after Great Britain, Germany, and Greece, to get onto a small country about which you can write a smaller article! Great stuff as always. Yes, feel free to go well beyond 1940. No one will mind.

  4. You are right Drew!

    I love small countries, and Greenland has wonderfully designed stamps, even if not too many of them for us classical era collectors.

    Yes, Great Britain, Germany, and Greece were very heavy meat and potatoes. But up ahead are a string of nice (one blog) countries. I will even have something to say about Griqualand West. ;-)

    If I have the time, I would like to expand my personal collection up to ~1950 for all countries, although the blog will stay focused on the 1840-1940 classical era (1840-1952 British Commonwealth).

    I am fascinated with the WWII era, and the aftermath with the birth of new political movements and the beginning of the demise of the colonial powers.

  5. The same date cutoff issue happened with me. Initially, I thought 1940 (or so) would be fine, but soon decided I also wanted to collect stamps issued when I was first starting to collect which was int the 1950s. And, later, since I was collecting much more seriously in the 1960s maybe including that decade would be a good idea, too? This is the basic problem with worldwide collecting, of course. I currently "sort of" consider 1970 my cut-off year, but am "sort of" considering being selective about it, maybe doing some countries in detail and others not. Or maybe I won't make any decision and just collect what comes my way?

    Greenland was like a lot of European colonies in that it only got a select few stamps issued from time to time for many years. Of course, they also didn't even get stamps until decades after most colonies elsewhere (Africa, Asia, etc.) The few stamps were attractive for the most part depending on what you really feel about a plumed Christian X, of course. We all like polar bears, I imagine.

    When it was later discovered that colonies and former colonies could profit handsomely by upping the output of stamps fairly dramatically, even limited issuers like Greenland began to double and triple their output of stamps. Doubling Greenland's output still didn't create very many stamps, though. And, fortunately, Greenland and some other former colonies kept the numbers of stamps issued under reasonable control -- unlike many others who chose to churn out a flood and quickly lost all credibility.

    The other key element besides limited the number issued is honoring or picturing native subjects. Greenland stuck pretty close to home as most good stamp issuers have always done. Those issuers which chose to honor every possible foreign and topical subject in lengthy series of stamps that were clearly designed to sell to collectors rather than for genuine postal use further hurt themselves. Greenland avoided both problems and stands out in both respects. Now, mostly independent of Denmark, it still issues attractive stamps relevant to their country in limited numbers, a good approach always.

  6. Hi Guys:

    Great blog post. Greenland is just one of those lands where so many of us may never get to visit in person -- and so we do so though collecting its postage stamps!

    I am an expat currently residing in the Philippines working as a pastor/teacher, and don't have access to a Scott Catalog. I was thinking of collecting the Greenland REGULAR stamps from either 1938 - 1960; or 1938-1970.

    If someone has access to a Scott catalog, could you advise me as to what the Scott number is for the last REGULAR stamp issued in 1960 as well as the Scott number for the last REGULAR stamp issued in 1970 (please and thank you)? I am trying to assess how many stamps are involved through those two end-dates.

    Best Regards,

    1. Hi Eric

      Scott 1-47
      Total: 47 stamps

      1963-1970 (No stamps issued in 1961-62)
      Scott 48-76
      (Scott 72 (1975), Scott 73 (1976), Scott 74 (1973) are outside the scope of 1970.)
      Total: 25 stamps

      Then there are the 1905-37 eleven stamp (Scott Q1-Q11) Parcel Post stamps.

  7. Ah yes ... the Parcel Post stamps (Q1 - Q11). Yikes! (LOL)

    Thanks tons for looking up the information for me, Jim.

    Best Regards,


  8. I am seeking some of the American base cancellations from Greenland. I've got a few on cover, but I'm missing some like the bluie west cancels (i.e. Narsarsuaq ). Any leads ?

    1. Hi Drewfountain.
      I don't have any leads but it sounds like an interesting topic!