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, September 30, 2012


1888 Scott 21 20pf vermilion & bright green  
"Coat of Arms"
Quick History
Denmark ceded Heligoland to the British in 1814, a half square mile island located 29 miles off the German coast on the North Sea. Although "British", in reality, Heligoland became a favorite seaside spa for wealthy Germans.

The reality is reflected in the first 1867 British stamp issue (actually printed by the Berlin Prussian State Printing Office, as where all subsequent issues), which has a portrait of Queen Victoria, but is denominated in Hamburg schillings. After 1875, the stamps had dual Pfennig & Farthing/Pence denominations.

Then in 1890, the island was traded to Germany in order for the British to be able to tighten their grip on Zanzibar without German interference, much like one would exchange real estate on a Monopoly board game. (The sultanate of Zanzibar had little to say on the matter.)

British stamp production ceased, and henceforth Helgoland (German), population 2,330 (1900), was part of the German Empire.
Heligoland circa 1890
Into the Deep Blue
When the classical stamp collector turns his or her attention to Heligoland, one word is paramount.


Consider this...

The original twenty six major Scott number description stamps issued between 1867-1890 had a production total of ~ 1 1/2 million.

The reprints, produced between 1875-1895, had an estimated volume of  7 million.

Then to complicate matters, the originals had up to eight separate printings, while Berlin, Hamburg, and Leipzig were the source of different reprints. 

And the Berlin reprints are often of fresher appearance than the originals.

Since "used" stamps often have a higher CV, forged cancellations are abundant.

The good news is there is a source where comparative study can be done.


The 2011Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1867-1888, twenty-six major stamp descriptions, with many more minor color descriptions. Seven stamps have a mint CV of $10+, with three more with a CV of $20-$30+.

The classical collector could send his or her Heligoland stamps to be certified by experts. But seeking expert opinion of the ten modestly expensive stamps listed above would not be cost effective for most collectors.

So, one is left with doing one's own research, or assume the specimens in the collection are reprints valued @ $1-$2.  ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues
1873 Scott 8 1/4 sch yellow green & rose, perforation 14
I don't have an extensive collection of Heligoland as one would expect from a collector of modest means. ;-)

But let us see what we can say about the stamps I have.

The 1873 issue (six stamps) are found on thick quadrilled paper. Reprints are not. The Scott 8 above is not on quadrilled paper: therefore a reprint. Once more, the 1/4 Schilling is usually found with a pale rose frame and a pale green Queen Victoria cameo background (Scott 7 CV $30+). Illustrated here is the 'error" Scott 8 with the reverse colors (CV $100+): Fat chance this is an original. ;-) 

One thing to note is the shape of the hair protuberance above the neck nape. There are three types, and this type is a corkscrew curl (Type 2). If one would like to separate the originals from the various reprints, the "Hair Protuberance" type is important.

Reviewing Pollard Chart 8 (found at the web site linked above), the above Scott 8 stamp (Type 2, perforation 14) is a 3rd Hamburg Reprint, March 21, 1895.

Well, that was kind of fun. ;-)

1875 Scott 14 1pf dark rose & dark green 
Perf 13 1/2 X 14 1/4
1875 saw a six stamp issue doubly denominated as above. 

The 1 Pfennig stamp illustrated is Perf 13 1/2 X 14 1/4. This eliminates the Hamburg reprints, as they are Perf 14, according to Pollard chart 13.

Does the stamp have large holes or small holes? I'm electing  large holes, which eliminates the Leipzig reprint.
( I might be wrong, as I have "nothing" to compare.)

The stamp is than either an original or one of two Berlin reprints.

Although the scan does not show as well, the stamp has a dark green color to the cameo. The Berlin reprint is "lighter and brighter". Therefore this could be an original (CV $10+).  ;-)

1875 Scott 14 -two copies
Note the lighter green color of the right stamp? (Reprint)
I have another copy of the 1875 1 Pfennig, which is also perforation 13 1/2 X 14 1/4 (right stamp). It has, however, a lighter green color to the cameo. This probably is one of the Berlin reprints.

1875 Scott 15 2pf yellow green & dark rose
Perf 13 1/2 X 14 1/4
Scott mentions that the 2pf (as well as the 1 pf) of the 1875 issue was often reprinted on very white paper. The description appears to fit here. 

Reviewing Pollard Chart 14...

The Hamburg reprints are perf 14, and the Leipzig reprints have small holes; neither apply here.

The original has dark green/ dark lilac carmine color. The Berlin reprints have dull green and light carmine red color.

This appears to be a Berlin reprint. 

BTW, an examination under ultraviolet light is recommended by Pollard to help differentiate the originals from the Berlin reprints.

1888 Scott 21 20pf vermilion $ bright green
"Coat of Arms"
Between 1876-88, two stamps with 3pf and 20pf denominations and "Coat of Arms" motif were issued.

The good news is there were no reprints of the 20 pfennig stamp.

If one wants to be sticky though, there are eight "original" printings of the stamp. ;-)  Consult Pollard chart 19, if interested, but the comparison is much easier with multiple examples.

The "Heligoland" cancellation on the stamp might very well have been "applied", as used copies are worth twice as much as mint (CV $30 vs $15).

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner), on two pages, has 40 spaces for the 26 major Scott varieties, as well as 14 spaces for minor number color varieties. For instance with the 1888 Scott 21 illustrated above, there are six spaces, reflecting the different color shades found with various printings.

Heligoland found in '41/'47; not in '69/'97 editions.
Big Blue
Unfortunately, Heligoland is one of the "lost" countries now in Big Blue. The '69 editors eliminated the Heligoland/Hanover/Hamburg coverage page.

But let's take a look at what was offered for Heligoland in the '47/'41 editions....

What was "41/"47 Big Blue thinking?.......   ;-)

Illustrated in the last cut is the 1875-76 Scott 20 (or 20a) 3 pfennig "Coat of Arms". CV is $250 for the Scott 20 or $175 for the Scott 20a. The much less expensive 1888 20pf  "Coat of Arms", placed above the cut in the photo, is CV $14+. ! Yet there is no space for the 1888 20pf. Note BB's dates only go to 1879, but a date expansion and a cut substitute to the 20pf would have solved this 'expensive" problem.

The other six spaces, including two blank spaces, offer a nice selection of CV $10+ Heligoland stamps.
Coverage by BB is 27%.

Actually, the prices for these classical stamps (except for Scott 20/20a) are quite reasonable. I suspect the abundant reprints ($1-2) have dragged down the CV of genuine Heligoland.

Checklist ('47 edition)

14,15,17, 20a or 20

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1867-68  Scott 3 2sch rose & pale green ($10+)
1867-68 (Scott 4) 6sch gray green & rose ($10+)
1874 (Scott 13) 1/4sch rose & yellow green ($10+)
1875 Scott 14 1pf dark rose & dark green ($10+)
1875 Scott 15 2pf yellow green & dark rose ($10+)
1875 Scott 17 10pf blue green & red ($10+)
1877 Scott 20a 3pf green & bright red  ($175) !

B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space elective choice

C) Reprints are common and are $1-2 in value.

1875 Scott 14 1pf dark rose 7 dark green
Note lighter green in cameo, and the white paper? Probable Berlin reprint
Out of the Blue
I was pleasantly surprised that, at least roughly sorting out the originals and reprints, was not difficult with the on-line Robert Pollard charts.

Heligoland stamps, with the "British" queen portrait and the "German" printing, are fascinating designs. Big Blue should not have eliminated coverage of Heligoland in the '69 edition.

Although BB would not need to bring back the Scott 20/20a "Coat of Arms" $250/$175 stamp. ;-)

Note: Heligoland picture appears to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Nice write-up as usual. As my collection has zero stamps from Heligoland, the fact about dual currency/British connections got me by surprise. Fascinating tidbit :)

  2. Thanks Keijo

    Interesting stamps. I hope to obtain a few more, as each one is a detective story. ;-)

  3. Enjoy reading your posts, do not have much time to work on my collection (kids, work) so I get my stamp fix reading your blog.


  4. Dan, I did not really get started again until I retired and the kids left the nest. So enjoy, and I appreciate your nice comment. :-)

  5. Jim (or Keijo or whoever else might be reading this), this EBay item was advertised as replica Heligoland: EBay item no. 180935880978 and sold for $11.00.

    It's the Kaiser yacht series, said to be 1900. Did Heligoland ever issue a Yacht series? Are these just totally manufactured fakes rather than replicas?

    Just curious--I'd never buy them.


  6. Hi Dennis

    I don't have the catalogue with me at the moment, but I know they (Yacht series) were not in the Heligoland part that I reviewed here.

  7. Hi guys,

    I agree, very interesting and informative write-up.
    I'm always looking for Used Heligoland items
    mainly Cancellations and Postal Markings
    and anything Pre-Philatelic.
    Have a look at: www.heligolandstamps.com

    Let me know if you have anything of interest.
    email: HeligolandStamps@gmail.com

  8. Hi Serge Houde

    When I received your comment, I was concerned it could be spam. But you have a genuine interest that is clearly by a collector and lover of Heligoland. ;-)

    Nice examples of the Heligoland stamps as well as a pictorial atlas of cancellations.

    Happy to post your site, and good luck with your collection!