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, January 2, 2013

Ionian Islands

1859 Scott 3 (2p) lake "Queen Victoria"
Issues of the British Protectorate
Quick History
The Ionian Islands, off the coast of mainland Greece, became a British protectorate after defeat of the French fleet in 1815. The "United States of the Ionian Islands" was formed under a new constitution. Initially satisfied under British rule, with the independence of Greece in 1830, many islanders preferred union with Greece.

The seven islands (Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and Zante in the Ionian Sea, with Kythera in the Mediterranean Sea south of Greece), had an area of 752 sq. miles, and a population of 250,000.

Map of Ionian islands
But the British were reluctant as the islands provided good naval bases.  And the Greek King Otto, German born, was considered to not have much British sympathy.

In 1859, the iconic stamp design of "Queen Victoria", looking somewhat like a Greek goddess, was produced in orange, blue and lake. This would prove to be the only British protectorate issue for the Ionian islands.

Then, in 1862, Otto was deposed, and George I, friendly to Great Britain, was put on the throne.
Britain then transfered the islands to Greece, except for the port of Corfu. Greek stamps were subsequently used.
Ionian Islands
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic specialized catalogue has only the three 1859 stamps for the Ionian Islands: the (1/2p) orange, (1p) blue, and (2p) lake. CV (Mint) is $100+, $20+, and $20 respectively.

1859 Scott 3 (2p) lake "Queen Victoria"
The denominations are determined by color.
Absolutely classic and lovely, no? There are many forged cancellations for these stamps due to the much higher CV for used.

If one wants to stretch the classical era until the 1940s, then there are the Italian occupation (1941) and German occupation (1943) stamps.

1941 Scott N18 5c olive brown with red overprint
Italian occupation of the Ionian islands.
Some 52 stamps were issued with overprints during the occupation. Although this blog generally stops at 1940 for non British Commonwealth countries, I am adding this grouping to my collection.  In fact, I'm considering expanding to about 1950 for all countries for my collection. Not quite there yet though. ;-)

BTW, For a great discussion on the Italian occupation of the Ionian islands, see..

The '41/'47 editions have the Ionian Islands in Big Blue
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, has........ ! no stamps for the Ionian islands, as this country was removed with the '69 editorial  housecleaning. But the '41/'47 editions provide a space. And, because of the ambiguity of the stamp denomination, relying solely on color, all three Ionian stamps can be admitted.

The least expensive would be the Scott 3 (2p) lake @ CV $20.

Checklist ('47)
1 or 2 or 3

A) Most expensive stamp ($10 threshold):
1859 Scott 3 (2p) lake ($20)

"United States of the Ionian Islands" Flag
Out of the Blue
The "Queen Victoria" design probably ranks in the top 10 all time.


Note: Map, Flag image, and pic appear to be in the public domain.

Happy New Year to every reader!

Leave a comment! :-)


  1. Jim, thanks for kind note on my discussion of the Ionian Islands. These are fascinating islands as they have such a long and rich history. I have been to Corfu, and Corfu Town is such a very interesting city to wander and get lost in.

    From a philatelic standpoint, these islands have seen no less than 7 "different" stamp issuing entities specific to one or more of the islands. (not counting general Greek issues)
    - British Protectorate of the Ionian Islands
    - Italian Occupation of the Ionian Islands in 1923
    - Italian Occupation of Corfu and Paxos - ww2
    - Italian Occupation of Cephalonia and Ithaca - ww2
    - Italian Occupation of the Ionian Islands (Isole Jonie) - ww2
    - German Occupation of the Ionian Islands - ww2 (commonly called the Zante issues)
    - Kingdom of Greece (overprinting italian occupation issues)

    If you think of any more, let me know. As an FYI, stamps overprinted "Isola Italiana di / Paxo / Anno XIX" are fraudulent.


  2. Hi Michael

    Who knew?

    Well, we do now, and thanks to your great write-ups, these "Dead occupations" are getting resurrected. ;-)


  3. Hey Jim!
    Nice article! (as always!)
    There are known forged cancellations on mint stamps (if I understood well). But do you have any knowledge if there are any known (and how abundant they are) forgeries of mint stamps?

    With regards!

  4. Thanks Lambros!

    I found this site which has examples of forged stamps...




  5. Great post, and I'm looking forward to filling an entire country in my '47 BB with a single stamp!

    btw, here's a good, recent resource for forgeries: https://stampforgeries.blogspot.com/2020/12/ionian-islands-1859.html

  6. Thanks Tom. And the forgery link looks good!