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...

Thursday, September 19, 2013


1938 Scott 162 1fr dark red & carmine rose
"Hova Woman"
Quick History
Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world, and is located off the coast of southeastern Africa. More importantly, Madagascar detached from India 88 million years ago, and consequently 90% of the wildlife is found nowhere else. 615 orchid species, 165 palm species, and 6 of the iconic baobob tree species are endemic to Madagascar. And lemurs, rather than monkeys, are found there.

Madagascar in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa
The Malagasy people who now inhabit Madagascar arrived from South Borneo by outrigger canoes up through the sixth century.

But the French, in the scramble for Africa, beat out the British and established a protectorate in 1885 in a rather strong-armed way (Franco-Hova Wars).  And, finding continued Native resistance, they exiled Queen Ranavalona III to Reunion island, then Algeria, and dissolved the Merina monarchy.

1922 Map of Madagascar
A French colony was declared in 1896, and  lasted until 1946.

French Madagascar administered the former protectorates of Anjouan, Grand Comoro, Mayotte, Diego-Suarez, Nossi-Be, and Sainte-Marie de Madagascar.  

 Madagascar was considered a French overseas territory until 1958. Full independence was gained in 1960.

The capital is Antananarivo, and the population was 3,900,000 in 1936.

1901 Scott 32 5c yellow green
"Navigation & Commerce"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, has, for Madagascar 1889-1944, 214 regular, and 51 semi-postal, air post, and postage due major stamp descriptions. Total = 265. Of those, 162 are CV <$1-$1+, or  61%.

The French Offices in Madagascar ( "French Protectorate") years, from 1889-1896, - some 31 major stamp descriptions- are rather expensive (CV $7+ - $2000+). The French colony years (1896-1944), though,  are pleasantly affordable for the WW classical collector.

The Scott catalogue also lists British Consular Mail stamps- some 61 examples- from 1884-1886. These are uniformly expensive (CV $100+-$4000+), and I will say no more about them.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1895 Scott 21 1fr bronze green
Stamps of France 1876-90, overprinted in red or black
As mentioned, the "French Protectorate" year stamps are rather expensive, but I do have this example. They consist of French stamps issued from 1889-1896, most with various overprints or surcharges. Kind of fun to dabble in the specialist's realm. ;-)

1900  Scott 34 10c red "Navigation & Commerce"
The first French colony issue for Madagascar has the familiar "Navigation & Commerce" design. Twenty stamps were issued between 1896-1906. The CV for 14 stamps is only <$1-$6. Nice.

1902 Scott 50 15c on 1fr olive green/straw
In 1902, there must have been a shortage of lower denomination stamps, as some 15 stamps were surcharged in various ways. Interestingly, four of the stamps were actually surcharged on stamps of Diego- Suarez. ( I don't have any of those).

The above surcharge design example is found on three stamps. ( CV $4+-$10+)

1902 Scott 53 0,10 on 50c carmine/rose
Another example of a surcharge is shown here. This surcharge script is found on five 1902 stamps. (CV $6+-$10+)

1902 Scott 58 0,01 on 2c brown/buff
Another three stamps from the 1902 production have this surcharge design. (CV $6+-$8)

I really never tire of the French "Navigation and Commerce" varieties. :-)

1903 Scott 66 5c yellow green
"Zebu, Traveler's Tree, and Lemur"
Perhaps, as an early recognition of the interesting species found on Madagascar, this design was used for the first issue intended for the colony. The 1903 production had 15 stamps with a CV of $1-$5 for 9 stamps.

Madagascar's lemurs are iconic.  The "Traveler's Tree" is endemic, and is so named as rain water will accumulate in the leaf bases, and can serve as an emergency supply. The zebu is found in pure form in Madagascar.
1925 Scott 95 30c green & red violet
"Transportation by Sedan Chair"
The French, being part of the Colonial Imperialism era, would see nothing wrong with this design. ;-) And there are a lot of this design- some 36 stamps issued between 1908-28.  CV is <$1-$1+ for 34 stamps.

1925 Scott 104 50c black & orange
One of the joys of collecting is finding interesting postmarks. I set up a separate quadrilled page for this issue with town cancellations.

1912 Scott 116 5c on 20c red/green
Issue is found  surcharged in carmine or black
1912 saw many French colonies with surcharges as above. Four of the surcharged stamps for Madagascar are on the "Navigation & Commerce" design. (CV <$1-$8)

Be aware that the major numbers have a 1.5 mm (5c) or 2.0 mm (10c) spacing between numerals. There is also found a wider spacing ( 2.25mm (5c), 2.75 mm (10c)) variety- generally with higher CV.

Of note, the surcharged 1912 "Navigation & Commerce" issue can be found with Madagascar postmarks, but on Anjouan, Grand Comoro Island, Mayotte, and Moheli stamps. These "Dependances" stamps could also be used in Madagascar.

1912 Scott 119 5c on 2c olive brown
Carmine surcharge
Madagascar's own design was used for six surcharged stamps. The surcharge can be found in black or carmine. CV ranges from <$1-$5+.

1921 Scott 130 1c on 15c dull violet & rose
In 1921, 10 stamps were surcharged in various ways. An example is shown. CV is <$1-$2+ for 5 stamps.

1922-27 Scott 135 25c on 15c dull violet & rose
Stamps of 1908-28, surcharged
Twelve stamps were surcharged with new values and bars between 1922-27. Most had a black surcharge.

1922-27 Scott 142 1.25fr on 1fr light blue
But not all, ;-) Here is a red surcharge. For the issue, CV is <$1-$1 for ten stamps.

1933 Scott 147 1c dark blue & blue green
"Hova with Oxen"
Between 1930-44, the colony introduced a new issue with four designs featuring natives. These, in my opinion, are really lovely stamps. The French have a way!

Five stamps have a design showing "Hova with oxen".

"Hova" initially applied to all the Malagasy people found in the highlands of Madagascar. But during the Kingdom of Madagascar era (pre-colonial), they were the free commoners, as opposed to the Andriana (nobles) or Andevo (slaves). During the colonial period, the "Hova people" were also known as Merina.

1930-44 Scott 149 4c dark brown & violet
"Sakalava Chief"
The "Sakalava Chief" design is found on nine stamps, including the last six higher values.  CV is <$1-$1+.

What a gorgeous typographed stamp! And only the French would combine dark brown & violet. :-)

Ethnic groups of Madagascar
The Sakalava, meaning "people of the long valleys" occupy the western edge of  Madagascar, and are different than the highland Merina (Hova) discussed earlier.

1930-44 Scott 151 10c vermilion & deep green
"Hova Woman"
I nominate this design as one of the top ten French stamps ever produced-seriously! Most impressive!

"Hova Woman" is on five stamps, and the CV is <$1-$1+.

1930-44 Scott 152 15c deep red "Betsileo Woman"
The fourth and final design of the 1930-44 issue features the Betsileo, a highland tribe (pink on the ethnic map), which means "The Many Invincible Ones". The Betsileo are of Malayo-Indonesian origin, and are known for their ability at rice cultivation.

The design is found on four stamps with a CV of <$1.

1931 Scott 174 50c orange brown "General Joseph Simon Gallieni"
1936-40 Scott 183 60c bright red lilac: Note the different stamp dimensions
In 1931, a five stamp issue (CV <$1-$4+), and then in 1936-40, an eleven stamp issue (CV <$1-$2+) was produced. Note the different stamp sizes ( 21 1/2 X 34 1/2 mm; 21 X 34 mm) for the issues. In this image, the 1936-40 60c bright red lilac is clearly slimmer than the 50c orange brown.

General Joseph Simon Gallieni was governor of Madagascar form 1896-1905, and was responsible for suppressing  native revolts.

1937 Scott 194 50c dark brown & brown
Paris International Exposition Issue
This 1937 six stamp common design type for many French colonies is illustrated for Madagascar. CV is <$1-$1+.

1938-40 Scott 202 1fr rose carmine "Jean Laborde"
For the 60th anniversary death of the adventurer and industrialist Jean Laborde, an eleven stamp set was issued in 1938-40. CV is <$1-$1+.

He was shipwrecked on Madagascar at the age of 26 in 1831. Making the best of it, he set up an engineering and manufacturing complex where he managed to produce iron, steel, glass, brick, cement, muskets, and textiles. A very useful man! ;-)   

1915 Scott B1 10c + 5c rose & brown
Scott 84 surcharged in red
Not many semi-postals for Madagascar ( Seven stamps total), but here is the first 1915 issue- just one stamp- apparently for Red Cross charities.

Air Post 1935-41 Scott C7
"Airplane and Map of Madagascar"
This 1935-41 Air Post issue of 24 stamps was produced by photogravure, according to the Scott catalogue. The stamps appear striking and crude (to me) at the same time. CV is <$1-$3+.

Postage Due 1924 Scott J15 60c orange "Governor's Palace"
1927 Scott J18 2fr on 1fr lilac rose
Between 1908-24, a nine stamp postage due set was issued with the design as shown. Some of the stamps can also be found surcharged. CV is <$1-$1+.

Deep Blue
1930-44 Sakalava Chief et al issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 23 pages for Madagascar, and follows the Scott catalogue. Interestingly. the Steiner has two pages for the surcharged 1912 issues of Anjouan (11 stamps), Grand Comoro (10 stamps), Mayotte (11 stamps), and Moheli (6 stamps) that could also be used in Madagascar. By necessity, one would need a used copy with a legible Madagascar postmark in order to fill these spaces. ;-)

1902 Scott 48 05c on 50c carmine/ rose
Surcharged in Black
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 5 pages, has 144 spaces for Madagascar 1896-1940. Coverage is 54 %.

• There are three major series specifically designed for Madagascar during the classical era.
- 1903 "Zebu, Traveler's Tree, and Lemur" design series- 15 stamps. BB includes 7 stamps with CV $1-$2+. BB leaves out 8 stamps with CV $4+-$70+. A reasonable choice.

- 1908-28 "Transportation by Sedan Chair" design series- 36 stamps. BB includes all but three which are CV $1+-$5+. Nice.

BB's layout for this issue, though, illustrates the difference between earlier album presentations and the modern Scott catalogue. The Steiner album follows the sequential numbering system of the modern catalogue, and hence, makes it easy to find the correct space. This is because the modern catalogue puts all the same denomination stamps- if there are more than one for an issue- together sequentially, and therefore the specific date of issue- (although noted in the catalogue)- is secondary. But BB rather has stamp spaces placed by the various dates of the issue.  Unfortunately, that means the numbers are more difficult to find in the modern Scott catalogue. (This also holds true for the Browns.)

- 1930-44 "Sakalava Chief et al" design series- 23 stamps. BB has all but the highest denomination 20fr (CV  $1+), and of course does not have the 1944 issue 1.50fr dark red & brown stamp (CV <$1).

• Only one stamp reaches the $10 threshold. BB's selection is inexpensive for Madagascar.

•  As mentioned in the "Comments" section below the checklist, the 1902 surcharged issue has Scott 51,52,53 with a slightly different overprint than 58,59,60. It is unclear to me which OP BB illustrates (A guess- 58,59,60), so I am including both as choices.



48,50,51 or 58, 52 or 59, 53 or 60, 54,55,



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Air Post

Postage Due




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1902 Scott 55 0,15 on 1fr olive green/straw ($10+)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1902- Scott 51,52,53 have a slightly different overprint than 58,59,60. It is unclear to me which OP BB illustrates ( A guess- 58,59,60), so I am including both as choices.
D) *94- 30c rose &  brown in BB is rose red & brown in the Scott catalogue

1902 Scott 52 0,05 on 30c brown/bister
Out of the Blue
Did the stamp review of a country ever make you want to visit it? For me, Madagascar is one of those countries.

Madagascar - Bud's Big Blue

Note: Maps, Baabob tree photo appear to be in the public domain.

Baobab trees


  1. Congratulations for the excellent blog!
    Madagascar of that period has great emissions ... I'm always on the lookout for the classic issues of French, Portuguese and English colonies, they have excellent stamps on agriculture and commodities (my themes).
    Greetings from Sao Paulo, Brazil!

  2. Thanks João- you too have a fine blog from Brazil! But what particularly impressed me is how many stamp blogs you follow- I will need to visit some of them.

  3. Hi Jim,

    Just going through my Madagascar stamp as I'm in the process of transferring my collection from Big Blue to Steiner pages. I found a couple of 1922-27 "Transportation by Sedan Chair" issues surcharged 50c on 1f with "new value and bars." You say that there are twelve of these, which is what Scott says also, but I do not see this one in Scott. They go directly from 25c (#137) to 60c (#138), but no 50c on 1f. Any thoughts? Am I missing something?

    Thanks again,

    1. Hi Chris

      Try 1932 Scott 179 50c on 1fr brown & olive

      Good luck!