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, November 12, 2013


1939 Scott 160 1.25fr deep rose
"Martinique Women"
Quick History
Martinique, an island in the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, has been an Overseas Department of France since 1946, but has been a French possession continuously since 1815.

Martinique, located between Dominica and St. Lucia in the eastern Caribbean
Sugar and cocoa were the initial products of Martinique. Later, rum production was added.

Slavery was abolished in 1848.

Map of Martinique
French Colony stamps were surcharged for Martinique beginning in 1886. 

The capital initially was St. Pierre, but Mont Pelee erupted and killed 30,000 people in 1902. The capital was then moved to Fort-de-France. 

Population of the island was 176,000 in 1888, and 243,000 in 1936.

1888 Scott 9 01c on 2c brown/buff
Stamps of French Colonies 1881-86, Surcharged in Black
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for 1886-1940 Martinique, 187 regular, 7 semi-postal, 22 postage due, and 1 parcel post major descriptive  numbers. Total = 217. Of those, 112 (52%) are CV <$1-$1+. The earlier 1886-92 surcharged issues (32 stamps) on French Colony stamps are all rather expensive (CV $10+- $200), except for two stamps @ $3-4+, and one stamp @ $10,000+!

For the WW classical era collector, Martinique does have two long series issues (1908-30: 38 stamps; 1933-40: 40 stamps) that provide inexpensive opportunities- some 71 stamps @ CV <$1-$1+.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc

1888 Scott 5 01 on 20c red/yellow green
Stamps of French Colonies 1881-86, Surcharged in Black
The first issues for Martinique are found on 1881-86 French Colony stamps overprinted and surcharged in black between 1886-91. The 20 stamps in the Scott catalogue are priced, as one would expect, moderately high. There are, though, six stamps with a modest CV $3+-$10+.

1891 Scott 23 05c on 15c black , black surcharge
1891 Scott 26 05c on 10c black, red surcharge
On French Colonies J5-J9, Surcharged
French Colonies postage due stamps of 1884-85 were likewise overprinted/surcharged between 1881-92. The seven stamps issued come in two overprint colors, as is illustrated nicely here. Five stamps are CV $10+.

1892-1906 Scott 40 15c blue, quadrille paper
"Martinique" Colony in Carmine or Blue
"Navigation and Commerce"
The classic "Navigation and Commerce" design was used on 21 stamps for Martinique between 1892-1906. Twelve stamps are in the CV $1+-$10 range.

1904 Scott 56 10c on 30c brown/bister
Stamps of 1892-1903 surcharged in black
In 1904, eight stamps were surcharged 10c for use. Six stamps also had "1904" overprinted as shown. All, save one, are CV $10+-$20+.

1908-30 Scott 62 1c red brown & brown
"Martinique Woman"
In 1908, a new extended series was introduced with Martinique portrait/pictorial designs. The first portrait showed a "Martinique Woman", rather chic, on 12 lower denomination stamps.

1925 Scott 86 50c orange & green
"View of Fort-de-France"
The 19 middle denomination stamps have a pictorial of Fort-de-France. This settlement was the capital after 1902.

1927 Scott 95 1fr vermilion & olive green
"Girl Bearing Pineapple in Cane Field"
The 8 higher denominations show a "Girl bearing pineapple in a cane field". Although the pineapple is thought to have originated in southern Brazil, Columbus, in 1493, already found pineapple on the Leeward island of Guadeloupe.

1912 Scott 102 5c on 25c black/rose, carmine surcharge
In common with many French colonies, a  four stamp surcharged issued was released in 1912. Be aware that wider spacing between figures on the surcharge have a higher CV, and are found with minor numbers in Scott.

1920 Scott 106 10c on 2c olive green & brown
In 1920, three stamps of the "Martinique Woman" portrait issue were surcharged. These have a modest CV of $2.

1923-25 Scott 111 60c on 75c blue & rose
Type of 1908-39 Surcharged
Three stamps of the "Fort-de-France"design were also surcharged between 1923-25. CV <$1-$1+.

1927 Scott 123 90c on 75c brown red & red
Stamps and Types of 1908-30 Surcharged with New Values and Bars
Between 1924-27, nine stamps were surcharged with a new value, while bars covered the old value. Seven stamps are CV <$1-$2+.

1933-40 Scott 171 10fr dark blue/blue
"Village of Basse-Pointe"
A new extended 40 stamp series was introduced in 1933 with three new portrait/pictorial designs. Unlike the older series, this issue had each design used throughout the denomination values.

Interestingly, the issue is produced by photogravure.

1940 Scott 163 1.60fr chestnut
"Government Palace, Fort-de-France"
The "Government Palace" pictorial in the series is found on 15 stamps. The entire 1933-40 series is quite inexpensive, with only four stamps having a CV as much as  $1+.

1940 Scott 152 70c bright red violet
"Martinique Women"
This lovely double portrait of the women of Martinique is found on 12 stamps. The French have a way with design!

1935 Scott 173 40c black brown
"Landing of Belain d'Esnambuc"
For the tercentenary of French possessions in the West Indies, a six stamp two design set was released in 1935. CV is $3+-$10+.

1915 Semi-postal Scott B1 10c + 5c carmine & brown 
Regular issue of 1908 surcharged in red
In 1915, a regular 10c carmine & brown "Martinique Woman" stamp of 1908 was surcharged,as shown, presumptively, for the benefit of the Red Cross.

1927 Postage due Scott J15 5c light blue
Postage Due stamps of France 1893-1926, Overprinted
In 1927, an 11 stamp set was overprinted as shown for use in Martinique. CV is $1+-$6 for 8 stamps.

1887 Scott "J4" , overprinted "Martinique" in red
Set of 14 French Colonies Postage Due stamps
Not an official issue
These "J1-J14" postage dues overprinted diagonally in red are listed in my 1947 Scott catalogue, but are withdrawn in the 2011 Scott classic catalogue. They apparently are not considered an official issue. Steiner, therefore, does not provide a space for them.

1933 Postage Due Scott J33 60c dull green
"Tropical Fruit" 
The French, rather than a functional plain design favored by the majority of countries for postage due issues, bursts forth with this fruit cornucopia image. Nice! The 11 stamp 1933 issue has a CV of <$1-$1.

Deep Blue
1908-30 Issue in Deep Blue
The Deep Blue album (Steiner) has 17 pages for Martinique stamps. The album follows the Scott catalogue closely, and provides spaces for all the major  numbers.

1899 Scott 39 10c red "Navigation and Commerce"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has 98 spaces for the stamps of Martinique. Coverage is 45%. Martinique is located in the '69 after Manchukuo.

• BB does not provide spaces for the 1886-92 surcharged French Colony stamp issues. Most are expensive however, except for two @ $3-4+.
• There are only two stamps that cross the $10 threshold for CV expense.
• BB, for the two major 1908-30 and 1933-40 series, provides 60 spaces. I did find, however, 15 stamps @ CV <$1-$1+ that were not given spaces.
• No postage due spaces in the '69 BB: The 1933 series, for instance, has 11 stamps @ <$1-$1+. A little investigation revealed that the 1941/43/47 editions did provide spaces for postage due and semi-postal stamps.

Postage Due stamps (41/43/47 editions)



B2, ($10+)

It's clear that the '69 editors cut the page count from five to four, and eliminated the postage due and semi-postal categories and some 21 stamp spaces. (And, as far as I am aware, these cuts were not restored in the "97 edition.) Shame on the '69 editors! :-(  !!!!

I will include the '41/'43/'47 edition postage due and semi-postal selections as an add-on for the checklist.








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End of '69 edition

Postage Due stamps (41/43/47 editions)


Semi-Postal ('41/'43/'47 editions)

B2, ($10+)

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1935 Scott 175 1.50fr ultramarine ($10+)
1935 Scott 176 1.75fr lilac rose ($10+)
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) I've included as an add-on the postage due and semi-postal spaces found in the '41/'43/'47 editions.

1933 Scott J34 1fr black/orange "Tropical Fruit"
Out of the Blue
Unlike a certain country that has a predictable key plate design of the current monarch for all of its colonies, the French provide designs specific and appropriate for that possession, at least after the "Navigation and Commerce" issue. Vive la France!

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.



  1. Thanks Bill. I definitely learn something too by putting together the blog post.

  2. you just have to hand it to the French in the period 1905-1940 (and beyond, the various definitives released in 1947 after the end of WWII are beyond gorgeous as well, if a bit out of the time period for you). Such beautiful design. It's why French colonials are the first area I am working on as I revive my collection after a long absence. DJCMHOH

  3. I long ago decided that French colonial stamps were among the prettiest in the world and they reflected the culture and people of the places they were designed for. "Other" colonial empires got standardized monarch's heads (as you suggest) or recycled stamps from the homeland with overprinting (I'm looking at you, Portugal). You could only French colonial stamps and have a beautiful worldwide collection. I'm determined to keep it as one of my main collecting areas. These earlier Martinique stamps are very nice, and it's a good writeup, as per usual with your great blog.

  4. Thanks Drew

    If I had to nitpick the French colonials, I do think their issue series tend to have too many denominations in them- hence a lot of stamps. Did they really need 39 stamps for an issue- or was it more to milk the collector?

    Well, at least the stamps have nice local themes. ;-)

    1. Jim- point well taken however please consider that many of these sets were issued over many years or more and likely saw duty through numerous postal rate adjustments. In the case of Martinique, Scott 62-100 was issued over a period of 23 years and Scott 133-72 over a period of 8 years.

    2. Drew- good point. I've come to appreciate French design and stamp subject matter even more over the years. As I said, it was really a nitpick.

  5. I collect Martinique... ONLY Martinique. Question: In the Scott Catalog, very near the beginning of the section for Martinique, it is mentioned that, "See... French West Africa 70, for stamps inscribed "Martinique."" Does anyone know what this means or what/where this stamp is? I cannot find any such stamp! Thanks, Bob

  6. I have no idea.

    French West Africa Scott 70 is a 17fr dark blue & Indigo "Woman and Niger River, French Sudan" FIDES issue, common design type. And why would French West Africa have a stamp for Martinique, a caribbean island?

    Send an inquiry to Chad Snee, Editor of Scott, and inquire..