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, June 22, 2014


1921 Scott 14 45c blue & olive brown "Camel and Rider"
On stamps of Upper Senegal and Niger, Type of 1914, overprinted
Quick History
Niger, full of sand dunes and empty spaces, was a military territory within the French West Africa federation of French colonial territories in west Africa until 1922, when it became a colony. The other members of the federation (which existed from 1895-1960) were Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan (Mali), French Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), and Dahomey (Benin).

Niger and French West Africa (AOF) 1936
The Governor General administered from Dakar, while the capital of Niger was Niamey. The country is named for the Niger river.

Present day Niger
The predominately Islamic population (1,900,000 in 1940) is found mainly in the south and west portions of the country.

With a hot and dry climate, subsidence agriculture, and land locked boundaries, Niger has never had many advantages.

But we can take some pleasure in the French Colonial stamps  that have been issued.  Let's take a look.

1922 Scott 25 60c on 75c violet/pinkish
Stamps and Type of 1921, Surcharged New Values and Bars
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Niger 1921-1940, 120 major numbers in the regular, semipostal, air post, and postage due categories. Of those, 103 or 86% are CV <$1-$1+.  Clearly, cost should not be a major concern for collecting classical Niger.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1926 Scott 6 10c magenta/bluish "Camel and Rider"
Between 1921-26, a 21 stamp set was released with the overprint "Territoire Du Niger". The overprint used the 1914-17  Upper Senegal and Niger stamp design, but the Niger issue was usually in a different color combination. BTW, "Upper Senegal and Niger" became "French Sudan" again in 1921. French Sudan likewise used the "Camel and Rider" design of Upper Senegal and Niger with a "Sudan Francaise" overprint.

CV for the Niger issue ranges from <$1-$2+.

Update 3-2018: Note the overprint on this stamp is almost right justified? Nothing in the Scott or Y&T about this. Thanks to Dave Humphreys for noticing this.

1925 Scott 22 25c on 15c red  brown & orange
Between 1922-26, seven of the preceding 1921 overprinted "Camel and Rider" issue was surcharged with various values. This 1925 example is surcharged in black.

1924 Scott 23 25c on 2fr green & blue, red surcharge
And this 1924 value is surcharged in red. CV for the issue is <$1-$2+.

1926 Scott 30 2c dark gray & dull red
"Drawing water from well"
Niger received its own inscribed stamps in 1926, with additional values and color combinations added until 1940. This 44 stamp issue has three designs. The lower eight denominations had "Drawing water from a well". The design seems to have been done almost as a sketch, as sparse as the landscape.

1926 Scott 46 50c scarlet & green/greenish
"Boat on Niger River"
The 17 middle denominations had a "Boat on Niger River" scene. The Niger river, 2,600 miles long, only exceeded by the Nile and Congo (Zaire) rivers, serves as the lifeblood for Niger.

Niger River
The Niger river has an unusual route: It begins in the Guinea highlands, then flows away from the Atlantic ocean into the Sahara Desert, taking a severe right at the ancient and legendary Timbuktu (Tombouctou), flows by Niamey, the Capital of Niger, and then southeast through an extensive delta (Oil Rivers) into the Gulf of Guinea.
1940 Scott 61 1.40fr red violet & dark brown
"Zinder Fortress"
The eighteen higher denominations show the Fortress at Zinder. The Fortress was built in the 18th century, and was one of the hubs for the "caravan of camels" Trans-Saharan trade routes.

Ancient Trans-Saharan Trade Routes
The French conquered Zinder in 1899.  They eventually placed the capital there for the Niger Military Territory in 1911. In 1926, the capital was transferred to the village of Niamey, along the Niger river.

1939 Scott 86 2.25fr ultramarine & dark blue
"Caillie Issue", Common design type
I don't often show "common design types", because, well, they're common. ;-) But here is the 2.25fr stamp for Niger of Rene Caillie, French explorer, and a map of French West Africa.  The 1939 three stamp issue can be found for eight colonies under the administration of French West Africa.

Postage Due 1921 Scott J2 10c rose
Stamps of Upper Senegal and Niger, 1914, Overprinted
An eight stamp Postage Due issue was produced in 1921 for Niger by overprinting the 1914 Upper Senegal and Niger set. At the same time, a similar overprinted issue was produced for French Sudan.

1927 Scott  J12 10c red brown & black violet
"Caravansary near Timbuktu"
What is notable about French colonies is the French often had interesting designs for their postage dues. And Niger doesn't disappoint. A Caravansary is a roadside inn, where one can recover from a day's journey.

But Timbuktu is in French Sudan (modern day Mali), not Niger, so why the portrayal here on Niger issues?

1927 Scott J20 2fr rose red & violet
At any rate, the 1927 postage due set, some thirteen stamps, has a CV of <$1-$1+. And regardless if the scene is in Niger or the French Sudan...I like it. 

Deep Blue
Postage Due issue of 1927 in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 12 pages for Niger, and naturally has spaces for all Scott major numbers.

1940 Scott 68 2.50fr black brown "Zinder Fortress"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has 102 spaces for Niger. Total coverage is an astounding 85%. Congratulations BB!

* For the major issues (1921-26, 1922-26, 1926-40, Air Post 1940, Postage Due 1921, Postage  Due 1927: 98 stamps), BB has 90 spaces, or 92% coverage. Wow! Of course, Niger is quite inexpensive also, so the spaces are appropriate in BB.
* Speaking of expense, only one stamp ( Semipostal Curie issue-1938 Scott B1) is over CV $10.
* The 1940s editions have 17, rather than 19 spaces for the 1921-26 issue, and 99, rather than 102 total spaces. The spaces are also arranged differently.




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Postage Due



Air Post


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1938 Scott B1 1.75fr + 50c bright ultramarine ($10+)
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice

1927 Scott 116 30c dull violet & black 
"Caravansary near Timbuktu"
Out of the Blue
"Timbuktu", in modern use, refers to a place that is so out of the way, that it is virtually forgotten.

And that, perhaps ironically, is one of the attractions of WW classical stamp collecting.

Note: Maps and "Zinder" pic appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?
Zinder 1906


  1. Another great example of the amazing design ethos of the French for their colonial possessions. And while I know you stay pre-independence, many of the former colonies would continue for a few years to have their stamps designed in France, and especially the engraved post-independence issues up to about 1970 are often simply gorgeous. DJCMH

  2. I agree. One of the major attractions for me expanding the collecting years past 1940 are the wonderful French colonial stamps into the 1950s and beyond. Perhaps it will happen. ;-)

  3. I never noticed this before, but the bottom line of the overprint on your Scott 6 appears to be "right-justified", whereas the others appear to be centered. Any note in catalogues about this, or is it consistent for this issue?

    1. You are right- not quite "right-justfied", but close. I don't have an explanation for this. The other 17 stamps in my collection do not show this. Scott does have a note that position 72 in the sheets has a 3mm separation between the "DU" and "NIGER", rather than the 2.5mm separation. But the Scott 6 only has a 2.5mm separation, so that is not the reason. Yvert & Tellier (Classiques du Monde 1940-1940) says nothing about this either.