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...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Niger Coast Protectorate (Oil Rivers)

1893 Scott 38 1p light blue "Queen Victoria"
Quick History
The delta of the Niger River (in present day Nigeria) was initially called "Oil Rivers", not because the area was a producer of "black gold", but, because at the time, the delta was a large producer of palm oil. (Ironically, the area did become a large oil producing region in the 1950s.) The delta came under British rule in 1885, the "Oil Rivers Protectorate". This was done to control trade on the Niger River, and to prevent encroachment by other Europeans during the "Scramble for Africa".

In 1893, the territory was expanded, sweeping from Calabar towards Lokoja up the Niger River, headquarters of the chartered Royal Niger Company. Consequently, the name changed to the "Niger Coast Protectorate".

Map of Southern Nigeria  and Northern Nigeria 1914
Permission granted for use by www.dcstamps.com
In 1900, the Niger Coast Protectorate, and the territories heretofore controlled by the Royal Niger Company, became the Protectorates of Southern Nigeria and Northern Nigeria. Lagos joined Southern Nigeria in 1906. The protectorates were combined, forming Nigeria in 1914.

Although not horribly confusing, the frequent change in British protectorates for the British Nigeria region deserves a transition chart for clarification. And one has been done by Michael at his great Dead Countries Stamps website- check it out! 

1892 Scott 2 1p lilac, Overprinted in Black
Stamps of Great Britain 1881-87
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Niger Coast Protectorate 1892-1898, 64 major stamp descriptions. Of those, two descriptions, or 3%, are CV $1+. If one expands up to CV $9, then 18, or 28%, are available.

The handstamped surcharges of 1893 (31 stamps) and the the 1894 bisects and whole stamps surcharged (6 stamps) are CV $ hundreds- $ thousands, and out of the league of readers of this blog. ( I think ;-) Besides, Scott has a note about dangerous forgeries of all surcharges.

But the 1893-1898 Queen Victoria stamps particularly ( 21 stamps) are quite lovely, in my opinion, and definitely worth a look.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 pence = 1 Shilling
1892 Scott 1 1/2p vermilion, Overprinted in Black
Stamps of Great Britain, 1881-87
The initial 1892 six stamp issue for the Oil Rivers Protectorate consisted of overprinted 1881-87 stamps of Great Britain. The CV for five stamps is $2+-$9. This issue is in the range of most WW classical collectors.

This 1/2p must have been in short supply, because in 1893 there are some 23 examples of 1/2p surcharges using the higher denomination stamps of this issue. These surcharged stamps, though, are only for those with a thick wallet. ;-)

1893 Scott 40 2 1/2p carmine lake
"Queen Victoria"
The first issue proper for the territory used this rather striking design of Queen Victoria. This six stamp issue, of which I have several examples, has a CV ranging from $3+-$10+.

1893 Scott 38 back side 1p light blue
The paper is rather translucent, but I don't believe it is on pelure paper. Perhaps a reader knows more?

1893 Scott 42 1sh black 'Victoria"
There is another peculiarity with this issue. The stamps were printed just as the Protectorate was changing its name. Notice the "Oil Rivers" is blotted out, and "Niger Coast" has been overprinted? Fascinating.

There were two more similar issues featuring the Queen in 1894 (six stamps) and 1897-98 (nine stamps). These issues have the proper "Niger Coast" inscribed. Alas, I have none to show you at the moment. 

Deep Blue
1893 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has four pages for all the major issues of the Oil Rivers/Niger Coast. I'm afraid that the 1 1/2 pages devoted to the 1893 surcharged issues will be wasted paper for me. ;-)

1892 Scott 4 2 1/2p violet/blue
Big Blue
Big Blue, on two lines of one page, has six spaces for the stamps of Niger Coast Protectorate. The page  has "North West Pacific Islands" on the lower portion, and is located between New Caledonia and the Newfoundland sections.

Niger Coast Protectorate in Big Blue
Coverage is 9%, not bad considering the generally higher CV for this country.

The good news is that there are no spaces requiring a CV $10 stamp or higher. 

Big Blue, though, doesn't have any spaces for the 1893 issue, which I show on this blog post. 



43 or 55, 44 or 56, (57), (58),


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1894-97- choices between 1894 unwmk issue and 1897-98 wmk 2 (Crown and C A) issue.

1893 Scott 37 1/2p vermilion "Queen Victoria"
Out of the Blue
Sun Yat-sen of China is said to appear on more stamps than any other person in history. Really? Beating out Queen Victoria?

Note: The Nigeria Map shown is with the kind permission of Michael Adkins, of Dead Country Stamps website fame.

Comments encouraged!


  1. Hi Jim,

    Thank you for the amazing work!

    I am working on a publication on Nigeria's history and I would like to use one of the stamps (1893 Scott 42 1sh black 'Victoria") as an illustration in the book. I am asking for permission to do this. If granted, can I have a version with higher resolution? And, what name should I use for the source? thanks!

    1. Yes, you have my permission - thanks for asking!

      Source is: bigblue1840-1940.blogspot.com

      If you download the stamp pic, it is already at a fairly high resolution. However, if you give me your email, I will send you a 1200 dpi version.