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, October 8, 2014


1901 Scott 32 50r black & dark blue "Giraffe"
Quick History
Nyassa  Company (or Niassa Company) received a Portuguese royal concession to administer the Nyassa and Cabo Delgado lands north of the river Lurio in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) between 1891-1929. This was really a sign of weakness, as the Portuguese lacked the ability to keep Portuguese East Africa from the encroachment of British and German forces. Hence, they turned one third of their lands over to three British companies in 1891- the Mozambique Company, the Zambezi Company, and the Nyassa Company. Specifically, the Nyassa Company represented British and French interests, although it was founded by a Lisbon merchant, Bernard Daupais.

Map of Portuguese East Africa 1922
Note "Nyasa Company" in the north region
The Company instituted a forced labor policy (chibalo system), which required the natives to work the plantations.

The Capital was Porto Amelia (now Pemba), founded in 1904, and the population was 3,000,000.

Note "Niassa" and "Cabo Delgado" 
Present Day Mozambique
O.K., does that mean we will have the same old, same old, run of Portuguese colony stamps? 


By 1901, the Company arranged (with permission) for printing it's own designs by Waterlow and Sons in London. And the subsequent stamp issues are....magnificent!

But we have to be realistic- these stamps were intended for the philatelic market (Waterlow and Sons must have made a killing! ;-). Most of the printings of an issue were never sent to Nyassa.

Although tons of stamps were sold, ultimately, the Portuguese government was not impressed, and the concession was terminated in 1929. Mozambique stamps were then used.

1898 Scott 16 15r brown "King Carlos I"
Overprinted on 1898 Mozambique Issue
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Nyassa 1898-1925, 141 major stamp descriptions. Of those, 96, or 68% are CV <$1-$1+. Clearly, Nyassa is a bargain.

In fact, it is quite remarkable that most of the pictorials from Nyassa have a low CV- even lower than what one would expect for Portuguese colonies. The Nyassa Company, no doubt, made a nice income from the stamp sales ( as did Waterlow and Sons in London that produced many of the issues), but they must have produced more supply than demand. Today's WW classical era collector is the beneficiary.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
1000 Reis = 1 Milreis
100 Centavos = 1 Escudo (1919)
1898 Scott 21 80r violet "King Carlos I"
Overprinted on 1898 Mozambique Issue
In 1898, two sets of issues from Mozambique were overprinted "Nyassa": An 1894 12 stamp "King Carlos I" issue (A3 design), and an 1898 13 stamps "King Carlos I" issue (A4 design). Illustrated above is the overprinted 1898 Mozambique issue.

All a bit "ho-hum", though, wouldn't you say?

1901 Scott 28 10r black & deep green "Giraffe"
Well, the next issue in 1901 is definitely not in the "ho-hum" category. ;-) It has a small vignette of Carlos I in the upper left corner, and a Coat of Arms in the upper right corner, but everything else is......wonderful!

The lower seven engraved bi-colored denominations feature a giraffe eating the leaves of a palm tree.

1901 Scott 33 75r black & carmine lake "Camels'
The upper six engraved bi-color denominations show several resting camels. Honestly, if stamps produced today looked like this, I would be buying contemporary issues. ;-)

1903 Scott 39 65r on 80r black & lilac "Camels"
A three stamp surcharged set was released in 1903.

1903 Scott 43 25r black & orange "Giraffe"
Overprinted "Provisorio"
A two stamp "temporary" set was also released in 1903- but the truth is the "Provisorio" labeled stamps were used through 1910- so "hardly" temporary. 

1910 Scott 49 5r on 2 1/2r black & red brown
Another "Provisorio" labeled two stamp set was published in 1910. This gives me an excuse to show more of these handsome stamps.

BTW, 1 1/2 mm separates the space between the surcharge lines for the 1910 issue, but 2 mm separates the space for the 1921 reprint. The stamp illustrated above is the 1910 variety.

1911 Scott 56 50r black & deep blue "Zebra"
Red overprint
King Carlos was assassinated in 1910.  His young (age 19) son Manuel briefly became king, but then had to flee. The monarchy was overthrown, and "Republica" was overprinted on almost all Portuguese colony stamps in 1911.

In 1911, a new 12 stamp issue was released. The stamps had "Manuel" portrayed (already an anachronism), but with a red "Republica" overprint. The lower six denominations showed a Zebra.

1921 Scott 89 5c on 50r
Lisbon Surcharges
In 1918, an 18 stamp surcharged and overprinted "Republica" issue was released, using, curiously, the older "King Carlos face in the upper left corner" 1901-03 stamps.

But I'm skipping ahead three years to this 1921 12 stamp "Lisbon" surcharge issue - using the previous 1911 "King Manuel face in the upper left corner" issued stamps.

The "Lisbon" overprint for the surcharge, obviously printed in Lisbon, show letters in "Centavos" that vary from thick to thin in width. (This is somewhat subtle, so each stamp "centavos" overprint should be carefully examined.)

The "Lisbon" overprint is CV $2+; somewhat more than the "London" overprint. But the "Lisbon" overprint was actually the only one to be shipped to Nyassa.

1921 Scott 100 3c on 400r
Vasco da Gama's Flagship "San Gabriel"
London Surcharges
The second 1921 surcharged issue- also 12 stamps- was the "London" overprint. The image I am showing here - the "San Gabriel"- is found on six stamps of the issue.

This overprint has "centavos" in a darker shade than the "Lisbon" overprint, and the width of the letters is uniform. Obviously, this issue was overprinted/surcharged in London. (If you are still having difficulty determining the two overprint varieties, Scott has more information available.)

The CV is $1+. And, apparently, this issue was never sent to Nyassa, but went directly into the philatelic trade.

1921-23 Scott 110 2c red & black 
"Vasco da Gama"
Between 1921-23, an absolutely wonderful engraved 20 stamp 5 design issue was produced. One could argue that this issue might be the nicest ever produced by a Portuguese colony. Seriously.

1921-23 Scott 118 15c black & carmine
"San Gabriel'
And the amazing thing is the CV is <$1, save for the two highest denominations @ $2+. One tends to forget that stamp design beauty and CV cost are independent variables.

1924 Postage Due Scott J4 3c red orange "Zebra"
The last issue I will show is the triangular nine stamp set produced in 1924 for the purposes of postage due.

Waterlow and Sons, no doubt, produced these magnificent specimens for the stamp trade, as there is no evidence that they were actually used in Nyassa.

Deep Blue
Nyassa 1924 Postage Due issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has eleven pages for Nyassa, and has a space for all the major Scott numbers. There is a page each for the Lisbon and London surcharges for the 1921 issue. Nice.

1921-23 Scott 107 1/2c steel blue "Giraffe"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 3 1/2 pages, has 85 spaces. The pages are located between "Nyasaland Protectorate" and "Oltre Giuba". The last half page is shared with "Obock" and "Prussia".

Coverage is 60%.

* No stamps even get close to the $10 threshold for Nyassa in BB.
* Although one can argue that a 60% coverage is "generous" for a representational album, I did find 16 additional stamps with CV <$1-$1+ that are not in BB.
* The largest missing issue is the "Lisbon Surcharge" 1921 issue- some 12 stamps with CV @ 2+. That is because BB specifies the "London Surcharge" 1921 issue @ CV $1+. ! I would think BB owners would want to have a separate page for the "Lisbon Surcharge" issue stamps.







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A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1921- BB specifies "London Surcharges" (Scott 94-105 @ CV $1+). That rules out the "Lisbon Surcharges"! (Scott 81-93 @ CV $2+).

1921-23 Scott 122 50c black & green "Zebra & Warrior"
Out of the Blue
Let's face it. Nyassa Company was a miserable imperialistic organization that exploited the natives- very close to slave labor.

But the stamps!..Oh, the stamps!......

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. And a great example of what many colletors at the time would have considered, in modern parlance, wallpaper, gaining a degree of philatelic respectability as the passing of time clouds the circumstances under which they were issued. Though given the high quality of design compared to modern day wallpaper (a good chunk of which is these days released in the name of Mozambique) its doubful the modern stuff will enjoy any similar re-evaluation. DJCMHOH

  2. Isn't that the truth !

    The old time collectors knew when the issues were aimed at their wallets.

    Even the 1893 Columbians were looked at with a jaundiced eye.

    No doubt the Nyassa issues were "wallpaper", but what great "wallpaper" compared to the present day. ;-)

  3. Thanks for this article Jim.

    Those bi-colour giraffes and camels are beautiful! Perhaps just the inspiration I need to form my first thematic collection - giraffes, camels and elephants on stamps!


  4. Thanks Peter

    The lovely bi-coloreds of Nyassa are proof that lovely striking designs and inexpensive can go hand in hand. :-)

  5. Hello, it should be noted that there exists a set of inverts of the camel issue. They were made for collectors but are stunning nice, and hard to find. Kind regards. David bigstampguy@yahoo.com

    1. Yes, another example of "shenanigans", but still fun to have. ;-) Thanks David

    2. I have every single nyassa stamp that were created and printed I also have all the negatives for every stamp I found them all in a underground storage room of the Basil Street hotel in Knightsbridge London . I also have the original document of the estate and shares in nyassa company 1914 by Ronald garland and garland family I must be sitting on a few quid.

  6. Szívesen gyűjtöm őket, de egy bizonyos készlet után már nagyon nehezen találom - elfogadható áron - a többi hiányzó bélyeget.

    1. Hungarian: "I like to collect them, but after a certain set I find it very difficult to find - at a reasonable price - the other missing stamps."