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...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Portuguese Africa

1898 Scott 1 2 1/2r blue green "Fleet Departing"
Vasco da Gama Fourth Centenary
Quick History
Spain and Portugal, after the discovery by Spain of the New World by Christopher Columbus in 1492, agreed to divide the world outside Europe between themselves by the Treaty of Tordesilhas in 1494.

One part of the world to Portugal, one part to Spain
Treaty of Tordesilhas 1494
Dom Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese explorer, was the first European to reach India by sea in 1498.

First voyage (1498) by Vasco da Gama around Africa
Vasco da Gama left Lisbon on July 8, 1497 with a four ship fleet and 170 men. He returned with two ships and 55 men. !!!  (Many died from scurvy.) The main ships were the Sao Gabriel (San Gabriel), the flagship, and commanded by Vasco da Gama; the Sao Rafael (San Rafael), commanded by Paulo da Gama, Vasco's brother; and the Berrio (also known as Sao Miguel (San Miguel).

The ships rounded the Cape of Good Hope, spent March 2-29, 1498 near Mozambique island, and sailed north along the coast to Malindi in East Africa.

So began the Portuguese presence in Africa.

Eventually the Portuguese African colonies included....

Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique)
Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique)- and associated territories
* Quelimane
* Tete
* Zambezia

Portuguese West Africa (Angola)
Portuguese West Africa (Angola)- and associated territories
* Portuguese Congo

Guinea (Portuguese Guinea)

"Pink Map", showing Portuguese territorial ambitions
Portugal was anxious to acquire the territories between Mozambique and Angola.

The "Pink Map" (Mapa cor-de-rosa) was prepared in 1885 to show Portugal's claim of sovereignty over the territories between Angola and Mozambique.

Mouzinho de Albuquerque makes Gungunhana captive
Chamiti, Gaza, Mozambique December 28, 1895
Portugal tried to assert their authority over the natives in the Mozambique interior (see pic above), as well as the land bridge between Angola and Mozambique.

But Great Britain, a much more powerful competitor, was having none of that.

The 1890 British Ultimatum required a humiliating retreat from the land bridge by the Portuguese military, greatly damaging the prestige of King Carlos, and ultimately encouraging the Republican revolution of 1910.

So what does this quick history lesson have to do with the stamps of "Portuguese Africa"? Only that the stamps of "Portuguese Africa" could be used in any of the Portuguese possessions in Africa. 

"Portuguese Africa", as such, does not exist physically, but was an administrative entity, by presumption, to supply "stamps", as needed, to any African colony. And only the Vasco da Gama 1898 "common" issue, and three 1919 war tax stamps were ever released.

I suspect the stamps were not needed much, and real use of them on correspondence would be a specialist's delight.

1898 Scott 4 25r yellow green "Muse of History"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Portuguese Africa 1898-1919, eleven stamps: the 1898 Vasco da Gama common issue set, and three war tax stamps for 1919. Of those, eight are CV <$1-$1+, while all of them are CV <$7. Value is essentially the same for used/unused, with the higher denominations slightly favoring unused.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
1000 Reis = 1 Milreis
100 Centavos = 1 Escudo
1898 Scott 2 5r red "Fleet arriving at Calicut"
As mentioned, the 1898 Vasco da Gama issue of eight stamps had a design shared by multiple Portuguese colonies.....namely:
Portuguese Africa
Portuguese Congo
Portuguese India
St. Thomas & Prince Islands

They are lovely engraved stamps, so it is not much of a chore to show them here.

The scene above shows the armada anchored near Calicut, India. They arrived on May 20, 1498, and remained until August 29, 1498. 

1898 Scott 3 10r red violet "Embarking at Rastello"
The port of Rastello is where many of these voyages began in Portugal. I really couldn't find out more than that with an internet search.

1898 Scott 5 50r dark blue "San Gabriel, da Gama and Camoens"
San Gabriel, the flagship did make it back to Portugal, although the sister ship, San Rafael, was burned and left in East Africa,as it wasn't needed anymore. It is a carrack- a three or four masted sailing ship perfected by the Portuguese for sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Would you like to know the daily rations for the crew?
Biscuit 1.5 pounds
Beef 1 pound, or Pork .5 pound
Water 2.5 pints
Wine 1.25 pints
Vinegar .3 gill
Oil .6 gill
Fasting days: rice, fish, or cheese for meat
Fresh fish caught on route
Oranges if available at harbor stops. (Vasco da Gama was aware that citrus fruit was helpful against scurvy. Nevertheless, 116 members of his crew died- most from scurvy. Magellan lost 208 out of 230- mostly from scurvy. Between 1500-1800, it is estimated that scurvy killed two million sailors. !!!!)

1898 Scott 8 150r bister "Vasco da Gama"
CV for the eight stamp set ranges from <$1-$6+.

1919 Scott MR3 5c green, carmine overprint, "Liberty"
War Tax Stamps
In 1919, a three stamp "stamp tax" set was used as war tax stamps, They are overprinted in black, orange, or carmine. Of interest, the 4c green has only been found with a fiscal cancellation. Some believe that this stamp (MR2) should be considered a revenue stamp.

Deep Blue
1898 Vasco da Gama Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has two pages for the stamps of Portuguese Africa, and has a space for every stamp.

1898 Scott 6 75r violet brown 
"Archangel Gabriel, the Patron Saint"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, has one line of one page for Portuguese Africa, and shares the page with Portuguese Congo. The coverage is found between "Puerto Rico" and "Portugal".

Coverage consists of five spaces for the Vasco da Gama issue. 

Total coverage is 45%.

The 40s editions had the same coverage.

Perhaps the three war tax stamps could have been included (<$1-$1).


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None

1898 Scott 7 100r bister brown "Flagship San Gabriel"
Out of the Blue
"Portuguese Africa", an administrative, not a physical entity, nevertheless has served as a launching point  for this blog post to overview the Portuguese colonies in Africa, as well as to feature the lovely 1898 Vasco da Gama set. Not bad. ;-)

Note: maps, Mouzinho de Albuquerque pic, appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Those are simply beautiful classic stamps!

    Thanks for all you do.

  2. Appreciate the comment Chris. :-)

    BTW, I noticed on another forum you had a question about the Latvia 1919 Western Russian Volunteer Army stamps.

    Check out....


    I give a bit of history about the issue, as well as show how to tell the forgeries that are rampant in collections. ;-)

  3. Hah, that's great, thanks so much! You are the best! I will certainly check out your post. I actually just bought a few more at a stamp show this past weekend, both perfs and imperfs ones. Of course, had no clue if they were real or forgeries! But they were cheap.

    I was just thinking that you should write a new book on Classic Worldwide Postage Stamps, but with all the information freely available on your blog, who would buy it :>)

  4. Yes, it is available here - gratis!