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, June 15, 2015


1921 Scott 83 25m ultramarine, red & black 
"Burbach Steelworks, Dillingen"
Quick History
Saar or Saargebiet was a former piece of Germany by the Saar River occupied by France (mostly) and Great Britain after WW I. Saar was an industry and coal rich area, and hence an attempt by the Allied powers to neuter and punish Germany through the Treaty of Versailles.

Saarbeckengebiet Map
The territory was governed under the League of Nations mandate from 1920 to 1935. The coalfield production was given to France.

The capital was Saarbrucken, and the population was 812,000 in 1933.

Stamps were issued for the Saar between 1920-1934.

With the fifteen year Versailles Treaty mandate running out in 1935, a plebiscite was held, and 90% of the ethnic German population voted to join the German Reich. The other 9% voted "no", primarily because of fear of the Nazi government.

The territory was reunited with Germany on January 17, 1935.

German stamps were then used.

History repeated itself after WW II.

The territory became the Saar Protectorate under French influence on February 16, 1946. After a referendum in 1955, Saarland rejoined Germany on January 1, 1957.

1922 Scott 116 5fr brown & red brown
"Burbach Steelworks, Dillingen"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Saar 1920-1934, 237 major number descriptions. Of those, 112 are CV <$1-$1+, or 47%. The WW classical collector should be able to find a representative selection for a modest outlay.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Pfenning = 1 Mark
100 Centimes = 1 Franc (1921)
1920 Scott 8 20pf blue violet, Type I
1920 Scott 14b 60pf deep gray lilac, Type III
German Stamps of 1906-19 Overprinted
On January 30, 1920, stamps of Germany (1906-19) were overprinted "Saare" for the mandated territory. Seventeen major number stamps are found in the Scott catalogue, and CV ranges from <$1-$10+ for fifteen of them.

One will note, for Saar Stamps, that "used" often have a higher CV than "unused".

Overprint Types
The overprint is found with three types.
Type I: Larger letters, no control mark (short thin line) below bar. (illustrated)
Type II: Larger letters and control mark present.
Type III: Smaller letters and control mark present. (illustrated)

I find it is helpful to look at the "r" in "Saare". The "r" appears taller (2mm+) in Type I compared to Type III (2mm). (I don't have any Type IIs to compare.)

The Scott catalogue has Type I as major numbers, and Type II and Type III as minor numbers. Some of the minor numbers have a very high CV ($1,000+ !).

1920 Scott 28 30pf orange 
Bavarian Stamps of 1914-16 Overprinted
The March 1, 1920 issue used 1914-16 Bavarian stamps, and overprinted them. The eighteen stamps issue has a CV of <$1- $10+ for ten stamps.

I noticed in my collection that I do  not have some of the low denomination stamps: Scott 19 2pf gray, Scott 20 3pf brown, and Scott 22 7 1/2pf green. There is a reason for that. ;-)

These particular stamps were never officially issued, but were available for postage, and can be found on cover. CV ranges from $35 - $1000 !.

1920 Scott 58 4m black & rose
German Stamps of 1906-20 Overprinted
On March 26, 1920, an 18 stamp issue using the 1906-20 German stamps, and overprinted "Saargebiet" was  released. CV is a modest <$1-$8+ for the issue.

1921 Scott 67 10m on 15pf violet brown
Germany Scott 120 Surcharged
Three stamps were surcharged/overprinted in February, 1921. Although CV is a relatively modest <$1-$6+, forgeries exist.

In fact, this might be a good time to mention that "overprint forgeries exist" for all of the earlier issues of Saar.

1921 Scott 82 10m green & red brown 
"Presidential Residence, Saarbrucken"
A lovely typographed mostly bi-color 16 stamp issue was produced in 1921. This was the first non overprinted issue for Saar.

One of the all time great stamp images in my view ( "25m ultramarine, red & black  "Burbach Steelworks, Dillingen" ) from this issue heads the blog post

1921 Scott 96 2fr on 5m yellow & violet, blue surcharge
"St. Ludwig's Cathedral"
The preceding bi-color issue was surcharged on May 1, 1921, using three colors (red, blue, black), on 14 stamps. This was because of the changeover in currency ( Pfenning/Mark to Centimes/Franc).

1922 Scott 115 3fr orange & dark green
"Mettlach Church"
A somewhat less lovely eighteen stamp issue (more monochromatic), using the same vignette scenes found for the 1921 bi-color stamps, was issued between 1922-23 with the Centimes/Franc denominations. CV ranges from <$1-$3+ for 15 stamps.

1927 Scott 135 5fr deep brown "Burbach Steelworks"
Between 1927-32, a sixteen stamp set with seven scenes was issued. CV is <$1-$8+.

1934 Scott 150 1.50fr sapphire, blue overprint
Stamps of 1935-32 Overprinted in Various Colors
Plebiscite Issue
To publicize the plebiscite, sixteen regular issue stamps from 1925-32 were overprinted and released on November 1, 1934. The overprint is in various colors.

1926 Scott B3 50c + 50c red orange 
"Children getting Drink at Spring"
Semi-postal stamps are more popular in Europe, and therefore it is not surprising to find semi-postals issued between 1926-1934. Generally, the 60 semi-postals found in the Scott catalogue have a higher CV than the regular issues. Most are in the $4+-$20+ range. Used condition has a higher CV.

An example from the  first semi-postals- a 1926 four stamp issue- is shown here. Nicely designed.

1934 Scott B55 60c (+20c) red orange "Anxiety"
Overprinted in Various Colors Reading Up
Plebiscite Issue
On December 1, 1934, a seven stamp issue was issued- overprinted for the plebiscite- using the prior released March 15, 1934 semi-postal issue.

As far as I can tell, all of the Saar semi-postals were printed using photogravure.

1928 Scott C2 1fr dark violet 
"Airplane over Saarbrucken"
Air Post stamps for Saar were first issued in 1928 with a two denomination issue. CV is $3+-$4+.

1922 Scott O15 1fr brown red, blue overprint
Fifteen Official stamps were produced between 1922-23 on the regular 1922-23 issue using a "Dienstmarke" overprint, either in red or blue.

Of interest, the overprint can be found with two overprint types.

Illustrated above is Type 2: Center bar of "E" centered, "S" has a flat bottom, "A" slightly inclined to right.

1922 Scott O3 10c blue green , red overprint
And here is the overprint Type 1: Center bar of "E" slightly above center, "S" has rounded bottom, "A" symmetrical.

1930 Scott O23 60c red orange "Colliery Shafthead"
Regular Issue of 1927-30 Overprinted in Various Colors
There was also a 1927-34 Official issue with eleven stamps, using the regular 1927-30 issue overprinted in various colors.

This issue also comes in two types of overprints.

Type II (shown above) is printed at a 23-25 degree angle.

1927 Scott O25 1fr violet, red-orange overprint
This is an example of a Type I overprint, which is printed at a 32 degree angle.

Deep Blue

1921 Surcharged Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 16 pages for the major number spaces in the Scott catalogue.

For myself, I have many stamps in both unused and used condition, and I wanted to keep an example of both. So I have added several extra quadrilled pages .

1925 Scott 119 10fr black brown "Madonna of Blieskastel"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on five pages, has 132 spaces. Coverage is 56%.

The 1940s editions coverage is less, with 121 spaces.

BB has six spaces with CV > $10: one of which, the blank space choice official 1932 (Scott C4) 5fr dark brown, is CV $47.50.




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Air Post



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Official Stamps


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1931 Scott B26 1.50fr (+75c) ($10+)
1931 Scott B30 40c (+15c) ($10+)
1931 (Scott B31) 60c (+20c) ($10+)
1931 (Scott B32) 1fr (+50c) ($10+)
1932 (Scott C4) 5fr dark brown ($47+)
1922 Scott O15 1fr brown red (Bl) ($10+)
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1929 Scott B16 40c (+15c) olive green 
"Orphaned" by Kaulbach
Out of the Blue
Every time I visit a "German Sphere" country, I am amazed by the beauty, as well as the implicit history of the stamps.

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain. Type I-III overprint scan is from the internet, but originally from a Michel catalogue.  It is used here for educational purposes.

Have a comment?


  1. I collect Saar as part of my German area collection. I just checked and I'm down to 69 stamps on my want list through 1957 (Steiner pages), most of which are relatively affordable (or at least obtainable) given some patience. There are only a handful of really expensive stamps among the major numbers. However there are a fairly significant number of stamps (mostly the early semi-postals) that will set you back in the $10-$20+ or more per stamp range, so there's still a fairly significant aggregate expense to approach 99% completion, which I think is doable in my case. 99% would leave out only the six or seven most expensive ones, and even some of those could be reachable if a bargain could be found.

    The repeated fragmentation and unification of Germany over the past 150+ years is something I find fascinating and it is probably the main thing that draws me to collect the German area - and I collect all of it. There are so many stamp-issuing entities in the German catalog that it's almost like collecting a continent, or somewhat analogous to collecting the entire British or French Empires. It's pretty amazing to think that it's only been since 1991 that there has been a single German entity issuing stamps. Prior to that there were always at least three German postal authorities at any given time, usually more. I find it quite thrilling, for lack of a better word, to own a small piece of each of those often chaotic times and places in history.

    "The Artful Hinger"

  2. Nice comments "Artful Hinger"- and I agree with your sentiment.

  3. There’s a reason for this fissiparity in Central Europe, going back to the 800s. When Charlemagne’s empire was divide among his three grandsons, Lothair/Lothar received the middle belt extending from the Carolingian heartland (today’s tri-corner Belgium, Luxemburg, Aachen-area of Germany) south through Lorraine, the Dauphine of France, and on into northern Italy. The French and English word “Lorraine” is a modification of Lotharingia, this central belt. (The Wikpedia entry for Treaty of Verdun, 843, has a nice map.) Over the next 1000 years, what we know today as France at first reeled under the Viking onslaught in the 800s and 900s but then began to recover. From the 1050s to the late 1400s English and French kings struggled for what we know as France. Burgundy temporarily put parts of Lotharingia back together as a “middle belt,” but then from 1500-1815 (anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo was yesterday), the French took back much of the old “Lotharingia.”

    And the Saarland was part of the fought-over middle zone, along with Lorraine, Alsace, the Rhenish Palatinate under Louis XIV and others. So when France was awarded, after World War I, the industrial Ruhr area and the Saar area as war reparations, it was only the latest stage in the wars of Louis XIV and preceding French kings.

    Meanwhile, in the East, the line of geopolitical struggle between the Carolingians and the Byzantines ran through what we know as Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary in the 800s and 900s. These came under nominal German control in the 900s and 1000s as the eastern third of Charlemagne’s kingdom, the “German” part (“France” being the western part, Lotharingia the middle part), under a new dynasty (the “Otto” kings) expanded to take northern Italy from Lotharingia and parts of what is now Switzerland and the Rhineland. The Byzantines never created an empire controling Hungary, Bohemia, Slovakia or the Balkans, because they were busy fighting off that “Religion of Peace” from the south.

    When the German empire of Italy-Germany fell apart after 1250, France took the western edges (Dauphine, Lorraine etc.) and the way was clear for Hungary-Austria (under the originally-Swiss Habsburgs) and Poland to expand into major players in the contested central-eastern Europe theater. A century or two later the formerly Scandinavian Rus began developing into the Russian empire in the 1500s and the struggle shifted to between Austria-Hungary, Poland/Lithuania, Swedes, Finns (on the one hand) and Russia on the other, over Ukraine.

    Between 1100 and 1500 German-speakers had migrated all over that eastern borderlands region, from the Baltic areas to Hungary/Romania (Transylvania), Bohemia, Slovakia. And even the German heartland never unified like France, England, Poland, or Sweden. When the medieval German-Italian empire broke up, it left Italy and Germany as checkerboards.

    Therefore (I really am coming to an end): when Prussia developed into a major power and unified Germany in the mid-1800s (but failed to bring Austria into the union), on both the western edge (Alsace, Lorraine etc.) and eastern edge (Danzig, East Prussia and the Baltic region, Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary etc.) remained multi-ethnic checkerboards. At its fullest extent prior to World War I, the “German Empire” included a lot of fissiparity at the edges. And that, combined with the shattering of the multi-ethnic checkerboard Austro-Hungarian empire, created all those plebiscite/occupied/League of Nations mandate territories. Of which one was the Saarland. Ethnically it had always been pretty much German but geopolitically, it was on the western European tectonic fault line since the Treaty of Verdun in 843.

    Or, at least so it seems to me. It's not just the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian empire but geopolitics going back all the way to 843.


  4. Like tectonic plates that fissure - who says history is boring?

    Enjoyed much the "paper" you presented Dennis.