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...

Thursday, July 23, 2015

St. Pierre and Miquelon

1892 Scott 46 1c on 5c green/greenish
French Colonies 1881-86 Stamps Surcharged in Black
Quick History
St. Pierre and Miquelon, two small islands (93 square miles) in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean sixteen  miles (25 km) from the southern coast of Newfoundland, Canada, were declared a French possession in 1536 By Jacques Cartier for the King of France.

New France 1750
 It is the last of the colonial empire New France remaining under French authority, and today is a self-governing territorial overseas collectivity of France.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon
The islands were occasionally visited by Basque and Breton fisherman, (Miquelon is a Basque name  for "Big Michael"), but the islands were not settled until 1670, when four inhabitants were counted. The islands then went back and forth between Britain and France, when they were again resettled in 1816 by Basques, Bretons and Normans. Cod fishing was certainly the mainstay for this little French outpost.

The islands are rocky and barren, except for a thin layer of peat soil, and some juniper shrubs.

Rain and snow fall 146 days per year on average, and fog banks occur 100 days per year.

Saint Pierre and Miquelon
Stamps of the French Colonies cancelled "SPM" in lozenge of dots can be found from 1859.

Handstamped surcharged stamps for St. Pierre and Miquelon proper were first issued in 1885. The St. Pierre and Miquelon issues continue to the present day (except between 1978-1986, when French stamps were used).

The population was 4,300 in 1931, and the capital is St. Pierre.

St. Pierre 1921
During the early 20th century, fishing became unprofitable at times. (Cod fishing, the traditional occupation of the inhabitants, is now essentially gone, with the severe depletion of fish stock.)

But the 1920s prohibition in the United States created a smuggling opportunity for the little islands. Almost 2 million gallons of Canadian whisky were "imported". Then, by 1933, the islands were again in an economic depression with the end of prohibition.

During WW II, the islands sided with the Free French (France Libre) of General Charles de Gaulle.

In 1958, when a new constitution was approved in France, St. Pierre and Miquelon were given the option of becoming part of France, becoming a state of the French Community, or remaining an overseas territory. The islands decided to remain a French overseas territory.

(Of interest, at that time, the Comoro Islands, French Polynesia, French Somaliland, and New Caledonia also agreed to remain overseas territories. Chad, French Dahomey, French Sudan, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mauritania, Middle Congo, Niger, Senegal, Ubangi-Shari, and Upper Volta elected to become states of the French Community. It is all very complicated, of course, and many of these countries again changed status after 1958- see French Community Wikipedia article.)

The inhabitants of St. Pierre and Miquelon speak the French language, naturally, but not Canadian French,  Their customs and traditions are closer to those of France, and the spoken language is closer to Standard French.

1892 Scott 43 4c on 25c black/rose
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for St. Pierre and Miquelon 1885-1940, 260 major stamp descriptions. Of those, 88 are CV <$1-$1+, or 34%.

Although a collection can be put together by the WW collector, the facts are one is competing with North American and French sphere collectors for these stamps. The surcharged 1885-1892 issues (59 stamps) are rather expensive to expensive. If one is a specialist, than the 1859-1886 stamps of the French Colonies general issues postmarked in St. Pierre and Miquelon (59 "A" prefix numbers in Scott) might also be of interest, but they also are expensive.

If one raises the CV bar to $5, then 49 more stamps are available, bringing the total to 137 (53%).

Still, for some examples of the surcharged earlier issue stamps, one will need to pay in the CV $10+ range.

But St. Pierre and Miquelon have three long pictorial issues (1909-30: 32 stamps; 1932-33: 24 stamps, 1938-40: 33 stamps), and each offer many inexpensive stamps- so go for it. ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1891 Scott 39 2c on 10c black/lavender
Surcharged in Black
The 1891-92 ten stamp issue, using stamps of the French colonies, was surcharged in black, as this example illustrates. Altogether, there were 44 stamps overprinted/surcharged on French Colony stamps between 1891-92. There were an additional fourteen French Colony stamps handstamped surcharged between 1885-1886.

As mentioned, many of the earlier handstamped/surcharged issues are fairly expensive. But I did find 19 stamps available with a fairly modest CV $10+.

1892 Scott 61 2c brown/buff "Navigation and Commerce"
The familiar "Navigation and Commerce" design  was issued on nineteen stamps between 1892-1908. CV is $1+-$3+ for six stamps.

1909 Scott 87 20c bister brown & violet brown
A wonderful 32 stamp pictorial issue with three designs was released between 1909-30. The lower 10 denominations have a "Fisherman" motif.

1922 Scott 89 25c olive brown & blue green
"Fulmar Petrel"
The middle 15 denominations show a Fulmar Petrel on the stamp. Fulmars look like gulls, but have a tube nose and fly with stiff wings.

1909 Scott 104 1fr olive green & deep blue
"Fishing Schooner"
The six highest denominations show a "Fishing Schooner", with the frame illustrating cod. The motifs are appropriate, considering the inhabitants heavily relied on fishing for their livelihood. CV for the 32 stamps issue is <$1-$3+ for 26 stamps.

1912 Scott 120 10c on 1fr bronze green/straw
The eleven stamp 1912 issue has the "Navigation and Commerce" 1892-1906 stamps surcharged in carmine or black. As is found for other French colonies, the spacing between the figures can vary. The wider spacing (2.25mm 5c, 2.75mm 10c) have minor numbers and a much higher CV.

CV for the regular spacing set is $1+ $3+ for  10 stamps.

1925 Scott 124 65c on 45c violet & olive green
"Fulmar Petrel"
Between 1924-27, stamps and types of 1909-17 were surcharged in black, blue, or red. The eleven stamp set has a CV of <$1-$3+ for seven stamps.

1931 Scott 135 1.50fr dull blue "Colonial Commerce"
Colonial Exposition Issue; Common Design Type
The Colonial Exposition four stamp Issue of 1931, a common design type across many French colonies, is shown here for St. Pierre and Miquelon.

1932 Scott 143 25c light violet & light green
"Map and Fishermen"
Another large 23 stamp issue was released between 1932-33 with three designs. The first design is lovely indeed, depicting a map of the islands, and surrounded by a frame of fisherman holding nets.

1932 Scott 146 45c vermilion & deep green
"Lighthouse and Fish"
There are, in fact, five lighthouses on St. Pierre and Miquelon, and so a stamp showing a lighthouse is appropriate indeed.  (And considering the 100+ days with fog banks....necessary!)

1933 Scott 154 1.75fr black & dark brown
"Fishing Steamer and Sea Gulls"
The last design depicts a fishing steamer and sea gulls, both a large part of island living. CV is <$1-$3+ for 19 stamps in the issue.

1938 Scott 178 20c blue violet "Dog Team"
The last long set was released between 1938-40, and have 33 stamps. These stamps, with four designs, were produced in photogravure. The first design shows a dog team in the snow.

1938 Scott 184 50c carmine rose
"Port St. Pierre"
Fisherman on the docks with their catch laid out at St. Pierre port is illustrated with this wonderful second design. I hope there is a nice fire awaiting them.

1940 Scott 192 1fr pale olive green
"Tortue Lighthouse"
A lighthouse is depicted, but what catches my eye are the men out in the snow. What are they doing?

1938 Scott 203 10fr dark blue/bluish
"Soldiers' Bay at Langlade"
The last design shows a rocky headland and  a stone pillar. I'm not sure if this scene still exists, as there is a reference made that many of these stone pillars off the islands eroded away and disappeared in the 1970s.

The 33 stamps issue has a CV of <$1-$2+ for 29 stamps.

1917 Scott B2 15c & 5c dull violet & rose 
Regular Issue of 1917 Surcharged in Red
A few semi-postal stamps were produced (eight stamps) for St. Pierre and Miquelon, and this one appears to be a red cross charity.

1925 Scott J10 5c blue
Postage Due Stamps of France, 1893-1924, Overprinted
Between 1925-27, nine postage due stamps of 1893-1924 France were overprinted, as shown. CV is <$1-$3+ for eight stamps.

1932 Scott J21 5c dark blue & black 
"Newfoundland Dog"
An eleven stamp postage due set showing the "Newfoundland Dog" was issued in 1932. I like it!. Some stamps are rather expensive, but six are CV $1+-$5+.

1938 Scott J37 50c dark blue green
A 1938 ten stamp postage due set was illustrated with the "codfish". CV is <$1-$4+.

1925 Scott Q4 20c bister brown & violet brown, 
Two stamps (1917, 1925) were overprinted for parcel post use. Scott does not mention, but clearly the overprint was in blue. CV for the two stamps are $3+-$4+.

Deep Blue
1912 & 1924-27 Issues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 17 pages for the stamps of St. Pierre and Miquelon, and all the major Scott numbers have a space.

1912 Scott 112 5c on 15c blue 
Carmine Surcharge
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on six pages, has 162 spaces for the stamps of St. Pierre and Miquelon. Coverage is 62%.

*There are 19 stamps over CV $10+,  but only one (1932 Scott J31 3fr dark brown & black ($45) ) is in the "Most Expensive Stamp ( >$35) category. Thirteen of the CV $10+ stamps are for the early French colony overprinted and surcharged stamps.

* For the long issues ( 1909-30, 1932-33, 1938-40, - 89 possible stamps), BB has 79 spaces. BB only misses five stamps with CV $1+-$3+.


19 or 20*,21 or 22*,30,(23),36,(38),





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Postage Due




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold);
1891 Scott 19 1c black/lilac blue ($10+)
1891 Scott 21 2c brown/buff ($10+)
1891 Scott 30 25c black/rose ($20+)
1891 (Scott 23) 4c claret/lavender ($10+)
1891 Scott 36 1c on 5c green/greenish ($10+)
1892 (Scott 38) 1c on 25c black/rose ($10+)
1892 Scott 49 1c on 25c black/rose ($10+)
1892 Scott 50 2c on 25c black/rose ($10+)
1892 Scott 51 4c on 25c black/rose ($10+)
1892 (Scott 41) 2c on 25c black/rose ($10+)
1892 Scott 46 1c on 5c green/greenish ($10+)
1892 Scott 47 2c on 5c green/greenish ($10+)
1892 Scott 48 4c on 5c green/greenish ($10+)
1932 Scott 155 2fr blue black & prussian blue ($10+)
1932 Scott 156 3fr deep green & dark brown ($10+)
1932 Scott J28 60c bright rose & black ($10+)
1932 Scott J29 1fr yellow brown & black ($20+)
1932 Scott J30 2fr deep violet & black ($30+)
1932 Scott J31 3fr dark brown & black ($45)
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) 19 or 20*, 21 or 22*- choice between black or red overprint.
D) *41- The blank space does not have a logical sequence for the 1892 Scott 49-51 stamps. I substituted an 1892 (Complies with BB's "1892" requirement), Scott 41.

1926 Scott 127 1.25fr on 1fr dark blue & ultramarine 
Red Surcharge
Out of the Blue
I would like to visit St. Pierre and Miquelon some day- (In the summer ;-). I'm not the only one, as tourism is now a large part of the economy.

Note: Two pics of St. Pierre and the three maps appear all to be in the public domain.

Comments Appreciated!

St. Pierre


  1. One of my favorite French colonies, the Newfoundland Dog Postage Due set is one of the absolute classics of French design in this period. They may not be the most inexpensive of French colonial issues, but SPM's stamps are probably some of the most beautiful (both pre-1940 and post). DJCMHOH.

  2. So true. :-)

    DJCMHOH - Do you know anything about the "dealer" that was involved with the early issues of St Pierre and Miquelon, and supposedly manipulated the market?

  3. If you mean the Free France overprints of 1941 following the Christmas coup in the islands, many of those issues were handled by the late Kasimir Bileski who later founded Saskatoon Stamp Center. John Apfelbaum wrote a blog post about them here : http://www.apfelbauminc.com/blog/bileski/ DJCMHOHO

  4. Yes- that is it! I had the century wrong, but it was the Apfelbaum post that I was recalling. Thanks!

  5. Jim,
    It all looks good, but it should add up to 162 stamps.

  6. Thanks Joe- I'm not sure where that 97 count came from.

  7. Admittedly I'm number challenged, but I count 166 SP&Ms in my 1969 BB album.

    1. The checklist has 162 numbers, and I rechecked my '69 - and it has 162 spaces. Bud- do you have extra stamps mounted on the pages?