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...

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ste. Marie de Madagascar

1894 Scott 7 20c red/green "Navigation and Commerce"
Quick History
Sainte Marie de Madagascar (Sainte Marie Island, St. Mary's Island, Nosy Boraha (Malagasy)) is in the Indian Ocean just 5 miles (8 km) off the northeast coast of Madagascar.

Ste. Marie de Madagascar
The island is 37 miles (60 km) long, and had a population of ~8,000. It was reported that there were less than 50 literate people on the island in 1890.

It became a French colony in 1894. (The other French colonies in the area were Diego Suarez (1892), Nossi-Be (1894), Mayotte (1892), Anjouan (1892), Grand Comoro (1897), Moheli (1906).)

In 1896, Ste. Marie de Madagascar was attached to the colony of Madagascar, and the island's own stamp production ceased. (By 1911, all of the above named French colonies were part of Madagascar & Dependencies.)

Ste. Marie de Madagascar was bounced around the French administrative sphere throughout the 19th century.

France initially took possession in 1750, but then ignored the island from 1754-1818. It was attached to Reunion in 1818, then Mayotte in 1843. 

It was used, at least in part, as a penal colony during this period.

It was a separate French colony between 1853-1876.

It was then attached to Reunion in 1876, then Diego Suarez in 1888.

In 1894, it again became a separate French colony.

What Ste. Marie de Madagascar is "famous" for these days is the past history (17th & 18th century) as a haven for English, Portuguese, French, and American pirates, which would prey on the silk trade ships passing nearby.

There is still evidence of pirate history on the island (see below).

Pirate Cemetery on the Island
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Ste. Marie de Madagascar 1894, thirteen major descriptive numbers. The stamps consist entirely of the French Colony 1894 "Navigation and Commerce" issue. Of those, three are CV $1+-$5, with four more @ CV $10+.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1894 Scott 2 2c brown/buff "Navigation and Commerce"
Name of Colony in Blue or Carmine
A thirteen stamp issue of the "Navigation and Commerce" was produced in 1894. CV ranges from $1+-$70+.

Perforations are 14 X 13 1/2 (Forgeries have 13 1/2 X 14).

Ste. Marie de Madagascar Postmark
Using the retroReveal website, that is hosted by the University of Utah, I extracted the postmark on this 2c stamp. 

It should be noted that the stamps, if used, might have postmarks from Madagascar, as they were also valid there.

25c black/rose "Navigation and Commerce"
 Cut Square
My internet research revealed that, in 1892, definitives were prepared for all French colonies for postal stationary. This apparently is an example for Ste. Marie de Madagascar. The Scott catalogue makes no mention of postal stationary for the French colonies.

Deep Blue
1894 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has one page for the 1894 stamps of Ste. Marie de Madagascar, and all the major numbers have a space.

Ste. Marie de Madagascar in Big Blue
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one line of one page (shared with St. Lucia), has six spaces for the stamps of Ste. Marie de Madagascar. Coverage is 46%.

The stamps are entirely from the 1894 "Navigation and Commerce" issue, the common design of the era for French colonies.

Coverage is certainly reasonable for a "representative" album.

There are three stamps with CV $10+.




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold)
1894 Scott 4 5c green/greenish ($10+)
1894 Scott 5 10c black/lavender ($10+)
1894 (Scott 9) 30c brown/bister ($10+
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1894 Scott 1 1c black/lilac blue
Out of the Blue
If one was not a classical era WW stamp collector, I suspect there would be little chance one would be aware of this little island. ;-)

Note: Map and "pirate cemetery" and "church" pic appear to be in the common domain.

Have a comment?

First Church built by the French in 1899


  1. Jim

    Nice post on this somewhat exclusive island. I was not aware of the stationary you mention - nice little bonus. As you mention that Scott has no reference I checked Yvert & Tellier. They do not have a reference to the stationary either. They do have a reference though to what they call 'tirage sur bristol avec dentelure figuree'. Which translates to 'printing on bristol with printed perforation'. Bristol being a kind of - somewhat thicker - paper. I googled this and it would seem that in 1900 all issues for France and its colonies from 1876 on were reprinted in this fashion for the Musee Postal in Paris so that they could provide a complete overview. Possibly for the large international exposition that was held in Paris that year. Only a few prints were made that were to be reserved for the museum. Of course a number ended up in the hands of collectors. Although one might have to call these issues cinderellas they are apparently highly looked after - by those with a somewhat larger budget. Thought I'd share this with you. When you google 'tirage sur bristol' you will see examples for sale.


  2. "n 1900 all issues for France and its colonies from 1876 on were reprinted in this fashion for the Musee Postal in Paris so that they could provide a complete overview."

    Thanks Gerben- this is interesting, and I wasn't aware of it specifically.

  3. "If one was not a classical era WW stamp collector, I suspect there would be little chance one would be aware of this little island. ;-)"

    Yes. It's strange that you have ignored Guernsey, Jersey, and other British Islands, not least the Isle of Man.

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    3. Any stamp production from those places are outside the scope of the blog's 1840-1952 coverage.

      Yes- ignored- on purpose. ;-)

  4. Hello. I own the entire set genuine if u need it for researches or comparation i could upload it somewhere.

  5. George - thanks for the offer. I don't think I don't need to illustrate the set as I give a "representative" example of the stamp and design for WW collectors, in order for them to familiarize themselves with the classical era issues.