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...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Samoa 1900-1952

Western Samoa 1939 Scott 182 "Map of Western Samoa"
Quick History
The Tripartite Convention of 1899  divided the Samoan archipelago into two parts: the eastern group (Tutuila with the important harbor of Pago Pago, and  Manu'a) became a U.S. protectorate and territory, while the larger land mass western group ( Upolu with Apia Harbor, Savai'i) became German Samoa.

Samoa Islands
Britain vacated her claims on the islands, but was given compensation, as Germany ceded any rights to Tonga, among other concessions.

The Samoan Chiefs and natives had little to say about this.

The coaling station at Pago Pago was converted into a U.S. Naval Station.

In 1911, the U.S. territory was officially renamed American Samoa.

American Samoa has never had their own stamp issues, as U.S. stamps were used from the beginning.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, the Governor of American Samoa, John Poyer, had quarantine ships surround the territory. Hence, American Samoa had no pandemic deaths.

In contrast, the occupied (by New Zealand) "Western" Samoa  had 8,000 Samoan deaths, over 20% of the population. This was the worst of any Pacific island group. The cause was a New Zealand trading ship Talune, which docked in Apia in 1918 carrying people infected with the flu.

Margaret Mead
American Samoa is also known as the seminal workplace of Margaret Mead, who helped develop the science of Anthropology through her fieldwork methods.

Coming of Age in Samoa, published in 1928
Her "Coming of Age in Samoa" became the mostly widely read book in Anthropology, and catapulted her to fame of the first rank.

French Oceania 1934 Scott 89 30c yellow green
"Tahitian Girl"
I had to go to a French produced stamp to find a portrait of Polynesian beauty and island languor that would be in keeping with Mead's thesis of a rich variety of adolescent experience within the native culture. ;-)

Saluafata Harbor, 10 miles east of Apia, Hellgrewe, 1908
From "Das Buch von unseren Kolonien"
German Samoa came into existence in 1900, and with typical German efficiency, roads, schools, and a hospital were developed. By 1908, German Samoa was a self supporting colony. Two thousand Chinese laborers were imported to work the plantations.

Stamps, typical for a German colony, were issued.

With the onset of WW I, the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (at the request of Great Britain) invaded unopposed on August 29, 1914. Germany had no armed forces on the islands.

In 1914, German stamps were overprinted "G.R.I." for "Georgius Rex Imperator", and surcharged in pence/shilling.

New Zealand occupied the former German colony through 1920. Stamps of New Zealand were overprinted "Samoa".

New Zealand then governed the islands through a League of Nations (later United Nations) mandate until 1962.

Population of (western) Samoa was 38,000 Samoans and 1,500 Europeans in 1918.

Samoa stamps proper were issued in 1921, and in 1935 the stamps were inscribed "Western Samoa".

Western Samoa gained independence in 1962, and joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.

In 1997, the "Western Samoa" name was changed to "Samoa", which was protested by American Samoa, as it was felt it would lead to confusion, and reduced identity for American Samoa.

Falefa Valley, Upolu, (Western) Samoa
Although the culture of (Western) Samoa and American Samoa were identical initially, the influence of New Zealand and America, respectively, has widened the culture gap between the island groups. For instance, (Western) Samoa sports interest is rugby union and Samoan cricket. American Samoa is interested in American Football and the NFL. Thirty ethnic Samoans currently play in the NFL, about 40 times more representation than what one would expect, based on population.

German Samoa 1915 Scott 72 10pf carmine
"Kaiser's Yacht"; Wmk 125 "Lozenges"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Samoa 1900-1952, 23 stamps for German Samoa (1900-1915); 13 stamps for overprinted stamps of Germany "G.R.I"- "Georgius Rex Imperator" (1914) during the invasion of British Empire (New Zealand)  forces; 28 stamps of New Zealand overprinted "Samoa" (1914-25); 23 more stamps during the New Zealand mandate (1921-1935); and 46 stamps during the "Western Samoa" proper era (1935-1952).

The stamps from a CV perspective are inexpensive to moderately expensive, except the "G.R.I." overprinted German Samoa stamps are expensive.

American Samoa: Pago Pago Postmark, December 13, 1966
There are no separate stamps for American Samoa, as U.S. issues were used there.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
20 Shillings = 1 Pound
100 Pfennig = 1 Mark (1900)
German Samoa 1900 Scott 54 20pf ultramarine
Stamps of Germany, Overprinted
The first issue for German Samoa consisted of six stamps of Germany that were overprinted "Samoa": by presumption in time for the opening of the German Post Office in Apia on March 1, 1900.

German Samoa 1900 Scott 62 30pf orange & black/salmon
"Kaiser's Yacht"; Unwmk
A nine stamp set with the colony design was issued in 1900.

German Samoa 1900 Scott 67 2m blue
The mark denomination engraved stamps (four of them) were also issued in 1900. This design is right at the top for my all time favorites during the classical era.

Four more stamps of these designs were released in 1915 with watermark "Lozenges". They only exist unused in the catalogue, as they were never placed in use ( WW I occupation in 1914 of Samoa by New Zealand).

When New Zealand occupied German Samoa in August, 1914, the German colony stamps were overprinted "G.R.I."- Georgius Rex Imperator) and surcharged in pence/shillings. The CV ranges from $10+-$3,500, and I don't have any at the moment.

1914 Scott 115 1p carmine
Stamps of New Zealand Overprinted in Red or Blue
New Zealand stamps (six) were overprinted in red or blue, as shown, on September 29, 1914, and issued for occupied Samoa.

1918 Scott 130 2p yellow, Red Overprint
Between 1916-19, a nine stamp set of New Zealand George V issues were overprinted in red or blue. CV ranges from <$1-$2+.

1920 Scott 138 1 1/2p brown orange, Red Overprint
New Zealand Victory Issue of 1919, Overprinted
The New Zealand "Victory" issue of 1919 (six stamps) was overprinted on June, 1920.

1921 Scott 153 1sh vermilion
"British Flag and Samoan House"
A twelve stamp set showing a "British" flag and a Samoan house was issued on December 23, 1921. This was little more than a year (December 17, 1920) after New Zealand/United Kingdom received a Class C Mandate to administer, "as part of their territory", the former German Samoa. The territory was then named a United Nations trust territory on January 25, 1947, until independence on January 1, 1962.

The perforations for the set are 14 X 13 1/2, except the 1/2p, 1p, 1 1/2p, and 2p also exist as perf 14 X 14 1/2. I note that the Deep Blue (Steiner) pages have spaces for these minor number perforation varieties.

CV ranges from <$1-$2+.
1935 Scott 166 1/2p yellow green
"Samoan Girl and Kava Bowl"
In 1935, the nine stamp issue's inscription was changed from "Samoa" to "Western Samoa".

This is an engraved issue, and some are bi-colored- really lovely.

Samoan Women preparing to make Kava, 1890
The Kava cermony (called 'ava) is a solemn ritual and an important way to mark special occasions in Samoan culture. (Most Polynesian cultures have various ceremonial traditions on drinking Kava.)

The 'ava is made from the dried roots of the plant Piper Methysticum

It has sedative and and anesthetic qualities.

1939 Scott 184 7p deep slate green & violet
"Robert Louis Stevenson"
Extra points if the reader was aware than Robert Lewis Stevenson spent the last years of his life in Samoa, and died and has his tomb there.!

Of course, he was author of fantasy adventure novels such as Treasure Island and Kidnapped, and who can forget Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

I read them as a child, as did most children. I wonder if they are still read?

1935 Scott 171 6p plum
"Vailima", Stevenson's Home
In 1890, he bought 400 acres in Upolu, and established his estate at "Vailima". He took a native name Tusitala ("Teller of Tales"). He became upset with how the Samoans were treated by the European officials, and he became involved with local politics.

1935 Scott 172 1sh brown & violet
"Stevenson's Tomb"
On December 3, 1894, he died of a probable cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 44.

He is buried on Mount Vaea overlooking the sea.

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Stevenson is still beloved by Samoans.

1940 Scott 185 3p on 1 1/2p brown
"Samoan Chief"
This stamp, released September 2, 1940, was only issued with surcharge.

1952 Scott 203 1/2p orange brown & claret
"Making Siapo Cloth"
Saipo cloth- or tapa cloth- is actually made from Mulberry family bark. After the cloth is ready and dried, it is decorated with traditional designs- such as trochus shell, starfish, and rolled pandanus leaves.

1952 Scott 204 1p green & olive
"Western Samoa and New Zealand Flags, Village"
The 1952 issue, which consists of 10 stamps, all with different scenes, is, in my view, a cut above the ordinary "British colony" output of the day. We have New Zealand inspiration to thank for that. ;-)

Deep Blue
New Zealand Overprinted 1916-19 Issues in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has two pages for German Samoa, four pages for League of Nations New Zealand mandated Samoa, and three pages for Western Samoa. All of Scott major numbers have a space.

1935 Scott 170 4p black brown & dark gray
"Samoan Canoe and House"
Big Blue
A review of BB's coverage was provided in the preceding post, Samoa 1877-1899.

1952 Scott 210 1sh blue & brown "Thatching Hut"
Out of the Blue
I've particularly enjoyed these last two Samoan posts- I learned a lot also.

Note: Map, image pics, and Margaret Mead stamp image all appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. It's kind of fun to see that once again we're working with the same country at the same time ;)


  2. Great (Philatelic) minds think alike? ;-)

  3. Can you say when was issued the first "American Samoan" stamp. If there are any...
    Thank you.

    1. As I said in the introduction to this post...

      " In 1911, the U.S. territory was officially renamed American Samoa.

      American Samoa has never had their own stamp issues, as U.S. stamps were used from the beginning."