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, September 10, 2015


1923 Scott 7 60c carmine
Italian Stamps of 1901-22 Overprinted
Quick History
Saseno (Italian) or Sazan (Albanian) is an island, 3 miles long  by 1.7 miles wide, located between the lower Italian peninsula and present day Albania in the Strait of Otranto between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea.

Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea
Between is the Strait of Otranto (Canale d'Otranto)
The island was ceded to Greece with the other Ionian islands by Britain in 1864. But Greece did not formally occupy the island until 1912 with the First Balkan War.

Saseno Island and the Strait of Otantro
After the end of the Second Balkan War in 1913, Greece evacuated Saseno and the southern parts of (now modern) Albania at the insistence of Italy and Austria-Hungary.

Italy then occupied the island on October 30, 1914. This was ratified in 1915 by the Treaty of London, and Albania ceded the island to Italy on September 2, 1920.

Saseno was part of Italy from 1920 until WW II. It had several Naval fortifications on the island, a lighthouse, and a few fisherman families as inhabitants.

In 1941, the island became part of Italian Dalmatia, and then was ceded to Albania on February 10, 1947.

Saseno (Sazan)
During the Italian period (1920- WW II), stamps of Italy were used on the island. But in 1923, a group of eight definitive Italian stamps, showing the visage of King Victor Emmanuel II, were overprinted "saseno" by the Saseno post office for use locally.

1923 Scott 1 10c claret
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Saseno 1923, eight major stamp descriptions. All of the stamps are CV $30 for unused. Clearly, Saseno overprinted stamps are not inexpensive. Scott has a note that the "used" CV value ($80+) are for genuinely postally used, not CTO.

A closer look at the stamps
100 Centesimi = 1 Lira
1923 Scott 2 15c slate
Italian Stamps of 1901-22 Overprinted
Only the 1923 issue of eight overprinted stamps of Italy are found in the catalogue under Saseno. Otherwise, regular stamps of Italy were used.

I get a little nervous when an overprinted stamp is worth more than the underlying non-overprinted stamp. In this case, the Scott 2 (illustrated above) is CV $30 unused, while the underlying 1919 non-overprinted Italian stamp is CV $3+.

As one can imagine, fraudulently overprinting a stamp is much easier than developing a new stamp forgery.

Now, I have no specific reason to suspect that these overprints are not genuine. They were bought from a reputable source- but that only goes so far.

Sending them in for certification would be a minimum of $25 per stamp.

And expert knowledge about overprint forgeries tends to be locked up- and not shared widely- among country specialists.

So what is a WW generalist to do- just be lambs to the slaughter?

Well, here are some strategies that can be used.....

* I know of one WW classical era collector with a very healthy collection that simply refuses to collect expensive overprinted stamps. 

* If the overprinted stamps are inexpensive, of course one can accumulate them- the potential damage is minimal.

* Get the overprinted stamps certified. (Only really works economically for quite expensive stamps.)

* Try to obtain the knowledge for oneself regarding overprint forgeries. Or, ask a specialist acquaintance or internet source for help.

Deep Blue
1923 Issue in Deep Blue
Of course, Deep Blue (Steiner) has all the spaces for the 1923 Saseno issue.

Saseno in the 1940s editions Big Blue
Big Blue
Saseno was one of those smaller stamp issuing territories that was eliminated by the 1969 editors of Big Blue. Although I am not in favor of dropping stamp issuing areas, the stamps are expensive @ CV $30 apiece.

The 1940s editions have six spaces for Saseno stamps- a very generous 75% coverage. 

The Saseno coverage is located (along with several other small countries) between Sarawak and Senegal.

Checklist (In 40s BBs)



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1923 Scott 1 10c claret ($30)
1923 Scott 2 15c slate ($30)
1923 Scott 3 20c brown orange ($30)
1923 Scott 4 25c blue ($30)
1923 Scott 5 30c yellow brown ($30)
1923 Scott 6 50c violet ($30)

1923 Scott 6 50c violet
Out of the Blue
For a "Representative Album", Big Blue is inordinately fond of providing generous coverage of Italian sphere stamps. Unfortunately, many are also fairly expensive.

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. I would need to look at older Scott catalogs from say the 1950s but I think one of the reasons Italian colonials were heavily represented in Big Blue is that until the mid-1960s Italy had a fairly week economy, then had an 'economic miracle' similar to what West Germany experienced, creating a new large middle class with disposable income that helped create a boom for Italian-area stamps in the 1970s and 1980s (esp with the inflation problems Italy had in the late 1970s - classic stamps became a hedge). Because print runs were probably not large on a lot of these colonial issues, the price increases stuck, so that today pre-1945 Italian colonials (and Italy itself) are quite pricy for the Worldwide collector. Demand remains strong enough for the more limited supply esp for issues in NH condition but even for LH condition. Just my theory :)

  2. DJCMH- I agree.

    I was curious about this very question with some earlier Italian colonies that were being reviewed, and, to my surprise, noted the CV prices in the 1940s Scott catalogues were much less relative to today.

    That being said, because the Italian sphere was given generous representation in BB, it now can be quite expensive to fill those mostly empty pages. ( Very few BB feeder albums have much in the Italian area.)