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...

Sunday, October 4, 2015


1900 Scott 43 15c gray "Navigation and Commerce"
Quick History
Senegal, on the coast of West Africa, has been under French influence since 1677. Initial important settlements included the island of Goree ( slave trade), Saint-Louis (Capital of Senegal 1673-1902, and French West Africa 1895-1902), and Dakar (Capital since 1902).

The country derives its name from the Senegal River that is located on the east and north border.

Of interest, the country completely surrounds Gambia on the Gambia river.

Slave Traders in Goree, 18th Century
Goree is an island, now part of metropolitan Dakar, and is famous (infamous) as part of the Atlantic slave trade. Although it actually was a relatively minor slave trade port (26,000 enslaved Africans out of 12 million exported total), it has a "House of Slaves" (Maison des esclaves) museum (UNESCO World Heritage site), that records and recounts the horrors of the era. It averages 200,000 visitors yearly. The slave trade from Senegal began to decline in the 1770s.

Colonial West Africa 
Note Senegal south of the Senegal River
The illustrated map shows the French Senegal holdings (green) along the coast and the south border of the Senegal river prior to 1880. Only beginning in the 1850s (under Louis Faidherbe, Governor), was there an attempt to colonize the interior of Senegal.

Stamps were introduced in 1887 using surcharged French Colony issues.

The population was 1,700,000 in 1942. The prominent ethnic groups include Wolof (43%), Fula (24%), and Serer (15%). Islam is practiced by 92% of the population. French is the official language, but most inhabitants also speak their own ethnic language.

Senegal became independent on June 20, 1960, along with French Sudan  (Sudanese Republic), who together had formed the short lived Mali Federation. But the union split apart August 20, 1960, resulting in independent Senegal and the independent Republic of Mali.

French West Africa 1913
For history's sake, I should mention the federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa that existed between 1895 until 1960. They consisted (eventually) of Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan, French Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Upper Volta, Dahomey, and Niger. The capital of the federation was Dakar (Saint-Louis prior to 1902) in Senegal.

The territories were governed administratively by a single Governor in Senegal from 1895, while each colony had a Lieutenant Governor. The lands were known, beginning in 1904, as French West Africa (AOF- Afrique Occidentale Francaise).

One will note that Senegal stamps, beginning in 1906, are labeled "Afrique Occidentale Francaise" or "AOF".

Of great help, Michael Adkins of Dead Counties Stamps website has recently added a French West Africa transition chart. Take a look!

1926 Scott 105 50c red orange & green
"Senegalese Preparing Food"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940  catalogue has, for Senegal 1887-1940, 250 major number descriptions. Of those, 131 are CV <$1-$1+, or 53%. However, the early surcharged French Colony stamps (1887-1892: 34 stamps) are quite expensive indeed (CV $80+-$5000+), are clearly specialist territory, and I will say no more about them here.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
1892 Scott 48 40c red/straw "Navigation and Commerce"
Excepting the quite expensive 34 stamps with a surcharged French Colony design between 1887-92, the first issue most WW collectors will have are the 1892-1900 "Navigation and Commerce" stamps. There are 18 stamps in the issue, and 10 are CV $1+-$6+. There can be counterfeits found: Genuines are Perf 14 x 13 1/2, while the counterfeits are 13 1/2 x 14.

1906 Scott 60 5c green 
"General Louis Faidherbe"
In 1906, a three design eighteen stamp issue was produced for Senegal. The designs were shared by other members of the French West Africa group (Cote d' Ivoire, Mauritania, Dahomey).

The seven lower denomination stamps features "General Louis Faidherbe", Governor of Senegal between 1854-1861 and 1863-1865.  He had opened up the Gum Arabic trade for the French by securing the north bank of the Senegal river.

CV for the Faidherbe stamps are $1+-$4.

1906 Scott 66 35c black/yellow "Oil Palms"
The second design, found on the eight middle denomination stamps, shows the commercially grown "Oil Palm"- Elaeis guineensis. CV is $3+-$8+ for seven stamps.

Oil Palm
The Oil Palm is native to west Africa (Angola to Gambia).  It is the principal source of palm oil, an edible vegetable oil from the Oil Palm's reddish fruit pulp. It is semi-solid at room temperature, and is a saturated vegetable fat. It is found widely in commercial foods.

1906 Scott 71 2fr blue/pink
"Dr. Noel Eugene Ballay"
The three highest denominations honor Noel Ballay, French Navy doctor, explorer, and poet. He was also Lieutenant Governor of Gabon (1886-89), Governor of French Guinea (1891-1900), and the Governor-General of French West Africa (1900-02).

He died at age 54, while stationed in Saint-Louis, Senegal in 1902 of "fever" (Yellow Fever?). One is reminded of the scourge of infectious diseases that felled many, even doctors, back then. 

1912 Scott 74 5c on 20c red/green
Six stamps from the "Navigation and Commerce" issue were surcharged 5c or 10c in carmine or black in 1912. This issue should be familiar to WW collectors, as examples are found for almost all the French colonies. Five stamps are CV $1+-$4+.

1914 Scott 91 25c ultramarine & black
"Senegalese preparing Food"
Forty-four stamps were issued between 1914-1933, all with the "Senegalese preparing Food" scene. The CV is remarkably inexpensive, with all the stamps @ <$1-$3.

1927 Scott 135 3fr on 5fr magenta & olive brown
Between 1922-27, fifteen stamps were surcharged in various ways. Thirteen are CV <$1-$2+.

1935 Scott 149 20c dark carmine 
"Faidherbe Bridge, St. Louis"
Another very long issue- 30 stamps- with two designs was released between 1935-1940. The above design is found on the twelve lower denomination stamps.

1935 Scott 161 1.25fr reddish brown "Diourbel Mosque"
The eighteen higher denomination stamps show the "Diourbel Mosque".

The entire issue's CV ranges from <$1-$2+- remarkably inexpensive.

Diourbel Mosque
Senegal is an Islamic country through the influence of the Almoravids (Berber dynasty of Morocco) in the 11th century.

1939 Scott 182 90d light rose violet
"Senegalese Woman"
There was a nine stamp issue in 1938-40 with the above native motif design. CV is <$1-$1+.

1938 Scott B3 1.75fr + 50c bright ultramarine
"Curie Issue"; Common Design Type
The "Curie Issue", a 1938 semi-postal, was to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the discovery of radium. I don't think I have shown this "Common Design Issue" before on the blog, found on 23 (mostly) French affiliated nation's stamps. (I say "mostly", because Cuba also issued the design!)

1935 Scott C7 3.50fr violet "Caravan"
A 1935 eleven stamp air post issue has two designs: "Plane over Coastal Area Landscape", and "Caravan".  Of interest, there was also a five stamp "Common Design Type" issue of 1940 for the French West Africa countries that also used the "Plane over Coastal Area" design, but with a white rather than a dark background for the country script tablet.

1906 Scott J5 10c red brown 
The French West Africa countries also shared this postage due design of 1906. For Senegal, there were eight stamps, and the CV ranges from $4+-$20+.

1914 Scott J12 5c green
Likewise, the 1914 eight stamp postage due issue for Senegal was shared with other French West Africa countries. CV is a modest <$1-$1+.

Deep Blue
1931 Colonial Exposition Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 16 pages for the stamps of 1887-1940 Senegal. All the Scott major numbers have a space. Naturally, that includes one page and one line of the very expensive early French Colony surcharged 1887-1892 stamps: I won't be filling those spaces for a long time. ;-)

1935 Scott 168 3fr green "Diourbel Mosque"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on seven pages, has spaces for 165 stamps. Coverage is 66%.

The 1940s editions have the same coverage.

There are only three spaces needing CV $10+ stamps.

Of the two long issues, BB provides spaces for 38 / 44 of the 1914-33 issue, and 24 /30 of the 1935-40 issue. "Appears" to be  good coverage, but eight of those missing stamp spaces only require CV <$1-$1+ stamps. ;-)







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A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1938 Scott B3 1.75fr + 50c bright ultramarine ($10+)
1906 J8 30c red/straw ($10+)
1906 (J9) 50c violet ($10+)
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.

1935 Scott J25 20c olive green
Out of the Blue
French colony stamps, at least for the Big Blue collector, are generally less expensive than British colony stamps.. One can fill a lot of spaces in BB with inexpensive French colony stamps as Senegal well demonstrates.

The bonus? They are attractive too!

Note: Maps and image pics appear to be in the public domain.

Comments welcome!

Colonial Saint-Louis 1902


  1. One of my absolutely favorite colonies/countries to collect. The center of a great African empire in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, its history is deeply entwined with the history of European imperialism in Africa, with the French eventually coming to dominate (except for the lower Gambia river, which the British held on to create their own colony of Gambia, surrounded by Senegal - though the British did try to offer France a deal to trade Gambia for IIRC the Ivory Coast, but the French declined the offer).

    And here is another example of where having a specialized catalog can add all sorts of new collecting varieties. The 1914-1933 Market Scene pictorials come in three different types depending on minor variations in the central image. Maury outlines the differences and most of the values have at least 2, if not all 3 types, in existence. Get out a good magnifier and have fun as none of the varieties seem to carry much of a premium, but represent the changes that happen during the course of a long-lived definitive series.

    The one interesting thing is that Maury only lists types for Senegal. It may be that more research would be needed but I would not be surprised if other French colonies have similar varieties, but they have not been studied to the same degree as Senegal's issues.

    1. Wow! I I have the Maury French Empire catalogue, and indeed there are 2-3 types for each stamp. (1914- TI; 1920-TII; 1922-TIII). I will need to do a little investigation. ;-) I think I received the catalogue after I had already prepared the post , so I didn't check. Thanks for the tip!