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...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Spanish Guinea

1909 Scott 94 50c dark violet "Alfonso XIII"
Quick History
Spanish Guinea, located in western Africa originally between the French Congo (then Gabon , also French Equatorial Africa) and Cameroon on the Gulf of Guinea, was a Spanish protectorate (1885), and then a Spanish colony, beginning in 1900.

Rio Muni (Spanish Guinea)
Until 1909, Spanish Guinea actually only consisted of the continental territory known as Rio Muni, after a river flowing through the region. Bata, a military post on the coast, was the capital. (Bata is still the largest city on the mainland.)

Spanish Guinea (Rio Muni)
(Year labeling on the map is initial influence of the European Power)
Stamps issued for the Rio Muni territory from 1902-1909 were labeled "Guinea Espanola" and "Guinea (Continental) Espanola".

But there were other Spanish  colonies on islands in the Gulf of Guinea: namely Fernando Po with the important settlement Santa Isabel and administrative capital (Stamp production 1868-1908, 1929), and Elobey, Annobon & Corisco (Stamp production 1903-1910).

(For more background on the history and stamps, see the Fernando Po and Elobey (Grand and Chico), Annobon & Corisco blog post links above. Also, for much more history, as well as a great synthesis map, check out Gerben's wonderful Stamp World History website here and here. )

In 1909, "Spanish Guinea (Rio Muni)" is expanded administratively to include:
Fernando Po, and  Elobey, Annobon & Corisco"
Then, in 1909, the administration- for all intents and purposes- of all the Spanish colonies in the area was subsumed under "Spanish Guinea", with Santa Isabel on Fernando Po island the most important settlement. (The formal legal changes were not made, though, until 1926.)

Cacao, coffee, and logging were the main economic activities.

Stamps from 1909 for the territories was issued under "Spanish Territories of the Gulf of Guinea", and Fernando Po and Elobey, Annobon & Corisco stamp production ceased (except for a 1929 production from Fernando Po). Spanish Guinea, under this new amalgamation, lasted until 1960. 

Spain tried to keep the territory by making it "provincial"  from 1960-68, but that didn't work.

Full independence was achieved in 1968, and Equatorial Guinea was born.

Of interest, the Michel catalogue keeps the 1909-1959 issues separate as the Spanish Territories in the Gulf of Guinea, while the other major catalogues lumps all these issues under Spanish Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea
As a legacy, Equatorial Guinea is the only independent African nation in which Spanish is the official language. The population in 2012 is a small 1.6 million. Malabo (the former Santa Isabel) on Bioko island (Fernando Po) is the capital. Of interest, Equatorial Guinea is now a large oil producer, and is the richest country per capita in Africa, although the wealth is distributed very unevenly. 20% of children die before age 5, and 50% do not have access to clean drinking water. Human trafficking is a major problem, and the current authoritarian regime in power has one of the worst human rights records on the entire planet.

1912 Scott 117 5c deep green "Alfonso XIII"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Spanish Guinea 1902-1940, 319 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 177 are CV <$1-$1+, or 55% of the total. Clearly, a healthy portion of the stamps of Spanish Guinea are inexpensive for the WW classical era collector.

Now one just needs to find them. ;-)  As a general rule in my experience, Spanish colony stamps are underrepresented in feeder albums and collections in the United States. So, although inexpensive, also not common.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimos = 1 Peseta

Recall that Spanish Guinea only included the Rio Muni area beginning in 1902, and stamps of Spanish Guinea were issued and used only for Rio Mundi. Fernando Po, and Elobey, Annobon and Corisco had their own stamp issues.

Beginning in 1909, all of these territories came under the administration of Spanish Guinea, and Spanish Guinea stamps were used.

1909 Scott 85 1c orange brown
"King Alfonso XIII"
The "Rio Muni" era (1902-09) consists of seven issues with 90 stamps. Most issues reflect the "Alfonso XIII" key type issued as well for other Spanish colonies, but there was also a surcharged 1903 and Revenue issue, and an overprinted 1906 issue, using the stamps of Elobey, Annobon, and Corisco.

Long story short- I have none of them at the moment, although 30 are CV <$1-$1+. (Didn't I mention that Spanish colony stamps are not that common in U.S. based WW collections? ;-)

Consequently, the coverage review begins with the 1909 "Spanish Territories of the Gulf of Guinea" era, when Spanish Guinea consisted of all the Spanish colonies around the Gulf of Guinea: Rio Muni, Fernando Po, and Elobey, Annobon, and Corisco.

The 1909 issue has thirteen stamps, and the CV is <$1 for 10 of them.

Blue Control Numbers on Back
As is typical for many Spanish issues, there is a control number on the back of the stamp.

1912 Scott 118 10c red "Alfonso XIII"
The 13 stamp 1912 issue has another portrait of Alfonso XIII. Most of the issues for Spanish Guinea are printed by typography, as is this one. Note the "Santa Isabel/ Fernando Po" cancellation?

1914 Scott 134 25c dark blue "Alfonso XIII"
The 1914 issue has thirteen stamps, ten of which are CV <$1.

Alphonse Leon Ferdinand Mary James Isidore Pascal Anthony of Bourbon and Habsburg-Lorraine was King of Spain from 1886 to 1931. He was a monarch from birth, although his mother (Maria Christina of Austria) served as his regent until his 16th birthday. Because he had family ties to both sides of the conflict, he kept Spain neutral during WW I.

1914 Scott 137 50c deep claret
This is another stamp from the 1914 issue, but cancelled Santa Isabel/ Fernando Po.

1917 Scott 152 4p lilac "Alfonso XIII"
Stamps of 1912 Overprinted
The 1917 overprinted issue, using the stamps of 1912, consists of 13 stamps. Although the 5c to 1p nine stamp denominations are CV <$1, the 1c and 2c values are CV $80+! I'm sure there is a story behind this, but the Scott catalogue does not elaborate.

1919 Scott 158 1c lilac "Alfonso XIII"
The 1919 issue has thirteen stamps, and the CV for 10 stamps is <$1. I note that Scott lists a 165a 25c blue (error in color) as CV $60+, as the normal color is green. By presumption, the blue color for the 20c must have been used by mistake for the 25c. I assume this is documented as the cause of the error. But, in general, if one finds a blue stamp that should be green, that is usually a chemical changeling in my experience.

I should mention that the blue control number on the back of this 1c stamp is A000,000. ! ? I'm not sure why, could this have been a "specimen" stamp?

1919 Scott 164 25c green
Here is another stamp from the 1919 issue. I believe all my cancelled examples are from Santa Isabel.

1920 Scott 179 40c light brown "Alfonso XIII"
The 1920 issue has thirteen stamps. Many of the stamp issues for Spanish Guinea are rather poorly centered, and the typographic print is nothing to write home about, either. ;-)

1922 Scott 191 30c violet "Alfonso XIII"
The 1922 issue has thirteen stamps, with eleven @ CV <$1-$1+. Getting tired of Alfonso XIII portraits?

1924 Scott 203 40c dull blue & black "Nipa House"
The nest 12 stamp issue of 1924 is a nice pictorial  bi-colored of "Nipa House".

The "Nipa House" was apparently the residence of the governor.  "Nipa" refers to, I believe, a stilt design.

1924 Scott 202 30c orange & black "Nipa House"
A 30c orange & black from the 1924 issue SON.

1929 Scott 213 25c bright rose 
"Santa Maria  and View of Seville"
Seville-Barcelona Issue of  Spain, Overprinted in Red or Blue
For the international exhibition in Seville-Barcelona, the 1929 Issue of Spain was overprinted for Spanish Guinea on eleven stamps, as well as for Fernando Po, Spanish Morocco, and Spanish Sahara.

1931 Scott 225 20c deep violet "Porter"
A three design fourteen stamp issue ("Porter", "Drummers", "Alfonso XIII and Queen Victoria") was produced in 1931. Locally themed issues are always more interesting.

This 1931 issue was overprinted "Republica Espanola" in 1931 in black, and in 1933 in red or blue. A republic was established in Spain in 1931.

1926 Scott B9 60c myrtle green "Alfonso XIII"
Red Cross Issue
Types of Semi-postal Stamps of Spain, 1926
Overprinted in Black or Blue
In 1926, the semi-postal "Red Cross Issue" of Spain was overprinted for Spanish Guinea on twelve stamps. The 1926 Red Cross Issue can also be found overprinted for Spanish Morocco and Spanish Sahara.

Deep Blue
1914 Issue of Spanish Guinea in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 17 pages for the stamps of Spanish Guinea. All major numbers have a space.

1914 Scott 129 2c carmine rose "Alfonso XIII"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has 104 spaces for the stamps of Spanish Guinea.

Coverage is 33%.

BB could have been more generous, as there are a number of CV <$1 stamps not given a space. And the 1917 overprinted issue (nine stamps CV <$1) is left out. But, considering the lack of availability of Spanish Guinea stamps in most collections, perhaps that is for the better. ;-)

The coverage is located between Spain and Spanish Morocco in the '69.

The 40s editions have less coverage, as the '69 adds 1926 Semi-postal B6-B12 (nine spaces).

There are no "expensive" (threshold CV $10) stamps needed in BB.  The most costly stamps are in the  $6-$7 range


(Rio Muni area only)




(Now includes Rio Muni, Fernando Po, Elobey, Annobon and Corisco)





Next Page





234 or 248, 235 or 249, 236 or 250, 237 or 251, 238 or 252, 239 or 253,

Next Page

240 or 254, 241 or 255, 242 or 256, 243 or 257,
244 or 258, 245 or 259,

Next Page



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) (   ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *1931-33: Various types of overprints (the 1931 and 1933 issue) are admitted based on BB's criteria. Each stamp space, then, can have either the 1931 or the 1933 example.

1917 Scott 149 40c carmine rose "Alfonso XIII"
Stamps of 1912 Overprinted
Out of the Blue
With 177 Spanish Guinea stamps with CV <$1-$1+, cost should not be a factor. Now I need to find them. ;-)

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain. The Rio Mudi map, which I cropped from the original, is from an upload at Stamp Community Family Forum by Rodney Allen (Rod222) of Perth, Australia fame, who has given me general permission to use his uploads for the blog. Thanks Rod!

Have a comment?


  1. To add a little complication to the matter, the French maintained a claim to the Rio Muni area and had a post office at Bata in the 1890s, with the stamps of French Congo used. It was only in 1900 that the French and Spanish reached an agreement on the limits of Spain's claim, which truncated much of the territory of Rio Muni the Spanish had claimed. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Paris_(1900) I have a copy of French Congo Scott #36 with a nice clear Bata postmark from just before the treaty went into effect.

    1. Great stuff Gene! I note that 1900 is when the Rio Mundi territory became a colony- no doubt with the Treaty of Paris clarifying how much (or in Spain's case, how little ;-) was left for them.

  2. Fascinating as always. I noted that just yesterday Equatorial Guinea is on the latest list of the 10 'least free' countries. Sounds like a tough place to be, I read where very few of the children receive education; and with oil being their main economic driver, I imagine the last couple years have been bleak.
    And yet...some very interesting stamps. The 1924 Nipa House stamps is wonderful (excluding the font on the top), and I love the 1931 "drummers" stamp.

    1. Good comments Bob.

      I too like the "Nipa House" stamp issue.

  3. i have a mint 1 cs of alphonso X111 A000,158 territorios esppanoles del golfo de guinea any interest?

    1. The short answer is no. :-)

      I obtain my stamps usually through feeder albums with lots of stamps I could use, or with targeted want lists.