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...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Spanish Morocco

1937 Scott E6 20c bright carmine "Mounted Courier"
Quick History
Spanish Morocco, on the northwest coast of Africa and consisting of local Berber populations, was a Spanish protectorate from 1912-1956. But Spain has had influence in the coastal area for centuries, and was one of the nations (along with France, Great Britain, and Germany) that had opened up "offices" in Morocco for mail handling beginning in (for Spain) 1903.

Spanish Morocco (pink) on the Mediterranean; Cape Juby (pink)
French Morocco (yellow-green)
But with the 1912 Treaty of Fez between France and Spain, a northern strip of territory on the Mediterranean (Spanish Morocco), and a southern strip next to Spanish Sahara (Cape Juby) was delegated to Spanish protection. The rest of "Morocco", the largest section, was a French Protectorate (French Morocco).

The reason for "giving" Spain protectorate rights over the Moorish coast wasn't entirely altruistic; in fact, a bit machiavellian. Great Britain wanted a weaker power "in charge" across from Gibraltar and the strait. ;-)

Spanish Morocco
The capital was Tetuan, and the population was ~750,000 circa 1940.

Tangier was given the status as an "International City" with the 1912 treaty. (Of interest, during WW II, Spain occupied Tangier from 1940-45.)

Overprinted stamps of  Spain were introduced in 1914, and Spanish Morocco received their own issues beginning in 1928.

Berber opposition to Spanish hegemony in the Rif Mountain region (in the center part of the protectorate) between 1921-26 required the Spanish army (as well as the French) to put down the rebellion.

The Spanish Civil War was initiated in 1936 with the uprising against the Republican government of Spain by the well trained African stationed troops under the leadership of Francisco Franco. These troops, along with additional Moroccan volunteers, became the core of the Nationalist Army.

Spanish Morocco, then, was in the Nationalist camp from the beginning, That would explain perhaps why the 1937 sixteen stamp issue, with their martial themed pictorials, celebrated the "First Year of the Spanish Civil War".

In 1956, Spanish Morocco, French Morocco, and Tangier joined together, under the Kingdom of Morocco as an independent nation. (Two Mediterranean coastal enclaves, Ceuta and Melilla, were kept by Spain.)

The Spanish enclave of Ifni was returned to Morocco in 1969.

1928-32 Scott 98 15c orange brown 
"Mosque of Alcazarquivir"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Spanish Morocco 1903-1940, 251 major number descriptions. Of those, 205 are CV <$1-$1+, or a remarkable 82%. Clearly, Spanish Morocco is affordable indeed for the WW classical era collector.

Included in the listings are 25 stamps for the international city of Tangier. These consist of the overprinted 1929 Seville-Barcelona stamps of Spain, and the overprinted 1926 semi-postal stamps of Spain. As I happen to not have any, I will say no more about them.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimos = 1 Peseta
1903-09 Scott 1 1/4c blue green 
Spain Scott 221A Overprinted in Carmine
The 1876 Scott 221A 1/4c green imperforate of Spain, based on the A21 design for the 1872 Scott 174 1/4c ultramarine, was pressed into duty in various forms for the overprinted Moroccan issues.

In each case, it was the lowest denomination for the issue. Here, it is overprinted "Correo Espanol/ Marruecos", and was intended for the Spanish "Offices in Morocco" issue of 1903-09 (thirteen stamps).

It was also used in 1914, 1915, and 1916-18 as the low denomination lead-off for those overprinted issues (We will be reviewing these issues shortly).

The only aspect that is somewhat puzzling and varies is the colors of the stamps. The original Spain 1876 Scott 221A is described as "green". The overprinted 1903-09 stamp (shown above) is described as "blue green", which it appears to be, but I also have an example in "green".The OP 1914 stamp is "green", while the OP 1915 stamp is "blue green", and the OP 1916-18 stamp is "blue green". Were there two deliberate "major" colors used for the stamp, or, more likely, the color mix simply was not consistent? Scott makes no mention about shades.

1903-09 Scott 3 5c green "Alfonso XIII"
On stamps of Spain, 1901-05
Overprinted in Carmine or Blue
The 1903-09 issue, the first one for the Spanish "Offices in Morocco" era, used this Spanish stamp design overprinted on twelve denomination stamps. CV is <$1-$1+ for five stamps.

I should mention that Spanish stamps can be found postmarked from Morocco between 1860 until this issue in 1903.

1909-10 Scott 15 5c green
On Spanish stamps of 1909-10
The same overprint in carmine or blue was used for the 1909-10 twelve stamp issue, using Spanish engraved stamps of 1909-10 "Alfonso XIII". CV is <$1-$1+ for five stamps.

The "Correo Espanol/ Marruecos" overprinted stamps were used throughout Morocco until 1914, when the "Protectorado Espanol en Marruecos" overprinted stamps were introduced, to reflect the new protectorate status. Then the "Correo Espanol/ Marruecos" overprinted stamps were continued only in the city of Tangier

1914 Scott 27 2c dark brown
Stamps of Spain, 1909-10
Overprinted in Carmine or Blue
With the new status as a protectorate ("Spanish Morocco"), a thirteen stamp issue, overprinted as shown in carmine or blue, was released in 1914. CV is <$1-$1+ for six stamps.

1915 Scott 48 50c slate blue
Stamps of Spain, 1909-10
Overprinted in Red or Blue
Reflecting the new "Protectorate" status, the same 1909-10 issue of Spain was overprinted in red or blue "Protectorado Espanol en Marruecos" on thirteen stamps in 1915. CV is <$1 for eleven stamps.

1916-18 Scott 55 10c carmine
Stamps of Spain 1909-10
Overprinted in Red or Blue
Between 1916-18, a thirteen stamp set ,with the overprint in red or blue "Zona de Protectorado Espanol en Marruecos", was issued. The overprint reflects the reality that Spain controlled a "zone" of Morocco, and a small zone at that. ;-)  (But at least it was on the Mediterranean coast!)

The 15c violet and the 20c olive green were not regularly issued (CV $140). The 5c denomination was issued in green, but there is a rare olive brown color extant (CV $525).

1920 Scott 65 15c ocher
Blue Overprint on Spain Scott 310
The same overprint exists for the 1917 Spain 15c yellow ocher, issued in 1920 for Spanish Morocco.

1921-24 Scott 76  20c violet
Stamps of Spain 1917-20
Overprinted in Blue or Red
The Spain 20c violet 1920 was overprinted for Spanish Morocco as shown. This is the lithographic print- I checked with the aluminum foil rubbing test. ;-)

1921-24 Scott 78 20c violet
Stamps of Spain 1920-21
Overprinted in Red
The Spain 1921 20c violet was also overprinted. The aluminum foil test reveals this stamp is engraved. ;-)

1923-28 Scott 81 10c yellow green
Stamps of Spain, 1922
Overprinted Type "a" in Red or Blue
The 1922 issue of Spain was used for an overprinted 1923-28 four stamp issue of Type "a".

1923-25 Scott 84 5c red violet
Stamps of Spain, 1922
Overprinted  Type "b" in Red or Blue
The same 1922 Spain issue was overprinted with Type "b" for a 1923-25 nine stamp production.

1928-32 Scott 100 25c copper red
"Moorish Gateway at Larache"
Between 1938-32, an engraved fourteen stamp issue for Spanish Morocco proper featuring five local scenes was released. !! This is clearly the philatelic high point, so far, for the protectorate.

The stamp is postmarked "Larache", on the Atlantic coast, and where the Moorish Gateway, depicted on the stamp, is located.

1929 Scott 113 20c purple
Seville-Barcelona issue of Spain, 1929
Overprinted in Red or Blue
Most of the Spanish colonies or protectorates seem to have an overprinted version of the Seville-Barcelona issue: and Spanish Morocco is not an exception.

1929-34 Scott 128 10p brown
Stamps of Spain, 1922-31
Overprinted Type "a" in Black, Blue, or Red
Between 1929-34, an eight stamp overprinted issue using 1922-31 Spanish stamps was released. One can see here the very poor centering often seen with Spanish productions up to about 1950

CV is <$1-$1+ for five stamps..

1933-34 Scott 134 15c slate green
Stamps of Spain 1931-32
Overprinted in Black
A fourteen stamp issue with "Marruecos" overprint was produced between 1933-34. CV is <$1 for eleven stamps.

1933-35 Scott 148 15c yellow
Green Control Numbers printed on Gum
A nice fourteen stamp issue with seven local scenes was released in 1933-35. Contrary to the usual "blue" control numbers, this issue has "green" control numbers on back.

1937 Scott 170 2c red violet "View of Bokoia"
A seven stamp issue with five local scenes was released in 1937. Printing was by photogravure. CV is <$1 for six stamps. Who says classical era stamp collecting is expensive? ;-)

1937 Scott 183 25c magenta "Ifni Sharpshooters"
First Year of Spanish Civil War
Spanish Morocco was a hotbed of Nationalist support, no doubt because Francisco Franco was the leader of the Spanish Morocco stationed troops. To "celebrate" the first anniversary of the Spanish Civil War, a sixteen stamp issue was released in 1937. This remarkable issue depicts soldiers from the native population of Spanish Morocco and Cape Juby ready to fight.

1940 Scott 199 2c olive green "Mail Box"
"ZONA" printed in Black on Back
The bloody bloody Spanish Civil War (Both Hitler and Stalin used the war as a testing ground for their own armaments and modern warfare techniques) lasted until April, 1939, with hundreds of thousands dead, and Franco victorious. The 1940 sixteen stamp photogravure issue, each with their own pictorial, is a mixture of local scenes, and references to the Spanish Civil War ("Spanish War Veterans", "Victory Flag Bearers", "Calvary"). CV is <$1 for fourteen stamps.

1938 Scott C2 10c emerald
"Stork of Alcazar"
The only air post stamps during the classical era was the 1938 ten stamp production, each with a different scene. CV is <$1 for all ten stamps.

A comment: Beginning in 1928, and continuing through 1940, I am impressed with the number of stamps (~90)  released with local pictorial scenes. 

1939 Scott RA3 10c blue "Franco"
Postal Tax Stamp
The Postal Tax stamps of 1937-39 was used to raise funds for disabled soldiers in North Africa. Appropriately, the stamps depict General Francisco Franco.

Franco and Victory Parade, End of Spanish Civil War, 1939
Franco was recognized as the Spanish head of state by France and Great Britain in 1939. In 1947, he declared Spain a "Monarchy", with himself as "regent for life". But he was essentially "King", and his visage appeared on coins and stamps.

His regime lasted until his death in 1975.

His legacy is clearly mixed, to say the least. Many consider his brutal regime to be the very definition of "fascist".  But Spaniards during his long reign were also taught in school that he was sent by Divine Providence to save Spain from disorder and want.

Deep Blue
1939 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has, for Spanish Morocco 1903-1940, 28 pages. All the major Scott numbers have a space, as well as the minor number souvenir sheets.

1903-09 Scott 4 10c rose red
On stamps of 1900 Spain
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on six pages, has 134 spaces for the stamps of Spanish Morocco. Coverage is 54%.

The 40s editions coverage is under Spain- "Offices in Morocco".

Big Blue has no spaces needing a stamp with CV $10+.

It appears that when the '69 editors rearranged the 1933-35 section and the 1937 section, they introduced space errors -giving 151, 160, and 162 a second space.

The error is not corrected in my 1992 edition.

The '69 editors no doubt intended, under "1937",  that 169, 172, 173 be given a space, (correct in the 1940s editions), but the '69 album has a second "151" image cut, and a description for "160" and "162".  To correct for the error,  put 169, 172, and 173 in these spaces.


Eight blank spaces: Choices 2-13, 18-25, 27-38, 40-51, 53-64

Eight Blank Spaces: Choices 79-92, 121-124, 138-143


Next Page



Next Page

“151” suggest 169*, “160” suggest 172*, “162” suggest 173*,174
*Note: 151, 160, 162 are given spaces twice.
 An error.  Suggested substitutions are 169,172,173.

Next Page


Next Page


For Tangier


Special Delivery

Next Page

Air Post


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None.
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice.
C) *Note: 151, 160, 162 are given spaces twice. An error.  Suggested substitutions are 169,172,173.

1937 Scott 179 10c emerald "Moroccan Phalanx"
First Year of Spanish Civil War
Out of the Blue
I really warmed up to the stamps of Spanish Morocco, especially the 1928-1940 issues with their many local pictorials. And the history- the Spanish Civil War- is embedded in the stamps.

Note: Maps and pic image (Franco and victory parade) appear to be in the public domain.

Have a comment?


  1. Tangier an 'international city'...Wikipedia tells me it was under the joint administration of Spain, France, and Britain. That certainly must have been an interesting place.
    Do you ever just sit back and marvel at the history and stories these stamps tell? When I started studying stamps (over 55 years ago), this is what drew me in and why I'm still collecting today.

    Love the 'mounted warrior' stamp; great design and color.

  2. "Do you ever just sit back and marvel at the history and stories these stamps tell?"

    Sure do!..Thanks Bob.

  3. Hey Jim I know you have mentioned in other Spanish colonial posts about the relavite difficulty of finding the stamps needed to fill spaces in BB (though Spanish Morocco seems to be more common in the USA than say Aguera or Elobey). Have you tried Delcampe to fill some of your spaces? Since it is based in Europe it has a very large Spanish seller contingent, and with the US$ currently quite strong against the Euro, you might be able to find some of those harder to get stamps at fairly reasonable prices, even factoring in shipping costs.

    I have been using Delcampe quite a bit to fill up holes in my French colonials and post-colonial issues and find Delcampe to be probably the best source for continental European colonial issues. As long as the US$ remains strong, its worth taking advantage of the power of the greenback :)

    1. Gene- Delcampe certainly sounds like a better source for Spanish colonial stamps. I will give it a look.

  4. Kudos on your fine philatelic treatment of Spanish Morocco and for providing the important historical context of the rise of Franco and the Nationalists.

    BTW, there is another Scott listed enclave of Spanish Morocco) that issued stamps. Although seldom seen by collectors, Tetuan issued overprinted stamps in 1908. Was Tetuan omitted because Big Blue and Deep Blue didn't include it?

    1. Thanks Gina.

      The 1908 overprinted Tetuan stamps (counterfeits plentiful) are listed in Scott under Spanish Morocco.

      They are relatively expensive (CVs $10+-$120+), and so I'm not surprised they have no spaces in Big Blue. The Steiner pages (Deep Blue) would have them though. I don't have any. Do you?

    2. I do have a Tetuan Scott #7, which is the most common one of the this short series. Of course, my philatelic goal has been to acquire examples of every stamp issuing country that has ever existed as well as their respective governmental changes, military occupations, locals, name changes, and spelling variations of country names. My collection contains representative stamps (as well as guilty pleasures) of every country from 1840 to the current day.

      Obviously, I have been going much deeper than that with classical material, As your blog amply illustrates, there are many more compelling issues of that period that I had previously overlooked. It is simply far too easy to dismiss eye popping stamps by simply flipping through the fuzzy images in the Scott Catalog pages.

    3. "Of course, my philatelic goal has been to acquire examples of every stamp issuing country that has ever existed as well as their respective governmental changes, military occupations, locals, name changes, and spelling variations of country names."

      A great goal, and a lifetime pursuit!