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...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Spanish Sahara

1924 Scott 3 15c turquoise blue
"Tuareg and Camel"
Quick History
Spanish Sahara or Spanish Western Sahara, as it was formerly known, was established in 1924 from the colony of Rio de Oro and the territory of Saguiet el Hamra.

1913 Map of Colonial Africa
Magenta Color shows the Spanish Claims in North-West Africa
With the Berlin Conference of 1884, and the European Powers setting up spheres of influence in Africa, Spain declared an African Coast protectorate from Cape Blanc to Cape Bojador, and informed the other powers on January 14, 1885. (The Sahrawi had nothing to say about it. ;-) The colony was called Rio de Oro.  But the "Rio" was a wadi, there was no gold, and the landscape mainly consisted of coastal fog and desolate sandy escarpments.

(See the Rio de Oro blog post for more history- both real and philatelic.)

 Map showing the Spanish Region of Western Sahara circa 1912
The borders of the Spanish claims were not well defined until France and Spain, through treaties, established limits in the early 20th century.

But in 1924, Spanish Sahara was created, and the "Tuareg and Camel" stamp issue was released.

Besides Rio de Oro and Saguiet el Hamra, the lands also included La Aguera, the Cape Juby strip and Ifni.

Spanish Morocco was administered separately.

The capital was Aaiun (Laayoune), and the population was 32,000 in 1940.

Spain had opposition to "ownership", both internally (indigenous Sahrawi tribes), and externally ( Morocco, after gaining independence from France in 1956, laid claim to Spanish Sahara as part of its historic territory). To appease Morocco, Spain ceded the Cape Juby strip to them in 1958. Mauritania also claimed the lands (The Mauritania claims were eventually withdrawn) . Ifni was returned to Morocco in 1969.

Western Sahara
Finally, with additional UN resolutions demanding decolonization, Spain withdrew in 1975, and Morocco occupied the country. But, in turn, there was a Sahrawi guerilla war against Morocco, lasting sixteen years, until the UN negotiated a cease-fire.

Western Sahara is considered a "Non Self-Governing Territory" by the UN
Morocco has resisted allowing a referendum on independence to be held, and the sovereignty of the lands is still under dispute. 

Vertical Stripes: Territory under de facto Moroccan control
Light Solid Gray: Territory under de facto SADR control
The African Union (54 countries) considers Western Sahara to be the sovereign state of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic- although occupied.

1929 Scott 21 1p blue black "Exposition Buildings"
Seville-Barcelona Issue of Spain, Overprinted in Blue or Red
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Spanish Sahara 1924-1931, 47 major descriptive numbers in the regular and semi-postal categories. Of those, 29 are CV <$1-$1+, or 62%. From the point of view of CV, the WW classical era collector should be able to put together a representative collection without much cost. The problem for U.S. based collectors, as I've mentioned before, is Spanish colony stamps are not that prevalent in general collections. One may need to hunt for them.

For myself, when I was ready to review Spanish Sahara, and prepare this blog post, I had only two! stamps in my collection. Fortunately, I found an auction lot on the 'bay, and ended up with 100% coverage. That was lucky- my other Spanish colony holdings are not nearly so complete. ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centimos = 1 Peseta
1924 Scott 12 10p claret "Tuareg and Camel"
The first issue for Western Spanish Sahara proper as a new administrative and colonial entity was the twelve typographic stamp issue of 1924 with "Tuareg and Camel" design. For prior issues of the region, see Rio de Oro.

Sahrawi and Camel
The Tuareg people and language is a subset of the Berber branch, and they are found within the Saharan interior of North Africa. Traditionally, they live a pastoral and nomadic existence.

Specific to Western Sahara, the Sahrawi people are found, and have mainly a mixture of Berber-Tuareg culture.

Of interest, my 1947 Scott catalogue labels the scene "Moor and Camel".

The 2014  Scott catalogue has a note that this issue was for use in La Aguera and Rio de Oro.

As is usual for Spanish colonial stamps, there are control numbers on the back.

1929 Scott 23 10p brown 
"King Alfonso XIII and View of Barcelona"
Seville-Barcelona Issue of Spain, Overprinted in Blue or Red
Like Spanish Guinea and Spanish Morocco, Spanish Sahara also had the Seville-Barcelona issue of Spain overprinted for use in 1929 on eleven stamps.

1931 Scott 34 4p chocolate 
Stamps of 1924 Overprinted in Red or Blue
Spain in 1931 replaced the Constitutional Monarchy of Alfonso XIII with the Second Spanish Republic. Alfonso XIII left the country, but did not abdicate until 1941.

The overprinted Spanish Sahara twelve stamp issue of 1931 reflects the new reality.

The overprint can be found going up (usual), going down, and horizontal.

1926 Scott B1 5c black brown
"Queen Victoria Eugenia"; Red Cross Issue
Types of Semi-Postal Stamps of Spain, 1926, Overprinted
The 1926 engraved semi-postal stamp issue of Spain was also printed in some different denominations and different colors, and overprinted for use in the various Spanish colonies ( Cape Juby, Spanish Guinea, Spanish Morocco, Spanish Guinea), also in 1926. The twelve stamp issue for Spanish Sahara has a CV ranging from <$1-$8+.

Of interest, the 20c violet brown color, intended to be overprinted for use in a Spanish colony (as the ordinary color for the Spain 20c is dull violet), has been found without overprint, and so is considered a color error, valued @ CV $375.

Deep Blue
1931 Issue of Spanish Sahara in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has three pages for the 1924-31 stamp issues of Spanish Sahara, and includes a space for all the Scott major number stamps.

1926 Scott B2 10c dark green "Prince of Asturias"
Red Cross Issue
Types of Semi-Postal Stamps of Spain, 1926, Overprinted
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two pages has 43 spaces for the stamps of 1924-1931 Spanish Sahara. Coverage is a remarkable 91%. !!

The coverage significantly increased, compared to the 40s editions, (Then labeled "Spanish Western Sahara"), where there were only 25 spaces on one page. 

The flip side to the generous coverage in the '69 ( and subsequent editions) is there are some expensive stamp spaces to fill. ;-)


"Tuareg and Camel" Issue
1929 Scott 11 4p chocolate ($30+)
1929 Scott 12 10p claret ($105) !!

I suspect these stamps may be a couple of the more difficult ones to find for those collectors who are attempting to complete a  Big Blue. To wit, a stamp buddy, who has less than 360 spaces to fill in BB, is looking for these stamps. !





Next Page



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1929 Scott 11 4p chocolate ($30+)
1929 Scott 12 10p claret ($105) !!

1926 Scott B5 25c deep carmine "Alfonso XIII"
Red Cross Issue
Types of Semi-Postal Stamps of Spain, 1926, Overprinted
Out of the Blue
The lands are some of the most inhospitable and arid of any on our earth. We should be grateful for any stamp from there so bright and tangible. ;-)

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

Have a comment?

Desert Coast of Morocco and Western Sahara from the International Space Station


  1. Having spent some time in the Sahara Desert of Morocco near the Algerian border, I find the sparse image of the "Tuareg and Camel" issue to be quite evocative. My adventurous side would rather like to sample at bit of the Western Sahara in Cape Juby.

    1. So would I, but I fear that ship has passed. ;-) !!