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, May 13, 2016


1914 Scott 37 30c brown/green "Ceres"
Quick History
Tete, along the Zambezi river- (still full of crocodiles and hippos!),  was a region of the Portuguese East Africa Colony (Mozambique Colony), and is located in southeast Africa in the central-eastern part of Mozambique.

The capital was Tete, and the population was 367,000 circa 1940.

Tete is one of the hottest parts of Mozambique, and is on a plateau at 1500 feet (500m).

The economy consists of coal and iron mining, and fishing.

1922 Map of Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique)
Tete is located here between Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia
The reality was that, within the Mozambique Colony, settlements were scattered, and these outposts by necessity had their own stamps. One can find issues for Lourenco Marques (1895), Inhambane (1895), Zambezia (1894), Quelimane (1913), Tete (1913), Mozambique Company (1892), Nyassa Company (1898), and Mozambique (1877) for the Portuguese East Africa lands. Eventually, the stamps of Mozambique were exclusively used.

For a nice  Mozambique Area Transition Chart, I refer you to the Dead Countries Stamps website. Thanks Michael !

Note Tete on this present day Mozambique map
A postal district for Tete was formed in 1913 from parts of Zambezia. (Another part of Zambezia formed the postal district of Quelimane.) Stamps for Tete were issued in 1913-14. 

Tete Province within Mozambique
In 1920, Tete formed a separate province. The stamps of Mozambique then replaced those of Tete.

1913 Scott 8 15c on 24a bister "Vasco da Gama"
On Stamps of Macao
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Tete 1913-14, 40 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 27 are CV $1+, or 67%. Tete's stamps are fairly inexpensive for the WW classical era collector.

The entire output for Tete consists of three surcharged issues of the common design 1913 "Vasco da Gama" set (from Macao, Portuguese Africa, and Timor), and a 1914 "Ceres" issue. That's it.

One fly in the ointment is I am using "old" Scott numbers here for the "Ceres" issue. As some of you know, Scott has been upgrading and parsing more finely all of the Portuguese colonies "Ceres" issues in the 2013-2016 catalogues. Many Portuguese colony stamps, consequently, have "new" Scott numbers for the "Ceres" issues. But my 2014 catalogue does not reflect those changes for Tete, if any.

Fortunately, I do have the Selos Postais 2011 Colonias Portuguesas Afinsa Portugal catalogue, which gives more information on the colonial issues, compared to my Scott catalogue. I will make some comments based on that catalogue.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centavos = 1 Escudo
1913 Scott 1 1/4c on 1/2a blue green "Fleet Departing"
On Stamps of Macao
The Vasco da Gama issues of Macao, surcharged for Tete, was issued in 1913 on eight stamps. CV is $1+ for six stamps.

1913 Scott 14 7 1/2c on 75r violet brown
"Archangel Gabriel, the Patron Saint"
On Stamps of Portuguese Africa
The common Vasca da Gama issue  for Portuguese Africa was likewise surcharged for Tete.

An interesting observation is the Scott catalogue has slightly higher prices for used Tete stamps, but unused is far far more common in collections. I don't actually have any used examples myself.

1913 Scott 19 1c on 2a red violet
"Embarking at Rastello"
On Stamps of Timor
A third colony- Timor- also had the Vasco da Gama issue surcharged for Tete. CV is similar to the other Vasco da Gama surcharged Tete issues, with a CV $1+ for seven out of eight stamps.

1914 Scott 30 2 1/2c light violet "Ceres"
Type I-I
In 1914, Tete issued a sixteen stamp "Ceres" set. CV is $1+-$4 for thirteen stamps.

Note the "star" on either side of the "Tete" label is oriented so that a star point is at the 12 o'clock position? The Afinsa catalogue labels this Type I-I. This stamp (2 1/2c)  can also be found as Type I-II or Type II-I. The star orientation for this stamp other than Type I-I is @ a higher CV.

1914 Scott 36 20c yellow green "Ceres"
Type II-II
The 20c shows a Type II-II, where the star point is @ the 6 o'clock position.. The 20c can also be found as Type I-I for a higher CV.

There also exists a Type III star orientation, where there is no star point @ 12 o'clock or 6 o'clock for the 1/4c & 1/2c denominations. A Type III has a higher CV.

As one can see, a specialty catalogue can add very useful information!

( I should note that the Portuguese colonies with "short" names (Tete, Timor etc) have the "star" on either side of the name label for the "Ceres" issue, (and the potential for "types"), while the colonies with longer names (Quelimane, Angola etc) do not.)

Deep Blue
1914 "Ceres" Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has four pages for the 1913-14 stamps of Tete, and includes a space for all the major numbers. (My Steiner also, at this time, does not reflect any changes in the Scott numbers for the "Ceres" issue.)

1913 Scott 10 1/2c on 5r red 
"Fleet Arriving at Calicut"
On Stamps of Portuguese Africa
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one half page, has 21 spaces for the stamps of Tete. Coverage is 52%.

The coverage is located on the same page as Tibet, and just before Timor.

The BB 40s editions have the same coverage.

BB, characteristically, offers one space for the three choices ( three surcharged issues from Macao, Portuguese Africa, and Timor)  of the common design 1913 "Vasco da Gama" set.

There are no "expensive" (Threshold $10) stamps required for the BB spaces.


1 or 9 or 17, 10 or 18, 3 or 11 or 19, 7 or 15 or 23, 8 or 16 or 24,
4 or 12 or 20, 5 or 13 or 21, 6 or 14 or 22,



A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None
B) *1913 - three choices (surcharged issues from Macao, Portuguese Africa, and Timor) for each space.
C) *1914- Scott numbers for the "Ceres" issue reflect those found in the 2014 catalogue. 

1913 Scott 21 5c on 8a dark blue
"San Gabriel, da Gama and Camoens
On Stamps of Timor
Out of the Blue
Quelimane, the other section of Zambezia to gain their own stamps , had similar stamp releases in 1913-14. Curiously, Scott values Quelimane issues more than the output of Tete ($66 vs $47 for the surcharged Vasco da Gama issues). Supply/demand working here, or market inefficiencies ? ;-)

Note: Maps and Boroma Church pic appear to be in the public domain.

Comments Appreciated!

Boroma Church at Tete


  1. I concur with your observation about the ratio of used vs mint. Mint specimens come by every now and then, the used ones are hiding somewhere :|


  2. If i have any extra used ( i'm talking about portuguese colonies in general) perhaps i will send you them.

  3. The revenge of the Ceres stars is back again :) I think only one more colony (Timor) has them, since Zambezia is a bit too long a name to have included them if I remember correctly.

    1. And thanks Gene for the Afinsa catalogue recommendation. :-)

    2. you are quite welcome. It definitely does make collecting the Portuguese colonies less of a chore looking at issues that are similar for all the colonies (the ubiquitous Carlos and Ceres defins, the Vasco da Gama issue, scads of Republica overprints) and more of an adventure