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...

Saturday, July 30, 2016


1934 Scott 76 50c purple & brown
"Native Village Scene"
Second Colonial Arts Exhibition, Naples
Quick History
Tripolitania, located in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, and including the important coastal city of Tripoli, is historically part of western Libya.

Location of Tripolitania 
Italy captured the Ottoman Tripolitania Vilayet (province) during the Italo-Turkish War in 1911. The sub-provinces (sanjaks)  at the time were Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and the city of Tripoli. Altogether, they made up what became known as Italian North Africa (1912-1927), then Italian Libya (1934).

Allegory of the Italian Conquest of Libya, 1912
WW I interrupted the occupation, and the Italians were left with Tripoli, Derna, and the coast of Cyrenaica. Control of the interior of Libya was tenuous at best until the mid-1920s to 1931.

The Italians sent colonists in large numbers to Tripolitania in order to better secure the country. By 1939, there were 60,000 Italians in Tripolitania, mostly in Tripoli.

Tripolitana -1913
(Green areas- Agriculture)
The Capital was Tripoli, and the population was 570,000 in 1921.

Stamps of Italy were overprinted "Tripolitania" beginning on October 24, 1923. (Cyrenaica also had an overprint at the same time.)

Initially the Italian occupied areas were administered as a single colony, but Tripolitania became a separate colony on June 26, 1927.

Stamps were issued for Tripolitania until 1934.

Then, Fezzan, Cyrenaica, and Tripolitania were merged into the Italian colony of  Libya. 

For more on Cyrenaica and (Italian) Libya, see those blog posts.

1926 Scott B12 1 l + 5c blue
"Peace Substituting Spade for Sword"
Surtax for Italian Colonial Institute
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Tripolitania 1923-1934, 154 major descriptive numbers for the categories of regular (64), semi-postal (33), air post (43), air post semi-postal (10), air post semi-postal official (1), air post special delivery (2), and authorized delivery (1). Of those, 26 are CV <$1-$1+, or only 17%. Raising the bar to CV $5+, yields 91 total, or 59%.

Of interest, "unused" is almost always much less CV than "used"in the Scott catalogue. That would argue, in my view, that these issues were not really needed much by the colonies (they are much rarer genuinely used). Rather, these stamps were sold mainly to collectors, who acted as a "cash cow". ;-)

BTW, "fake" cancels on "used" stamps are common.

Clearly, Tripolitania ( and Italian colonies in general) are moderately expensive to expensive for the general WW classical era collector who wishes a "representative" collection. And, if one is collecting with the Big Blue album, which has a very generous selection indeed for Tripolitania (and Italian colonies on general), the expense outlay rises further.

But I have warmed - a little-  to the Italian colonies and their stamps. Although, true, that many issues have the same designs as mother Italy, at least they are a "type": that is, generally a different color than the same Italian denomination.

But on the not so nice side of history, Italy was a fascist country during much of this era, which is reflected by the stamps.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Centesimi = 1 Lira
1930 Scott 35 20c yellow green
Royal Wedding Issue
Type of Italy Overprinted
The earlier issues for Tripolitania are overprinted Italian issue stamps, or, in addition, a color "type" of the Italian stamp.

The 1923 first issue for Tripolitania was an overprinted "Propaganda of the Faith" Italian issue.

Subsequent issues were mostly overprinted and a color "type" Italian issue.

Here (illustrated) is an overprinted 20c yellow green from the three stamp 1930 "Royal Wedding" issue. The color of the 20c stamp was also yellow green for the similar overprinted Cyrenaica issue. The original 1930 Italian 20c stamp was orange red.

1930 Scott 49 1.25 l gray blue "Virgil Issue"
Photogravure; Types of Italian Air Post Stamps 
Overprinted in Red or Blue
The "Virgil" issue of 1930 consists of nine stamps, overprinted in red or blue, and a color "type" of the original 1930 Italian issue.

The lower denominations were printed in photogravure.

1930 Scott 51 10 l + 2.50 l olive brown
Engraved; "Virgil Issue"
The two higher denominations are engraved.

The Scott 51 olive brown (shown here) is an example of the much higher CVs for "used" ($3+ unused vs $67+ used). One should not pay the higher CV prices for "used" unless one is certain the cancel is genuine, and not "fake".

1934 Scott 75 20c scarlet & indigo
"Native Village Scene"
Second Colonial Arts Exhibition, Naples
The bi-color 1934 regular issue large format six stamp "Native Village Scene" design is the first for Tripolitania proper. A similar set, but with a different illustration, was produced for Cyrenaica.

It was intended to mark the Second Colonial Arts Exhibition in Naples.

CV is $4/ stamp in the set.

1926 Scott B8 10c + 5c olive brown
"Peace Substituting Spade for Sword"
Surtax for Italian Colonial Institute
The 1926 semi-postal "Colonial Institute"design, which can be found issued by the various Italian colonies, is shown here for Tripolitania.

CV is a modest <$1/stamp as unused.

1930 Scott C5 1 l rose red "Virgil Issue"
Types of Italian Air Post Stamps 
Overprinted in Red or Blue
The "Virgil" issue of 1930 also included four air post stamps, with the two highest denominations issued as semi-postals.

Again, these are color "types" of the 1930 Italian issue. CV is $2+-$6+.

1931 Scott C8 50c rose carmine 
"Airplane over Columns of Basilica, Leptis"
In 1931-32, an eight stamp air post issue proper for Tripolitania with two designs was released.

This is one of the few "used" specimens I have for Tripolitania. It is nicely cancelled, which means it probably is not "real". ;-) 

Leptis Magna
Leptis, on the coast where the Wadi Lebda meets the sea (Khoms, Libya), is one of the most extensive Roman ruins extant in the Mediterranean.

1931 Scott C14 1.50 l orange red
"Arab Horseman Pointing at Airplane"
The second design shows an Arab horseman on a rearing Arabian horse. Spectacular.

CV for the issue is <$1-$30+.

1934 Scott C44 50c dark green & indigo
"Plane Shadow on Desert"
A six stamp large format air post issue with two designs was released also in 1934 for the Second Colonial Arts Exhibition, Naples. The second design ("Camel Corps") is shown in the "Out of the Blue" section.

I like this design. Imagine the stark shadow of the plane created by the harsh constant sun on the desolate landscape.

CV is $4.

Deep Blue
1934 Issue in Deep Blue
"Native Village Scene"
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 15 pages for the 1923-1934 issues of Tripolitania. All of the major Scott numbers have a space.

1930 Scott C4 50c deep green "Virgil Issue"
Types of Italian Air Post Stamps 
Overprinted in Red or Blue
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on seen pages, has 119 spaces for the stamps of Tripolitania. The categories covered include regular, semi-postal, air post, and air post semi-postal groupings. Total coverage is 77%.

The coverage is astonishingly high for a "representative" album, compounded by the fact that the CV for Tripolitania is often moderately expensive to expensive.

The spaces coverage in BB for Italian colonies in general is also high, as I have mentioned before. If one obtains BB feeder albums, one will note that the Italian colonies page sections are invariably quite empty. The challenge for a BB collector is the thousands of dollars in Italian colonies CV that would need to be acquired in order to "fill" a BB album. I think the over generous Italian colonies coverage in BB is a big stumbling block for anybody that would like to "fill" a BB album. ( For myself, I know that I do not want to spend my entire stamp budget for several years on Italian colonies in order to complete those spaces in BB. And I can't help but feel that these issues did not, for the most part, serve a real postal need, but rather to milk the collector. ;-)

There are twenty-two spaces that require a CV $10+ stamp, and one space that requires a CV $30+ stamp.

A not small number of the rest of the spaces require stamps in the ~ CV $4-$6 range. 








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Semi-Postal Air Post


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1923 Scott 1 20c olive green & brown orange ($10+)
1923 Scott 2 30c claret 7 brown orange ($10+)
1923 Scott 5 10c dark green ($10+)
1923 Scott 6 30c dark violet ($10+)
1923 Scott 7 50c brown carmine ($10+)
1923 Scott 8 1 l blue ($10+) 
1924 Scott 11 10c brown red & black ($10+)
1924 Scott 12 15c blue green & black ($10+)
1924 Scott 13 30c black & slate ($10+)
1924 Scott 14 50c orange brown & black ($10+)
1927 Scott 27 1.25 l bright blue ($10+)
1929 Scott 32 1.25 l + 25c dark violet ($10+)
1931-32 Scott C11 80c dull violet ($10+)
1931-32 Scott C13 1.20 l dark brown ($10+)
1931-32 Scott C14  1.50 l orange red ($10+)
1931-32 Scott C15 5 l green ($30+)
1931 Scott C20 5 l + 2 l rose red ($10+)
1933 Scott C21 3 l dark brown ($10+)
1933 Scott C22 5 l purple ($10+)
1933 Scott C23 10 l deep green ($10+)
1933 (Scott C24) 12 l deep blue ($10+) 
1934 Scott C38 50c rose red ($10+)
1934 (Scott 39) 75c lemon ($10+)
B) (    ) around a number indicates a blank space choice. 

1934 Scott C48 2 l dark blue & brown
"Camel Corps"
Out of the Blue
The stamps of Tripolitania proper are interesting, less so the Italian issue "types". And I could do without the high CV expense.

Note: Maps, Leptis Magna pic, and Italian conquest image all appear to be in the public domain.

Comments Appreciated!

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