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...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bosnia & Herzegovina - Bud's Big Blue

Bosnia Serbia 2015 - Gavrilo Princip
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
Sometimes the pretty scraps we collect hide dark realities. So it is with stamps of Bosnia-Herzegovina. On the surface, their patriotic symbols, kind-looking dignitaries, and bucolic scenery suggest a happy, well-ordered country.

The cancellations tell another story. Most are military. The turmoil brewing when these stamps were in use stemmed specifically from Serbian hatred of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s domination, but more generally from centuries of ethnic discord. It came to a head, of course, when a young Bosnian Serb -- Gavrilo Princip -- shot and killed the heir to the Empire’s throne, Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie (posthumously commemorated, B14-15, page 3). The Empire was outraged, cool heads went out of fashion, alliances kicked in, World War I ensued and, as one result, the Empire was crushed.

After the War, remaining Bosnia-Herzegovina stamps were disfigured and sold to collectors as a sign of the Empire’s good riddance, according to the paper that came with my set (see bottom of last supplement page). Similarly, plans for the Archduke Franz Ferdinand Memorial Church (B13, page 3) were scrapped.

The philatelic upshot of Princip’s heroism (or villainy) is tremendous. BB overflows with stamps generated by WWI and its aftereffects, including those of entirely new nations -- Yugoslavia, Saar, among others. Stamps of former German colonies take on French or British appearances. Czechoslovakia and Poland begin issuing. Plebiscite and League of Nations mandate stamps proliferate. Two bullets -- millions of stamps, perhaps billions, to fill BBs.

Bosnia’s continuing trauma is captured by the art of Safet Zec and also, if you can stomach it, of Peter Howson. They paint the 1990’s Bosnian war, not 1914. Page 1 has a 1911 cancel from Rogatica, Zec’s sad hometown.

Imperfs, possibly intended as gifts for dignitaries, deserve a glance (see supplement). Perf variations abound.

Census: 152 in BB spaces, five tipped-in, 60 on supplement pages.

Jim's Observations
Bosnia is home to three major cultural ethnicities: Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats. Cultural conflict remains high.

Bosnia and Herzegovina stamp issues from 1879-1918 are represented in Big Blue on 7 pages(1997) or 5 pages(1969) with 152 stamp spaces for regular,semi-postal, postage due, newspaper, and special delivery categories. The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has descriptions for 193 major varieties. Coverage by Big Blue is 79%.

Nice coverage by Big Blue, including all (20) of the semi-postals, and essentially all (25) of the major number postage dues. 

Bosnia & Herzegovina Blog Post and Checklist

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Have a comment?


  1. Another postal entity whose tragic modern history is reflected in its philatelic history.

    One postscript, although they are listed as local issues of Yugoslavia, I always felt that the overprints issued in 1918-1920 for the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes really fit better as part of a Bosnia collection, since they were mainly used in Bosnia and overprints are on Habsburg-era Bosnian stamps. Just my personal opinion, though :)

  2. Gene - you have a logical and valid point.

  3. Opinions about political correctness appear not to transfer from one generation of Scott album editors to the next. Wait a while, and you may see the changes you recommend.

    Since the scans were made, six stamps have been added to the supplement pages.