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. Interested? So into the Blues...

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Basutoland - a closer look at the stamps

1933 Scott 8 2sh6p dark brown 
"George V, Nile Crocodile and Mountains"
Into the Deep Blue
Basutoland only began issuing their own stamps in 1933, although the enclave had been part of Cape Colony since 1871 (with Cape stamps used from 1876), and part of the British Crown since 1883.

1920 map: Basutoland (white with yellow borders) was part of the
 Union of South Africa from 1910-1933.
Between 1910-1933, the Union of South Africa (Part I & Part II blog posts) issued stamps for the territory.

In 1966 the enclave became independent as the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The original Basutoland blog post and BB checklist, including a bit more on the history is here.

The 2017 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Basutoland, 47 major number descriptions for the years 1933-1952.

Of those, 29 are CV <$1-$1+, or 62%.

A representative collection can be accumulated for not much outlay by the WW collector.

However, there is one category outlier - the 1934 "Official" stamps (Scott 1-3, 6 overprinted).
The CV for these four stamps is $1,000+-$7,000+. !!

The reason? Only 300 of each value were supplied in January, 1934 for use by the Secretariat in Maseru, and they were never sold to the public. Limited usage ( between 24-54 stamps) is known between February 28, 1934 - June 8, 1934. The issue was then withdrawn, and remainders destroyed. Naturally, counterfeits exist.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pence = 1 Shilling
1933 Scott 2 1p carmine
"George V, Nile Crocodile and Mountains"
The first issue, engraved, for Basutoland proper consisted of ten denominations with a portrait vignette of George V, and a crocodile, river, and mountain scene. 

1933 George V and Nile Crocodile Issue in Deep Blue
CV for the ten stamp set ranges from $1+-$200+, with seven stamps @ CV $1+-$4+.

1933 Scott 3 2p red violet
"George V, Nile Crocodile and Mountains"
"Seforong" postmark?
Bur why, one may ask, is there a crocodile in the scene?

Bud, of Bud's Big Blue fame, gives the answer in his Basutoland post....

"If no crocodiles live in Basutoland, why is one on their stamps? 

The country is indeed mountainous with steep cliffs rising to high tablelands, rather like an upside down cereal bowl. Mountains made the country defensible militarily; when under attack, the Basotho scaled the cliffs and dumped rocks on their adversaries. Highly effective. 

They were never completely conquered, although they lost much of the land surrounding the mountains during the 19th and early 20thcenturies. Lesotho is the only country in the world, save Vatican City and San Marino, that is completely surrounded by a single foreign country.

So the mountains make historical sense, but what about the croc? 

Basutoland is singularly inhospitable for crocs -- cold rocky streams fed by melting snow, no shallows with sandy banks. 

The 19th century unifying king of the Basotho people, Moshoeshoe (say, moe-SCHWAY-schway), was the son of a sub-chief of the Koena (crocodile) people who came from the North where crocs abound. 

The stamps’ croc, then, is totemic -- not scenic but a British way of acknowledging Basotho royalty."

1933 Scott 7 1sh red orange
So the "Nile Crocodile" image on the stamp is totemic, rather than actual. !!

I suspect very few stamp collectors, and only those with a keen awareness of geography and southern African tribal history, would know this. 

1935 Scott 11 1p carmine & blue
Silver Jubilee Issue
"Maseru" postmark
On May 4, 1935, the very ubiquitous (for British colonies) four stamp "Silver Jubilee" issue was released for Basutoland.

I rarely show these stamps for my British colonies posts, because common design types, forty-four countries in this case, are really not very interesting for a specific country. Eighteen additional countries celebrated the Jubilee, but with a different design.

But since there are not very many stamps issued for Basutoland in the classical era, I'm making an exception here. ;-)

1937 Scott 16 2p rose violet
Coronation Issue
Likewise, I am showing the May 12, 1937 three stamp "Coronation Issue" for Basutoland, another common design type.

Sometimes the color for a specific denomination is different, depending on the country.

The "Coronation Issue" with this design is found for forty-five countries. There are fifteen additional countries with a different design, but celebrating the same event.

1938 Scott 19 1p rose carmine
"George VI, Nile Crocodile and Mountains"
Not one to throw away a good design, the George VI issue, consisting of eleven stamps, had the same totemic crocodile  images for the April 1, 1938 issue.

1938 Scott 22 3p ultramarine
"George VI, Nile Crocodile and Mountains"
The engraved eleven stamp issue has a CV of <$1 to $10 for ten stamps.

1945 Scott 31 3p ultramarine & deep ultramarine, pair
South Africa, Overprinted, "Peace Issue"
The three stamp "Peace Issue" of December 3, 1945, consisted of overprinted South African (Scott 100-102) stamps.

Note the underlying stamps are inscribed alternately in English and Afrikaans.

CV is <$1.
1933 Scott J1a 1p carmine, ordinary paper
(1942 date postmark?)
The 1933-52 postage dues, very functional, consisted of two denominations.

The 1 penny denomination consists of ordinary paper (1933, 1938) and chalky paper (1951).

The 1 penny color varies from carmine (1933) to dark carmine (1938) to dark red (1951).

Deep Blue
1938 George VI and Nile Crocodile Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner), for Basutoland 1933-1952, has five pages. All the major numbers in the Scott catalogue have a space.

1938 Scott 25 1sh red orange
"George VI, Nile Crocodile and Mountains"
Out of the Blue
The isolated Kingdom of Lesotho (formally Basutoland), with its high elevation (90% of land over 1,800 meters -5,900 feet), singular ethnic group (Basotho), small population ( 2 million), and sobering health problems ( 25% with AIDS), is a singular country indeed.

Note: Thanks to Bud for his description and explanation of the "Nile Crocodile and Mountains" design.

Comments appreciated!

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