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, June 10, 2018

Belgium 1915-1919 Issue Part B - The Engraved Pictorials

1915 Scott 116 35c brown orange & black
"Cloth Hall of Ypres"
Into the Deep Blue
A closer look at the stamp issues
100 Centimes = 1 Franc
Part A, which was recently published, featured the varieties of the King Albert stamps of the 1915-22 Issue.

This Part B will continue with the wonderfully engraved pictorials from the 1915 Issue.

1915 Scott 116 35c brown orange & black
"Cloth Hall of Ypres"

The seven higher denominations of the 1915 issue are pictorials, and are gorgeously engraved.

Close-up 1915 Scott 116 35c  "Cloth Hall of Ypres"
Digital Microscope
The "Cloth Hall of Ypres", one of the largest commercial market buildings in the middle ages, served as the main center for the Flemish cloth trade. It was completely destroyed in WW I, as Ypres was the epicenter of five major battles between 1914-1918, with hundreds of thousands of casualties.

It was completely rebuilt between 1933 and 1967.

Cloth Hall in Flames WW I
Today, it houses In Flanders Fields Museum

I've visited, and it is profoundly disturbing (as all war is up close), yet brings reconciliation and peace too.

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, / That mark our place, and in the sky, / The larks, still bravely singing, fly, / Scarce heard amid the guns below." John McCrae 1915

1915 Scott 117 40c green & black
"Bridge of Dinant"
Dinant in 1914 had a population of 7,000, and there was a strategic crossing of the Meuse river there, the Bridge of Dinant.

Bridge of Dinant 1914
The Citadel of Dinant arises on the right
On August 23, 1914, German forces massacred 674 unarmed Belgian civilians in Dinant, which became known as The Rape of Belgium.

The bridge was destroyed in the battle.

1915 Scott 118 50c carmine rose & black
"Library of Louvain"
The Library of Louvain, more specifically the Catholic University of Louvain Library, was destroyed on August 25, 1914 during WW I, as fire was set to the town with the loss of 300,000 books.

Louvain Library WW I
Wow, this is stunning. The first three pictorial stamps of the set are a lament to historical landmarks and lives lost.

Close-up 1915 Scott 118 50c  "Library of Louvain"
Digital Microscope
Here is a close-up of the stamp surface for the "Library of Louvain" stamp. A binocular microscope (on loan from a friend) and a digital  microscope provide another window into the world of stamps, not available by only utilizing stamp scans.

1915 Scott 119 1fr violet
"Scheldt River at Antwerp"
This is  a happier scene, showing the Scheldt River at Antwerp.

CV for the seven engraved stamps of 1915 are <$1 to $20 for six stamps. The remaining stamp (Scott 121 5fr  deep blue) @ CV $125 is a special case, which I will discuss in a moment.

Also of interest, the seven engraved stamps of the 1915 issue are found with perforation 14 (major numbers), and perforation 15 (minor numbers). I have all perforation 14 stamps. The Perf 15 stamps are worth somewhat more CV wise.

Antwerp and the River Scheldt 1900
The River Scheldt and it's development is what has made Antwerp the major port it is today - presently second largest in Europe.

1915 Scott 120 2fr slate
"Antislavery Campaign in the Congo"
King Leopold II (reign 1865-1909) is infamous for personally owning the Congo Free State (1885-1909), and extracting rubber, ivory, and minerals for personal enrichment, while inflicting virtual slavery and genocide on the native peoples. Ten million Congolese people died.

The international scandal became so large, that the Belgium parliament forced Leopold to give up control of the colony in 1908. It then became known as the Belgian Congo.

Of interest, the Belgians largely forgot Leopold II's horrible history ("Great Forgetting") with the Congo Free State, and remembered him rather fondly as the "Builder King" for the many public work projects that came to be during his reign.

This stamp's subject and allegory I don't think is an admission by Belgium of wrongdoing by Leopold II, but rather a commemoration of the suppression of slavery by Arab traders in the Congo Free State. Disingenuous to say the least.

1915 Scott 122 10fr brown
"Kings of Belgium Leopold I, Albert I, Leopold II"
The three kings of Belgium. No doubt reminding Belgians (who are deeply divided culturally between the Flemish north and the French south) of their shared heritage, and to stir up some nationalist feelings, with WW I very much at their doorstep.

CV is $20.
1919 Scott 138 5fr deep blue
"King Albert I at Furnes'
Type of 1915 inscribed "Frank" instead than "Franken"
I have been a little harsh on the Belgians ( and specifically Leopold II) with some of my remarks.

In King Albert's great moral favor, the successor to Leopold II, he could have allowed access to the Germans for them to cross Belgium in their conflict with the French at the beginning of WW I. He refused. Consequently, the country was invaded, and 90% of Belgium was occupied by the Germans with grave damage inflicted.

Furnes, a town in Flanders, was the center of resistance by the Belgians during WW I. There, City Hall became the headquarters of the Belgian army under Albert I.

Photograph of French President Raymond Poincare
meeting with King Albert I at Furnes in 1920
The original "King Albert I at Furnes" 5kr deep blue stamp was issued on October 15, 1915. It has "Franken" spelled out for the denomination. The CV is $125.

A reissue was released of the 5kr blue in December, 1919, but with "Frank" as the denomination. This stamp has a CV of $1+.

1918 Scott B41 35c + 35c light violet & black
"Cloth Hall of Ypres"
Types of Regular Issue of 1915 Surcharged in Red
The seven pictorials from 1915 were reissued as semi-postals on January 15, 1918, but in different colors, and surcharged in red. The extra funds were intended for the Red Cross.

CV is $10 to $500. !!

Deep Blue
1915-22 King Albert Types Page in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) nicely provides a page for all the recognized types of the 1915-22 King Albert stamps. This additional page clearly goes beyond the Scott catalogue. Bravo Steiner!

1915 Scott 115 25c blue "Albert I"
Type I
Out of the Blue
Wow! What an interesting issue, with the King Albert types, and the beautiful ( and tragic, because of the destruction wrought by WW I) engraved images on the pictorials.

Note: Pic scans all appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Very interesting notes about the portrayed items. I will try bing images to see if I can find current views of the museum that replaced the destroyed building. Do they have a virtual tour of the museum through the internet by chance?