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, October 20, 2018

British Guiana Pt B - a closer look

1898 Scott 152 1c carmine & gray black
"Mt. Roraima"
Into the Deep Blue
British Guiana is luckier than most British colonies, as there are a generous number of pictorials issued. As they tend to be more interesting for the casual WW collector than a bland series of monarch vignettes, I thought I would show them here, the second blog post on British Guiana issues.

The first post, British Guiana Pt A - a closer look, is here.
Original British Guiana post and BB Checklist is here.

952 Scott 232 4c black & rose
"British Guiana Map"
Specifically, we will cover the 1898 issue (five stamps), the 1899 overprint issue (three stamps), the 1931 issue (five stamps), the 1934 issue (thirteen stamps), and the 1938-52 issue (twelve stamps).

Let's begin!

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Cents = 1 Dollar
1898 Scott 154 5c brown & green
"Mt. Roraima"
For the 60th anniversary Jubilee of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne, an engraved bi-colored five stamp two design issue by De la Rue of London was released on July 18, 1898. (49 years later, on this July 18th date, the author of this blog was born to considerably less fanfare. ;-)

CV is <$1 to $1+ for four stamps.

1899 Scott 158 2c on 10c red & blue black
"Kaieteur (Old Man's) Falls" 
1898 Issue Surcharged in Black
In 1899, three stamps (5c, 10c, 15c) from the 1898 issue were surcharged "TWO CENTS" in black. The surcharge printing was done by the Daily Chronicle, Georgetown. As one can not uncommonly expect with a local printing, SG lists a  number of minor number printing varieties.

Kaieteur Falls
Kaieteur Falls on the Potaro River has a world first 741 foot (226 meters) clean drop, with a tremendous flow rate of 663 cubic meters per second (23,400 cubic feet per second). The Falls is four times higher than Niagara Falls (U.S.-Canada), and two times higher than Victoria Falls (Africa).

One can tell that British Guiana is off the beaten track, as the Falls was only "discovered" in 1870. That is fourteen years after the British Guiana 1c magenta. !!

1899 Scott 159 2c on 15c blue & red brown
"Mt. Roraima"
1898 Issue Surcharged in Black
CV for the three stamp overprinted issue is $4+ unused for each stamp.

Mount Roraima
Located at the tri-point between British Guiana, Brazil, and Venezuela, the tabletop monolith Mt. Roraima has 1,300 feet (400 meters) sheer cliffs all around. The rock is some two billion years old.

1931 Scott 206 2c dark brown
"Indian Shooting Fish"
For the centenary of the union of Berbice, Demerara - (BTW, the cancel found on the 1c magenta), and Essequibo to form British Guiana colony, there was a five stamp four design engraved issue by Waterlow of London released July 21, 1931.

1931 Scott 207 4c carmine rose
"Kaieteur Falls"
A scene of Kaieteur Falls, but different than the 1898 design version.

1931 Scott 208 6c ultramarine
"Georgetown. Public Buildings"
CV for 1931 issue ranges from <$1 to $1+ for four stamps. If you want the fifth stamp ($1 violet), the CV is $60. !

Public Buildings, Georgetown Postcard
The "Public Buildings" consist of the offices of the executive government, and were erected between 1829 and 1834.

1934 Scott 212 3c carmine
"Alluvial Gold Mining"
On October 1, 1934, a thirteen stamp twelve design engraved pictorial issue was released. These were designed and printed by Waterlow of London, similar to the 1931 issue.

Actually, although twelve of the stamps were new designs, three of them only had a change in frame. while nine are new pictorials. In other words, three of the pictorials were recycled from the 1931 issue by Waterlow.

1886 Map of British Guiana Gold Centers
As bad luck would have it, the alluvial gold mining areas discovered in the late 1850s were in the disputed areas west of the Essequibo River, claimed by both Venezuela and British Guiana. British settlers moved in, and the British Guiana Mining Company was formed to mine the deposits.

Venezuela broke off diplomatic relations with Great Britain in 1887. Eventually, an arbitration tribunal in 1899 awarded 90% of the disputed territory to British Guiana, while Venezuela only received the mouth of the Orinoco River.

Venezuela 1896 Scott 137 5c yellow green
Map shows Venezuelan lands to the Essequibo River
The 1896 Venezuela Map issue shows Venezuela owning the disputed territory (Guyana Venezolana).

As you can imagine, Venezuela was not happy with the decision. But they elected to abide by it.

However, in 1962, Venezuela reopened the dispute. It is on-going

1934 Scott 213 4c violet black
"Kaieteur Falls"
Recycled pictorials are fairly common among British Commonwealth stamps.

The frame has been slightly altered though. ;-)

1934 Scott 214 6c deep ultramarine
""Shooting Logs over Falls"
Isn't this better than another staid British monarch stamp?  ;-)

Forests covered ~88% of British Guiana. But the timber harvested up until the 1920s usually only included fairly easily accessible tracts close to rivers. Hence the obvious mode of transporting logs depicted here. A prevailing tree in the area - such as Crabwood, Mora, Greenheart, Wallaba, or Dakama - would also be the common name for the area forest. Greenheart was commercially the best known of British Guiana's woods during this time.

1934 Scott 215 12c orange
""Stabroek Market"
CV for the 1934 issue ranges from <$1 to $10+ for ten stamps.

Stabroek Market Square, Georgetown, British Guiana: Postcard
Stabroek market was named by the Dutch in honor of the director of the Dutch West India Company, and it still has that name today. This reflects the Dutch-British back and forth historical land ownership, The first market was operating by 1792, and consisted of enslaved Africans selling their plantains and other staple foods on Sundays.

The market building ( the one standing today) was built in 1880 , using steel as a frame. It covered 76,000 square feet, and was the largest public market in the Caribbean, if not the world, at the time.

The iconic clock, sixty feet off the ground, was a product of E. Howard Company of Boston.

1938 Scott 230 1c green
"Plowing a Rice Field"
Many British colonies had George VI pictorials beginning in 1938, and British Guiana was no exception. Many of the pictorials were recycled from the George V 1934 pictorials, including this one - "Plowing a Rice Field".

Rice growing in British Guiana increased for two main reasons. The Sugar Cane industry suffered a decrease from 1884 to 1904 because of subsidized beet sugar competition from European countries with the British Market. And Indians ( from India), brought over as laborers, began to farm rice between 1880 and 1920. By 1931, 30% of the cultivated land was planted in rice.

1949 Scott 233 6c deep ultramarine
"Indian Shooting Fish"
The "Indian Shooting Fish" pictorial is recycled from the 1931 and 1934 George V issue.

It is probably my favorite image.

Fishing with a Bow and Arrow
The traditional Amerindian way to fish is with a bow and arrow.

1938 Scott 234 24c deep green
"Sugar Canes in Punts"
By 1800, there were about 380 sugar estates along the coast of British Guiana. The Amerindian population was small, and lived primarily in the interior. So for labor needs to work the sugar cane plantations, some 100,000 slaves from west Africa were imported by 1830. Upon emancipation in 1838, most of the former slaves abandoned the plantations, and reverted to subsistence farming.

To increase labor supply for the plantations, some 240,000 indentured East Indians were brought to British Guiana between 1838 and 1917. (After 1917, indentured labor was abolished.)

1938 Scott 235 36c purple
"Kaieteur Falls"
Another stamp with the Kaieteur Falls pic.

CV for the 1938-52 twelve stamp Waterlow engraved issue ranges from <$1 to $10+ for eleven stamps.

1938 Scott 236 48c orange yellow
""Forest Road in the Interior"
Since 90% of the region is covered by dense tropical forests, cutting a road into the interior is not for the timid. ;-)

1938 Scott 238 96c brown violet
"Sir Walter Raleigh and His Son"
Sir Walter Raleigh was in search of El Dorado, the mythical (as it turns out) "City of Gold" when he embarked for Guiana in 1595.

He wrote a book a year later about his explorations titled "The discovery of the large, rich, and beautiful Empire of Guiana, with a relation of the great and golden city of Manoa (which Spaniards call El Dorado)". Yes, there are some gold deposits in Venezuela and the surrounding region, but the report was greatly exaggerated.

He did go back to Guiana in 1617, after being imprisoned by King James I for twelve years. On his return to England, he was tried for treason, as he disobeyed orders by King James to not engage the Spanish (he had attacked the Spanish on the river Orinco). He was executed in 1618.

Sir Walter Raleigh and Son, 1602
National Portrait Gallery, Unknown artist
Here is the portrait that the stamp design is based on.

Deep Blue
1940-52  Postage Due in Deep Blue
Glancing at postage dues in Deep Blue, rather than pictorials, one will note that British Guiana has a P.D. design similar to other British Commonwealth countries (Trinidad, Barbados, Basutoland etc).

Simple but effective.

1898 Scott 153b 2c blue & brown
"Kaieteur (Old Man's) Falls 
Out of the Blue
I'm both attracted (exotic) and repulsed (hot tropical climate) by British Guiana (Guyana).

Fortunately, no such negative ambivalence is felt for the stamps of British Guiana. 

Note: Map, postcard scans, Walter Raleigh painting scan,and scenic pics all appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. So strange, I had not realized that Guiana bordered Venezuela! I, also, like the pictorial stamps used for British Guiana as well as the very clean designs for the postage due stamps.

    1. Yes, it is difficult remembering where British Guiana is!

  2. I spent a few years in Guyana and it's really nice to see stamps with places I have actually been. Thank you for this post.

  3. Manish Mohan has a very nice web site with philatelic content that I was able to access by clicking on his name from his post. Highly recommended.

    1. albumfilling - Thanks for the recommendation. I see I already have a link to his website posted.

  4. This is good education for me, as I wasn't aware of these stmps and the history of my beautiful land/country.

  5. The word 'Guiana' is derived from the Indian tribe Guayano who inhabited the entire northern South America long before Sir Walter Raleigh set sail frome Britain.