Madagascar, 1942, Centennial of Mayotte’s Colonization
Produced by the Vichy Government but not Sold in MadagascarBud's Big Blue
Stamps inscribed Mayotte, all with the key-type Navigation and Commerce design, replaced the generic French Colony stamps in 1892. Travelers in the late 19th century found that they could buy the earlier French Colony stamps in places where the local franc was cheap, then sell them at a profit in colonies where the franc was dear. The inscribed territory name at the bottom of the Navigation and Commerce stamps thwarted this philatelic arbitrage.
Forgers, however, specifically Fournier and his apprentice Charles Hirschburger, profited from this change, for they produced many Navigation and Commerce fakes, including some for Mayotte. The fakes, commonly seen on internet auction sites, can be identified by using a perforation gauge and watching for minor design variations.
The “Navigation and Commerce” allegory (the real, not the fake) was designed by Louis-Eugène Mouchon (1843-1914), a noted French painter, sculptor. and engraver. His work appears on stamps of many nations and in many museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mayotte, Scott #3, claret
Signature barely decipherable under Mercury’s feet
On the right of Mayotte’s stamps, a Mercury-like figure, holding a fruit-filled cornucopia and a caduceus with two entwined snakes, represents commerce. On the left, a feminine figure, perhaps Athena or the marine Aphrodite who were both venerated by sailors, represents navigation. She holds a ship’s rudder, her means for steering followers through life’s changeable fortunes. Together, they support a standard with the French flag.
Allegories borrowing from ancient mythology are common artistic clichés. No doubt Mouchon was familiar with many of these. The Dutch artist Hendrick Goltzius (1558–1617) may have inspired the Navigation and Commerce design.
The Alliance of Athena and Mercury (Hermathena), 1588
Engraved by Jacob Matham, after Hendrick Goltzius
Census: 16 in BB spaces, 6 on supplement page.
Stamps were issued for the colony beginning in 1892.
Surcharged stamps for Mayotte were issued in 1912, but they could also be used in Madagascar and the Comoro archipelago.
On July 25, 1912, the colony was annexed to Madagascar, and stamp production for Mayotte specifically ceased.
After WW II, the Comoro Islands became a French overseas territory, and the Comoros were administered separately from Madagascar.
In 1974, after referendum independence votes by the various islands, the Comorian Government controlled Grand Comore, Anjouan, and Moheli, but Mayotte continued under French administration.
Today, Mayotte, alone of the islands in the Comoros, has remained an overseas department of France.
Mayotte Blog Post & BB Checklist