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...

Friday, April 28, 2023

Portuguese Africa - Bud's Big Blue

Map of Vasco da Gama’s 1497 voyage to India, by Gerben van Gelder

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

If you’d like a complete collection of a stamp issuing authority, Portuguese Africa is the obvious best choice. There are only 11 stamps in all – 8 Vasco da Gama common designs and 3 war tax stamps. All are inexpensive. Portuguese Africa was, therefore, my first complete collection.

Scott #5, The San Gabriel, flagship, blue

The same set of 8 Vasco da Gama stamps were simultaneously issued for Macau, Portuguese India, Timor, Azores, Madeira, and Portugal itself. The only differences are the country names and the valuations.

Stamps with “Africa Correios” inscribed were meant for use in all African Portuguese colonies, there being no specific colony named “Portuguese Africa”. But, after they were issued in 1898, local currency fluctuations and political upheavals in the mother county left postal authorities with a large unusable oversupply; far too many stamps for collectors to buy up. Overprints to the rescue.  Country names, local valuations, and “Republica” were added on the reissues. Big Blue provides spaces for some of the overprints but omits many.

Portuguese Guinea #s 131, 139, 123, bister brown

 Fortunately, the stamps are well designed; they’re replete with history, sailing ships, mythological figures, and religious iconography. Collecting cancellations on stamps inscribed “Africa Correios” can provide additional interest. My collection has Quelimane and Mozambique cancels.

Further details are available on Gerben van Gelder’s website, Stamp World History. After van Gelder’s death his website was inaccessible for several years. Now, however, web.archive.org’s Wayback Machine has recovered his meticulous posts. Stamp collectors will benefit greatly. Van Gelder’s work is found at:


To access his Portuguese Africa comment, select the “profiles” dropdown, select “Africa”, then scroll.

Census: five in BB spaces, six on the supplement page.

Jim's Observations

Vasco da Gama left Lisbon on July 8, 1497 with a four ship fleet and 170 men. He returned with two ships and 55 men. !!!  (Many died from scurvy.) The main ships were the Sao Gabriel (San Gabriel), the flagship, and commanded by Vasco da Gama; the Sao Rafael (San Rafael), commanded by Paulo da Gama, Vasco's brother; and the Berrio (also known as Sao Miguel (San Miguel).

The ships rounded the Cape of Good Hope, spent March 2-29, 1498 near Mozambique island, and sailed north along the coast to Malindi in East Africa.

So began the Portuguese presence in Africa.

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Comments appreciated!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

France - Bordeaux Issue- 30c, 40c, 80c

France 1870 Scott 48 80c rose/pinkish "Ceres"
Bordeaux Issue, Lithographed

Into the Deep Blue

This final blog post on the the Bordeaux issue will cover the  30c, 40c, & 80c denominations.

Previous posts are...

A closer look at the Bordeaux Issue: Intro, 1c, 2c

A closer look at the Bordeaux Issue: 4c, 5c

A closer look at the Bordeaux Issue: 10c

A closer look at the Bordeaux Issue: 20c

Previous posts also looked at similar "Ceres" issues that could mimic the Bordeaux issue. I won't do that with this entry. But recall, with the more crude lithographic print, and the rough horizontal continuous neck lines, it should not be too difficult to separate out the Bordeaux stamps.

France 1870 Scott 46 30c brown/yellowish "Ceres"
Bordeaux Issue, Imperforate, Lithographed

The 30c brown denomination only used one report ( 15 cliche lithographic block). The CV for the "brown" or "light brown" colors are $200 (unused).

Close-up 30c: Note the heavy horizontal neck lines
Color: "deep brown" vs "black-brown"

I have an example that is a darker color. Scott lists 46a as "black-brown" with a CV of $675. Rather, I think this is the Maury listed color of "deep brown".

1870 Scott 47b 40c red orange/ yellowish "Ceres"
1st State

The 40c denomination has one report (15 cliche lithographic bloc), but the printing is divided by Maury into 1st state and 2nd state.

There are also many color tints listed by Scott (8) and Maury (14): many of them multiples of the base CV price. !!  Honestly, I think it is overdone, and can devolve into subjectivity. 

Nevertheless, I think this a "red orange" specimen (Scott 47b CV $190).

Close-up 40c 1st State
Note the strong horizontal lines under the eye

The 1st state shows strong horizontal lines under the eye and a clear printing.

1870 Scott 47 40c orange/ yellowish "Ceres"
2nd State

I am labeling this specimen "orange" (Major number Scott 47) with a CV of $100. 

Close-up 40c 2nd State
Note the few separated dots under the eye
(And in this case the lack of lines)

The 2nd state typically shows only dots and dashes, not lines, under the eye. Here, there is also a lack of markings.

1870 Scott 47 40c orange/ yellowish "Ceres"
1st State

Looks closer to a 1st state.

1870 Scott 47 40c orange/ yellowish "Ceres"
2nd State

More like a 2nd state.

1870 Scott 48 80c rose/pinkish "Ceres"
1st state

The 80c denomination is found with only one report ( 15 cliche lithographic block). But Scott lists seven color shades (CV $250- $950), and Maury nine color shades: again, with multiples of CV price. I think it is a bit of a rabbit hole - I am not going to dive in. ;-)

Maury also lists 1st state and 2nd state, and prices them separately. As far as I can tell, a well printed stamp is 1st state; a less well printed stamp is a 2nd state?

CV for the rose/pinkish above is $250.

1870 Scott 48 80c rose/pinkish "Ceres"
2nd state

Note the lack of strong lines under the eye: 2nd state. Also note the blanching of the lattice work below the "Repub Franc" label.

1870 Scott 48a 80c dull rose/pinkish "Ceres"
1st state

This color could be dull rose (CV $275). Is this 1st state (well printed) or 2nd state (dots or dashes under eye)? I'm going with 1st state.

Out of the Blue

Well, we are done with the review of the Bordeaux issue. I found it fascinating. Hope you found some things of interest too!

Comments appreciated!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Portugal - Bud's Big Blue

Scott #s 1s30-1s35, 1931, porte franco overprint
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations

Jim’s summary of Portugal’s postal history appears here. The following post focuses mainly on Portugal’s charity stamps.

Almost from their beginning, adhesive stamps have been involved with (maybe better, stuck together with) charities. To make money for their causes, volunteers amass used stamps, soak them off envelopes, and sort them into bundles for collectors and stamp dealers to buy in bulk (1). The charities also produce their own labels, stamp-look-alikes sometimes called Cinderellas or poster stamps, for their supporters to affix next to government issued postage. 

Crux Vermelha (Red Cross) poster stamps, 1941

Governments issue commemoratives to celebrate charity founders and the on-going work of their followers. Some stamps are meant to collect funds for various causes by adding a premium – the semi-postals for which Big Blue (BB) has designated pages. Patrons can choose to buy the semi-postals to contribute to the charity, or not, their choice making no difference in the postal service provided.

Portugal’s postal authorities chose two other strategies for supporting causes – charity tax stamps and franchise stamps (they authorized no semi-postals).  From 1911 to 1928, charity tax stamps were issued and sold by the government post offices, the proceeds going to support civic celebrations and/or general public welfare.

Scott #s RA1-RA2 

Charity tax stamps were obligatory. On certain days of the year, patrons had to affix them to envelopes in addition to regular postage if they wanted their mail delivered on those days. If these stamps were not used, double payment was required, as indicated by the postal tax due stamps. The government administered the collection and distribution of the resulting proceeds. 

Two cent telegraph stamp and Scott #RA6

BB provides spaces for all 14 Portuguese postal tax stamps, as well as for the 5 postal tax postage dues. Telegraph charity stamps were also issued – same designs, different colors. (For reason I can’t recall, I put one of the telegraph charity stamps in a space BB provides for a postal stamp. See scans below.)

Scott #s RAJ2-RAJ4 

Franchise stamps (aka: frank stamps or “free ones”) differ in important ways from charity tax stamps. Franchise stamps are given outright to the charities – free postage for the charity to use for its own mail or to sell to dealers and collectors. Although a few other countries issued franchise stamps, Portugal produced the most, 104 in all beginning in 1889 and continuing until 1936. Most of these were given to the Portuguese Red Cross (Cruz Vermelha Portuguesa) but, to a lesser extent, other organizations also benefitted – a rifle club, a geographical society, and a charity for tuberculosis victims. Today, although relatively inexpensive, used franchise stamps command prices equal to or greater than mint; covers are much more costly, especially those connected to benefitting charities.

Rifle Club, Scott #2S12, blue and brown on pink

Lisbon Geographical Society, Scott #s 3S14, 3S10, 3S11, 2S12

In other countries, Switzerland for example, generic franchise stamps were issued and given to multiple charities. Soldiers sometimes received franchise stamps during wartime, or they were allowed, as in the United States, to write “free” on envelopes where stamps would have been placed.

US Navy free post with censor mark, circa 1940

Scott uses the letter “S” for cataloging franchise stamps. BB provides spaces for only six Portuguese examples, all issued before 1926. Ninety-eight get left out. Of these, a complete run of the Red Cross stamps appears on the supplement pages (below).All are all regular Portuguese issues of 1924 overprinted with porte franco (free post) and year dates. Portuguese postal authorities, it would seem, decided it was more economical to get rid of surplus stamps than to make new designs every year for the charities. In 1936 Portugal stopped issuing franchise stamps altogether; in 1938 Crux Vermelha responded by issuing poster stamps not valid for postage. The supplement pages also show these through 1946.

Two further notes:

(1) Collectors owe a debt of gratitude to the charity volunteers who clip and sort used stamps. The picture of Sister Miriam Ann at a stamp party (below) tells the story. For 25 years, she and her friends did their work to benefit the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth ministries, and for us who collect. Sister, now 96 years old, has laid aside her scissors and, as of November 22, 2022, no longer accepts stamp contributions. Kiloware dealers will suffer.

Stamp clipping party

(2) For ultra-specialists, Simone C.R. Ferreira and his associates have conducted a chemical analysis of early Portuguese stamps – pigments, fillers and binders – using non-destructive techniques. They offer a new way to detect forgeries. Their report is online and quite interesting reading, but too technical for me to abstract. See: Dyes and Pigments. Volume 205, September 2022. Or:


Census: 465 in BB spaces, six tip-ins, 290 on supplement page.

Jim's Observations

The 2011 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Portugal 1853-1941, 1031 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 479 are CV <$1-$1+, or 46%. The first 96 catalogue numbers (1853-1893) are considerably more expensive. Obviously, Portugal is a European country, and therefore commands more expense for the WW classical collector. And, as one of the imperialistic colonial powers, Portugal has a high profile in the WW classical stamp collecting world.

Some of the highlights for Portuguese collectors include the famous (infamous?) 1912-31 "Ceres" issue, the 1926- 1928 bi-color engraved independence issues, and the interesting unusual category "Franchise" issues. Alas, I will say nothing about these, as I have elected to concentrate on the 19th century stamp issues for the blog post (link below). Fortunately, Bud's essay (above) covers "Franchise" stamps.

In general, Portuguese designs are familiar to WW classical collectors, because of their use in the many Portuguese colonies. Some would argue that their stamp issues do not measure up to the designs and production methods of the other colonial powers: - perhaps because Portugal was a poorer country. But that is a judgement call, and there is much that will intrigue a WW classical era collector.

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Comments appreciated!