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 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 28, 2012

French Guinea

1904 French Guinea 1c black/yellow green "Fulah Shepard"
Quick History
In 1894, Dahomey, Cote-d'Ivoire, and the Colony of French Guinea (former name Rivieres du Sud) became "independent" colonies, although French Guinea was actually formed in 1891. In 1904, the Afrique Occidentale Française association was formed under the Governor General in Dakar with lieutenant governors for French Guinea, Dahomey, Senegal, Cote-d'Ivoire, and Upper Senegal and Niger.

French West Africa 1906

French Guinea was a colonial possession of France until 1958, when it became independent as "Guinea".
The Capital is Conakry, a port on the Atlantic Ocean, and the population was 2,000,000 in 1941.

Modern day Guinea: Has the same borders as French Guinea
Into the Deep Blue
The generic "Navigation and Commerce" stamps for the French colonies was the first issue for French Guinea beginning in 1892. The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 212 descriptions for regular, semi-postal, air post, and postage due categories. Some are of generic "French Colonies" origin ("Navigation and Commerce"), some of common design type ("New York World's Fair" issue), some of common French West Africa type (1906-07 "General Faidherbé" issue, 1940 Air Post issue), and the rest unique to French Guinea (1904 Fulah Shepard issues, 1913-33 "Ford at Kitim" issues). Clearly, the stamps unique to French Guinea are, for me, the most interesting.

Of the 212 descriptions in Scott, 130 are valued at <$1-$1+, or 61%. So it should not be difficult to have a representative collection of French Guinea for not much outlay for the WW classic collector.

A closer look at the stamps and issues


1892-1900 4c claret/lavender "Navigation and Commerce"
As is not unusual for French Colonies, the first issue for French Guinea is the generic, but lovely, "Navigation and Commerce" design. This 17 stamp issue was produced between 1892-1900. Five are priced <$5, while the most expensive is $80+.

1904 4c carmine/blue "Fulah Shepard"
The Fulah people and language is found in Guinea, Senegambia, Cameroon and Sudan
The first indigenous stamp design had a "Fulah Shepard" on 15 stamps issued in 1904. There was also a "Fulah Woman" 1905 postage due design released. Five of the 1904 issue are $1+, with many in the $10-$30 range.

 1912 5c on 15c violet/rose "Fulah Shepard"
As has occurred with other French Colonies issues, in 1912 stamps were surcharged with a "05" or "10". In this case, not only were seven "Navigation and Commerce" stamps used, but the Fulah issue contributed eight stamps. Be aware that these stamps also exist as minor numbers with more spacing between the numerals, and for much greater valuation.

1906-07 5c green "General Louis Faidherbé"
Although each Colony is imprinted, this issue was generic to French West Africa
In 1904, the French West Africa group of Colonies was formed, and here is an example of the first generic issue for the association (Afrique Occidental Française). This consisted of 15 stamps issued in 1906-07 with Faiderbé, Oil Palm, and Dr. Ballay designs. General Faidherbé was the Governor of Senegal from 1854-61, and 1863-65.

1913 1c violet & blue "Ford at Kitim"
SON with "Conakry", the Capital of French Guinea
The next issue was monstrous, consisting of 42 stamps, all with the "Ford at Kitim" central vignette design. As is typical for the colonial French stamps of the era, they had one color for the border, and the other for the scene. The French seemed to use every color of the rainbow for their stamps. ;-) This stamp was issued in waves from 1913-1933. This particular example illustrated above has a nice SON cancel of Conakry, the main Atlantic ocean port town and Capital.

1925 85c on 75c rose & ultramarine "Ford at Kitim"
Ten stamps from the former series were surcharged with new values from 1924-27
New values were surcharged on the design during 1924-27, as this 1925 example illustrates.

1927 1.50fr on 1fr deep blue & light blue "Ford at Kitim"
What's with the cancel?
The above example is the same surcharged issue, but that is not the reason I'm illustrating the stamp. I was curious about the postmark, and asked fellow collectors on Stamp Community Forum (http://www.stampcommunity.org/default.asp ) for information. The cancel is a Ship cancel for the "Vulcanus", from the Holland West Africa Line, that used to have shipping lanes in West Africa.  

More about the Holland West Africa company here....

And here is a pic of the "Vulcanus".

The Dutch ship "Vulcanus" launched in 1907
Fascinating! Thanks to SCF members who unraveled the postmark mystery. BTW, the SCF has a quite active WW classic stamp forum.

1938-40 3c ultramarine  "Guinea Village"
In 1938, a new four design 33 stamp issue was produced which has all the élan of French designed stamps.  Six of the stamps have the illustration above, all for CV 25 cents. I think this wonderful stamp puts the lie to the old saying " You get what you pay for". ;-)

1938-40 50c red brown "Hausa Basket Workers"
The second design is on seven stamps, and all are available for <$1. The Hausa tribe today is 15 million strong, generally Islamic, and found in northern Nigeria.

1939 90c rose violet "Forest Waterfall"
Nine stamps are found with the "Forest waterfall" design, all less than $1+.

1938-40 20fr chocolate "Guinea Women"
The last design is on nine stamps, all with catalogue value of <$1-$1+, and features "Guinea Women", and a man too. Please enlarge this stamp and admire the image!

What a pleasure it is to be a world wide classic collector. :-)

Deep Blue
Deep Blue has 15 pages for French Guinea, and I have stamps on 12 of them.

Deep Blue's page layout for the 1913-33 "Ford at Kitim" issue
Here is an example pic of the nice aesthetic layout for French Guinea as provided by Deep Blue. One of the concerns when I switched over to Deep Blue was would I have many empty pages? Actually not so. Of course, naturally, the pages are not as full as Big Blue. But the aesthetic layout, and the certainty that every stamp I acquire will have a space is rewarding and comforting.

1905 postage due 5c blue "Fulah Woman"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on five pages, has 139 spaces. Coverage is 66%. BB '69 has 7 spaces for the 1892 "Navigation and Commerce", and 7 spaces for the 1904 "Fulah Shepard". It should cost no more than $8-$10 to fill these spaces with stamps. (Of interest, the '41/'47 editions truncates the spaces to 4 and 4 respectively.)

But three blank spaces among the 1906 set raises the costs considerably.

1906
“Dr Noel Eugene Ballay”
(Scott 45) 1fr black/azure  $20
(Scott 46)  2fr blue/pink $40 mint
(Scott 47)  5fr carmine/straw $60 mint

This yields two "Most expensive Stamps" for the ($35 threshold) list. Wow!


Simple Checklist

1892-1900
1,2,3,4,5,7,(10),

1904
18,19,20,21,22,23,(25),

1906
33,34,35,36,
37,(45),(46),(47),
38,39,(41),

1913-17
63,64,65,

Next Page

1913-17
66,68,71,74,83,84,
85,96,101,

1912
48,49,50,55,
56,57,58,59,

1922
67,69,78,
80,87,105,

1924
106,107,

1925
108,109,

1925-26
70,72,75,81,88,89,

Next Page

1925-26
90,92,94,

1926
111,

1927
110,112,
73,76,93,

1928-30
82,95,99,102,

1933
98,100,

1937
120,123,
121,122,124,125,

1938-40
128,129,130,131,

Next Page1938-40
132,133,134,135,136,137,138,139,
140,141,142,143,
144,145,146,147,
148,149,150,151,
152,153,154,155,(157),(158),

1939
161,162,163,

Next Page

1939
164,165,

Semi-postal
1915
B1,

1938
B2,

Air post
1940
C1,C2,
C3,C4,C5,

Postage Due
1905
J1,J2,J3,J4,

1914
J16,J17,J18,(J19),(J20),(J21),

1938
J26,J27,J28,(J29),(J30),

Comments
A) ( ) around a number indicates a suggested blank space choice.
B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1904
(Scott 25 ) 25c blue “Fulah Shepard”  $10+

1906
“Dr Noel Eugene Ballay”
(Scott 45) 1fr black/azure  $20
(Scott 46)  2fr blue/pink $40 mint
(Scott 47)  5fr carmine/straw $60 mint

1938 postage due 15c green "Totem"
Out of the Blue
Just when I'm thinking I should perhaps limit myself to a sub-set of classic world-wide, I am faced with these fascinating and wonderfully designed stamps. How can one resist? :-)

Note: Maps are from worldatlas, or appear to be in the public domain. The photograph appears to be in the public domain.

Drop me a comment!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

French Guiana

1905-28  2c blue "Great Anteater"
Part of the first pictorial issue
Quick History
French Guiana, on the north-east coast of South America, is still (beginning in 1946) an overseas department of France. It should not be confused with British Guiana (now Guyana) or Dutch Guiana (now Suriname), or even French Guinea (In Africa). Since the Treaty of Paris in 1814, the area has been under French influence. The Capital is Cayenne, and the population was 30,000 in 1936.

French Guiana
The Îles du Salut (Ironic name for this infamous place!) is where Devil's Island is located

From 1852-1946, a penal colony- known collectively as "Devil's Island" to the English speaking, bagne de Cayenne, to the French speaking world- was located just off the coast of French Guiana. It held political prisoners ( Those that opposed Napoleon III coup d etat), Alfred Dreyfus (1895), to thieves and murderers. Of the 80,000 prisoners sent to Devil's Island and French Guiana, very few survived  or were ever seen again.

Stamps of the French Colonies can be found surcharged or overprinted from 1886-1892. Thirty-one are described in the Scott catalogue, and all are rather expensive; the cheapest $30-$40.


1900 10c red "Navigation and Commerce"
SON: Saint-Laurent Du Maroni, a border town in north-west French Guiana
Into the Deep Blue
For the French Guiana specialist, there are the surcharged/overprinted French Colonies stamps of 1886-92. They are expensive, and I don't have any. ;-)  The first formal issue for French Guiana are the well known 1892-1904 "Navigation and Commerce" design, consisting of 19 stamps. An example illustrated above has a nice SON cancel.

The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 208 major stamp descriptions for regular, semi-postal, air post and postage due categories. Of those, 136 are <$5, many only <$1-$1+. "Affordability" index= 65%. Clearly, considering its rather infamous history, French Guiana is an interesting country for the WW classic collector.

A closer look at the stamps and issues


1922 4c on 15c violet (green surcharge) "Great Anteater"
The 1905-28 issue had pictorial designs related to French Guiana, as opposed to the generic 1892-1904 "Navigation and Commerce" issue. Nine of the stamps featured the "Great Anteater" design illustrated above, and they all are inexpensive too. Isn't that a great design? :-)

The 15c violet stamp was also surcharged in four! different colors in 1922 as illustrated above.

1915 semi-postal 10c + 5c rose "Great Anteater"
The Anteater design was surcharged and also used on this 1915 semi-postal shown above. Nice!

1922 30c rose "Washing Gold"
The second design found on 18 stamps of the 1905-28 issue shows a native worker washing gold. Again, all these stamp are quite inexpensive (<$1-$1+).

1905-28 2fr blue "Palm Grove at Cayenne"
The last design on the higher denomination stamps for the 1905-28 issued had a palm grove pictorial scene. This design is found on nine stamps, with the most expensive valued ~$15. Altogether, the 1905-28 issue had 36 stamps, almost all within the reach of the Deep Blue/Big Blue collector. And the French do have a way with their stamp designs. ;-)

1912 Scott 88 5c on 4c claret/lavender with carmine surcharge
1912 Scott 87a 5c on 2c brown/buff with black surcharge
Spacing between numerals 1.5 mm and 2.25 mm respectively
Returning to the "Navigation and Commerce" design, in 1912 six different denomination stamps had a "05" or "10" surcharged placed. What is interesting, however, is the surcharges exist with different widths between the numerals. The major Scott numbers have numerals that are 1.5 mm apart, while the minor numbers are 2.25 mm apart for the "05" surcharge. In this case, the 2c brown/buff (Scott 87a) is valued @$21, rather than $1+. ! So check the spacing on your stamps-could be worth more. ;-) Of interest, even though the minor numbers are bolded, and are prominent in Scott, there is not a separate space provided in Deep Blue.

1929-40 10c magenta and brown "Carib Archer"
Part of a 43 stamp issue with three designs
The second major French Guiana issue began in 1929 and produced 43 stamps using three designs. The first design used on the nine lower denomination stamps featured the "Careb Archer". I would venture to say this is one of the more common French Colonies stamps found in older collections. I found one or more of these stamps in seven various feeder albums I have. ;-)  Not complaining-a nice stamp!

1932-40 25c dark red and dark brown "Carib Archer"
Overprinted "TERRITOIRE DE L'INNI"
I found these overprinted "Careb Archer" stamps in three feeder albums. But the overprint is not listed in the Scott Classic Catalogue for French Guiana! What gives? A little internet research yielded the answer.

Inini and French Guiana
Inini  was basically the interior of French Guiana- essentially wild. Supposedly, the population was 5,000 in 1941, and the Capital was Saint-Elie. It was administered separately by the French from 1930-1946. During this time, postage stamps of French Guiana were overprinted like the "Careb Archer" stamp shown. The stamps must have frequently ended up in packets for collectors, and now are found in older collections.

On further investigation, Scott does list 58 overprinted stamps under "Inini" in the catalogue for the years 1932-40. Big Blue has 2 pages with 48 stamp spaces. Coverage by BB is 83%.  Since Inini was in reality a territory of French Guiana, I am including them here.

1940 1fr black & violet blue "Shooting Rapids, Maroni River"
Second design in 1929-40 issue
Eighteen stamps for the 1929-40 issue have this design-Nice! Almost all can be had for <$1-$1+.

1929-40 3fr brown red & red violet 
"Government Building, Cayenne"
Third design for issue
Can you imagine a British or an American stamp with this color combination? ;-) Sixteen stamps for the series had this image; almost all again available for <$1-$1+. 

One could seriously argue, no doubt, why a Colony with 30,000 population, with many of them illiterate, needed a 43 stamp issue? They didn't. ;-) But there is no denying the stamps are attractive.

Deep Blue
Bill Steiner designed 15 pages for French Guiana, and I have stamps on 12 of them. He follows the Scott catalogue with a space for all the major numbers. The only pages that are mostly out of my league are the overprinted early "French Colony" stamps: two pages.

I wish he did provide space for the Scott 87-93 bolded minor number "Navigation and Commerce" surcharged varieties that have a different spacing between the numbers on the overprint. See illustration elsewhere.

Finally, the 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has 15 stamp entries for the 1921 "Societe De Transports Aeriens Guyanais" issue; a pioneering airmail service like the well known Colombian "SCADTA" airmail service. Spaces are not found in Deep Blue. But a moot point, as valued from $750-$3000. ;-)

1933 Air Post 2fr orange "View of Cayenne"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on five pages, has 125 spaces for regular, semi-postal, air post, and postage due categories. Coverage is 60%.

Beginning with the  1892-1904 "Navigation and Commerce" issue (eight spaces- most expensive $10), BB provides a very nice representative selection. I suspect these stamp spaces, inexpensive and attractive, have always been popular with BB collectors.



Simple Checklist


1892-1904
32,33,34,35,36,38,39,42,

1905-26
51,52,53,54,55,56,
60,61,57,58,59,62,63,
64,65,67,68,69,70,72,
73,74,75,78,76,77,(71),

1912
87,88,89,90,(91),92,(93),

1922-25
94,95,96,97,100,102,103,

Next Page

1925-26
79,83,

1926
106,

1927
104,105,107,108,

1928
66,80,81,

1929
109,110,112,113,114,115,
116,118,121,122,117,
124,127,129,131,

Next Page

133,136,137,138,
141,143,(120),(130),

1935
156,157,158,159,

1937
162,165,163,164,166,167,

1939
169,170,

Next Page

1939-40
111,
119,123,126,
128,132,135,139,
140,142,146,147,

Next Page

Air post
1933
C1,C2,C3,C4,

Postage due
1925
J1,J2,J3,J4,

1929
J13,J14,J15,J16,J17,
J18,J19,J20,J21,

Semi-postal
1915
B2,

1938
B3,

Comments
A) ( ) around a number signifies a suggested blank space choice.
B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1892-1904
Scott 35 5c green/greenish “Navigation and Commerce” $10

1935
Scott 159 1.75fr lilac rose “Products of French Guiana” $10+

Semi-postal
1938
Scott B3 1.75fr +50c bright Ultramarine “Curie” $10+

1929 Postage due 20c green & rose red "Royal Palms"
Who says postage due designs can't be interesting?
Out of the Blue
The design attractiveness of the French Guiana stamps contrasted with the 80,000 prisoners who (mostly) found their last days on "Devil's Island" is difficult to reconcile.


Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Enjoy the post? Would like to hear from you!

Monday, January 16, 2012

French Equatorial Africa

1937 Air Post 8.50fr red brown & yellow
"Trimotor over Stanley Pool"
Quick History
French Equatorial Africa stamps were issued exclusively after 1936, but the name has existed since 1910. Then Gabon and Middle Congo with its military dependencies were politically united as French Equatorial Africa, although each colony had administrative autonomy and had their own stamp issues. Ubangi-Chari-Chad was made an autonomous colony in 1915, and then in 1920 Chad was made an autonomous colony. The four colonies listed above were administratively united as one colony in 1934, and consequently the separate colonies stopped their own stamp issues in 1936. So to summarize: French Equatorial Africa consisted of four dependencies; namely Middle Congo, Ubangi-Shari, Chad and Gabon.

The Capital was Brazzaville, and the population was 3,400,000 in 1936.

French Equatorial Africa ( In Purple) 1920-1960

1937 1.50fr ultramarine Paris International Exposition Issue
Common Design Type: "Cultural Treasures of the Colonies"
Into the Deep Blue
The Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, beginning in 1936,  has 167 descriptions for regular, semi-postal, air post, and postage due categories. 139 are less than $5. Affordability index= 83%. Although "affordable", they are not cheap, as many are valued in the $1-$2 range. The most expensive are two air post stamps (1940-41 C9 & C11) @ $240.

A close look at the stamps and issues

1936 1c brown violet "Timber Raft on Ogowe River"
Overprinted 1932 Gabon
The first "official" French Equatorial Africa production was 10 stamps, overprinted on a 1932 Gabon issue.

Note: Since Big Blue provides no spaces for this issue in the FEA section, these stamps were found in the margins of  Gabon in my feeder albums.

1936 2c dull blue "Viaduct at Mindouli"
Overprinted 1933 Middle Congo
Likewise, another 16 stamp production were overprinted on a 1933 Middle Congo issue.

So does any "French Equatorial Africa" overprint mean the stamp can be found in the French Equatorial Africa section of the catalogue?

1924 Middle Congo 1c olive gray & brown
Overprinted
Here is a 1924 Middle Congo stamp that is overprinted "French Equatorial Africa", but is part of the stamp production from 1924-30 of the Middle Congo!  Remember, these colonies were politically grouped together since 1910 as "French Equatorial Africa", but issued their own stamps. Some of them have overprints like this-very confusing. ;-) So "French Equatorial Africa" overprints before 1936 go in the respective colonies stamp section.

1937 15c blue & buff  "People of Chad"
Part of a 40 stamp issue 1937-40
From 1937-40, an issue with six designs and 40 stamps was produced. Fairly attractive, but one has to wonder if 40 stamps are a little much?

1937 20fr olive black & dull yellow
"Governor Victor Liotard"
The high end of the 1937-40 issue had a 20 Franc stamp illustrated above. How many do you think were used for postage as opposed to ending up in a stamp collection? ;-)

1937-40 25c copper red & blue
Type I: wide numerals (25c); Type II: narrow numerals (25c)
The 1937-40 25c has an interesting twist: two types of numerals as illustrated above. The Type II narrow numeral variety is valued @ $2.75: much more than Type I. Check your album to see which one you have. :-)

1940-41 1c brown & yellow "Logging on Loeme River" with carmine overprint
1940-41 3c blue & yellow with lower case black overprint?
In 1940, the 1937 issue was overprinted "Afrique Francaise Libre" or just simply "Libre", no doubt because of WWII. Scott recognizes 46 major descriptions, and the overprint on some stamps is found in either carmine or black. But I cannot find the black lower case overprint on the 3c blue & yellow illustrated above in Scott. Do any readers have a clue? ( The non-overprinted variety is @ 30 cents, while the "overprinted" variety catalogues @ $2, so a fake? ;-)

1940-41 30c gray & green "Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza" carmine overprint
1941 30c chalky black, indigo & buff with black overprint "Libre"
Here is a same denomination stamp that was produced in different colors, and each stamp comes in either carmine or black overprint! BTW, the 1940-41 overprinted issue is much more expensive than the 1937 issue, with several stamps in the $65 range.

1940 1fr on 65c "Émile Gentil" 
Has carmine surcharge
Finally, the 1940 overprinted issue has two surcharged varieties issued in 1940.

So, to summarize, French Equatorial Africa had two major issues between 1937-41 of 40 and 46 stamps respectively. No wonder I find a lot of FEA stamps in Big Blue collections. ;-)

Deep Blue
Deep Blue has 14 pages for French Equatorial Africa, and I managed to place stamps on 12 of those pages. Not bad. ;-) Deep Blue follows the Scott catalogue exactly. The puzzler was the black lowercase overprint I found on the 1940-41 3c blue & yellow, when Scott only has an uppercase carmine overprint variety listed.

1938 1.75fr blue issued for Centenary of Gabon
Count Louis Edouard Bouet-Willaumez and His Ship "La Malouine"
Note "AEF" for "French Equatorial Africa" 
Big Blue
The 69 BB has 63 spaces on three pages for regular, semi-postal, air post and postage due categories.
Coverage is 38%. BB does not provide any spaces for the 1936 overprinted Gabon and Middle Congo stamps. Twelve of them range from <$1-$1+. For the 40 stamp 1937-40 issue, BB provides 30 spaces. No coverage of the overprinted 47 stamp 1940-41 issue in BB, although Part II (1940-48) does have spaces if you happen to have that volume.


Simple Checklist

1937-40
28,27,30,29,
31,33,34,32,
35,36,37,38,
39,40,41,42,
43,44,45,46,
47,48,49,50,

Next Page

1937-40
51,52,53,54,
55,56,57,58,
59,(60),(61),(63),
74,75,76,77,

1939
78,79,

Semi-postal
1938
B1
B2,B3,

Next Page

Postage Due
1937
J1,J2,J3,J4,j5,
J6,(J7),(J8),(J9),J10),

Air post
1937
C1,
C2,C3,C4,
C5,C6,C7,
C8,

Comments
A) ( ) around a number indicates a suggested blank space choice
B) Expensive stamps ( $10 threshold):
Semi-postal
1938
Scott B1 1.75 + 50c bright ultramarine “Curie” $20+

1937 postage due 2fr dark blue & buff
"Numeral of Value on Equatorial Butterfly"
Out of the Blue
What is interesting is to see the separate stamp issuing colonies come together finally as French Equatorial Africa. So what happened during WWII and afterwards? As a collector, one can tell from the "Libre" overprinted FEA stamps of 1940-41, that French Equatorial Africa was on the side of the Free French Forces. Gabon was briefly Vichy French from June-November, 1940.

The Federation was represented in  the French parliament from 1946-58. But after 1960, the territory became independent Chad, Central African Republic (former Oubangui-Chari), The Republic of the Congo (former French Congo), Gabon and Cameroon. (Cameroon was never technically integrated into the FEA.)

Map appears to be in the public domain.

Would like to hear from you!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

French Congo

1900-04 French Congo 4c scarlet & gray blue "Leopard"
Quick History
The French Congo (Congo français) began as a protectorate for the Bateke people in 1880 at Brazzaville along the north side of the Congo River. Angola was on the south side of the Congo river. Concessions were subsequently given to French companies to develop the colony, but only some ivory, rubber and timber were extracted.

In 1888, the French Congo was administratively joined with Gabon (Although Gabon  had its own stamp production). Stamps of the French Colonies can be found surcharged "Congo français" in 1891. The "Navigation and Commerce" issue was available in 1892 with "Congo français" on the faceplate.  In 1894 and 1900, the military holdings of Ubangi and Chad were added to the colony respectively. Stamp production for the French Congo continued until 1904.

But, the Gabon-Congo area was renamed Middle Congo (Moyen-Congo) in 1903. Then in 1906, Gabon and the Middle Congo were separated, and the "French Congo" as such no longer existed. Subsequently, the colonies (Middle Congo, Gabon, ) were re-united in 1910 as "French Equatorial Africa", but had their own stamp production until 1933.

Chad and Ubangi continued as a dependency with the name "Ubangi-Chari-Chad", and the stamps of the Middle Congo were used there.

1906 Map of French Congo
Into the Deep Blue

Affordable collectability
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has  52 major stamp descriptions for the years 1891-1903. "Affordable" stamps can be found from the 1892-1900 "Navigation and Commerce" issue ( 12 stamps <$20; of those 4 stamps <$5), and the 1900-04 Pictorial (Leopard etc) issue ( 10 stamps <$5).
Total "affordable" stamps: 22  
Affordability Index = 43%.

There are  16 generic "French Colony" stamps (regular and postage due) that are surcharged for the French Congo between 1891-92 that range from $45 to $4,400. A bit out of my league. ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1892-1900 5c green/greenish "Navigation and Commerce"
Typical of most French colonies, there is a 17 stamp issue of the "Navigation and Commerce" design, with the faceplate stamped with "Congo Français".  Six of the stamps are <$6+, so a representative selection could be had without too much cost. Although the carmine color for the name of the colony is typical, look for the 4c claret in black and blue: worth $170+.  :-)

One could argue that a 17 stamp issue is a little much, but finding a socked on the nose cancel (Brazzaville) in my collection was, as the college kids say, "sweet". ;-)  (Illustrated elsewhere in the blog)

1900-04 2c brown & orange "Leopard"
A 15 stamp pictorial (Leopard, Bakalois Woman, Coconut Grove) bi-colored issue was produced for the French Congo in 1900-1904. Nice! Of interest, the stamps are watermarked with either a "Thistle branch", a "Rose branch" or a "Olive branch". Nine stamps are <$2+. The same design is found in the subsequent  1907-22 Middle Congo issue. 

1900-04 10c dark red & red: Leopard design found in two Types
Type 1: End of left tusk extends behind and above right tusk.
It is well worth checking the Leopard design (1c-15c, six stamps) for Type 2, found only in position 91 of each pane of 100, where the left tusk does not extend above the right tusk. Valued @ $45-$110. :-)

Deep Blue
Deep Blue has four pages for the French Congo issues, and follows sequentially the Scott catalogue.


1892-1900 French Congo 25c black/rose "Navigation and Commerce"
Note the nice SON Brazzaville postmark
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on one half page, has 18 spaces for the French Congo. Coverage is 35%.

More specifically, BB has seven spaces for the 1892 Navigation and Commerce issue. Filling those spaces economically (as there are two blank spaces), would range from $1+- $10. Very nice.

The 1900-04 Pictorial issue has 11 spaces (three blank), and filling those spaces would cost from <$1-$10.

Big Blue has a nice affordable selection. :-)

Simple Checklist
1892-1900
18,19,20,,21,23,(25),(28),

1900
35,36,37,38,(40),
41,42,43,44,45,(46)

Comments
A) ( ) around a number indicates a suggested blank space choice.

B) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
Scott 46 75c red violet & orange "Bakalois Woman" $10

1900-04 5c green & gray green "Leopard"
Leopards were found throughout sub-Saharan Africa in both rain forests and deserts.
Out of the Blue
The "Leopard" pictorial is a refreshing contrast to the "Monarch" British Colonies stamps of the same era. And the lithe Leopard appears capable of leaping out of the stamp! ;-)

Maps appear to be in the public domain.

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The Republic of the Congo: Independent since 1960
Occupies former area of the French Congo (Later Middle Congo)
Note: Do not confuse with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire) !