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...

Monday, December 30, 2013


1919 Scott N42 1/2a on 1pi green & brown red
Mosul Issue
Quick History
During WW I, the British captured Baghdad in 1917, as Mesopotamia (now Iraq), was under Ottoman (Turkish) control. By the end of 1918, the British had deployed well over 100,000 troops to the area.

The Capital was Baghdad, and the population was 2,900,000 in 1920.
Proposed British Mandate map for Mesopotamia 1921
An armistice was signed on October 30, 1918, but the British continued to march and entered Mosul and the rich oil field between November 1- 14, 1918 ( Different sources give different dates).

A British Mandate for Mesopotamia was instituted on April 25, 1920, but widespread rioting occurred throughout Iraq in 1920. The British administration continued, but the Kingdom of Iraq was then created under British guidance in 1922. Iraq became fully independent in 1932.

This blog will focus on the British occupation issues of 1917- 1922, as well as the Mosul issue of 1919. All of the stamps consist of surcharged/overprinted stamps of Turkey. One will find these stamps under "Mesopotamia" in the Scott Classic catalogue. The Stanley Gibbons catalogue files all entries under "Iraq".

For the issues of Iraq proper, from 1923-1938, see the Iraq blog.

1918-20 Scott N36 8a on 2 1/2pi orange & olive green
On stamps of Turkey, Surcharged
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for the British Mandate/Occupation years of 1917-22 for Mesopotamia, 75 major descriptive numbers for the regular and official categories. Of those, 21 are CV <$1-$1+, or 28%.

The 1917 "Bagdad" overprinted stamps- some 27 major numbers, are all very expensive ( CV $150-$9000), and definitely not the playground of the WW classical generalist. ;-)  I have none, and will say no more about them.

The rest of the issues- the "Iraq" issue of 1918-20, the "Mosul" issue of 1919, and the Official stamps of 1920- are where the 21 less expensive stamps are found. There are moderately expensive stamps among these issues also.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
16 Annas = 1 Rupee
1918-20 Scott N31 1 1/2a on 5pa violet brown
Issued under British Occupation
Between 1918-20, fourteen stamps were overprinted/surcharged on the 1914 pictorial issue of Turkey. They have the curious phrase "In British Occupation". This foreign occupation, as perceived, was not welcomed by many of the inhabitants.

1918-20 Scott N34 4a on 1 3/4pi slate & red brown
On stamps of Turkey, Surcharged
CV is <$1-$2+ for 12 stamps. This lovely issue is well within the affordability index for worldwide collectors.
1919 Scott N45 2 1/2a on 1pi violet & yellow
Mosul Issue
For Mosul, an overprinted/surcharged issue was produced in 1919 using Turkish fiscal stamps. The eight stamp issue has a CV of $1+-$4 for seven stamps.

1919 Scott N49 8a on 10pa claret
Mosul Issue
Neither Scott or Stanley Gibbons explains the "I.E.F. 'D'". Since there were both Indian and British occupation troops, " International or Indian? Expeditionary Force" is my best guess. Any readers know?

Update: "IEF "D" is Indian Expeditionary Force "D"- see comment section

1920 Official Scott NO5 3a on 1 1/2pi claret & black
1918-20 Issue overprinted
Using the previously surcharged 1918-20 stamps, official stamps were produced in 1920 by adding "On State Service". There are both unwatermarked (14 stamps) and watermarked "wmk 4" varieties (8 stamps).
CV is moderately expensive, but 12 stamps are <$1-$4.

For a continuation of the stamp issues for Iraq, see the Iraq blog post.

Deep Blue
1919 Mosul Issue stamps in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has seven pages for Mesopotamia 1917-22, and includes all the major number spaces in the Scott catalogue. I suspect the two pages for the "Bagdad" issues will be empty for a long time. ;-)

1918-20 Scott N30 1a on 20pa red
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two lines of one page, has nine spaces for Mesopotamia for the British Mandate/Occupation years of 1918-22. Coverage is 12%.

In the '69, Mesopotamia is after the Maldive Islands, and on the same page as the beginning of Mauritania.
The 1940s editions have the same coverage, but it is located between Mongolia and Mauritania.

• No expensive stamps- actually an accomplishment. ;-)
• BB does not cover the 27 "Bagdad" overprinted issues of 1917. These issues are quite expensive, and one wouldn't expect coverage. ;-)
• I found some 11 stamps (including officials) that are CV <$1-$1+, and are not in BB. Big Blue could probably double the coverage without raising the average CV that currently have spaces.




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None

1919 Scott N44 1a on 20pa rose
"Mosul Issue"
Out of the Blue
The stamp issues here represent an interesting interim period between the end of WW I, and the creation of Iraq proper in 1923. The overprinted/surcharged stamps are quite attractive. And, there are enough inexpensive ones, so even the WW classical generalist can have a small collection. ;-)

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


1920 Scott 2 10pf carmine rose 
Stamps of Germany 1905-20, Overprinted
Quick History
Memelland (Klaipeda), ripped from one country to another, and then back again, and back again, has an interesting history, to say the least.

Memelland was located on the Baltic Sea north of the Memel (Neman) River, and was part of Prussia prior to WW I. Population was ~ 152,000
But many residents outside the port city of Memel were Lithuanian. Consequently, Lithuania wanted the Memel lands after WW I, but the Allied Powers assumed control with a French administration in 1920.

Then there developed a plan to make Memelland a Free State, supported by German and Polish interest groups.

That was too much for the Lithuanian inhabitants of Memellland.  With Lithuanian support, by January 15, 1923, they had seized the government and lands. Although protested by the Allied Powers, the "de facto" situation was eventually accepted, and Memelland became an autonomous region within Lithuania. The port of Memel was renamed Klaipeda.

As one can imagine, stamp issues for Memel offer a copious number of overprints and surcharges on German and French stamps, as well as a variety of Lithuanian occupation issues. What fun! ;-)

That, of course, was not the end of the history of Memel.

On March 23, 1939, Lithuania was forced by ultimatum to return Memelland to the Third Reich.

At the end of WW II, the lands were returned to Lithuania, but this time as a member of the U.S.S.R.

1922 Scott 97 10m on 2m on 45c green & blue
Stamps of France Surcharged
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue, has, for Memel 1920-23, 17 overprinted German stamps, 106 overprinted/surcharged French stamps, and 114 Lithuanian occupation stamps. Total = 237.  Of those, 117 are CV <$1-$1+, or 49%. The Lithuanian occupation stamps are not as well represented, as they generally have a higher CV. Unused examples are valued at less CV than used examples. Scott states: "Excellent counterfeits of all Memel stamps exist".

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Pfennig = 1 Mark
100 Centu = 1 Litas (1923)
1920 Scott 11 75pf green & black
Overprinted "Memelgebiet"
The first stamps for Memel by the Allied Powers were overprinted 1905-20 stamps of Germany, as shown. There were 12 "Germania" stamps, with a CV of <$1-$2+.

1920 Scott 16 2m blue
Five of the larger design German stamps for the 1m-2.5m denominations were also overprinted. CV ranges from <$1-$10+. What a lovely stamp!

1920 Scott 20 20pf on 25c blue
Stamps of France, surcharged in black
The French took over administration of the Memel territory for the Allies, and so French stamps were then surcharged. There were an initial issue of 12 stamps of French origin surcharged in 1920.

1920-21 Scott 31 4m on 2fr orange & pale blue
In 1920-21, four  more stamps were released, as illustrated. Note the small initial "p" or "m" for "pfennig" and "mark' on the surcharge for the issues.

Also, the "4" script for the illustrated stamp comes in two types. Consult Scott for details.

1921 Scott 42 20M on 45c green & blue
Issue surcharged in black or red
A four stamp issue was released in 1921 as shown. Note the "M" ( and "P" also) is now capitalized.

1921-22 Scott 45 15pf on 50pf  on 35c, red surcharge
Between 1921-22, seven stamps, previously issued in 1920, were surcharged with large numerals, as shown. CV is <$1. There must have been a large number of mint stamps saved by dealers and collectors for Memel, as the CV prices for the 1921-22 era stamp issues are remarkably low considering their attractiveness.
1922 Scott 54 20pf on 20c red brown
Stamps of France, surcharged in black or red
The "Memel" script changed with the 1922 issue stamps. This "sower" design  is found on 14 stamps with a CV of <$1-$1+, except for two CV $7 stamps, including the one illustrated. ;-)

1922 Scott 76 3m on 60c violet & ultramarine, red surcharge
Twenty- six stamps of the French "Liberty and Peace" design were issued in 1922, with surcharge in black or red, as shown. Twenty -three are CV <$1! Nice!

1922 Scott 93 10m on 10pf  on 10c green
1922 Scott 98 25m on 1m on 25c  blue
In 1922-23, some seven previously issued surcharged stamps were surcharged again: this time with higher values. I suspect this may have been part of the hyperinflation occurring at the time.

1921 Scott C3 1m on 50c brown & lavender
Overprinted "Flugpost" in dark blue
Demand for air post stamps must have been high, as there were some 29 stamps of Memel overprinted for use. The initial five stamp issue is shown here. Note the small "m" in "mark".

1921 Scott C6  60Pf on 40c red & pale blue
Two stamps were also issued with the large "P" or "M" in "Pfennig" and "Mark" respectively. In general, the collector has to pay close attention to the (sometimes subtle) changes in surcharge overprints for Memel stamps.
1922 Scott C16 6m on 2fr orange & pale blue
Overprinted in dark blue
A change in overprint script occurred for the 1922 air post stamps. These 12 stamps have a CV of <$1-$1+, save for the "Flugpost" overprint on the Scott 40 3M on 60c violet & ultramarine stamp @ $ 100+!

1922 Scott C25 32m on 60c violet & ultramarine
Issue overprinted in black or red
In 1922, a 10 stamp issue was produced, as shown. CV is a low $1+.

1923 Scott N3 50c on 25c red, black surcharge: Memel printing
1923 Scott N8 25m on 5c blue, black surcharge: Kaunas printing
Issued under Lithuanian Occupation
As mentioned in "Quick History" the Lithuanians took over the government and lands on January 15, 1923. This resulted in  unissued Official stamps of Lithuania  being surcharged in various colors for postal use. There was a Memel printing (7 stamps), and a Kaunas printing (5 stamps). Note the surcharged denomination is still in "Marks". The name of the port of Memel and Memelland has been changed to "Klaipeda". CV is <$1-$1+.

Note: If using BB, be aware there are no spaces for the Kaunas printing.

1923 Scott N20 25m orange "Vytis"
A 10 stamp non surcharged regular issue for Klaipeda was introduced in 1923. It has the image of "Vytis", a knight on horseback holding an olden sword and shield- "the Chaser", and is on the coat of arms of Lithuania. CV for 8 stamps is <$1-$1+.

1923 Scott N30 500m  on Scott 99
Three of the previously issued French administration surcharged stamps were surcharged again; this time in green. Quite fascinating if one likes surcharged specimens. ;-)

1923 Scott N39 600m olive green "Seal"
A thirteen stamp issue was produced in 1923 with a "Ship", "Lighthouse" or "Seal" vignette. The issue was released  to celebrate the union of Memel with Lithuania. CV is $3+. Although I have a decent collection of Memel, I only have one stamp (this one!) in my collection. ;-)

By the way, these stamps were extensively forged by Bela Szekula of Budapest during the 1930s. Cancelled forgeries especially are more common than genuine cancellations. Each forgery has specific markers that Varro Tyler outlines (Focus on Forgeries Edition 2000), but I don't have enough material to show it now.

But there are general guidelines...
* The genuine stamps are on characteristic horizontally ribbed slightly yellowish paper.
* Forgeries are perf 11 1/2, while genuine stamps are perf 11.

1923 Scott N49 30c on 500m , black surcharge
Subsequently, in 1923, the "Vytis" issue was surcharged in Lithuanian Centu/Litas.  They were surcharged in various colors, and the issue (some 16 stamps) is identified by the "Thin Figures" .

1923 Scott N51 2c on 20m yellow
"Thin Figures" issue
Another example of the "Thin figures" issue is illustrated here. CV is moderately expensive, with CV $3+- $8+ for 12 stamps.
1923 Scott N81 1 L om 2000m red "Lighthouse"
"Thick figures"
There was another 1923 issue with 10 stamps that uses the "Vytis" issue, but surcharged with "Thick figures". One can see an example of the issue heading the "Out of the Blue" section. 

There was also this issue in later 1923 (illustrated) with "thick figures", and using the "Ship", "Seal", and "Lighthouse" vignette issue of earlier 1923. CV  for the 13 stamps issue ranges from $5-$6+.

1923 Scott N105 30c on 50m, red surcharge
Issue surcharged in red or green
Part of the earlier "Vytis" issue was then surcharged in 1923 as illustrated. The 15 stamp issue has a CV of $2+-$5+ for 12 stamps.

1923 Scott N112  30c on 100m carmine
Some others of the "Vytis" issue were then also surcharged in green or red. This last issue before Klaipeda was absorbed into Lithuania has nine stamps with a CV of $2+ for six stamps, with the rest at a much higher CV.

Deep Blue
Lithuania occupation 1923 Kaunas printing in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 14 pages for Memel. All the major Scott numbers have a spaces, and follows sequentially the Scott Classic catalogue.

1923 Scott N15 50c on 25c red, blue surcharge
Lithuanian Occupation
Surcharged on unissued Official stamps of Lithuania
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on 1 1/2 pages, has 51 spaces for Memel. Of those, 7 are for the German overprinted stamps, 29 are for the French overprinted stamps, and 15 are for the Lithuanian occupation issues. Total coverage is 21.5%.

Memel in the '69 is placed after Mauritius, and shares the second page with Moheli. Mexico, then, is the next entry.

The 40s editions, which have the same coverage as the '69, also have Memel after Mauritius, and share the second page with Mecklenburg Schwerin and Mecklenburg Strelitz. These German States were eliminated by the '69 editors.

• No expensive stamps ($10 threshold)
• BB includes seven Lithuanian occupation stamps from the 1923 "Ship" and "Seal" designs, of which I have no copies. ;-) These stamps have a CV of $3+.
• On the other hand, BB provides no spaces for 71 stamps with a CV of <$1-$1+. It would have been nice if the half page remaining, after eliminating the previously mentioned German States, could have been used to expand the spaces for Memel.


1920 (French)

1920 (German)

1922 (French)

Air Post

Next Page

Lithuanian Occupation


A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None

1923 Scott N69 1 L on 1000m blue
Thick Figures, Surcharged
Out of the Blue
Memel is, without a doubt, one of the more interesting post WW I territories with overprinted/surcharged stamp issues from three nations. Get Some! ;-)

Note: For those that celebrate, have a wonderful Christmas Eve day!

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013


1864 Scott 2 1/3 sg green "Coat of Arms"
Quick History
Mecklenburg-Strelitz is the cousin Grand Duchy (literally!) to Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It consists of two detached sections on other side of Mecklenburg-Schwerin: Neustrelitz to the east, and the Principality of Ratzeburg to the west.
Mecklenburg-Strelitz (in yellow)
The Capital was Neustrelitz, and the population was 100,000 in 1867.

Like his cousin Frederick Francis, Charles II joined the North German Confederation in 1815, and became Grand Duke.

Stamps were produced in 1864: The only issue for the smaller Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Streltz.

Although small in stature and land size, the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz married well, with Princess Charlotte being wedded to King George III of Great Britain in 1761, and others married off to King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, and King Ernst August of  Hanover.

Like their cousin Duchy, Mecklenburg-Strelitz joined the North German Confederation in 1866, and subsequently  the German Empire in 1871 as a state.

The Grand Dukes, known as the Prince of the Wends, continued through Adolphus Frederick VI, who, sadly, committed suicide in 1918. But the upheaval from WW I put an end to the Grand Duchy anyway.

More brightly, the House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz survives even today.
Mecklenburg-Strelitz Coat of Arms
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Mecklenburg-Strelitz, six major stamp descriptions, all for the issue of 1864.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
30 Silbergroschen = 48 Schillings = 1 Thaler
1864 Scott 2 1/3 sg green "Coat of Arms"
The 1864 six stamp issue was rouletted 11 1/2, embossed, and consists of two "Coat of Arms" designs. The Coat of Arms is quite similar to the larger cousin Mecklenburg-Schwerin branch House, as one would expect. The A1 design is shown here. ( I don't have an example of the A2 design in my collection.)

1864 Scott 3 1 sch violet "Coat of Arms"
All of the stamps in the issue are less expensive in CV as unused. CV ranges from $20+-$30+ for two stamps, and $60+-$150 for the remaining four stamps. The good news is the German Philatelic Society shows no forgeries for this issue, although there are many cancellation forgeries.

Deep Blue
The Steiner, of course, has the six spaces on one page for the only issue of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

Mecklenburg-Strelitz in the '47 Big Blue
Big Blue
Like Mecklenburg-Schwerin (and on the same page), the small space devoted to Mecklenburg-Strelitz in the '47 BB was eliminated by the '69 editors.

But Mecklenburg-Strelitz only had a six stamp issue, so three spaces by BB represents 50% coverage! And what (expensive) coverage it is with  $125, $35, $20+ CV stamps. All of these stamps are of the A2 "Coat of Arms" design. BB does not have the A1 "Coat of Arms" represented: the least expensive @ $60+ CV.

Checklist ('47/'43/'41 editions)


A) Expensive stamps ($10 CV  threshold):
1864 Scott 4 1 sg rose ($125)
1864 Scott 5 2sg ultramarine ($35)
1864 Scott 6 3sg bister ($20+)
Queen Charlotte who married England's King George III
Out of the Blue
One of the interesting habits of royal houses was their proclivity to marry off their daughters to other countries royal houses, thereby solidifying relationships. The Mecklenburg-Strelitz Duchy produced just six stamps, but was more successful at producing eligible royal daughters.

Note: Map, pics appear to be in the public domain


Thursday, December 12, 2013


1864 Scott 5 1/4s red "Coat of Arms" , part of Block of Four
Close-up of 1/4s red
Quick History
The Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin was located by the Baltic Sea in Northern Germany, and bordered the Prussian Pomerania and Brandenburg provinces, and the Hanover province. It was held by the House of Mecklenburg residing at Schwerin.

Other important cities in the territory include Wismar and Rostock. The lands became a Grand Duchy after the 1815 Congress of Vienna, when Grand Duke Frederick Francis I joined the just formed German Confederation.  ( His cousin Charles II from Strelitz did likewise. )

In 1856 stamps were introduced, and continued through 1867.

But the Duchy, surrounded by Prussia, was increasingly under Prussian influence, and joined the North German Confederation in 1867. The population was 670,000 at that time.

Mecklenburg-Schwerin in the North German Confederation 1867
Surrounded by Prussia
Naturally, that was the end of stamp production, as the stamps of the North German Confederation were used beginning on January 1, 1868. Then, in 1871, Mecklenburg-Schwerin became a state in the newly formed German Empire- dominated by Prussia.

The Duchy had always operated as a feudal form of government (The Grand Duke was the executive branch!) until 1907, when Frederick Francis IV promised a constitution. In 1918, Frederick Francis IV also became regent of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. This was short lived, however, as the Grand Duke had to renounce the Mecklenburg throne during the upheaval after the German Empire defeat in WW I.

Subsequently, the Free State of Mecklenburg-Schwerin became a federated state within the Weimar republic.
Mecklenburg-Schwerin Coat of Arms
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for Mecklenburg-Schwerin in the German States section, eight major descriptive numbers. Three stamps were issued in 1856 (CV $40+-$190). Five more stamps were issued between 1864-67 (CV $30+-$1,500). Altogether, six stamps are CV $30+-$125.

Clearly, the stamps are fairly expensive, but a small selection could be sought by the WW classical collector if interested.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
48 Schillings = 1 Thaler
The two imperforate designs introduced in 1856 show part of the Coat of Arms: More specifically a Bull with a Crown. This bull, however, looks nothing like the ferocious Brahma bulls I've seen at western rodeos: but rather a gentle, almost effeminate species. Most interesting!

1864 Scott 5 Block of Four 1/4s red "Coat of Arms"
Then from 1864 through 1867, five more stamps and one more design was introduced. An example of the 1/4 shilling red, the new design for 1864, is shown here. The stamp, which is now rouletted 11 1/2, was actually sold for 1 shilling. But the stamp could be cut up into four parts- each part worth 1/4 shilling. How clever!
Genuine vs Forgery
Well, almost every early German State stamp can be found with forgeries -what about Mecklenburg-Schwerin?

Fortunately, I have a copy of the G erman Philatelic Society manual (in CD form) on German States forgeries. The Scott 1 (1856), Scott 4 (1864), and Scott 5 (1864-shown above)- all with similar designs- share five reported forgeries.

But the Genuine can be identified from the five listed forgeries- including a Fournier (Forgery I)- by these signs (see arrows).....
• The dot or period after the "B" in the upper left panel is always present in the genuine, and is clear of the horizontal line above.
• There is a break in the line under the "N" in the genuine- not seen with the forgeries.

Update Note: There is a superb review of genuine/forgeries by Falschung here.

Deep Blue
The one Steiner page is quite straightforward: Three spaces for the 1856 issue, and five spaces for the 1864-67 issue. Done. ;-)
Mecklenburg-Schwerin in '47 Big Blue
Big Blue
The '69 Big Blue editors eliminated Mecklenburg-Schwerin for reasons of space? and cost? But the German State exists on the same page as Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and at the end of Memel spaces in the '47 and earlier editions.

The '47 BB has two spaces for Mecklenburg-Strelitz- both rather expensive. The 1856 Scott 2 3s yellow is CV $45, and the 1864 Scott Four 1/4s red is CV $42+.

Checklist ('47/'43/'41 editions)

5 (block of four)

A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1856 Scott 2 3s yellow ($45)
1864 Scott 5 Four 1/4s red ($42+)

The Schwerin Castle
Out of the Blue
I really like these stamps. If I wasn't already committed to collecting the world, I would give serious consideration to just concentrating on the German sphere. ;-)

Note: Maps, Coat of Arms and Castle pics appear to be part of the public domain.