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Title: Gambia
Author: Melville, Frederick John, 1882-1940
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gambia" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Mastronardi, The Philatelic Digital Library Project at
http://www.tpdlp.net, and the Online Distributed


                   FRED J. MELVILLE,

                  PHILATELIC SOCIETY.


       *       *       *       *       *

[page 7]


In collecting the stamps of Gambia one cannot too strongly emphasise
the necessity for guarding the stamps of the "Cameo" series against
deterioration by the pressure of the leaves in an ordinary unprotected
album. In their pristine state with clear and bold embossing these
stamps are of exceptional grace and beauty. Sunk mounts or other
similar contrivances, and a liberal use of tissue paper, should be
utilised by the collector who desires to retain his specimens in their
original state. A neat strip of card affixed to each side of the page
in an ordinary album will have the effect of keeping the pages above
from flattening out the embossing, but tissue paper should be used as
an additional safeguard.

We have to express thanks to Mr. Douglas Ellis, Vice-President of the
Junior Philatelic Society, for his notes on the postmarks--of which
he has made a special study--and also for the loan of his entire
collection of the stamps of Gambia for reference and illustration;
to Mr. H. H. Harland for a similar courtesy in the loan of his
collection; to Mr. W. H. Peckitt for the loan of stamps for
illustration; to Mr. D. B. Armstrong for interesting notes on
the postal affairs of the Colony; and to Mr. S. R. Turner for his

To the first two gentlemen we are also indebted for their kindness in
undertaking the revision of the proofs of this handbook.

[page 8]


INTRODUCTORY NOTE,                              7

          CHAPTER I.
THE COLONY AND ITS POSTS,                      11

          CHAPTER II.
CAMEO ISSUE OF 1869,                           16

          CHAPTER III.
ISSUE OF 1874,                                 20

          CHAPTER IV.
ISSUE OF 1880,                                 25

          CHAPTER V.
ISSUE OF 1886-87,                              37

          CHAPTER VI.
QUEEN'S HEAD SERIES, 1898,                     45

          CHAPTER VII.
KING'S HEAD SERIES, 1902-1906,                 50

          CHAPTER VIII.
PROVISIONAL ISSUE, 1906,                       53

          CHAPTER IX.
BIBLIOGRAPHY,                                  56

          CHAPTER X.
CHECK LIST,                                    58

NOTES ON THE POSTMARKS, by Douglas Ellis,      66

[page 11]



The Colony and Its Posts.

The British West African possession known as the Colony and
Protectorate of the Gambia occupies a narrow strip of territory
(averaging 12 miles in width) on both sides of the Gambia river.
The territory comprises the settlement of St. Mary, where the
capital--Bathurst--is situated, British Cambo, Albreda, M'Carthy's
Island and the Ceded Mile, a protectorate over a narrow band of land
extending from Cape St. Mary for over 250 miles along both banks of
the river.

The Gambia river was discovered by a Portuguese navigator in 1447;
under a charter of Queen Elizabeth a company was formed to trade with
the Gambia in 1588. In the reign of James II. a fort was erected by
British traders at the mouth of the river (1686), and for many years
their only traffic was in slaves. The territory became recognised as a
British possession under the Treaty of Versailles, and on the enforced
liquidation of the chartered company it [page 12] was incorporated
with the Crown as one of the West African settlements. Until 1843,
when it was granted separate government, it was administered by the
Governor of Sierra Leone. In 1868 it was again annexed to Sierra
Leone, and not until twenty years later was it created a separate
Crown Colony with a Governor and responsible government of its own. At
present the staple trade of the Colony is ground nuts, but efforts are
being made to induce the natives to take up other products.

Postally there is little to record prior to 1866, which is the date
ascribed by Mr. F. Bisset Archer, Treasurer and Postmaster-General,
to an alteration in the scale of postage, the half ounce weight for
letters being introduced. The rate to Great Britain was, we believe,
from that date 6d. per half ounce.

Mr. Archer also gives this year (1866) as the date when the first
postage stamps of the Colony were issued. This date was for a time
accepted in the stamp catalogues, but it is now generally believed to
be an error, the earliest records in the stamp journals of the period
shewing the date to be 1869.

The postal notices we have been able to trace are of but little
interest, the following being all that bear on matters of interest to


_Reduction of Postage, &c._

On and from the 1st April, 1892, the Postage to all parts of the World
on Letters, Newspapers, Books, etc., will be as follows:--

    For Letters, 2½d. per ½ oz.

    For Postcards, 1d. each.

    For Reply Postcards, 2d. each.

[page 13]

    For Newspapers, books, printed papers, commercial papers,
    patterns and samples, ½d. per 2 oz., with the Postal
    Union proviso of a minimum payment of 2½d. for a packet of
    commercial papers, and of 1d. for a packet of patterns or

    Fee for registration of any of the above named articles, 2d.

    Fee for the acknowledgment of the delivery of a registered
    article, 2½d.

  By His Excellency's Command,
  (Signed) J. H. FINDEN,

  Post Office, Bathurst, Gambia,
  _3rd March, 1892._


Ordinance No. 6 of 1897.

_March 11th, 1897._

1. This Ordinance may be cited as the Post Office Ordinance, 1897,
Inland Postal Regulations.

13. From and after the commencement of this Ordinance, postal packets
may be sent by post between such places in the Colony of the Gambia
and the Protected Territories adjacent thereto as may be from time to
time notified by the Administrator.

14. The Administrator-in-Council may from time to time make in
relation to the inland post hereby established such regulations as he
may think fit--

    For prescribing and regulating the places, times, and modes of
    posting and delivery.

    For fixing the rates of postage to be payable on inland
    letters and postal packets.

    For prescribing payment of postage and regulating the mode

    For regulating the affixing of postage stamps.

    For prescribing and regulating the payment again of postage in
    case of redirection.

    For regulating the dimensions and maximum weight of packet.

[page 14]

    For prohibiting or restricting the printing or writing of
    marks or communications or words.

    For prohibiting enclosures.

    For restricting the sending or conveyance of inland letters.

and such other regulations as the Administrator shall from time to
time consider desirable for the more efficient working of such Inland

And may affix a penalty not exceeding ten pounds, to be recovered
summarily before the Chief Magistrate, or two Justices of the Peace,
or, in default of payment, imprisonment not exceeding two weeks for a
contravention of any such regulation.

15. Any revenue derived from the Inland Post herein established shall
be paid into the Colonial Treasury at such times and in such a manner
as the Administrator shall direct, and shall be applied to the general
purposes of the Colony.

Insurance of and Compensation for loss and damage to Parcels.

11. Subject to the provisions of this Ordinance, if any article of
pecuniary value enclosed in, or forming part of, a parcel be lost
or damaged whilst in the course of transmission through the post, it
shall be lawful for the Administrator to cause to be paid out of the
public revenues of the Colony to any person or persons who may, in
the opinion of the Postmaster, establish a reasonable claim to
compensation (having regard to the nature of the article, the care
with which it was packed, and other circumstances), the following
rates of compensation--

    (a) In respect of an uninsured parcel, such sum, not exceeding
    twenty shillings, as he may think just.

    (b) In respect of an insured parcel the following scale shall

To secure compensation up to £12 there shall be payable a fee of 5d
   "          "         "    £24      "          "       "       7½d
   "          "         "    £36      "          "       "       10d
   "          "         "    £48      "          "       "       1/0½d
   "          "         "    £50      "          "       "       1/3

We gather from the official handbook edited by Mr. Archer that a
Government steamer maintains weekly [page 15] communication between
the Capital, Bathurst, and M'Carthy's Island both for passengers and
mails. There is no house-to-house delivery of mails at either place.

Gambia joined the Universal Postal Union on January 1st, 1879; the
Imperial Penny Postage rate was adopted from December 25th, 1898; and
the unit of weight for colonial and foreign letter postage was raised
from half an ounce to one ounce on October 1st, 1907. The Cash on
Delivery system was introduced on October 15th, 1908.

The following table gives an outline of the postal business, the large
fluctuations in the revenue being chiefly due to the fluctuations in
the demand for postage stamps from dealers and collectors:--

Year    Revenue        Expenditure           Letters      Parcels
1895     £686
1896    1,506
1897    1,845
1898    2,140
1899      589
1900      459                                 66,612        782
1901      769                                 77,937       1151
1902    1,452                                 77,918       1340
1903      553                                 94,365       1532
1904      597                                 94,358       1677
1905    2,731          £808  0  0             91,768       1554
1906    1,317           712 15 10             98,379       1994

[page 16]


"Cameo" Issue of 1869.


The _Philatelist_ for March 1, 1869, contained the first intimation of
the preparation of stamps for the Colony of


    "We are proud to announce the preparation of stamps for this
    African settlement. In a central circle is Queen Victoria's
    coroneted head in white relief; in straight bands above is
    GAMBIA; below, the value, which, as well as the spandril
    ornamentation, is embossed in white. The stamp is nearly
    square, and the specimens possessed by our correspondent are
    imperforate. Values:

    4 pence, deep brown.
    6   "      "  blue."

[page 17]

The stamps were manufactured by Messrs. de la Rue & Co. by a double
process of flat printing and of relief embossing, the flat printing
being doubtless effected first and the embossing afterwards. This
combination was unusually effective, and the finished stamps rank
among the handsomest adhesive postage stamps known to collectors.

As embossing evenly over a large area presented considerable
difficulties, the plates were made up of fifteen stamps only, in
three horizontal rows of five stamps. The plates for both processes
evidently fitted each other with precision, though in the printing
occasionally the embossing is slightly out of register.

The paper is white wove and has no watermark, and the stamps were
not perforated. There are two colours of the gum, one being the usual
clear white: the other is a pale yellow colour, which may, however, be
due to climatic influence, particularly as it is a noticeable feature
of a number of the later issues.

The colour of the 4d. value varies in shade from a deep chocolate
brown to brown and pale brown. The 6d. is pale to deep blue. There
is a quite pale shade which is very rarely met with, most of the
so-called "pale blue" specimens being an intermediate shade better
described as "blue."

The sheets of both values shew one printer's guide dot in each side
margin, opposite stamps No. 6 and 10 respectively (plate I).

Both values are known with the embossing shewing a distinct double

There are some peculiarities in these stamps which, although their
significance is uncertain, it may not be well to overlook.

[page 18]

Firstly, there frequently occurs throughout the embossed stamps
of Gambia a small spot of colour on the back hair, which in later
embossed stamps becomes a large spot, and even develops into a
coloured indentation from the coloured circular ground.

In this issue the spot, when it occurs, is usually quite small, two
copies of the 6d. examined shewing it somewhat enlarged.

Secondly, there are noticeable varieties of the pendant curl at the
back. The normal design shews a fairly thick wavy curl with a hair
branching out from it into the space between the curl and the neck.
This sub-curl, as we may call it, is occasionally missing, broken,
or as in No. 11 on the imperforate 6d. sheet (plate I), the curl and
sub-curl have joined together, giving a very different appearance to
the back hair. There are also varying lengths of the main curl.

In the sheet of the 6d. value the plates seem to have been slightly
defective, and there is a gentle slope down from the centre to the
outside stamp on each side (Nos. 1 and 5), the slope being more
pronounced on No. 5, where the upper label containing the word Gambia
is recognised as the variety with slanting label. The left side of
stamp 5 is 22½mm. high, and the right side 22mm. That the peculiarity
occurs reversed on stamp No. 1, though it is less pronounced, there
can be no doubt. In later issues both stamps 1 and 5 shew the defect
more prominently, as will be readily seen from an examination of
plates I., X., and XI. Curiously enough, the fault is not confined to
the two outside stamps, as is generally supposed. The trouble is in
the entire top row being ½mm. taller than the normal stamps of rows 2
and 3, except the left and right sides [page 19] respectively of the
end stamps (Nos. 1 and 5). The middle stamp of the top row shews a
further peculiarity in the shape of the base of the neck. (Compare
plates I., X., XI., with XIV.)

Copies of both values exist overprinted SPECIMEN, and we have seen
similar copies of all the regular issues of this Colony.


[page 20]


Issue of 1874.

The introduction of watermarked paper for these stamps occurred in
1874, the paper being that familiar to collectors of British Colonial
stamps as watermarked "Crown C.C." The paper was not readily adaptable
for the small sheets of the Gambia stamps, and the method of cutting
it to suitable sizes for these sheets has produced some varieties for
the specialist.

Major Evans, writing in the _Philatelic Record_ for January, 1883,

    "Most collectors are probably aware that the stamps of the
    British Colonies printed in England are, as a rule, in sheets
    of 240, divided into four panes of 60, each pane consisting
    of ten horizontal rows of six stamps. The Crown and C.C.
    watermarks are arranged in the same manner upon the sheet of
    paper; each pane is enclosed in a single-lined frame. Down
    the centre of the sheet is a blank space of about half an inch
    wide; across the centre is a wider space, watermarked with the
    words CROWN COLONIES, which are also repeated twice along each
    side of the sheet.

    "Some of my readers may have noticed that the watermark is not
    always very clearly shown in the Gambia stamps. This is due
    partly to the fact of their being embossed, and partly
    to [page 21] their being arranged in small blocks of
    fifteen--three horizontal rows of five--so that a row of five
    stamps is printed on a row of six watermarks, and in most
    cases a complete watermark is not found on any one of the
    stamps in a block. Very frequently the upper and lower blocks
    on a sheet encroach on the margins, and consequently some
    of the stamps show portions of the words CROWN COLONIES in
    watermark; and I have seen a block which had been printed in
    the centre of one side of a sheet, and the middle row of which
    was watermarked COLONIES, while the upper and lower rows bore
    the Crown and C.C. Recent printings of some of the values of
    Gambia show the blocks printed sideways on the sheet, in which
    case each stamp will not show a complete watermark; and of
    these again I have seen a block with the vertical division of
    the sheet running across the central row."

In addition the stamps have been found with the watermark reversed,
indicating that occasionally a sheet has been fed into the press the
wrong side up. Inverted watermarks of this Crown and C.C. type are
also to be found.

Of this issue, which comprises the same two values--4d. brown and 6d.
blue, imperforate--we get the following variations in the watermark--

  Crown C.C. upright (Fig. A).
        "    inverted (Fig. C).
        "    reversed (Fig. B).
  Portions of the words CROWN COLONIES.
  Bars (i.e., division lines of the panes).

The gum shews the same variation--white and yellow--as in the original
issue. The 4d. stamp varies in colour from deep brown to pale brown;
the 6d. deep blue to blue, the solid colour in this case presenting a
very mottled appearance.

Again, both values are known with the embossing doubly impressed.

[page 22]

Very few copies of the 4d. of this issue examined shew the spot on the
hair, but in the sheet of the 6d. (plate I.) there are faint spots on
stamps Nos. 1, 4, 5, 9, 12 and 13.

No. 11 on the same sheet shews the curl and sub-curl joined.

The date of issue of these watermarked stamps is uncertain, but the
6d. was chronicled in _Le Timbre Poste_ for December, 1874. The
4d. was not recorded in any of the contemporary magazines, and was
probably not issued until some time after the higher denomination.

[Illustration: Fig. A.]

[Illustration: Fig. B.]

[Illustration: Fig. C.]

[page 25]


Issue of 1880.

Together with a number of other colonial possessions, Gambia was
admitted to the Universal Postal Union on January 1st, 1879, and
in June of the following year (1880) a more comprehensive series of
postage stamps was issued, all modelled after the same fashion as
the two denominations which had done service in the Colony for the
previous twelve years. The convenience of perforation was adopted
at the same time. The new series comprised the following values, the
shades being given in the approximate order of printings--

  ½d. golden yellow, deep golden yellow, pale orange, vermilion,
          deep orange vermilion, citron,[1] pale ochre.[1]
  1d. lake, deep lake.
  2d. pale rose, rose, deep rose.
  3d. pale ultramarine, deep ultramarine, deep blue.
  4d. sepia brown, deep sepia brown.
  6d. pale blue, blue, deep blue.
  1s. bright green, deep green.

[Footnote 1: The ½d. citron and ½d. pale ochre are generally believed
to be changelings, due to atmospheric or other influences after the
stamps were printed.]

[page 26]

[Illustration: Fig. D.]

[Illustration: Fig. E.]

The watermark on this issue appears variously upright or sideways,
varieties of each being inverted. The normal "sideways" may be taken
as from left to right. Portions of the marginal lettering and the
vertical division lines of the panes are also to be found. The
following is a synopsis of these varieties--

  Crown C.C. vertical (Fig. A).
        "       "    inverted (Fig. C).
        "    sideways (Fig. D).
        "       "    inverted (Fig. E).
  Portions of words "CROWN COLONIES."
  Division lines of the panes.

The subject of perforations is of peculiar interest in this and the
next issue of the stamps of Gambia, as while to a certain extent the
printings are to be differentiated by shade the chief distinctions may
be made in the case of blocks and sheets by the perforations.

At first the stamps were perforated by a single line machine gauging
14. A single line machine, as its name implies, simply makes a single
long row of holes in one direction--


In the present case, where the sheets were so small, the row is much
longer than necessary, so in the sheets it extends through the margins
on all sides, as in plate II.

[page 29]

The horizontal rows may be perforated first (one row at a time),
and then the sheet is turned sideways and the vertical divisions
are similarly perforated. A peculiarity of this style of perforating
machine is that the points where the vertical lines cross the
horizontal lines rarely fail to fall foul of each other, and an effect
is produced like this--

[Illustration: Single line perforation. Note the crossing of
perforated lines.]

In this manner it is possible to tell blocks and pairs of this
perforation without any side margins. Single copies perforated in
this manner can occasionally be detected by the distance between the
vertical perforations. In the later perforation of this issue the
distance is fixed (as will be shewn), and the distance is 20½mm.,
[page 30] measuring from perf. point to perf. point across the stamp.
Any stamp differing in width to any extent more than ½mm. from 20½mm.
may therefore be set down as perforated by the single line machine.

We have seen all the values except the 2d. rose and 1/- green
perforated by the single line machine, in practically every case the
C.C. watermark being upright, the exception being a strip of three
6d. with the sideways watermark. All the sheets with this perforation
appear to have one printer's guide dot in the centre of each side

The next form of perforating machine introduced in later printings
of the Crown and C.C. 1880 issue is known as a comb machine. The comb
machine perforates three sides of a stamp at once, and the form of the
first comb machine was arranged thus--

  :    :    :    :    :    :    : :    :    :    :    :    :    :
  :    :    :    :    :    :    : :    :    :    :    :    :    :
  :    :    :    :    :    :    : :    :    :    :    :    :    :
  :    :    :    :    :    :    : :    :    :    :    :    :    :
  :    :    :    :    :    :    : :    :    :    :    :    :    :

The arrangement of the teeth of the comb fitted the arrangement of the
panes of the regular Colonial postage stamps printed by Messrs. De la
Rue & Co., the narrow spaced teeth in the centre marking the dividing
space between two horizontal panes.

In perforating the stamps of Gambia in the small sheets of fifteen
in three horizontal rows of five, both sides of the machine appear
to have been used, the extreme end portion of the comb at either end
running off the side margin of the small sheet. When the left portion
of the machine was being used the sheet was [page 33] inserted upright
and the top row of stamps perforated first, the effect being that the
top margin is not cut through by vertical perforations, and the bottom
row is (see plate III.).

When the right-hand portion was in use the sheets appear to have been
systematically inverted when placed in the machine. This left the
bottom margin blank and the top margin cut through. Had the sheet been
simply inverted and perforated by the same portion of the machine, as
already described, the narrow spaced teeth would have been produced on
the left hand margin instead of the right. A comparison of plates
III. and VI. will shew that the narrow spacing is on the right in both
cases, but in III. the perforating has been started at the top on the
left side of the machine, and in VI. from the bottom on the right side
of the machine.

It is possible that sheets exist with the narrow spaced lines of
perforation on the left side. We have searched in vain for such
varieties, but they may exist. A sheet inverted when placed on the
left side of the machine would shew the top margin perforated through,
and narrow spaced perforation to left; while a sheet inserted top
first on the right hand side would leave the top margin blank and the
bottom one perforated through, and the narrow spaced perforation to

This comb generally perforates so evenly that there is no clashing of
the perforations where the lines meet. Occasionally, however, a sheet
may get off the straight and an irregular perforation occurs.

The sheets perforated in this machine generally have one guide dot
in the left margin, and three at the right (see sheets III.-VII.,
IX.-XI., XIV., XV.).

[page 34]

[Illustration: Comb perforation. Compare crossing of perforated lines
with illustration on page 29.]

The ½d. pale orange vermilion exists doubly perforated at the top and

A minor variety of the 2d. rose shews a small white spot ½mm. from the
nose. The stamp is No. 6 on the sheet. The variety has been noted on
several (not all) the sheets of this value, and in various blocks,
pairs and singles.

The left and right hand top stamps (1 and 5) of the 6d. value shew the
sloping label, which is now very prominent (see plate X.).

All the values shew variations in the marks on the back hair and in
the curls.

[page 37]


Issue of 1886-87.

In 1886 a number of the stamps began to appear on the paper
watermarked Crown C.A., the initials of "Crown Agents." The colours
were changed, and a new value inscribed "2½ PENNY" on the value tablet
was added. The values and colours are--

  ½d. grey-green, myrtle-green (shades).
  1d. carmine, rose-carmine, crimson.
  2d. orange-yellow, orange, deep orange.
  2½d. pale ultramarine, deep ultramarine.
  3d. grey, slate-grey, pearl-grey.
  4d. brown, deep brown.
  6d. olive-green, bronze-green, grey-green.
  1s. violet, deep violet.

All values exist with the embossing double; several with the embossing
double, one of the impressions being inverted; part double and treble
perforations; and the white and the yellow gum.

The watermark Crown C.A. is uniformly sideways in this issue, the
normal position being from right to left (Fig. F.), but it may be
found inverted (Fig. G.).

[page 38]

[Illustration: Fig. F.]

[Illustration: Fig. G.]

The method of cutting up the sheets of Crown C.A. paper was to
guillotine the half sheets horizontally in half and then twice
vertically, dividing each horizontal half into three small sheets, the
half C.A. sheet of paper yielding six small Gambia sheets (plates XII.
and XIII.). The operators both at the guillotine and at the press
seem to have taken the utmost care to arrange all the small sheets
uniformly for passing through the press, as the varieties shewing the
watermark from left to right are rare. The diagrams on plates XII.
and XIII. will illustrate more clearly than a verbal explanation the
precise method of dividing up the Crown C.A. paper.

The early printings of the Crown C.A. issue were perforated with
the comb machine described in the previous chapter, but in the later
printings a new comb machine was introduced, which has not the narrow
spaced teeth in the margin, and, consequently, has not the double
row of perforation on the right hand margins of the sheets. The
perforations produced by the two machines gauge the same, and are not
distinguishable in single specimens or blocks, but only in sheets
or specimens with pieces of margins. The effect of the two different
combs on the sheet may be compared on the two sheets of the 6d. value
illustrated on plates X. and XI. We may note (plate VIII.) the second
comb with the teeth extending [page 41] through the top margin,
leaving the bottom margin blank, shewing that some of the sheets were
perforated from the bottom, which would produce this effect.

Unused imperforate copies exist of all values in the following

    Imperforate  ½d. grey-green.
        "        1d. pale crimson.
        "        2d. orange-yellow.
        "        2½d. pale ultramarine.
        "        3d. pearl-grey.
        "        4d. brown.
        "        6d. slate-green.
        "        1s. deep violet.

Copies in trial colours, perforated 12 instead of 14, exist as

    ½d. rose.
    ½d. violet.
    ½d. dull green.
    ½d. pale dull orange.
    3d. olive-green.

On some of the sheets of the ½d. value stamp 2 shews a slightly
elongated left stroke of the letter m in Gambia; No. 5 on the same
sheet shews a similar defect in the right stroke of the letter. (See
plate III., which reproduction, however, only shews the variety on
stamp 2.) Stamps Nos. 1, 12, 13 on the same sheet illustrated shew
a peculiarity in the form of a broken nose. We have not been able to
trace other copies shewing a similar defect, so possibly it is simply
due to over-inking or faulty inking of the colour plate.

The plate of the 3d. was altered in the final printing, two additional
printers' guide dots being added in the [page 42] left margin, and the
top and bottom dot on the right being removed (plate VIII.). This was
printed in pearl-grey only.

The early printings of the 6d. value shew the sloping labels; they
also shew the slight enlargement of the stamps in the top row. These
varieties occur in the olive-green, bronze-green, and grey-green
shades. Later a new plate was made without the defect in the top row,
and this was printed in grey-green only. (Cp. plates XI. and XIV.)

It may be noted that there are two varieties of the overprint on the
SPECIMEN stamps of this series, one having the letters sloping upwards
from left to right, the other being horizontal.


[page 45]


Queen's Head Series, 1898.


On the 31st January, 1898, the following notice was issued in
reference to the postage stamps of the Colony:--


    "On the 1st May, 1898, the present issue, if not previously
    exhausted, of all denominations of Postage Stamps in the
    Gambia that are then in the hands of the Government will be
    destroyed, and a complete new set of stamps will then be put
    in circulation.

  _31st January, 1898_."

[page 46]

After being faithful for nearly thirty years to the graceful design
of the "cameo" stamps the Colony adopted the regular De la Rue type
printed from a general key plate which did duty for a number of
colonial issues.

Essays were prepared by making impressions from this key plate,
shewing the profile of the Queen to left in a circle, and the words
POSTAGE--POSTAGE at the sides, the top tablet being left blank for the
name of the Colony, and a space for the sexagonal tablet of value at
bottom also being left blank. The essays consist of such impressions
with the name GAMBIA and the proposed values painted in by hand, to
shew the approximate effect of the stamps which would be produced from
this key plate. Only a very few such essays are known.

The values which were actually produced in the new series were--

    ½d. dull green and green (plates 2 and 3).
    1d. carmine and carmine (plate 2).
    1d. deep carmine and deep carmine (plate 3).
    2d. orange and mauve (plate 2).
   2½d. ultramarine and ultramarine (plate 2).
    3d. mauve and pale ultramarine (plate 2).
    3d. deep mauve and deep ultramarine (plate 3).
    4d. brown and ultramarine (plate 2).
    6d. olive-green and carmine (plate 2).
    1s. violet and green (plate 2).

All the stamps were printed at two impressions, the general design
being printed from the key plate, and the name GAMBIA and the value
tablet by a "duty" plate printed separately. In the ½d., 1d. and 2½d.
values, however, both key and duty plates were impressed in the same
colour. The plates are constructed [page 49] to print sheets of 120
stamps, divided in two panes of 60 stamps each. The plate number
appears in the margin above and below each pane (plate XVI.). It
consists of an uncoloured figure on a circular ground of colour, and
is printed by the key plate. The plate numbered "2" was used for all
the values in the set, but later printings of the ½d., 1d. and 3d.
were printed from plate III. In the case of the ½d. and 1d. the
printings from plate III. do not shew any marked variation in shade;
but in the case of the 3d. both the mauve and the ultramarine colours
are distinctively deeper.

The perforation throughout gauges 14; the watermark is Crown C.A.
as in the last issue, but upright instead of sideways, as these
POSTAGE--POSTAGE plates were constructed to fit the watermarked paper.

[page 50]


King's Head Series, 1902-1906.


The change from the Queen's Head type to the King's Head type of
design came in 1902, the new general Colonial key plate being used. It
is numbered 1 in a similar manner to the numbering on the Queen's Head
plates. All the denominations in the previous set were repeated, and
a 2s. value was added; later (May, 1905) three new stamps appeared of
the face values 1s. 6d., 2s. 6d. and 3s. respectively. Of these three
denominations it is stated that only 6000[2] copies of each were
printed. The stamps, which were perforated 14 and were [page 51]
printed on the same paper (Crown and C.A.) as the last issue,
comprised the following values--

Watermarked Crown C.A.


    ½d. green and green.
    1d. carmine and carmine.
    2d. orange and mauve.
    2½d. ultramarine and ultramarine.
    3d. magenta and ultramarine.
    4d. brown and ultramarine.
    6d. sage-green and carmine.
    1s. violet and green.
    1s. 6d. green and carmine on yellow paper.
    2s. deep slate and orange.
    2s. 6d. purple and brown on yellow paper.
    3s. carmine and green on yellow paper.

[Footnote 2: Compare numbers overprinted in 1906 (Chapter VIII.).]


In May, 1905, appeared also three new values printed on multiple
Crown C.A. paper, each stamp shewing portions of two or more watermark
designs instead of one more or less complete design as heretofore.
The new values were the 5d., 7½d. and 10d. These being rather unusual
denominations, their appearance caused considerable ferment among
collectors, who ascribed their issue to motives not strictly
associated with legitimate postal business. Reference to the Post
Office Ordinance No. 6 of 1897 (quoted in Chapter I.) will shew that
the fees for insured parcels in force in the Gambia were 5d. for
compensation up to £12, 7½d. up to £24, and 10d. up to £36; so it
is not unreasonable if, as one may assume, the colonists availed
themselves of these rates of insurance, that there was a use for such

[page 52]

The new multiple watermarked paper had been adopted for the 1d.
value in 1904, and was during 1905-6 introduced for all the regular
denominations except the 1s. 6d., 2s. 6d. and 3s. On this paper,
therefore, we get the following--

Multiple Crown C.A.

    ½d. green and green.
    1d. carmine and carmine.
    2d. orange and mauve.
    2½d. ultramarine and ultramarine.
    3d. magenta and ultramarine.
    4d. brown and ultramarine.
    5d. grey and black.
    6d. sage-green and carmine.
    7½d. green and carmine.
    10d. olive-brown and carmine.
    1s. violet and green.
    2s. deep slate and orange.


[page 53]


Provisional Issue 1906.


The next and only remaining issue we have to describe are in the
nature of Provisionals issued during a temporary shortage of halfpenny
and penny stamps. The Bathurst correspondent of _Ewen's Weekly Stamp
News_, writing April 30, 1906, communicated the following information,
which is published in the issue of that journal for May 26, 1906:--

    "The surcharged penny and halfpenny postage stamps on the 3/-
    and 2/6 denominations respectively were issued on the [page
    54] 10th instant, and withdrawn on the 23rd April. The issue
    was necessary owing to a delay in receipt of a requisition
    for stamps sent to England on the 9th February, and by the
    abnormal sales, from some unknown reason, of the usual penny
    and halfpenny stamps during February and March.

    "A very small issue was made pending the arrival of the mail
    on the 24th, by which the indent above mentioned was received.
    The total issue was 4500 penny and 3780 halfpenny."

The stamps overprinted to provide these emergency supplies were the
2s. 6d. purple and brown on yellow paper, which was overprinted for
the halfpenny, and the 3s. carmine and green on yellow paper for the
penny overprint.

The surcharging was effected in the Colony. In the case of the ½d. the
overprint consists of the word


in two lines of block capitals, and below this are two bars formed
by ordinary printers' rules about 8½mm. long cancelling the figures
denoting the original value of the stamp.

The type and rules were set up to overprint the stamps thirty at a
time (5 horizontal rows of 6 stamps); thus the complete sheet of 120
stamps had to pass four times through the press. There is a slight
variation in the distance between the bottom of the letters comprising
the word PENNY and the uppermost bar, in the third and fourth rows of
the setting. In rows 1, 2 and 5 the bar is 5mm. away from the bottom
of the type; in rows 3 and 4 it is only 4mm. distant.

The first stamp in the second row of the setting is a variety in which
the E of PENNY is broken and the word reads PFNNY. The only other
variety occurring in the setting is a slightly depressed Y of PENNY.
This occurs in the first stamp in the 5th row.

[page 55]

The 3s. stamp was overprinted with the words "ONE PENNY" in one line
of small capitals. The overprint was applied to a complete pane of 60
stamps at a time, so that the entire sheet of 120 was surcharged at
two impressions instead of four, as in the ½d. on 2s. 6d. stamp. The
only varieties which have been recorded of this ONE PENNY overprint
are of slight defects, possibly occurring only in particular
impressions. It, however, exists with the overprint double.

The issue of these two Provisional overprints, following upon the
appearance in 1905 of the 5d., 7½d. and 10d. stamps, brought a good
deal of censure from philatelists, who considered that the Colony was
descending to undignified means of increasing the revenue by the sale
of stamps to collectors. At the instance of Lord Crewe an inquiry has
lately been held into the reasons for the emission of various Colonial
postage stamps, and the report of the Governor of the Gambia is quoted
in the printed report of the Commission:--

    "The Governor of the Colony states that as the supply of the
    ½d. and 1d. stamps had been exhausted before the arrival of
    a new supply which had been ordered, no [regular] stamps of
    these denominations were available from the 2nd to the 10th
    April, letters requiring such postage being stamped 'Postage
    Paid.' The surcharged stamps were on sale from the 10th to
    the 24th of April, the date on which the new supply became
    available. A surplus was left over, which was destroyed with
    proper precautions."

The unsold balance of the Provisional ½d. stamps on hand was destroyed
"under direction from the Secretary of State and by a special Board
appointed by His Excellency the Acting Governor" on October 16, 1906.
How small the "unsold balance" was is not stated.

[page 56]





2 A.J.P.--American Journal of Philately, 2nd series.
E.W.S.N.--Ewen's Weekly Stamp News.
  G.S.W.--Gibbons Stamp Weekly.
M.W.S.N.--Mekeel's Weekly Stamp News.
P.J.G.B.--Philatelic Journal of Great Britain.
    P.R.--Philatelic Record.
    P.S.--The Postage Stamp.
  S.C.F.--Stamp Collectors' Fortnightly.
  S.C.M.--Stamp Collectors' Magazine.
S.G.M.J.--Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal.

NOTE.--Roman figures thus--V.--denote the volume, and Arabic
figures--135--indicate the page. In a few cases the date takes the
place of the volume number. In E.W.S.N. the number of the issue alone
is given.


    Contains the report of the Governor of the Gambia on the
    Provisional stamps of 1906.

CORRECTED PLATE, 6d., S.C.F., III., 207.

FORGERIES, 6d. [Hilckes], S.C.F., II., 217.

[page 57]

GENERAL. The Postage Stamps, etc. ... of the British Colonies,
Possessions and Protectorates in Africa. Part II., London, 1900.

    The Philatelic Society's work on Africa, pp. 65-72, covers the
    issues of Gambia adhesives from 1869-1898; also the postcards
    and reply paid cards.

---- S.G.M.J., VI., 26, 144; [Pemberton], P.J.G.B., XVII., 78;
[Barnsdall], G.S.W., VIII., 65, 81; [Nankivell], P.S., II., 3;
2 A.J.P., IV., 498; [Lehner], S., I., 90; [Clark], S., I., 102,
reprinted in M.W.S.N., X., 255.

ISSUE OF 1869, S.C.M., VII., 57.

---- Date of [Lehner], S., I., 90; [Nankivell], S., I., 106.

MINOR VARIETIES. Sloping label. [Hilckes], S.C.F., II., 253.

PERFORATIONS [Bacon], P.R., XXV., 3. *** Plates. [Napier &
Bacon], S.G.M.J., XIV., 97. *** Plates.

PROVISIONALS, E.W.S.N., 347, 348, 350, 352, 353, 360, 373.

SHEETS [Thiele], _The Adhesive_, July, 1904.


VALUES, S.C.F., VI., 119, 126.

WATERMARKS [Evans], P.R., IV., 224.

[page 58]


Check List.

1869.--No watermark. Imperforate. White gum.

  4d. deep chocolate-brown.
  4d. brown.
  4d. pale brown.
  Yellow gum.
  Double embossing.
  6d. deep blue.
  6d. blue.
  Yellow gum.
  Label sloping to right.
    "     "        left.
  Double embossing.

1874.--Watermarked vertically Crown C.C. Imperforate. White gum.

  4d. deep brown.
  4d. brown.
  4d. pale brown.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       reversed.
    "       inverted and reversed.
    "       bars (division lines of the panes).
    "       portions of words CROWN COLONIES.
[page 59]
  6d. deep blue.
  6d. blue.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       reversed.
    "       inverted and reversed.
    "       bars.
    "       portions of words CROWN COLONIES.

1880.--Watermarked Crown C.C. vertical. Perf. 14. White gum.

  ½d. golden-yellow.
  ½d. deep golden-yellow,
  ½d. pale orange-vermilion.
  ½d. deep orange-vermilion.
  ½d. citron.
  ½d. pale ochre.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "         "       inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Single line perf.
  1st comb perf.
  Double perf. top and sides (pale orange-vermilion).
  1d. lake.
  1d. deep lake.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "         "       inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Single line perf.
  1st comb perf.
[page 60]
  2d. pale rose.
  2d. rose.
  2d. deep rose.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "          "      inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  ? Single line perf.
  1st comb perf.
  Dot variety.
  3d. pale ultramarine.
  3d. deep ultramarine.
  3d. deep blue.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "          "      inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Single line perf.
  1st comb perf.
  4d. sepia-brown.
  4d. deep sepia-brown.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "          "      inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Single line perf.
  1st comb perf.
  6d. pale blue.
  6d. blue.
[page 61]
  6d. deep blue.
  Slanting label to right.
    "        "      left.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "          "      inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Single line perf. (vertical watermark).
    "      "        (sideways watermark).
  1st comb perf.
  1s. bright green.
  1s. deep green.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       sideways.
    "          "      inverted.
    "       portions of words Crown Colonies.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  ? Single line perf.
  1st comb perf.

1886-7.--Watermarked Crown C.A. sideways. Comb perf. 14.

  ½d. grey-green.
  ½d. myrtle-green.
  Double embossing.
    "      "       one inverted.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (grey-green).
  Treble perf. at bottom.
  Left stroke of M long.
  Right  "         "
  Sheets--1st and 2nd comb perforations.
[page 62]
  1d. carmine.
  1d. rose-carmine.
  1d. crimson.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (pale crimson).
  Sheets--1st and 2nd comb perforations.
  2d. orange-yellow.
  2d. orange.
  2d. deep orange.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (orange-yellow).
  Sheets--1st and 2nd comb perforations.
  2½d. pale ultramarine.
  2½d. deep ultramarine.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (pale ultramarine).
  Sheets--1st and 2nd comb perforations.
  3d. grey.
  3d. slate-grey.
  3d. pearl-grey.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (pearl-grey).
  Sheets--1st and 2nd comb perforations.
  Final printing, 3 guide dots in left margin (pearl-grey only).
[page 63]
  4d. brown.
  4d. deep brown.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark inverted.
    "       portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (brown).
  Sheets--1st comb perforation.
  6d. olive-green.
  6d. bronze-green.
  6d. grey-green.
  Label slanting to right.
    "     "         left.
  Double embossing.
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (slate-green).
  Sheets--1st and 2nd comb perforations.
  New plate without defective top row.
  1s. violet (shades).
  1s. deep violet.
  Double embossing.
    "      "        one inverted (violet).
  Yellow gum.
  Watermark portions of words CROWN AGENTS.
    "       division lines of the panes.
  Imperforate (deep violet).
  Sheets--1st comb perforation.

[page 64]

1898.--Watermarked Crown C.A. (upright). Perf. 14.

    [NOTE.--Unless otherwise stated, the plate number is 2.]

  ½d. dull green and green (plates 2 and 3).
  1d. carmine and carmine.
  1d. deep carmine and deep carmine (plate 3).
  2d. orange and mauve.
  2½d. ultramarine and ultramarine.
  3d. mauve and pale ultramarine.
  3d. deep purple and deep ultramarine (plate 3).
  4d. brown and ultramarine.
  6d. olive-green and carmine.
  1s. violet and green.

1902-1905.--Watermarked Crown C.A. Perf. 14.

    [Printed from plate 1 in each case.]

  ½d. green and green.
  1d. carmine and carmine.
  2d. orange and mauve.
  2½d. ultramarine and ultramarine.
  3d. magenta and ultramarine.
  4d. brown and ultramarine.
  6d. sage-green and carmine.
  1s. violet and green.
  1s. 6d. green and carmine on yellow paper.
  2s. deep slate and orange.
  2s. 6d. purple and brown on yellow paper.
  3s. carmine and green on yellow paper.

[page 65]

1904-1905.--Watermarked Multiple Crown C.A. Perf. 14.

  ½d. green and green.
  1d. carmine and carmine.
  2d. orange and mauve.
  2½d. ultramarine and ultramarine.
  3d. magenta and ultramarine.
  4d. brown and ultramarine.
  5d. grey and black.
  6d. sage-green and carmine.
  7½d. green and carmine.
  10d. olive-brown and carmine.
  1s. violet and green.
  2s. deep slate and orange.

1906 (April 10).--Provisional Issue. Overprinted in black.

  PENNY on 2s. 6d. purple and brown on yellow paper.
  5mm. between letters and bars.
  4mm.       "          "
  Depressed Y in PENNY.
  ONE PENNY on 3s. carmine and green on yellow paper.
  Double overprint.
  Depressed Y in PENNY.
    "       E      "

[page 66]


Notes on the Postmarks.


The first Gambia stamps appeared early in 1869, and postmarks of that
year are usually composed of a circle with "Gambia" across the centre
in a straight line, and the date in two lines below and a control
letter above.

This postmark is usually in red, but is also found in black. It
was apparently only in use for a short time, being superseded by
a circular postmark of the same size, but with "Gambia" at top and
"Paid" at bottom, both following the line of the circle.

The day and month are in a straight line across the centre of the
circle, with the year (last two figures only) below and a control
letter above. This, in the early dated specimens, is A, followed by
B and then C. The postmark is always in red down to the early part of

On the early imperforate stamps we find a similar postmark in black,
but lettered "Gambia" above and "Unpaid" below. This was probably
intended for use on letters posted without a stamp. The control letter
is A.

[page 67]

From 1887 to 1892 the Gambia-Paid postmark appears in black. The
control letters are B or C.

In 1892 this was superseded by a fresh cancellation with "Bathurst"
above and "Gambia" below, both following the line of the circle, the
date across the centre as before, and the control letter being C.

The lettering may be found in two sizes; on one the distance between
the B of Bathurst and the G of Gambia is 3mm. and on the other 6mm.

In 1895 the control letter C was replaced by a six-pointed *, and this
cancellation is still in use.

About 1901 a special postmark for Registered letters was brought
into use, consisting of a large ellipse with "Registered" above and
"Gambia" below, both following the line of curve, and with date in
centre and control letter above, either B or C, the latter often being
found reversed or upside down. This is still in use.

From 1895 onwards stamps may be found cancelled with a circular
postmark with "Received" above and "Gambia" below, and either a
control letter C or a six-pointed *. Possibly this was a Fiscal
cancellation wrongly used on postage stamps.

Most Gambia stamps, from the C.C. perforated issue onwards, may be
found with a cancellation consisting of seven parallel bars forming
a circle of 19mm. diameter, the two outside bars being rounded off to
form part of the circle. Though this can be found on the last issue of
Queen's Head stamps, it does not appear to be now used.

On the 1887 and later issues we find a cancellation composed of four
concentric circles, the diameter of the largest being 18mm.

[page 68]

Many letters appear to have been posted on board the mail steamer, or
sent from the post office without the stamp being cancelled, as Gambia
stamps are found with the mail steamer postmark, which consists of two
circles with "Paquebot" above, and either "Plymouth" or, "Liverpool"
below, both being between the two circles.

The date, comprising not only the year and month but day and hour, is
in three lines in the centre.

Many Gambia stamps can also be found postmarked "Freetown, Sierra
Leone," or "Registered, Sierra Leone," but as we have no record of
Gambia stamps being used to defray postage from Sierra Leone, we must
conclude that they were sent on by a steamer which did not possess a
post office, and cancelled at Sierra Leone before being shipped on the
mail steamer.

Stamps of Gambia can also occasionally be found with the postmark of
the French Colony of Senegambia.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Plate I.--6d. Imperforate.]

[Illustration: Plate II.--½d. Single line perforation.]

[Illustration: Plate III.--½d. First comb perforation (points down).]

[Illustration: Plate IV.--1d. First comb perforation.]

[Illustration: Plate V.--2d. First comb perforation.]

[Illustration: Plate VI.--2½d. First comb perforation (points up).]

[Illustration: Plate VII.--3d. First comb perforation. Three guide
dots to right.]

[Illustration: Plate VIII.--3d. Second comb perforation. Three guide
dots to left.]

[Illustration: Plate IX.--4d. First comb perforation.]

[Illustration: Plate X.--6d. First comb perforation (sloping label
stamps, 1 and 5).]

[Illustration: Plate XI.--6d. Second comb perforation (sloping label
stamps, 1 and 5).]

[Illustration: Plate XII.--Diagram of an uncut sheet of "Crown C.A."

[Illustration: Plate XIII.--Diagram showing method of cutting the
"Crown C.A." paper for the "Cameo" stamps.]

[Illustration: Plate XIV.--6d. New plate. Without defective top row.]

[Illustration: Plate XV.--1s. First comb perforation.]

[Illustration: Plate XVI.--2½d. Complete Sheet, shewing arrangement
of panes, fitting half sheet of watermarked paper, which shews through
the page from the back.]

[Illustration: N.B.--To be examined through the stamps on the other
side of the plate.]

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