Saturday, 15 December 2012

Some stamps of British and French Colonies (History through stamps)

 


Stamps are an important source of Historical Information especially as they depict important events, names of rulers, pictures, landmarks and so on. When I went through my stamp collection recently, I noticed that the names of many of the countries seemed rather strange! I was confused about Swaziland, since I thought it was part of Rhodesia, remember King Lobengula? Anyway, so I began to research on the internet about Swaziland and came to know that it is one of the few countries which follows absolute monarchy.

 

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It is interesting to see how stamps of yesterday might be important sources of information of the past. This is specially true with regard to the stamps I have pasted below. The names of the countries in the stamps have changed completely and this is because they were initially colonies and changed their names after gaining independence from their colonial powers. A large number of slaves were shipped from Swaziland in those infamous years when slave trade was a profitable trade!
Swaziland is one of the few remaining countries under absolute monarchy. It gained its independence from British rule in 1968. The capital is Mbabane. The above stamp commemorates the opening of the Swaziland Railway, an important event in the history of the country.
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The Republique Du Dahomey is now the Republic of Benin. It used to be a French Colony till it gained independence in 1960. Both the stamps have depicted two important unifying factors, a sound Railways and a strong system for communication, the telephone.
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I am proud to have a number of the famous Lundy Puffin stamps in my  collection.The Puffin stamps have an interesting history which is worth quoting:
The short history of Lundy puffin postage stamps
In late 1927 the British GPO ceased their post office activities at Lundy due to low activity and interest. For the next couple of years the owner of island (or “King of Lundy” as he preferred) M.C. Harman (1885-1954) handled the mail to and from the island without charge using MV Lerina. On November 1, 1929 Harman decided to offset the expense by issuing a series of private postage labels with a value expressed in “Puffins”; one puffing being equivalent of the British penny. The rest, as they say, is history… Besides postage stamps Harman was also inspired to issue his own coins. There are two Lundy coins, the puffinand the half-puffin, with Mr Harman’s bust on the obverse and a puffin on the reverse. Both were ordered 100,000 copies at private mint in Birmingham. The coins lead Harman in trouble with the British authorities in 1931 for unauthorised minting of money. (   http://www.stampcollectingblog.com/lundy-puffin-postage-stamps.php )
 
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Amazingly, Somalia was a French Colony as  depicted in the above stamp…
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and Djibouti too was a French Colony, that’s why they speak French in Djibouti!
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Aden, now the Republic of Yemen was a British Colony, and it was a free port!





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