The Comoro Islands: Part 2

September 26, 2017 by Stanley Gibbons

Continuing on from last month, Michael Round brings the philatelic story of the Comoro Islands up to date. Although seemingly insignificant on the world stage, these small islands have seen numerous changes in government, often through coup d’état, which can be followed on its varied philatelic output.

The history of the Comoro Islands archipelago rarely features in conversation or even in world news bulletins. It was, however, by no means uneventful. After political attachment to Madagascar, the islands regained some autonomy in 1947. Stamps followed, but not until 1950 did the Archipel des Comores set (Fig 1) appear.

Fig 1 The Comoros’ first combined issue in 1950 included 10c. blue, 10f. green and 20f. brown values (SG 1/15)
Fig 1 The Comoros’ first combined issue in 1950 included 10c. blue, 10f.
green and 20f. brown values (SG 1/15)

This was probably the last and possibly the least exciting of a pictorial definitive issue that stretched through practically the whole French Empire. Most of these had appeared in 1947, a few (like Madagascar and Cameroun) even earlier. While most sets had had the same 17 face values, ranging from 30c. to 200f., the Comoros had fewer – yet included two values (7f. and 11f.) not encountered anywhere else and for which the postal purpose still seems unclear. Even less useful, except to attract junior collectors, was a 10c. value: at a tenth of one CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc (itself worth just two French francs at a time when there were 1500 of those to the pound), it was inch for inch cheaper than adhesive tape, and is more likely to be found on cover, sealing envelope flaps against pilferers rather than paying any postage, whether postmarked or not.

Other low values sometimes fulfilled the same function (Fig 2).

Fig 2 Low-value stamps placed across envelope flap for security in transit (Reduced)
Fig 2 Low-value stamps placed
across envelope flap for
security in transit (Reduced)

If Comoros stamps were late in appearing, postmarks were even slower to change. Several years after the definitives first appeared, Comoros postmarks still bore the designation ‘Madagascar’ before gradually changing to ‘Comores’ (Fig 3)

Fig 3 Examples of postmarks used on the Comoros. ‘Fomboni/Madagascar’
Fig 3 Examples of postmarks used on the
Comoros. ‘Fomboni/Madagascar’

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