Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika

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The history of KUT

Three neighbouring countries, Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika, united as a joint postal association on 1 January 1933. They released joint stamp issues until 1976 when the postal union was dissolved and each territory issued separate stamps.

Seven designs were selected for 14 definitive issues during King George V's reign valued from 1c. to £1 and printed by De La Rue during King George V's reign. All incorporated a portrait of King George V with scenes and symbols to represent each territory, including two Crowned Cranes, the Lake Naivasha, the Nile Railway Bridge by the Ripon Falls, and a dhow on Lake Victoria and views of Africa’s highest peaks. 

After the coronation of King George VI, stamps of KUT were amongst very few printed with little more than a change of portrait and included some switching of colours and denominations. The 65c. Mt Kenya image was no longer required and the Jinja Bridge on 30c. and 5s. stamps were slightly altered. The new 5c. and 50c. stamps were, of course, printed with the repaired centre plate, now showing the rope joined to the sail. However, a sharp-eyed member of staff at Stanley Gibbons noticed that row 2/5 of the 50c. still retained the ‘unattached rope’ variety. Although postal officers in the colony were instructed to immediately remove the faulty stamp from each sheet, several were sold for postal use. Examples still survive unrecognised in older collections and 1938 commercial envelopes. 

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, in 1952, posthumous 25c. and 40c. definitives, along with 10c., 15c. and 30c. colour changes were placed on sale. The omnibus 20c. Coronation stamp in 1953 preceded new pictorials issued exactly one year later in June 1954. Nine denominations from 5c. to 10s. printed by De La Rue included The Queen’s portrait with appropriate designs. A larger format £1 depicted only The Queen. Additional 40c., 65c. and 1s.30c. values in existing designs were issued later. 

In 1960, sixteen stamps designed by renowned artist Michael Goaman and printed by De La Rue were issued featured The Queen’s portrait flanked by images of locally grown crop plants and fauna. The three territories are represented by tiny symbolic emblems– lion, crane and giraffe.

Stamps issued after KUT's independence

In 1964 Tanganyika created an alliance with the island of Zanzibar to become the state of Tanzania. However, the postal union remained in force until 1976 and the stamps of the three territories were used throughout the union, except for Zanzibar. By 1976 the postal union had virtually ceased to function. From here onwards, separate postal services were established in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Did you know?

  • You can spot an error in the 5c. and 50c. stamps of this set. Some stamps were issued with a break where the rope joins the dhow’s sail. The error on the 5c. stamps was corrected with a new printing in 1937 but the 50c. was not.
  • The 1s. and 3s. denominations were both reprinted in 1936 with a perforation change to 13×12. The 5c. value was also reprinted perf 13×12. By this time, the break in the rope error had been corrected in all positions apart from position 2/5, creating the valuable 111b. All of the 13×12 perforation values are very scarce, especially the 3s. (120a); there are no recorded used copies, a clear indication that this stamp never reached the colony’s post offices.
  • Wartime disruption to shipping in 1941 led to emergency surcharges on South African stamps. Bilingual pairs of 1d., 3d. and 6d. denominations were overprinted ‘Kenya Tanganyika Uganda’ in three lines with appropriate 5c., 10c. and 20c. surcharges applied by the Government Printer in Pretoria. Also, a 70c. on 1s. was added in 1942 for use by locally based British forces on the new airgraph forms developed by Kodak. A reduction in charges for the service left surplus stocks of 70c. for use on parcel mail.
  • Two stamps issued to mark the ill-fated tour of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh in February 1952 when the King’s sudden death tragically ended the visit with the Princess’s immediate return to London as Queen Elizabeth II. ROYAL VISIT 1952 was incorporated into new duty plates for current 10c. and 1s. definitives.