World Stamps

By Henry Gitner

Stamp Market Tips: French Equatorial Africa airmail

October 01, 2014 07:00 AM

  • The 1953 French Equatorial Africa Anhingas 500-franc airmail stamp (Scott C37) is a good buy in mint never-hinged condition in the $40-to-$45 price range.

  • The United States nondenominated ($1.15) Sea Surface Temperatures global forever stamp (Scott 4893) is sold out at Stamp Fulfillment Services. Check local post offices for full mint panes.

French Equatorial Africa —French colonies are very popular among collectors. From the 1920s on, most French colonies stamps have appealing production values. Many are colorful with striking designs and exotic subjects.

There are also quite a few that appeal to topical collectors, probably the most active segment of the market for these stamps. One such issue is the 1953 French Equatorial Africa 500-franc Anhingas airmail stamp (Scott C37), which has obvious appeal for bird topicalists. These birds are commonly called African darters.

French Equatorial Africa was a huge swath of African territory comprising the present-day nations of Chad, Congo, Gabon, and the Central African Republic. French Equatorial Africa stamps were produced from 1936 to 1958, when those colonies gained independence.

The African darter (Anhinga rufa) is a water bird of sub-Saharan Africa. Its typical mode of swimming, with its long, sinuous neck extending out from the water, gives the species its other common name: the snake bird. Like the cormorant, it is an excellent diver, a characteristic that it uses in catching the fish on which it subsists.

The 2015 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values the stamp in mint never-hinged condition at $47.50 and in used condition at $8. It is a good buy in the $40-to-$45 price range, and you can probably find it in used condition for around $3. Examples in unused hinged condition sell in the $20-to-$25 price range.

A Linn’s editor found this week’s recommended stamps on the zillionsofstamps.com web site at the following price ranges:

French Equatorial Africa, C37$35, mint never-hinged, fine-very fine; $3.50, used, fine-very fine;

United States, 4893not found.

Tip of the week

United States — On April 22, the U.S. Postal Service issued a nondenominated ($1.15) Sea Surface Temperatures global forever stamp (Scott 4893). The stamp paid the basic letter rate for international mail weighing up to 1 ounce.

The round stamp, sold in panes of 10 with serpentine die cuts, features a picture of Earth from space showing continents, clouds, and oceans depicted in bright colors representing sea temperature variations. The Postal Service also sold full press sheets of the stamp, both with and without die cuts.

In the Sept. 29 issue of Linn’s, page 13, senior editor Jay Bigalke reported that the Sea Surface Temperatures stamp was sold out at the Postal Service’s Stamp Fulfillment Center.

You might be able to find a few of these still in stock at local post offices.

Buying mint panes of this issue could be worthwhile. No one — whether dealer or collector — is putting away quantities of new issues, so when one sells out unexpectedly, it can catch everyone short. — H.G.