World Stamps

Comoro Islands Coelacanth stamp popular with a variety of collectors

Mar 1, 2023, 10 AM
You will likely have to pay full Scott catalog value or more for a 1954 Comoro Islands 40-franc Coelacanth stamp in mint, never-hinged condition.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

The Comoro Islands comprise an archipelago of four main volcanic islands off the coast of Africa east of Mozambique and northwest of Madagascar. The islands — Grand Comore, Anjouan, Moheli and Mayotte — served as an international way station for traders and merchants sailing along the African coast and between Africa, Southwest Asia and India.

The Omanis, British and Portuguese had previously enjoyed a strong presence in the islands through agreements with native rulers, but in 1946, the Comoro Islands became an overseas territory of France.

French colonial stamps had been issued earlier for the component islands, and in 1950, the first Comoro Islands stamps were issued.

In 1975, Grand Comore, Anjouan and Moheli voted for independence and formed the Union of the Comoros. Mayotte voted to remain an overseas territory of France.

In 1954, Comoro Islands issued a 40-franc Coelacanth stamp (Scott 42). Coelacanths are the oldest living lineage of Sarcopterygii (lobed fish and tetrapods). They are more closely related to lungfish and tetrapods (four-limbed vertebrate animals including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) than to ray-finned fish.

Coelacanths were thought to be extinct and only known from fossils that were 410 million to 66 million years old, until 1938, when a living specimen was found off the east coast of South Africa. Today, coelacanths are known to inhabit the sea off the east coast of Africa, including the waters around the Comoro Islands.

The Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values the 40fr Coelacanth stamp at $23.50 in mint, never-hinged condition. In addition to the interest of France and area collectors, this is a popular stamp with fish and fauna topical collectors.

You will likely have to pay full catalog value or more for a mint, never-hinged example. An example in unused, hinged condition is a good buy at around $15.

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