World Stamps

Strong collector interest in stamps of East Timor

Jan 24, 2024, 8 AM
New issues of East Timor are hard to find and in demand. Most sell for considerably more than their Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values. This joint issue with Portugal was issued in 2016.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and rick Miller

East Timor (officially the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste) is a former Portuguese colony on the eastern half of the island of Timor in the Pacific Ocean, north of Australia. The western part of the island is part of Indonesia.

In 1975, as part of Portuguese decolonization, East Timor declared its independence, at which time Indonesia invaded and annexed the territory.

The East Timorese are predominantly Roman Catholic and speak Portuguese in addition to one of 15 native languages.

Unwilling to accept annexation by predominantly Muslim Indonesia, the Timorese waged guerrilla warfare against the occupying army until 1999, when the United Nations sponsored a settlement that removed East Timor from Indonesian administration.

The country was administered by the United Nations until May 20, 2002, when full independence was established.

In the Scott catalogs, the stamps of independent East Timor are listed under and numbered consecutively following those of Timor, the former Portuguese colony. Stamps issued for the territory under U.N. administration are listed separately under the United Nations.

East Timor uses the United States dollar as its currency, and U.S. banknotes and coins are legal tender in the country. It also produces centavo coins in denominations from 1c to 200c, with values paired to the U.S. currency.

On Oct. 31, 2016, East Timor produced a joint issue with Portugal (Scott 371-372) to mark the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the Portuguese in Timor.

The design of the $1 stamp features a Timorese settlement, a Christian cross and a Timorese woman with shoulder baskets. The design of the $1.50 stamp illustrates a Christian cross; Dom Aleixo Corte-Real (1886-1943), leader of the Timorese resistance to the Japanese occupation in World War II; and a Timorese sash.

Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values for East Timor’s stamps do not follow the Scott standard practice of two times face value for mint new issues.

Many issues are not valued, and those that are have values considerably higher than two times face value, with the values in italics. This likely indicates that East Timor’s new issues are seldom available to stamp dealers in the United States.

This joint issue with Portugal is not valued in mint or used condition in the Scott catalog. A mint set of two recently sold for $42 after spirited bidding by multiple bidders in an online auction.

There is strong collector interest in East Timor’s stamps, with bidders willing to pay up to acquire them.

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