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FIRST STAMPS India from 1875.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 10 November 1895 (Protectorate).



1895, as India.
1908, 100 cents = 1 rupee.
1936, 100 cents = 1 shilling.

Sultans from Muscat colonized Zanzibar c. 1730 and transferred their capital there in 1832. They introduced the clove and controlled the slave markets. Foreign consulates followed in the wake of traders from the USA and Germany and missionaries from Britain. In 1856 the dynasty became independent of Muscat. Pressure was brought to bear by a British naval presence from the East Indies station that resulted in the Sultan closing the slave markets in 1873. British interests grew and in 1890 a protectorate was proclaimed. More direct rule was assumed in 1906 and on 1 July 1913 control passed from the Foreign to the Colonial Office. Political offices in the early days were closely linked (sometimes shared) with those of British East Africa.

On 10 December 1963 Zanzibar became an independent sultanate and a month later a republic. It federated with Tanganyika as a United Republic in April 1964, known as Tanzania after 17 November 1964.

Postal History
Though the island has no formal postal facilities, consular mails to Europe, carried to and from the Seychelles for onward transmission, either via Aden or Bombay, are known from 1829 (including letters from the explorers Burton, Speke, and Livingstone). In 1872 a regular packet service with Aden was started by the British India Steam Navigation Co. and from 1875 there was a regular PO (sub-office of Aden until 1878; under Bombay until 1895; independent from 10 November 1895 when Zanzibar entered the UPU in its own right). Was the most important East African port-of-call for all foreign mailboats until 1914; after airmails were established in 1931, it became a postal backwater. Internal services in the island started in 1897.

Zanzibar, not having been a member of the East African Postal Union, kept a separate postal administration after federation with Tanganyika until the end of 1967; stamps of the East African Postal Union 1964-67, inscribed KENYA UGANDA TANZANIA, were not valid in Zanzibar.

All Zanzibar stamps were withdrawn 1 January 1968 (but remained valid for a limited period). Thereafter Zanzibar used stamps of Tanzania.

French PO in Zanzibar

FIRST STAMPS France January 1889-December 1893.



1894, as India.

Opened January 1889. Despite repeated demands from 1895 by the British protecting power for closure, remained open (doing mainly 'philatelic' business) until 31 July 1904.

German PA in Zanzibar

Opened on the arrival of Postsekretar Steinhagen in the Reichstag, which began the German mailboat service (D.O.A.L.) to East Africa, 27 August 1890. Closed by request of the British protecting power 31 July 1891.

Opened on the arrival of Postsekretar Steinhagen in the Reichstag, which began the German mailboat service (D.O.A.L.) to East Africa, 27 August 1890. Closed by request of the British protecting power 31 July 1891.

Used stamps of Germany 27 August 1890-31 July 1891. Distinguishable by cancellation.


The principal mainland Arab settlement between Mombasa and Mogadishu attracted German traders from c. 1880. It was a British India Steamship Co. port-of-call. British influence in the area was recognized in 1890 whereafter it followed the fortunes of British East Africa.

Postal History
Correspondence to Germany is known (franked with Indian stamps via Aden or Zanzibar) from 1881. A German PA was set up on 22 November 1888. After a PO of the IBEA Co. was opened in May 1890, the Germans were requested to close theirs, but did not until 31 March 1891.

Used stamps of Germany 22 November 1888-31 March 1891. Distinguishable by cancellation.

British East Africa

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Imperial British East Africa Co. 23 May 1890 Protectorates 1 July 1895.


16 annas = 1 rupee (parity with India).

The coastal strip from Mogadishu to Lindi was under the protection of the Zanzibar sultans. The earliest European settlement (from 1844) was confined to a handful of missionaries in an area extending from Mombasa towards Mt. Kilimanjaro. The reputation of the Masai protected the interior from visitors until Thomson's journey of 1883. The Imperial British East Africa Company started operations under concession of the sultan in 1888. Territory administered by the company from 1888 to 30 June 1895 theoretically included Uganda from 1890 to 1893. With the company facing bankruptcy, the British government proclaimed a protectorate on 1 July 1895. The former eastern province of Uganda was transferred to British East Africa in 1902. Control passed from the Foreign to the Colonial Office in 1905 when the capital was moved from Mombasa to Nairobi, but the protectorate was not made a colony until 23 July 1920 when its name was also changed to Kenya.

Postal History
Early letters ('forerunners') are known (mostly in archives) from early missions (Rabai from 1848, Freretown from 1874); these were handled by forwarding agents at Zanzibar. POs were opened at Mombasa (HQ) and Lamu in May 1890; also agencies c. 1892 at Malindi, Takaungu and Wasin. The protectorate joined the UPU in November 1895. The inland runner service of the transport department became a full postal responsibility when PAs were provided at Machakos and Kikuyu on 1 January 1897. Expansion followed the building of the Uganda Railway to Kisumu (1896-1902). Postal union was affected with Uganda in 1901, after which stamnps of British East Africa can be found used in Uganda.

During an acute shortage in August-September 1890, stamps of India were used.

On issue of protectorate overprints, the company stamps were demonetized (and stocks held in London remaindered in mint condition to the philatelic trade).

Protectorate stamps were overprinted locally overnight.

Used stamps inscribed EAST AFRICA AND UGANDA PROTECTORATES (see below) from 1903 (the King Edward VII registered envelope appeared before the stamps).

Zanzibar pre 1900
Click map for larger view

East Africa 1897
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