1900 - 1949 (inclusive)


Nyassa - Definitives (3rd series)

1 August 1901

13 values in total, 7 values featuring giraffe

The 1901 Nyassa Definitives (3rd series)
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The first giraffe-related stamps ever issued were those which make up the majority of the 3rd series of Nyassa Definitives. Nyassa was a Portuguese colony in what is now Mozambique, administered by the Nyassa Company, which had the right to issue its own postage stamps. After a shaky start (more on which can be read in a contemporary article here), it issued its first two sets of definitive stamps in 1897 and 1898, although in both cases these were just the then extant stamps of Mozambique overprinted set.
In 1901, however, Nyassa issued its own stamps, a set of 13 values, the lower seven of which featured a giraffe standing under two palm trees, with the remaining 6 values featuring two camels. The stamps wered designed by Robert Edgcumbe, engraved in taille-douce by Herbert Bourne, and printed in bi-colour by Waterlows in London on white-wove un-watermarked paper in sheets of 50 stamps. The upper left corner features a portrait of King Carlos I of Portugal, the upper right corner the Portuguese Royal Arms, and the bottom corners the values of the stamps. Although old, they are not necessarily rare - as a result they have catalogue values of around £19.00 for a mint set, and £12.00 for a fine used set, and are frequently available on eBay for substantially less than those figures.
All the stamps in this series are found with inverted centres. To take advantage of a buoyant philatelic market Waterlow & Son, in collusion with the Nyassa Company, deliberately ‘manufactured’ these and outlet them straight onto the philatelic market in London. They were never postally used, although five clandestine covers are known to have been sent out to Nyassa by a London dealer and mailed back genuinely through the post.
There might have been a genuine printing error in 1905 which led to a sheet of 50 stamps of the 150r value with inverted centres being printed by mistake, but it was no accident that during the next 4 years all the other values appeared on the market with inverted centres. Such was the philatelic demand that in 1922 Waterlow & Son made new plates and re-printed 20 sheets (1,000 stamps) of all 13 values with inverted centres - an overwhelming proportion of inverted examples on the market today were printed as a result of this "deliberate" mistake.
If you would like to know more about the stamps of Nyassa and the Nyassa Company then you may be interested in our sister site, Nyassa Stamps.

Nyassa - Definitives (4th series) (Local overprint)

1 May 1903

5 values in total, 2 values featuring giraffe

The 1903 Nyassa Definitives (Local overprint)
See description for larger versions
In 1903, standardisation of postal rates and stamp colours, meant that new stamps were required and, pending their arrival which never came, five existing values were overprinted / surcharged - initially locally, and subsequently by Waterlow & Son in London.
The 15r and the 25r giraffe values, for the Colonial and Foreign postcard rates respectively, were overprinted “PROVISORIO”, vertically in small capitals . These local overprints are scarce and forgeries exist. Genuine local overprints must be on the 1st printing of the stamps (there are seven printings in total) and a genuine example of the 15r value can been seen here, and a genuine 25r value can be seen here. The 1st printing sent to Nyassa in 1901 for sale in Post Offices included 4,000 sheets of the 15r (200,000 stamps), and 3,000 sheets of the 25r (150,000 stamps).
Used examples of the genuine local overprints have only been recorded with postmarks dated between April and October 1903 – after which the Waterlow & Son London overprint (covered in the entry below) had been delivered to the Nyassa post office for usage in place of the local overprint.
The 80r, 150r and 300r camel values were locally surcharged 65r, 115r and 130r for foreign letters (65r), registered foreign letters (65r+50r) and double foreign letters (65r+65r) respectively, and can be seen by clicking here, here and here. The surcharges are horizontal with the word "réis" in lower case letters. Genuine local surcharges are rare and are always on the 1st printing. Most examples found are forgeries on the 5th printing, made around 1910, with surcharges which are often indistinguishable from the original - our sister site, Nyassa Stamps, has more information on the forgeries here.

Nyassa - Definitives (4th series) (London overprint)

1 May 1903

5 values in total, 2 values featuring giraffe

The 1903 Nyassa Definitives (London overprint)
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The Waterlow & Son overprints and surcharges, generally referred to as London overprints, can be distinguished by the different type face. For the 15r and 25r giraffe values the PROVISORIO was printed horizontally in large capitals (see here and here). For the three camel values the surcharge and the word "REIS" are both in large capitals (as shown here, here and here).
These are considerably easier to come by than the local overprints, and the complete set of 5 overprints catalogues at around £6.00 for a mint set and £4.50 for a used set.

Nyassa - Definitives (5th series)

17 December 1909

2 values in total, 1 featuring giraffe

The 1909 Nyassa Definitives
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Despite what the contemporary article (which can be found here) says, these two overprinted and surcharged stamps were fabricated by Waterlow & Son and released solely for the philatelic market. There was no postal requirement for them as 5 and 50 reis stamps were already available, they were never sent to Nyassa for postal use and are never found on cover.
Both mint and used stamps are found, but always cancelled to order with a blue cancel by Waterlow & Sons. Whilst this would technically make them cinderellas under my definition, it is probably more accurate to consider them as "spurious", and I include them here as the various issues from Nyassa are traded frequently on eBay and other stamp websites, and collectors should be aware of the truth behind their status.
I am indebted to John Dahl FRPSL for making available the findings and conclusions of his 40 years of research into the stamps of Portuguese Nyassa. This has entailed plating studies of the Waterlow & Son archived ‘File copy’ sheets which led to the discovery of the seven printings. Recognition of the printings found on covers has enabled the identification of those printings which were sent to the Nyassa post office and those which were made solely for the philatelic market. John intends to publish a book in due course and I acknowledge and thank him warmly for kindly providing access to his collection and sharing his findings, on which the above information is based. Until its publication you may find more information about the stamps of Nyassa and the Nyassa Company then you may be interested in our sister site, Nyassa Stamps.

Nyassa - Republica Series (King Emanuel)


12 values in total, 3 values featuring giraffe

The 1911 Nyassa Definitives
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Upon the assassination of King Carlos in 1908 King Emanuel (or Manuel) ascended to the throne - although little did he know that he wasn’t going to be there for very long. A new set of definitives, featuring his portrait and similar designs to the preceding series, was therefore prepared, with the camel design on the lowest three values, a zebra design on the next three, the typical giraffe design on the next three and a ship on the final three of the set.
For some reason these were not issued until after the 1910 revolution - as a result the stamps were overprinted in Lisbon with “REPUBLICA” in red, running diagonally from bottom left to top right. They catalogue at around £20.00 for the mint set, and £14.00 for the used set - complete scans and information can be found on our sister site, Nyassa Stamps.

Nyassa - Republica Series (King Carlos)


13 values in total, 7 values featuring giraffe

The 1918 Nyassa Republica overprints
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Following the abolition of the real (along with the monarchy) as the official currency of Portugal and its replacement by the escudo, the values of the Nyassa stamps required updating. For reasons which are not entirely clear, however, rather than do this to the King Emanuel set issued in 1911, this was done by reissuing the 3rd Series (featuring King Carlos) and overprinting them locally, rather than in Lisbon. In consequence these are much rarer than the 1911 series, cataloguing at around £470.00 for a mint set and £350.00 for a used set, although these figures inflated somewhat by the unusually high catalogue values of the lowest three values in the set, which account between them for 95% of the price, the reasons for which I cannot ascertain.
The 13 values of the 3rd series were therefore reissued, again, overprinted with “REPUBLICA” in black horizontally, along with its new value. Unlke the revalued King Emanuel Republica series which was to follow it in 1921, the old and the new values for this series bore a logical relationship - 2.5r became .25c, 5r became .5c, 10r became 1c, and so on up to the 300r which became 30c. Full details are in the complete list, or alternatively on oursister site.

Nyassa - Republica Series (King Carlos) (Provisorio local overprint)


5 values in total, 2 values featuring giraffe

The 1918 Nyassa Provisorio overprints
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The 1918 Republica Series above overprinted the existing 3rd series featuring King Carlos with “REPUBLICA” and its new value. In addition to this, however, the stamps that had been locally overprinted as part of the 4th series also needed to be updated. Having already been overprinted once, these were now overprinted again - so the lowest of the series featured a 15r giraffe stamp from the 3rd series overprinted with “Provisorio” from the 4th series and now overprinted again with “Republica” and its new value of 1.5c - likewise the 80r value camel stamp from the 3rd series, which had already been overprinted “65 reis” in the 4th series was now overprinted again with the first overprinting struck through, and a fresh overprinting of “Republica” and its new value of 40c. For full details on the overprintings see the complete lists or the series' entry on our sister site - bar the 80r value these are not pariticularly rare stamps, and they therefore catalogue at around £30.00 for a set of mint stamps, and slightly less for a fine used set.

Ethiopia - Animals and Royalty

16 June 1919

15 values in total, 1 value featuring giraffe

The 1919 Ethiopia Animals and Royalty issue
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Enter the first set of non-Nyassan giraffe-related postage stamps for this period in history. Issued in June 1919, designed by Walter Plattner and engraved and printed (by lithography) at the Busag Works in Berne, Switzerland, in sheets of 100 (10x10), this set had a total of 15 values, from 1/8g to $10, of which one value, the 1/4g, featured giraffes. Whilst more precise details about the contents of this set can be found here, in brief the stamps are relatively common, and catalogue values are approximately £30.00 for a mint set, and about the same for a used set. For an enlarged view of the giraffe value only, click here.

Nyassa - Republica Series (King Emanuel) revalued


12 values in total, 3 values featuring giraffe

The 1921 Nyassa Definitives
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As with King Carlos’ definitives before him, the Republica series issued for King Emanuel in 1911 required updating to reflect the abolition of the real and the introduction of the escudo. As before, these were overprinted in Lisbon with “REPUBLICA” in red running diagonally from bottom left to top right, with the new value in centavos in the bottom right hand corner, in black for all but two values, on which it is in red`.
For some reason, however, the stamps failed to follow the sensible logical relationship between the old value and the new value that they had introduced with the King Carlos series, and for some values they appear to have pulled the financial conversion out of a hat - if you’d like more detail then have a look at the complete list or our sister site.
The stamps were overprinted in both London and Lisbon - the former in greater quantities with an eye more to the collectors' market, the latter in small quantities for actual postage usage in Nyassa. In consequence the stamps are not expensive to acquire, cataloguing as they do at around £7.00 for a mint or a used set of the London overprints, but a little than that for the Lisbon overprints.

Nyassa - Definitives (7th series)


20 values in total, 4 values featuring giraffe

The 1921 Nyassa Definitives
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Understandably, by 1921 most people in Nyassa were scratching their heads at the numerous surcharges, revaluations and overprintings, both local and international, that had taken place, so despite only recently having introduced yet another new set of revalued stamps, someone figured it would be sensible to start over.
This was done with the 1921 definitives series, which featured a total of 20 values over 5 designs (the by-now obligatory giraffe eating a palm tree on the lowest four values, Vasco da Gama on the next five, a sailing ship on the next five, a zebra on the next four and a different sailing ship on the final two). They were the first Nyassan stamps not to feature an image of the King, and were headed “Companhia do Nyassa”, rather than the more straightforward “Nyassa” of all previous stamps, and bear more than a passing similarity to the Mozambique Company “Indigenous designs” set which was to appear in 1937 and which is covered below.
The complete list contains full details of the values, colours, designs and prices, and our sister site has full scans and more information, but in short a complete set bears a catalogue price of around £24.00 or so mint, and £20.00 used - you can expect to pick them up for substantially less than this.

Ethiopia - Animals and Royalty (overprint)


1 value featuring giraffe

The 1922 Ethiopia Animals and Royalty overprint
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Proving that it wasn’t just Nyassa which couldn’t go a couple of years without revaluing or surcharging their stamps, in 1922 Ethiopia got in on the act too. In this case, however, it wasn’t because of the assassination or overthrow of a King, it was as a result of post-war inflation.
Postal rates had to increase to keep up, and rather than create new stamps the values which were need more were simply printed onto values which were needed less. As a result, in 1922 (the precise date is unknown because all postal records were destroyed when the Italians invaded Addis Ababa), the series was overprinted at the A. Desvages Printing Press in Addis Ababa, and as part of that overprinting the .25g value (featuring the giraffes) was overprinted with the 1g value and reissued. The giraffe value catalogues at around £1.40, mint or used.

Tanganyika - Definitives


19 values in total, all featuring giraffe

The 1922 Tanganyika Definitives
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As with Mozambique and Nyassa, the first postage stamps of Tanganyika were merely existing issues from the East Africa and Uganda Protectorates overprinted “G.E.A.” (standing for “German East Africa”). Following German defeat in World War I the majority of the country was passed to British rule under the Treaty of Versailles, a move confirmed by a 1922 League of Nations Mandate.
Following the transition Tangayika issued its own first set of definitive stamps, printed by Bradbury Wilkinson, with the giraffe featuring on each of the 19 values. The stamps were denominated in pounds, shillings and cents (with 100 cents to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound).
The cent values each featured the denomination of the stamp, in figures, in the top right and bottom two corners, the denomination in words (pounds, shillings, cents, etc.) running along the bottom of the stamp, and the image of a giraffe’s head, surrounded by the words “Tanganyika Postage & Revenue”, in the remainder of the stamp. The shilling and pound values featured the giraffe’s head in the center of the stamp, with the value in figures to its left and right, and the denomination in words underneath those values (for the shilling values) and underneath the giraffe’s head (for the pound value).
Full details of the colours and values are in the complete list - unlike the majority of giraffe stamps from this period, these are rare and expensive, cataloguing at around £275.00 for a mint set, and £560.00 for a fine used set, with the £1.00 value from the set making up over half of each of those figures alone. That explains why I presently have scans of only two available.

Nyassa - Postage Dues


9 values in total, 2 values featuring giraffe

The 1924 Nyassa Postage Dues
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Notable primarily for the fact that they are triangular, this was a set of 9 postage due stamps, marked “Porteado a receber”, The lowest two values, the .5c and the 1c, feature the obligatory giraffe, the remaining values featuring (in ascending order) the by now obligatory zebra, ship and Vasco da Gama designs. It is likely that these were issued solely for the benefit of stamp collectors - certainly they are not rare, cataloguing at around £23.00 for a mint set, and £19.00 or so for a fine used set, although as ever these figures are considerably higher than what one would expect to pay on eBay or another auction website. Full scans and details can be found on our sister site
The good news (for those who are getting thoroughly confused by Nyassa’s stamp-related machinations) is that this is the last set of giraffe-featuring-stamps issued by Nyassa. With the termination of the Niassa Company’s concession on 27 October 1929, Nyassa ceased to exist, bar one final flourish - the 1 centavo value from this set was resurrected in 1985 for a Mozambique stamp issue featuring the stamps of its consituent companies, details of which can be found on this page.

Tanganyika - Definitives (colour change)


4 values in total all featuring giraffe

The 1925 Tanganyika Definitives
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Following on from the 1922 Definitive issue covered a little further up this page (here), four values were reissued in new colours. The 5c was reissued in black and green, the 10c in black and yellow, the 25c in black and blue and the 30c in black and purple. All other aspects remained the same.
The 1922 and the 1925 issues both had the “Crown and Script CA” watermark upright - the six highest of the 1922 values (1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 shillings and £1.00) had all also been issued in 1922 on sideways watermarked paper, but as this distinction is marginal (unlike the 1925 colour change) they are not considered to be “new” giraffe stamps. The four values have a catalogue value of around £15.00 mint, £23.00 used.

Northern Rhodesia - Definitives

1 April 1925

17 values in total all featuring giraffe

The 1925 Northern Rhodesia Definitives
Larger picture not yet available
1925 saw the turn of another British colony in Africa, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) , which had been under British control since its creation in 1911 out of the combination of North West Rhodesia and North East Rhodesia, to follow Tanganyika’s lead in the creation of a set of definitive stamps by featuring the same giraffe (and elephant) design on each of them. Barring changes of portrait as the monarchs changed, these would remain in issue until 1959.
Printed by Waterlow and Son Limited in London, the series features the same picture seventeen times over in varying colours and denominations from .5d to 20 shillings. For full details of the values and colours see the complete list - broadly speaking a complete mint set catalogues at around £450.00, and a used set £570.00 (the top three values contribute around half of those figures between them).

Southern Rhodesia - Silver Jubilee

6 May 1935

4 values in total all featuring giraffe

The 1935 Southern Rhodesia Silver Jubilee issue
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Not to be outdone by its northern neighbour, in 1935 Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) issued a series of four stamps to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V.
The stamps, which were also printed by Waterlow and Sons Limited in London, all featured the same design - a giraffe, elephant, lion and sable antelope at Victoria Falls alongside an image of King George V taken from a photograph of him by Vandyck. Whilst complete details of prices, values, colours and catalogue numbers are available in the complete list, the set catalogues at around £22.00 mint and £32.00 used.
Interestingly, the specimen stamps for the issue were drawn up in different colours - a 1d value in red, brown and blue, a further 1d value in purple, a 2d value in green and purple and a 3d value in purple and green-brown. These were never issued for distribution for postal purposes, but specimens overprinted as such (with “Waterlow & Sons Ltd Specimen” and a security hole punched through) are available on the market at around £300.00 mint.

Mozambique - Indigenous designs


19 values in total, 1 value featuring giraffe

The 1937 Mozambique Indigenous Designs issue
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Although the Nyassa Company may have ceased to exist in 1929, Mozambique itself didn’t (clearly) and it continued to be run by the Mozambique Company, which had stamp issuing rights.
Issued in 1937, the indigenous designs series featured 19 values, more details of which can be found in the complete list. As with the Nyassa Company stamps, the stamps were printed by Waterlow and Sons Limited of London based (in the case of the giraffe value) on an original drawing by J. Webb. The full set catalogues for around £10.00 mint and £6.00 used, which reflects its relative availability - parts or complete sets are almost always up for auction on eBay and other auction websites.
The giraffe image from the 1c value crops up some 65 years later on the front cover of the first edition of Alexander McCall Smith’s novel “The Tears of the Giraffe”.

Northern Rhodesia - Definitives


21 values in total all featuring giraffe

The 1938 Northern Rhodesia Definitives
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Following the death of George V, and the abdication of Edward VIII (fortunately no-one had thought to print new stamps on his accession, otherwise they’d have been left with a fair few out of date ones), George VI ascended to the throne of England, a event which necessitated a new set of definitives.
For reasons unknown (perhaps to see if he was going to stick around longer than Edward VIII) these new definitives were not issued until 1938. The same format, but different colours and values, were used as for the 1922 issued, although the new King’s head faced in the opposite direction, and the words “Postage & Revenue” were omitted. As before the stamps were printed by Waterlow and Son Limited in London, They used exactly the same format as the 1925 definitive issue, just with different colours and values, for full details of which please see the complete list. The definitives remained in issue until 1952, with the advent of Queen Elizabeth II, and catalogue at around £200.00 for a mint set or £110.00 for a used set.

Also rans between 1950 and 1959

I am not aware of any issues between 1900 and 1949 where the inclusion of a giraffe was so ancillary as to not merit inclusion in the above list. If you know of any, please email me.
As far as I am aware, the information on this page is complete and accurate, and there are were no other giraffe-related stamps issued between 1900 and 1949 (inclusive). If you spot any missing issues, errors, inaccuracies, or have any information that could be added to that contained in these pages then please don’t hesitate to email me at info@giraffestamps.co.uk.