Monday, March 3, 2008

Stamp Issuers - French Territory of the Afars and Issas

Stamps identified as coming from the French Territory of the Afars and Issas were only issued for 10 years -- from 1967 to 1977.

The name of the territory came from the two primary clans of people that live in the area, the Afars, an historically nomadic people comprising about 35% of the population, and the Issas, a Somali-based clan with about 60% of the population. In the past, the two people-groups have been hostile to one another, politically, although tensions has eased in recent years.

The territory is located on the Horn of Africa, bordered by Eritrea to the north, Somalia to the southeast, and Ethopia for the biggest expanse from the north-northwest to south. The eastern side touches the Arabian Sea at the Gulf of Aden.

The area was identified as the colony of French Somaliland, prior to becoming the French Territory of the Afars and Issas in 1967. It remained a territory until June 27, 1977, when it achieved independence and became the Republic of Djibouti. It remains as Djibouti to this day.

There are a variety of themes depicted on the stamps of Afars and Issas. There are stamps depicting native wildlife, stamps of famous scientists, and athletes, including Olympic athletes.

Many of the stamps have varieties that are not perforated. These variations are not priced in the 2006 Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalog and would probably only be tracked in a specialty catalog.

The stamps of the French Territory of the Afars and Issas are not expensive. The entire run of regular issue stamps catalog around $200 for used stamps. Airmail stamps catalog for about the same amount. Other than a four-stamp set of Postage Due stamps that is very inexpensive, those are all of the stamps that are listed in Scott.

The stamps of the territory are very nice, representing the fine artwork that can be found on French stamps of the period. The fact that they can be obtained on a small budget means that most collectors can afford the opportunity to fill these holes in their albums.

Update: A reader writes to ask how many stamps were issued by this territory. Based on quick math using the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalog (2006 Edition), approximately 118 regular issues stamps, 56 air post stamps, and 4 postage due stamps are recognized are coming from this territory during their years of issuing stamps.

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