Judge Obock by its covers!

The small French colony of Obock produced a surfeit of provisional overprints in 1892-94, but also some genuinely interesting philately and postal history


Obock 1892 2c on 15c blue, with its handstamped overprint in black and subsequent surcharge in red


The little port of Obock, on the western shore of the Gulf of Aden, was acquired by France as a coaling station for steam ships in 1862. Initially it was the only French presence in the region, and it lacked any real colonial administration until the 1880s.

The town and its surrounding district still counted only 800 inhabitants by 1892, when it got its first postage stamps.

1894 25f blue and brown, issued for use with the camel express service


The first two issues were of a provisional nature, comprising locally handstamped overprints on the Commerce design used in the French Colonies.

A set of 11 values appeared in February 1892, ranging from 1c to 1f, with the ‘Obock’ handstamp in thick, curved lettering. Almost immediately this was followed by a second set, of nine values from 4c to 1f, now with the ‘Obock’ handstamp in a straight line.

In the following months, 11 of the stamps received further surcharges, ranging from 1c to 5f, and accompanying all this were 18 different overprinted French Colonies postage due stamps.

Read the full article in Stamp Magazine June 2017

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