The Overprinted Great Britain Issues Of Niger Coast Protectorate 1892-1894 Part Four
Niger Company Territories
Before the formation of Northern and Southern Nigeria in 1901, the area north of the Oil Rivers Protectorate was known as the Niger Company Territories. Generally, prior to the issuance of the Oil Rivers stamps, stamps of Great Britain, or Postal Stationery items were used. The only way to identify them as Niger Company Territories is by the postmarks, which were generally violet boxed handstamps from Akassa, Burutu, Abutshi and Lokoja. Akassa and Burutu are the most common village names, but that being said, none of these are common by any means. Stamps with the postmarks are scarce enough, but covers and postcards are very scarce indeed.
Below are some stamps on piece, as well as some individual loose stamps that bear cancellations that can be identified as Niger Company Territories:
A single 1d cancelled with the same handstamp, on small piece (Gibbons Z30)
A lovely example of the 5d Jubilee definitive cancelled on piece with a full and clear strike of the Akassa handstamp with voided corners.
A very rare example of a Lagos 2.5d definitive used in Burutu, rather than a GB stamp. Neither Gibbons, nor Proud make any mention of Lagos stamps being used in the territory. This is the handstamp with Burutu in serifed capitals. The stamp has a few minor faults, but remains the only example of a non-GB stamp used in the territories.
A 5d Jubilee issue used in Burutu, on piece, bearing a nice strike of the same handstamp as was used on the 2.5d stamp above. This strike is quite crisp in that both framelines are clearly visible.
Here we have a 1d lilac used on piece with a slightly different Burutu hadstamp - this one having serifed capitals.
In addition to the stamps, I have a postcard from Niger Coast Protectorate that is used in Akassa, which is located in the northern region of what became Southern Nigeria. I also have what appears to be a mint pre-stamped envelope from the post office in Burutu. This envelope is a sealed, pristine unaddressed envelope which bears a single Great Britain 1d lilac, which has been cancelled with the purple Burutu boxed handstamp.
The postcard is shown below:
The envelope is curious and is shown below:
I believe that what likely happened is that the postal clerk at the Burutu post office made up a small supply of these envelopes for sale to customers in advance. This was likely a leftover envelope from that stock. It is sealed because the gum on the flap was affected by the humidity there. That would mean that rather than being a cover, this is actually a mint postal stationery item that bears an actual stamp, and as such should be very rare.
Early Oil Rivers (Pre-1894) Postcards
I have a group of Great Britain postcards, to which an overprint has been applied to indicate that they were to be used in the Oil Rivers. All except 1 of the cards are the 1887 scarlet Jubilee design, and were likely intended for foreign use. The sole 1/2d card that I have was likely intended for local use. Only one of these cards is addressed, but there are no mail markings of any kind on it, so that it is not clear whether or not it was actually sent to its destination through the postal system. Two of the cards are mint and two bear CDS cancellations for Old Calabar River and Bonny River, but are otherwise completely unaddressed. The cards are shown in the scans below:
This postcard is addressed to Bergedorf, Switzerland and bears a single name on the back. However, there are no other markings - no cancel for the protectorate to indicate that it had left, and no cancel to indicate that it arrived in Switzerland. So it may well have been addressed, but not sent.
This is a relatively fresh mint example of the 1d foreign rate postcard, bearing the Oil Rivers overprint.
Here is a card bearing a November 25, 1893 Bonny River cancellation with date code C. It is entirely unaddressed and bears no message.
Another unaddressed card bearing a cancellation - this time for Old Calabar River, dated October 8, 1893 with time code A.
It is not clear whether these two cards are philatelic or not, or whether they are actually precancelled postal cards that were prepared this way for sale to the public to save time in cancelling them later. Given the existence of the envelope from Burutu above, I suspect that they are actually precancelled items.
- The length is different. on the above card, the words "British Protectorate" approximately 41 mm to the end of the "E". on the other 1d postcards, the words measure 36.75 mm.
- There is a period after both words.
- The lines of the overprint are closer together.
- The front shows the words "Fee Paid" with a period after "paid" and an underline. The back shows the stamp indicta for the basic 2d registration fee, the overprint and a double sided table showing the registration fees and coverage amounts from 2d and £5 to 11d and £50.
- The front does not show the words "Fee Paid" at all. The registration fee and compensation amounts are only shown from 2d and £5 to 6d and £25.
Note the "Fee Paid" underneath the "R" in the top left corner.
On this envelope, there is no "Fee Paid".
I have four registered covers bearing stamps of this issue. One of these is a mixed franking that includes stamps of the 1894 first Waterlow issue and second Waterlow issue from 1894. The first two of these are the 2/1d cover from Brass River to Dublin, and the 1/- cover to London that were featured in last weeks's post:
This cover was sent using a new, Niger Coast Protectorate Envelope. These envelopes had the indicta and knife on the front of the envelope instead of the back, and the registered letter rate table now occupies the entire back of the envelope as shown below:
The next cover is an 8d cover sent to the UK on October 23, 1893, using an Oil Rivers envelope: