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Postage stamps and postal history of German East Africa

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Title: Postage stamps and postal history of German East Africa  
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Subject: Postage stamps and postal history of Burundi, Postage stamps and postal history of Ruanda-Urundi, Postage stamps and postal history of Rwanda, Postage stamps and postal history of Zanzibar, Postage stamps and postal history of Tanzania
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Postage stamps and postal history of German East Africa

5-pesa "Yacht", postmarked Lindi, 27 July 1901
10 pesa on 20 pfennig overprint of 1893, used 5 July 1894 at Tanga

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of German East Africa.

German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, including what is now Burundi, Rwanda and Tanganyika (the mainland part of present Tanzania). It came into existence during the 1880s and ended during World War I, when the area was taken over by the British and Belgians, and later as League of Nations mandate territories.

German postal agency

A German postal agency was established on 27 February 1885 in Lamu using German stamps for mail.[1] Following the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty in 1890 Germany created the colony of German East Africa. Initially only German stamps were used.[2] The first postage stamps issued for German East Africa came in 1893, as surcharges in pesa values on regular German stamps, along with the inscription "Deutsch-Ostafrika." In 1900, Germany issued the "Yachts," a common design used for all of Germany's colonies, featuring the Kaiser's yacht Hohenzollern. In German East Africa they were denominated in pesas and rupees (64 pesas to a rupee), and inscribed "DEUTSCH-OSTAFRIKA". In 1905 new stamps were printed in "hellers," 100 hellers to a rupee. Germany continued to print stamps even as things went badly in the war, issuing a 1-rupee watermarked Yacht in 1916 (genuine uses of this stamp are extremely rare, worth US$20,000 or more).


After the colony was occupied by Belgian and British troops, each issued its own provisional stamps. In 1916, the Belgians overprinted stamps of Belgian Congo in several ways, first with "RUANDA" and "URUNDI," although these were never actually used. A second series was overprinted with the dual-language "EST AFRICAIN ALLEMAND / OCCUPATION BELGE / DUITSCH OOST AFRIKA / BELGISCHE BEZETTING." In 1922 these stamps received surcharges ranging from 5c to 50c.


In 1916, at the request of Brigadier General Edward Northey, to the Governor of Nyasaland, Nyasaland stamps were overprinted "N.F.". The overprint was intended to be "N.F.F.", for "Nyasaland Field Force", but the telegraph operator omitted one “F.” when sending the request to the Governor. The stamps could only be used by troops of the Nyasaland Rhodesian Field Force. Although they were primarily intended for use in German East Africa, they were also used from field post offices in Nyasaland and Mozambique. They were not issued to any civilian post office nor could they be used by any civilians.[3]

The civilian population were able to send mail through the Indian Army postal service field post offices using Indian Expeditionary Forces stamps (Indian stamps overprinted "I.E.F.").[3] When civilian post offices were opened in 1917, stamps of East Africa and Uganda were issued overprinted with "G.E.A.". The same overprint appeared on stamps inscribed "East Africa and Uganda Protectorates," but these were issued after the establishment of Tanganyika, and are considered part of Tanganyika's postal history.

See also


  1. ^ Michel Deutschland-Spezial-Katalog 1996, p. 388
  2. ^ Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue
  3. ^ a b Gibbons Stamp Monthly, August 1991, p.30
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