Railways : Train Stamps from the The Horn of Africa . . .
. . . . . . Djibouti Ethiopia Eritrea & Somalia (also, Sudan)

Our article centres on the railway-related stamps of African countries in and around the Horn of Africa. Both under colonial rule and since independence, commerce in the region has depended on good transport links from inland centres to key ports on the Red Sea and, at its southern end, the Gulf of Aden. Although most of Somalia's coastal seaboard looks out on the Indian Ocean, with a substantial harbour in Mogadishu, its principal commercial port is Berbera on the Gulf of Aden. Eritrea and Sudan have their own Red Sea ports but Ethiopia is landlocked and almost entirely dependent on Djibouti for its imports and exports.

Map Horn of Africa
The map above was sourced from d-maps.com and has been edited to show principal locations mentioned in this article. The original map, which shows a significantly larger area including all of Somalia, may be viewed here (opens in a new tab). Flag images in this article are free downloads from flagpedia.net

The town of Djibouti is shown in RED to distinguish it from the country. Obock is also shown in Red. Somalia today encompasses both the former British Somaliland, whose location we have indicated on the map, as well as the territory that makes up the bulk of the country, the former colony of Italian Somaliland, shown 'S.I.' for 'Somalia Italiana' on the map.

Nomenclature : We have adopted the more widespread spelling of 'Addis-Ababa' for the Ethiopian capital in this article. However, the alternative, Addis-Abeba, is also found and is probably a better romanized representation from the Amharic.

This article will start in Djibouti, with its extensive range of railway-related stamps, then follow the railway west from there into Ethiopia. We then turn our attention northwards to Eritrea with its fascinating railway before looking at Somalia, a country which has been without a railway for well over half a century, unless one counts the rail-mounted large harbour cranes in Berbera. The article concludes with the very limited offerings from Sudan.


Flag from flagpedia.net Issues for : D J I B O U T I

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Djibouti, despite its key geographic location and extensively-used port facilities, is extremely poor as a result of its almost total lack of arable land. It is estimated that fewer than 20 sq. kms of its 23,200 sq. kms land-mass are suitable for farming. The significant revenue gained from Ethiopia's industry and commerce passing through Djibouti's port is directly or indirectly responsible for a large part of the country's economic activity. However, even in Africa's smallest country, this income is insufficent to compensate for its immense natural disadvantages.

France, for strategic reasons, principally related to their stewardship of the Suez Canal which Ferdinand de Lesseps had completed in 1869, purchased some land from the local Afar and Somali sultans in Obock, primarily in order to have an independent coaling station for their ships. Please see Wikipedia for historic information on this region; as in much of the world, the history is complex, as is also true here of the nomenclature, with this small territory issuing stamps under a remarkable FIVE different names, four of them under French rule.

Stamps Briefmarken Obock Djibouti 1892 1894 1902
Left-to-Right : Issues of : Obock 1892; Obock 1894; Djibouti 1894; Djibouti 1902. There are no railway issues in this period.

1892 : OBOCK : Initially used French Colonies stamps overprinted OBOCK, then a few issues inscribed Obock.
1894 : DJIBOUTI : The French administration moved to Djibouti and new designs appeared alongside overprints and surcharges on Obock stamps. The new designs included the mention COTE DES SOMALIS in addition to DJIBOUTI.
1902 : COTE DES SOMALIS / French Somali Coast : The official name from 1893, usually used on stamps without reference to Djibouti other than on certain issues between 1938 and 1945.
1967 : TERRITOIRE FRANCAIS DES AFARS ET DES ISSAS / French Territory of the Afars and Issas : Renamed by the French for political advantage. The Afars and Issas were the two principal ethnic groups in the country.
1977 : REPUBLIQUE DE DJIBOUTI / Djibouti Republic : Independence : The current name of the country.

An Ethiopian project, a new, electrified, standard gauge line from Addis Ababa to Djibouti opened between 2016 and 2018. It was funded by Chinese capital under that country's so-called 'Belt & Road Initiative', part of China's economic investment and appetite for greater political influence around the world. The new line superseded the old metre-gauge line which had been deteriorating from the Second World War onwards and had already been unusable over large sections of the route for many years when it was officially closed in 2016.

The new line roughly parallels the course of the metre-gauge line, but modern engineering infrastructure combined with advanced electric traction that can handle much steeper gradients than the old metre-gauge line, allows the railway to plough a more direct course through the terrain. On the 93 kms of the new railway inside Djibouti's borders, there are three passenger stations, all served solely by international trains to and from Ethiopia. A fourth Djibouti station, the Port of Djibouti, is freight only and this final section of line into the port is non-electrified as the railway's catenary equipment would have impeded port operations.

Recent stamp issues have, naturally, shown the new line but the vast majority of stamps that we show below are from the metre-gauge era.

Issues of : COTE FRANCAISE DES SOMALIS (French Somali Coast) :

French Somali Coast Issue : 1915 :
Stamps Briefmarken timbres-poste Cote des Somalis 1915 Pont de Holl-Holli Railway Bridge
The three stamps above all exist on both ordinary paper and coated paper (similar prices). The difference is not usually as obvious as on the two 5Fr examples shown above.

1915 : 1 F : Bridge at Holl-Holli and Steam Train (ordinary paper) [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - On Coated Paper [ . ] [ . ]

1915 : 2 F : Bridge at Holl-Holli (ordinary paper) [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - On Coated Paper [ . ] [ . ]

1915 : 5 F : Bridge at Holl-Holli (ordinary paper) [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - On Coated Paper [ . ] [ . ]

Cote des Somalis Pont de Holl-Holli / Pont ferroviaire de Chébelé Djibouti Railway Bridge
This appears to be the same bridge although inscribed on this postcard, which travelled internally within France in 1901, as the Pont de Chébelé. Note in the enlargement below the highly colonial feel to the image. We have adopted the SG description for this bridge.

French Somali Coast Pont de Holl-Holli / Pont ferroviaire de Chébelé Djibouti Railway Bridge
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1924-1927 : Surcharges on 1915 Issue :
Stamps Briefmarken timbres-poste Cote des Somalis 1915 Pont de Holl-Holli Railway Bridge Surcharges 1924-1927 Stamps Briefmarken timbres-poste Cote des Somalis 1915 Pont de Holl-Holli Railway Bridge Surcharges 1924-1927
Constant Variety on 3Fr only : Missing Stop after F of surcharge, Bottom Row, Stamp 2

1924 : 25c / 5 F Bridge at Holl-Holli (ordinary paper) [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - on Coated Paper [ . ] [ . ]

1926 : 1f25 / 1 F Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ]

1927 : 1f50 / 1 F Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ]

1927 : 3F. / 5 F Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ]
- ditto - STOP omitted [ . ] [ . ]

1927 : 10 F. / 5 F Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ]

1927 : 20 F. / 5 F Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ]

1928-1933 : New Values :
Stamps Briefmarken timbres-poste Cote des Somalis Pont de Holl-Holli Railway Bridge New Values 1928-1933 Stamps Briefmarken timbres-poste Cote des Somalis Pont de Holl-Holli Railway Bridge New Values, New Colours 1928-1933

1928 : 1F10 Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]
1933 : 1F25 Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]
1930 : 1F50 Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]
1933 : 1F75 Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]
1930 : 3F Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]

June 1942 : The colony was little touched at first by the Second World War and remained loyal to the Vichy Government. Under this administration, two triangular stamps were printed for the colony by the Vichy government. We do not believe they were ever officially used and it is unlikely that any were even delivered.

timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg Full sheets below, displayed sideways.
timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg

c. June 1942 1f50 Red : Steam Train in harbour [ . ]
c. June 1942 1f50 Blue : Steam Train in harbour [ . ]

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However, there was growing disquiet in the colony at its Axis-supporting position. With the incumbent French colonial army officers and men increasingly supportive of the Allied cause, Free French Forces easily took possession of the colony in late 1942, the last French colony in Africa to switch sides. All the wartime issues below were issued after the occupation/liberation by de Gaulle's Free French troops.

1942 : Overprinted ' FRANCE LIBRE ' :
Stamps Briefmarken timbres-poste Cote des Somalis Pont de Holl-Holli Railway Bridge 1942 FRANCE LIBRE

1F50 : FRANCE LIBRE : Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]

1F75 : FRANCE LIBRE : Bridge at Holl-Holli [ . ] [ . ]

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timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
Issued in London and delivered to the colony in 1943. (Note : 4Fr out of position in scan)

5c Blue Locomotive [ . ]
10c Rose Locomotive [ . ]
- ditto - Value printed Double (see small scan) [ . ]
25c Green Locomotive [ . ]
30c Black Locomotive [ . ]
40c Pale Violet Locomotive [ . ]
80c Lake-Brown Locomotive [ . ]
1 Fr Sky-Blue Locomotive [ . ]
2 Fr Bistre Locomotive [ . ]
2f50 Pale Ultramarine Locomotive [ . ]
4 Fr Orange Locomotive [ . ]
5 Fr Purple Locomotive [ . ]
10 Fr Light Blue Locomotive [ . ]
20 Fr Blue-Green Locomotive [ . ]
- ditto - Value (20f) omitted [ . ]

Value Omitted : Many other stamps from this set have recently come to light with value omitted, both perf and imperf, but only the 20fr (perf) has previously been recognized by most catalogues; we therefore limit our listing in keeping with this long-held practice.
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timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
Above: 1945: Set/8 Surcharges on 1943 issue. Below, varieties :

timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
The above variety could be from any of four surcharged stamps, but is reported probably only to exist as a variety of the 5c/50c and 5c/70c. We list it under the 5c/50c.
timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg
timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg

timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg

timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg

50c / 5c Blue [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted (no scan) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Pair, one without surcharge [ . ]
- ditto - Obliterating bars present, but new value omitted ** [ . ]
** See note below scan of this variety.

60c / 5c Blue [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double (no scan) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, One Inverted (reported, but not seen; no scan) [ . ]
- ditto - Pair, one without surcharge [ . ]

70c / 5c Blue [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, One Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Pair, one without surcharge [ . ]

1f20 / 5c Blue [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted (reported, but not seen; no scan) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, One Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Pair, one without surcharge [ . ]

2f40 / 25c Green [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted (no scan) [ . ]
- ditto - Pair, one without surcharge [ . ]

3 Fr / 25c Green [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Double, One Inverted (no scan) [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Pair, one without surcharge [ . ]

4f50 / 25c Green [ . ]
- ditto - Surcharge Inverted [ . ]

15 Fr / 2f50 Blue [ . ]
- ditto - Figures of Value (only) of surcharge Double [ . ]
- ditto - Bars obliterating old value omitted (shown in pair with normal in scan) [ . ]

In addition to the issued stamps, there were a number of unissued surcharges and/or colour trials, including those shown next.

timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg timbres-poste guerre Côte des Somalis war stamps French Somali Coast Vichy France Libre briefmarken Weltkrieg

UNISSUED VALUES (1945) :
60c / 80c Lake-Brown - UNISSUED [ . ]

2f40 / 30c Black (reported but not seen; no scan) [ . ]

3 Fr / 30c Black - UNISSUED [ . ]

3 Fr / 80c Lake-Brown - UNISSUED [ . ]

The information about items without scans noted as 'reported but not seen', comes from notes found in the Lawrence Kenneth collection of railroad topicals.

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From this point, almost all stamps also exist Imperforate and in proof forms known as Epreuves de Luxe, which can be plain or pictorial. We do not list separately either the Imperfs or the plain Epreuves de Luxe with their white borders (always imperforate), but we have added two extra check boxes for them, inscribed [Imp] and [Epr]. We provide a footnote for any stamp which we have not seen as a plain Epreuve de Luxe.

By contrast, we illustrate and list separately, the Epreuves de Luxe with pictorial margins, all of which were issued under the Djibouti Republic. For these last, we only provide a single check-box although they can occasionally be found 'used'.

French Somali Coast (cont'd) : 1956 :
timbres-poste Côte des Somalis French Somali Coast 1956 500Fr Djibouti stamp timbres-poste Côte des Somalis French Somali Coast 1956 500Fr Djibouti stamp

1956 (Feb) : 500Fr : Map of Djibouti with Railway Tracks [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1956 (June) : 15 Fr : Trucks of the Ethiopian Railways in Djibouti Port [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

The trucks are each lettered C F E, the initials of the Chemins de Fer Ethiopiens.
'F.I.D.E.S.' stands for Fonds d'Investissements pour le Développement Economique et Social, a French colonial investment fund mainly in Africa for the social and economic development of the colonies.

A plebiscite held by the French in the country in 1967 is widely held to have been rigged in favour of votes by the Afar community, who tended to be pro-French, over other Somali groups. France's response was to change the colony's name, an attempt to promote the concept of the Afars being the principal 'clan', something not borne out by the known facts. It gave the French another decade in power in an ever-weakening position.

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Issues of : TERRITOIRE FRANCAIS DES AFARS ET DES ISSAS (French Territory of the Afars & Issas) :

1973 : President Pompidou's visit to Ethiopia for discussions over the future of the Territory of the Afars & Issas :
timbres-poste Stamps Afars & Issas 1973 30f Railcar

1973 : 30f Diesel Railcar [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1975 : Clément Ader Commemoration :
timbres-poste Stamps Afars & Issas 1975 Cl#233;ment  Ader

Clément Ader joined the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi in 1862 as a foreman and worked on innovative railway developments, some of which were patented, although none were very successful. Having earned a fortune from other patents, he became an early heavier-than-air aviation pioneer. If, in 1902, the French state had continued its funding of his development of a petrol-engined aircraft, it is possible that he may have beaten the Wright Brothers in achieving powered flight. Ader's railway legacy is quite minor but he does feature in some railway collections.

1975 : 50f Clemént Ader & Aeroplane Design [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1977 : Allesandro Volta and Electric Train :
timbres-poste Stamps Afars & Issas 1977 Alessandro Volta TGV electric train

1977 : 75f Volta & TGV [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
- ditto - In Collective Proof with Thomas Edison & Phonograph stamp [ . ]

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1977 : A massive vote in favour of independence (99.8%), at a referendum held just ten years after that which had led to the renaming of the colony as the 'Territory of the Afars and Issas', tends to support the view that the 1967 vote was rigged.
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Issues of : REPUBLIQUE DE DJIBOUTI :
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1977 : Independence Issue :
timbres-poste Djibouti Independence Issue 1977 Maps & Raulway Line
Both maps show the railway line from Djibouti and the start of its route across Ethiopia. Much of the 65fr map is now obsolete. Yemen is no longer divided into North and South Yemen and Eritrea now occupies the area to the north of Djibouti shown as Ethiopia, as will be discussed later in this article.

1977 : 45f Map & Railway Line (vert.) [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1977 : 65f Map & Railway Line (horiz.) [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

A general note on illustrations:
We display stamps and all types of sheetlets in sizes to suit the page, not in proportion to each other. This section, for example, has many Epreuves, plain and pictorial. However, the stamp size is a constant and this may be used to estimate the sheetlets' true dimensions.

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1979 : The Djibouti - Addis Ababa Railway :
timbres-poste Djibouti Independence Issue 1979 Djibouti to Addis Ababa Railway stamps timbres-poste Djibouti Independence Issue 1979 Djibouti to Addis Ababa Railway stamps

1979 : 40f Alsthom BB 1201 Diesel [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1979 : 55f 4-6-2 (231) Steam Locomotive & Bridge [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1979 : 60f 2-6-0 (130) Steam Locomotive, Bridge & Railway Map [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1979 : 75f Alsthom CC 2001 Diesel [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

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1979 : Rowland Hill Centenary :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1979 Rowland Hill Centenary stamps timbres-poste Djibouti 1979 Rowland Hill Centenary stamps

1979 : 100f Rowland Hill and 45f map with railway line [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1979 : 100f deluxe sheet with 45f map stamp & steam train in border, Perf (Mi. Block 4A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 4B) [ . ]

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1979 : 75th Anniversary of Powered Flight :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1979 75th Anniversary Manned Flight stamp, showing railway carriages

1979 : 140f deluxe sheet with train carriages in the margin, Perf (Mi. Block 6A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 6B) [ . ]

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1980 Philexafrique (issued in sheet/10, 2 x 5) :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1980 Philexafrique stamps; diesel train and postal runner timbres-poste Djibouti 1980 Philexafrique stamps; steam train and postal runner

1980 : 80f Diesel Train & Postal Runner [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
- ditto - Interpanneau Pair [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ]

1980 : 80f Diesel Train & Postal Runner sheetlet/10 (2 x 5) Perf [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf [ . ]

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1980 : Lions International & Steam Train :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1980 Lions International, Briefmarken Dampflok, Steam Train timbres-poste Djibouti 1980 Lions International steam train stamp
timbres-poste Djibouti 1980 Lions International steam train stamp
Shown (top) above is a much-reduced example of the type of 'plain' Epreuves de Luxe which exist for most of these issues, and which are represented by the mention [Epr] in the catalogue-style listings.

1980 : 100f Steam Train / Lions Club International [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1980 : 100f deluxe sheet with Lions International symbols in border, Perf (Mi. Block 14A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 14B) [ . ]

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1981 : Philexafrique :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1981 Philexfafrique Transport Concorde Diesel Train timbres-poste Djibouti 1981 Philexfafrique Transport Concorde Diesel Train
We have only ever seen the normal sheet stamp as a single and do not know the sheet format. We have not seen a 'loose' imperforate stamp but one could be extracted from a deluxe sheet and we therefore list it. Additionally, we have not seen any plain Epreuves de Luxe for this stamp but they may exist.

1981 : 100f Diesel Train, Concorde, Transport [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ]

1981 : 100f deluxe sheet Diesel Train, Concorde, Transport , Perf (Mi. Block 32A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 32B) [ . ]

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1981 : Bicentenary of George Stephenson's birth :
Briefmarken George Stephenson 1981 trains Eisenbahn Djibouti 1981 Epreuve de Luxe Luxusblatt Briefmarken George Stephenson 1981 trains Eisenbahn Djibouti 1981 Epreuve de Luxe Luxusblatt Briefmarken George Stephenson 1981 trains Eisenbahn Djibouti 1981 Epreuve de Luxe Luxusblatt

Briefmarken George Stephenson 1981 trains Eisenbahn Djibouti 1981

Normal Sheet Stamps :
1981 : 40f German Steam Train & USA Diesel Train [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1981 : 55f George Stephenson, 'The Rocket' & Djibouti locomotive [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1981 : 65f Shinkansen & TGV [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

The de luxe sheets:
1981 : 40f as above in deluxe sheet, Perf (Mi. Block 36A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 36B) [ . ]

1981 : 55f as above in deluxe sheet, Perf (Mi. Block 37A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 37B) [ . ]

1981 : 65f as above in deluxe sheet, Perf (Mi. Block 38A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 38B) [ . ]

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1982 : Transport Issue (one of a set of three values) :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1982 Transport : Aircraft Diesel Train timbres-poste Djibouti 1982 Transport : Aircraft Diesel Train
We have seen the plain Epreuve of this issue as well as the deluxe sheetlet. We require confirmation that the stamp exists imperforate from normal sheets, as well as in the deluxe sheets, but it probably does.

1982 : 55f Diesel Train & Aircraft [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1982 : 55f Diesel Train & Aircraft, Perf (Mi. Block 66A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 66B) [ . ]

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1985 : International Youth Year :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 International Youth Year stamps Epreuve de Luxe timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 International Youth Year stamps Briefmarken Luxusblatt

timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 International Youth Year stamps timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 International Youth Year stamps
The third image on the top row of poorly-drawn symbols on each stamp shows an aircraft and a train.

1985 : 10f Train & Aircraft [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1985 : 30f Train & Aircraft [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1985 : 40f Train & Aircraft [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

1985 : Collective Epreuve de Luxe, Perf. (Mi. Block 113A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf [ . ]

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1985 : 150th Anniversary of German Railways :
timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 150th Anniversary of German Railways Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway locomotive timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 150th Anniversary of German Railways Dampflok 'Der Adler'

timbres-poste Djibouti 1985 150th Anniversary of German Railways : 150 Jahre deutsche Eisenbahnen

Normal sheet stamps :
1985 : 55f Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway steam locomotive [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]
1985 : 75f First German locomotive 'Der Adler' [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ] [ Epr ]

Epreuves de Luxe :
1985 : 55f Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway steam locomotive, Perf. (Mi. Block 114A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 114B) [ . ]

1985 : 75f First German locomotive 'Der Adler', Perf. (Mi. Block 115A) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf (Mi. Block 115B) [ . ]

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1991 : Diesel Train on the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway :
timbres-poste Djibouti Diesel Train on the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway Briefmarken Eisenbahnen

1991 : 85f Diesel locomotive [ . ] [ . ] [ Imp ]
Not seen in Epreuve de Luxe.
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1992 : Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway :
timbres-poste Djibouti Steam Train on the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway Eisenbahnmotiv

1992 : 250f Steam Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto -, Imperf [ . ] [ ? ]

The imperforate version of this miniature sheet appears to have been highly restricted and is probably not found used.
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1992 : Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway :
timbres-poste Djibouti Steam Train on the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Diesel Train

1992 : 70f Diesel Train [ . ] [ . ]
We have not seen this stamp imperforate, nor as a proof, but either or both may exist.
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2000 : Locomotives of the World :
timbres-poste Djibouti Locomotives of the World 2000
timbres-poste Djibouti Locomotives of the World 2000
timbres-poste Djibouti Locomotives of the World 2000

2000 : 5f : China : Class QJ steam locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 25f : France / UK : Eurostar (EMU) [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 15f : Switzerland : Glacier Express electric locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 40f : Djibouti(?) : A diesel train (artist's creation?) [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 35f : India : Class WP steam locomotive [ . ] [ . ]

Note : The strip/5 above is listed in design order, rather than in the conventional face-value order.

2000 : 110f : France : CF du Nord Pacific locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 110f : Germany : Baureihe 23 steam locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 110f : USA : Class GS4 4-8-4 steam locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 110f : UK : LNER Class A4 Locomotive Mallard
** [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 110f : South Africa : Pacific steam locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 110f : India : Class HP steam lcoomotive [ . ] [ . ]

** Identifiable as Mallard by the commemorative plaque.

2000 : 120f : Germany : VT 601 DMU [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 120f : The Netherlands : ICIII Bo-Bo EMU [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 120f : France : TGV ([ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 120f : Italy : ETR 450 [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 120f : Spain : AVE (Alta Velocidad Española) EMU [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 120f : Japan : Shinkansen ('bullet train') EMU [ . ] [ . ]

Miniature Sheets:
2000 : 250f : USA : General Motors Warbonnet diesel locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2000 : 250f : UK : British Railways Class 8 Pacific steam locomotive, 71000 Duke of Gloucester [ . ] [ . ]

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Since around the turn of the century, numerous stamps related to railways and inscribed 'REPUBLIQUE DE DJIBOUTI' have appeared on the market, many of them illegal issues. We only list those stamps that we believe to be authentic issues.

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2017 : Opening of the new Djibouti - Addis Ababa Railway :
timbres-poste Djibouti 2017 new railway from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti timbres-poste Djibouti 2017 new railway from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti
The miniature sheet and, alongside, a detail of the railway map showing the three passenger stations in Djibouti.

Issued only in Sheetlet form :
2017 : 200fd : Tracks & Catenary [ . ] [ . ]
2017 : 200fd : Electric Train [ . ] [ . ]
2017 : 200fd : Viaduct [ . ] [ . ]
2017 : 200fd : Nagad Station ( in Djibouti ) [ . ] [ . ]

2017 : 200fd (x4) Sheetlet [ . ] [ . ]

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2017 (Dec. 11th) : Minerals Issue :
timbres-poste Djibouti 2017 new railway from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti

2017 : Mine Truck (in border of miniature sheet) [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Imperf [ . ] [ ? ]

The accompanying set of four stamps, issued in a sheetlet, are in different designs with no railway interest.
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Postcard Alimentation d'eau, Ethiopian Railways steam locomotive taking on water in Djibouti c.

That concludes our listing of Djibouti and we move on now to Ethiopia, able again, since 2017, to make the journey by rail, even if no longer behind a Swiss-built Winterthur 2-8-0 of the Chemins de Fer Ethiopiens. This class of locomotive was named, No.7 carrying the brass plaque Elephant inscribed in Aramaic and French. We believe the image above is of the second (but similar) locomotive to carry this nameplate. The image is hard to date accurately but is perhaps the late 1920s or early 1930s. The card was sent from Djibouti (French Somali Coast) to France in 1936.


Flag from flagpedia.net Issues for : E T H I O P I A

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In Africa, Ethiopia (also previously known as Abyssinia) shares with Liberia the distinction of never having been a European colony, other than a 6-year occupation of Ethiopia by Mussolini's Italian forces from 1935 to 1941. Ethiopia, as currently constituted, could be said to date from 1855 and, with the accession of Emperor Menelik II in 1889, it starts to take on the optics of a modern state.

This modernization continued under Haile Selassie, who had been in exile in Britain during the Italian occupation. He was installed by the Allies after the Italians were thrown out and, when Italy renounced all of its African colonies by a treaty in 1947, he jumped at the international community's offer to unite Ethiopia with Eritrea, ostensibly in a federation. Almost immediately, Ethiopian interests came first in the new federation and Haile Selassie made a disastrous miscalculation in 1961, when he renounced the Federation and declared Eritrea a province of Ethiopia. It led to the 30-year Eritrean War of Independence, which concluded with a referendum in which Eritrea voted for independence, finally achieved in 1993. One consequence of this new political geography was that Ethiopia once more became a land-locked country.

Ethiopia's first stamps appeared in 1894 and its principal currency since then has been, variously, the Thaler, Franc, Lira, Ethiopian Dollar and the Birr. Initially, their stamps were inscribed only in Amharic letters and numerals but, since their entry into the UPU in 1908, stamps have been inscribed in both Amharic and Latin alphabets as well as in Amharic and 'western' Arabic numerals.

1931 - 1936 : New Definitive Issue :
Train Stamps of Ethiopia / Abyssinia Bridge over River Awash Train Stamps of Ethiopia / Abyssinia Bridge over River Awash
Above (left to right) : Issued stamp (Perf 12½); a Proof (Perf 11); Imperforate (status unclear)

ORIGINAL ISSUE :
1931 (June 27) : From a set/10 definitive stamps : Perf 12½
1931 : ¼g : Railway Bridge over the River Awash & steam train (thickish paper, brown gum)[ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Reprint on thinner paper and with white gum [ . ]

PROOFS :
Proof in Perf 11 : ¼g : Railway Bridge over the River Awash & steam train [ . ]
- ditto - Proof in Perf 10 [ . ]
- ditto - Proof in Perf 10 x 11 [ . ]

SG states that stamps Perf 10, Perf 10 x 11, Perf 11 (and compounds of these two perforations) are from presentation sheets which were not issued to the public.

IMPERFORATE :
We have also seen imperforate examples of this stamp for sale but have not able to examine them to establish whether they are originals or reprints. We have no literature to guide us on their status.

1931 : ¼g : Railway Bridge over the River Awash & steam train IMPERF [ . ]
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1935 : 1931 issue with BOXED 'Radio Station' HANDSTAMP :
Train Stamps of Ethiopia / 1935 Addis-Ababa Radio Station handstamp Train Stamps of Ethiopia / 1935 Addis-Ababa Radio Station handstamp Train Stamps of Ethiopia / 1935 Addis-Ababa Radio Station handstamp
A view of the Radio Station near Addis-Ababa in the 1930s and two examples from a set of 10 stamps that received a special handstamp to commemorate its opening. The 3t value is shown as it best displays the handstamp, which comprises the letters TSF flanked by radio towers with Amharic script around the border. The ¼g (bridge) is the only railway stamp in this set.

There has always been some question over whether these stamps should be described as 'overprinted by handstamp' or 'cancelled with a special canceller'. In philately, this is not just a matter of semantics. If they are overprinted, they are new stamps.

A similar circumstance arises, for example, with the Belgian Congo stamps with boxed 'TAXE' or 'TAXES' handstamps, which converted postage stamps to Postage Dues. These are listed in catalogues, both mint and used. On most occasions in the Congo, the handstamp was applied in advance on mint stamps by a postal clerk, making it an overprint. In some cases, though, it was applied only when the stamp was on the cover, technically then a cancellation.

As we have no evidence that all the Radio Station stamps were handstamped only after they had been affixed, and since some stamps, including those we illustrate in this article, are found with postal cancellations as well, unless clear evidence to the contrary can be found, it seems apt to describe these Ethiopian stamps as 'overprinted by handstamp'.

The handstamp is designed for vertical format stamps, the letters TSF vertically down the centre and they are footnoted in Michel, who state that the numbers handstamped were small. Some reports suggest that the quantities printed of the set match the number of official dignitaries at the opening ceremony and that the stamps may all have been affixed into presentation booklets or special covers. If so, this would limit copies to being either 'mint no gum' or used.

For the record, we show all 10 values of the set below. TSF stands for the French 'Télégraphie sans Fil', meaning wireless telegraphy. The Amharic script is in praise of Haile Selassie.
Train Stamps of Ethiopia / 1935 Addis-Ababa Radio Station handstamp
Train Stamps of Ethiopia / 1935 Addis-Ababa Radio Station handstamp
The handstamps are on the full set of 1931 definitives with face values : ⅛g ; ¼g (rly) ; ½g; 1g; 2g; 4g; 8g; 1t; 2t; 3t.

Overprinted by Handstamp to mark the Opening of the Addis-Ababa Radio Station at Akaki, Jan. 31st 1935.
1935 : ¼g : Railway Bridge over the River Awash with boxed TSF etc. : 'T' of TSF at right [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - handstamp with 'T' of TSF at left [ . ] [ . ]

- ditto - Set in a Presentation Booklet [ . ]

We have seen these stamps listed online with catalogue numbers 306A-315A under the heading Doig's Ethiopia Stamp Catalogue. The railway bridge would thus be numbered 307A. The same online listing lists the stamp with handstamp inverted, which would be #307Aa. We have listed both above descriptively, as we do not know which orientation is 'normal' and which 'inverted'. The webpage with this listing can be accessed here (opens in a new tab).
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NEW CURRENCY SURCHARGE :
Train Stamps of Ethiopia / Abyssinia Bridge over River Awash

A currency change in 1936 led to remaining stocks of this stamp being surcharged:

1936 (March 1) : From a set/5 surcharges :
1931 : 2c / ¼g : Railway Bridge over the River Awash & steam train ( Perf 12½ ) [ . ] [ . ]

The bridge was blown up by retreating Italian forces during the Second World War as can be accessed here (opens in a new tab). The bridge was later rebuilt. One of the world's worst-ever railway disasters occurred on a bridge in Awash in 1985, quite possibly on the rebuilt bridge, but we have found this difficult to confirm.
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Celebration of Federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea (from a set of 9 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Map of Federation of Ethiopia and Eritrea

Above: A federation-period stamp, which is worthy of study. Under the federation, Eritrea was supposed to be an autonomous region but Ethiopia quickly sought to marginalise the region, suppress Muslim culture and dilute Eritrean culture and ambition, essentially just absorbing Eritrea. The map, on a stamp just three years into this ill-fated federation, shows the former (and current) Eritrean capital, Asmara, and the Eritrean port of Massawa as a part of Ethiopia with no mention of Eritrea. The stamp is symbolic of Ethiopia's ambition. It proved also to be a policy borne of very poor judgement. Within a few years, a brutal civil war erupted leading, decades later, to an independent Eritrea with Ethiopia once again finding itself land-locked.

1952 : 65c Map showing the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway [ . ] [ . ]
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First Anniversary of Federation of Ethiopia & Eritrea (from a set of 6 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Federation-period Stamp of Ethiopia showing railway tracks in the Port of Massawa (Eritrea)
Train Stamps : Federation-period Stamp of Ethiopia showing railway tracks in the Port of Massawa (Eritrea) Train Stamps : Federation-period Stamp of Ethiopia showing railway tracks in the Port of Massawa (Eritrea)
The Federation inspired the text 'Ethiopia returns to her sea', another inscription likely, one imagines, to jar with many Eritreans. The subject matter and inscriptions on postage stamps often reflect a government's state-of-mind and ambitions more clearly than the diplomatically-nuanced statements they make.
The railway tracks in the port are clearly shown in the detail image. The larger building adjacent to the locomotive in the much earlier, Italian-era postcard view is different to that on the stamps but, over the decades, it may well have been replaced and this could be the same location.

1953 : 10c Port of Massawa (Eritrea) & Railway Tracks [ . ] [ . ]
1953 : 25c Port of Massawa (Eritrea) & Railway Tracks [ . ] [ . ]
1953 : 50c Port of Massawa (Eritrea) & Railway Tracks [ . ] [ . ]

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Silver Jubilee of Emperor Haile Selassie (from a set of 6 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Silver Jubilee of Emperor Haile Selassie

1955 : 50c Haile Selassie & Symbols of Progress including a DMU on a bridge [ . ] [ . ]
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1965 Definitves (from a set of 15 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1965 Definitves Diesel train & Addis Ababa Station

1965 : 30c Diesel Train on a bridge [ . ] [ . ]
1965 : 35c Addis-Ababa Station [ . ] [ . ]

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1967 : 50th Anniversary of the completion of the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway (set/3 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 50th Anniversary of the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway

1967 : 15c Diesel Train & Railway Map [ . ] [ . ]
1967 : 30c Diesel Train & Railway Map [ . ] [ . ]
1967 : 50c Diesel Train & Railway Map [ . ] [ . ]

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1972 : 1st United Nations Security Council Meeting in Africa (from a set of 4 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1st United Nations Security Council Meeting in Africa 1972
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1st United Nations Security Council Meeting in Africa 1972 Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1st United Nations Security Council Meeting in Africa 1972 Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1st United Nations Security Council Meeting in Africa 1972 Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1st United Nations Security Council Meeting in Africa 1972

Four-Line Overprint on the 1965 Definitives :
1972 : 30c Diesel Train on a bridge [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - 'FI' of 'FIRST' in overprint partly missing [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Additional Stop under 'U.N.' in overprint [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - First two Amharic characters in top line of overprint omitted (Row 1,1) [ . ] [ . ]

1972 : 35c Addis-Ababa Station [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - 'FI' of 'FIRST' in overprint partly missing [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Additional Stop under 'U.N.' in overprint [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Last line of overprint partially double [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - First two Amharic characters in top line of overprint omitted (Row 1,1) [ . ] [ . ]

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1979 : National Revolutionary Development Issue (from a set of 5 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : 1979 National Revolutionary Development Campaign

1979 : 25c Transport & Telecommunications, Train. [ . ] [ . ]
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1983 : World Communications Year (from a set of 3 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : World Communications Year Railway Tunnel

1983 : 1 Birr Railway Tunnel [ . ] [ . ]
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1988 : Ethiopia's Victory through Work, Struggle and Productivity (from a set of 6 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia : Ethiopia's Victory through Work, Struggle and Productivity Train Stamps : Ethiopia : Ethiopia's Victory through Work, Struggle and Productivity

1988 : 55c Small Train (probably) [ . ] [ . ]
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1994 : Centenary of the Ethiopian Postal Service (from a set of 5 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Ethiopia 1994 : Ethiopia'Centenary of the Ethiopian Postal Service
Train Stamps : Ethiopia 1994 : Ethiopia'Centenary of the Ethiopian Postal Service
These stamps were issued in normal sheets and within a miniature sheet.

1994 : 80c Stylized Steam Train [ . ] [ . ]

1994 : 1 Birr Stylized Steam Train [ . ] [ . ]

1994 : Miniature Sheet containing both the above [ . ] [ . ]

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1998 : Centenary of the start of the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway (set/ 4 stamps) :
Railway Stamps : Ethiopia : Centenary of the start of the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway Railway Stamps : Ethiopia : Centenary of the start of the Djibouti to Addis-Ababa Railway

The old railway took 20 years to complete (1897-1917); this set, not issued until November 1998, commemorates the start of the project.

1998 : 45c Workers carrying a length of rail [ . ] [ . ]
1998 : 55c Steam locomotive (No.404) [ . ] [ . ]
1998 : 1B Addis-Ababa (old) Station [ . ] [ . ]
1998 : 2B Diesel-hauled freight train [ . ] [ . ]

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2018 : The new Ethiopia to Djibouti Railway :
timbres-poste Ethiopie 2018 new railway from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti timbres-poste Ethiopia 2018 new railway from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti
timbres-poste Ethiopia Abyssinia 2018 new Chinese-built railway from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti

Issued both in normal sheets and as a sheetlet/4 :
2018 : 50c : Electric Train [ . ] [ . ]
2018 : 1B : The (new) Addis-Ababa Station [ . ] [ . ]
2018 : 2B : Tracks (and distant trains) [ . ] [ . ]
2018 : 3B : Construction : Track-laying [ . ] [ . ]

2018 : Sheetlet/4 [ . ] [ . ]

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Flag from flagpedia.net Issues for : E R I T R E A

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But for the building of the Suez Canal, serious European interest in this region may never have arisen. Without the canal, it is of little strategic value and poor in natural resources as well as having only limited arable land. The strategic importance of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden once the canal opened, however, encouraged Italy to make its first foray into Africa and they created the new country (colony) of Eritrea in 1889. This they held until defeated by British forces in 1941, who held it in turn until 1952 at which point the United Nations arranged the federation with Ethiopia mentioned higher up. Laws were soon enacted, or policies applied, which disadvantaged Eritreans in several ways. As mentioned higher up, for Ethiopia the Federation was to be embraced as a land acquisition, given a publicly-acceptable face by the U.N., rather than an equitable sharing of sovereignty and a civil war would ensue as a result.

Stamps were first introduced to the colony of Eritrea in 1893, with all but a few issues up to 1930 being overprints on the stamps of Italy. From 1931 until 1936, many bespoke Eritrea stamps were issued but new issues ceased when the colony was conjoined with Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland to create Italian East Africa. Existing issues continued in use for a couple of years until the first stamps inscribed Italian East Africa appeared in 1938. This new amalgamated territory itself lasted only until late 1941 and from 1942 to 1952 stamps of the British Occupation of Italian Colonies were in use. However, neither the stamps of Italian East Africa nor those of the British Occupation have any railway interest.

After a struggle lasting nearly 30 years, Eritrean forces defeated those of Ethiopia, overthrowing that government in 1991 and stamps of the new independent country of Eritrea have been used since that time. However, from May 1998 to June 2000 a new war was fought between Eritrea and Ethiopia, to be followed by an uneasy truce with a final peace agreement only being reached in 2018.

1927 : Alessandro Volta : Stamps of Italy overprinted :
Train Stamps : Eritrea 1927 : Alessandro Volta Train Stamps : Eritrea 1927 : Alessandro Volta 50c overprint double Train Stamps : Eritrea 1927 : Alessandro Volta : 50c overprinted Cyrenaica inverted & Eritrea upright

Not all railway collectors include non-railway Alessandro Volta issues but we include them for those who do.

1927 : 20c Alessandro Volta [ . ] [ . ]

1927 : 50c Alessandro Volta [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double [ . ] [ ? ]
- ditto - Overprinted in addition Cirenaica (inverted)
** [ . ] [ ? ]

1927 : 1L25 Alessandro Volta [ . ] [ . ]

** Stamps of this design were also issued for Cyrenaica, part of the Italian colonial empire in what is, today, Libya.

20c Volta (in colonial colour) without overprint :
Train Stamps : Italy 1927 : Alessandro Volta : 20c Train Stamps : Italy 1927 : Alessandro Volta : 20c without colonial overprint
Left : Italy 20c . . . . Right : Unoverprinted 20c prepared for colonial overprints.

The 1927 Volta set for Italy consisted of 4 values, the additional value being a 60c denomination, not issued for any of the colonies. The 20c, 50c and 1L25 in the same design all in new colours were produced for Eritrea and Somalia (as well as for Cyrenaica and Tripolitania which are outside the scope of this article). A small number of the 20c in the colonial colours were released onto the market but without any overprint.

The intensity of the violet can vary between the four colonies but we do not think this permits any firm conclusion as to which colonial overprint was intended for these unfinished stamps. Sassone lists this stamp as #210A under 'Italy', since it cannot be assigned to a particular colony but it is in most respects a colonial issue. We list it in this article just once (below) whilst recognizing that it does not specifically belong under Eritrea.

Italian colonial printing : 20c Volta in Violet : Overprint Omitted [ . ] (Mint)


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1930 : New definitives : Scenes of Eritrea and Eritrean life.

The 1 Lira and 2 Lire stamps in the 1930 set of ten values are of railway interest. The 2 Lire, along with the 25c Rifleman, may have been late additions to the set, a hypothesis based on material we have seen, which suggests that their proof stages may have been less well-advanced than the rest of the issued values.

To our current knowledge, the following proofs on thick card exist for this set, three of the designs being unissued:

COMPLETED Proofs of Issued Values : Probably all values (10), but we have only seen, online, an apparent 2 Lire finished proof and have had no sighting of a 25c finished proof.

COMPLETED Proofs of Unissued Values (face-only portraits) : 40c, 50c, 75c (3)

INCOMPLETE (mock-up) Proofs of Issued Values : 25c, 2L (railway) (2)

All the finished proofs are imperforate and exist in small quantities, usually affixed to thick, deep-brown card, the cards often initialled. After some completed proofs were circulated, it appears that the three face-only portrait values were rejected and their face values do not form part of the issued set. Perhaps they simply proved to be unnecessary values rather than rejected designs, but it would be quite a coincidence for all the unissued stamps to be in the designs that seem most out-of-character, when compared to the ten issued stamps.

Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Proofs Stamps : Briefmarken Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Proofs
Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 2c Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 5c Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 10c Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 15c Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 1L Massawa Massaua

The first row of scans shows some of the imperforate proofs that were prepared, whilst the second row of scans shows those values amongst the proofs above that were actually issued. The colours of the proofs closely match those of the issued stamps. The three unissued face-portraits are, one can infer, probably in their proposed colours.

Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Proofs Stamps : Briefmarken Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Proofs
Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 5L Asmara Deghe Selam Massaua Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 35c Lancer Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 10L Camels

Above are further other completed proofs with the issued stamps below. Note that there was a second colour trial for the 35c, the deep, rich brown-red being preferred to the golden-bistre.
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We now come to the two values that may have been last-minute additions to the set, this comment based on the presence of mock-up proofs found alongside finished proofs.

Possible late additions to the Set - 1 : The 25c Native Rifleman
Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Proofs 25c Rifleman Mock-Ups Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Issued 25c

One of the two new designs shows a native rifleman of the Italian colonial army. All three proof stamps shown above are mock-ups on thick card with the proposed vignette gummed into the blank field within the frame.

We are showing all three mock-ups that have passed through our hands but any difference between the left and centre stamps is minimal. The right-hand mock-up has centre inverted. Green was later selected as the frame colour for the issued stamp.
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Posssible late additions to the Set - 2 : The 2 Lire Train-on-Bridge
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Mock-Ups 2 Lire Train on Bridge

All three bridge stamps above are also mock-ups , with the centres pasted into a blank frame. In contrast to the 25c Rifleman, the proofs of the central vignette on the 2 Lire values shown above differ markèdly, most obviously in the presence of a tree to the left of the bridge on the first two stamps above, absent from the final proof and the issued stamp.

Whilst it is possible that there was some objection to the presence of the tree, we think it far more likely that the problem was the diminutive size of the main subject matter, the train on the bridge, as well as the poor definition of the camel. The design change involved increasing the size of the central vignette by about 40% and then cropping the image to fit the frame. The amendment applied to the finished stamp certainly provides opportunity for a greater appreciation of the detail in the superb artwork of the engraver, Cossio.

The two mock-up proofs with the tree differ a little in their frame colour, chestnut-brown against deep brown, although this is hard to discern on a web page.

As the stamps were printed at the Italian Government's printing works for an arm of the Italian Government, the approval process for the stamps would probably have been primarily, or even entirely, in-house. In such circumstances, very few mock-up proofs of this nature would typically be required. Those shown above for the 25c and 2L values could very well, therefore, be the only examples produced for those two values.

Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Mock-Ups 2 Lire Train on Bridge Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperforate Mock-Ups 2 Lire Train on Bridge
More detailed views of mock-ups with and without tree. The train and the camel are much clearer in the right-hand scan.

Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : 1L Massawa Massaua Port Railway Tracks Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Steam Train on Bridge at Keren, Eritrean Railway

1930 : New 1 Lira Definitive : Centre in Black :
1930 : 1L : Blue : Railway Tracks & Camel train in Port of Massaua (Massawa) [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Deep-to-Violet Blue [ . ] [ . ]

c.1930 : 1L PROOF : Deep-to-Violet Blue IMPERF on thick card [ . ]

Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Steam Train on Bridge at Keren, Eritrean Railway Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Imperf Proof on Card Steam Train on Bridge at Keren, Eritrean Railway
The second scan shows what appears to be a FINISHED proof of the 2 Lire, as seen on the internet.

1930 : New 2 Lire Definitive : Centre in Black :
1930 : 2L : Deep Brown : Steam Train on Bridge at Keren [ . ] [ . ]

c.1930 : 2L PROOF : Deep Brown IMPERF on thick card [ . ]

c.1930 : 2L PROOF : Deep Brown : Mock-Up (paste-up) WITH TREE of Steam Train on Bridge IMPERF on thick card [ . ]

c.1930 : 2L PROOF : Deep Brown : Mock-Up (paste-up) WITHOUT TREE of Steam Train on Bridge IMPERF on thick card [ . ]

Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions Trains - Eritrea Railway Bridge at Keren

Sheet Borders : We know that most values in this set had a similar sheet border format to the above, adjusted to face value, but we have been unable to find a single marginal example of the 2 Lire to state categorically here that it followed the same pattern.

The photographic image above is from the Wikimedia Commons website - image is linked here (opens in a new tab). It identifies the image as a bridge at Keren and it seems highly probable that this is the bridge shown on the 2 Lire stamp. Sadly, trains no longer pass over it but perhaps the occasional camel still strolls under its arches.

The Eritrea Railway was a massively difficult undertaking by the Italian colonial authorities. It operated largely in mountainous country and the network only ever extended to one narrow-gauge line of single track. As we write, we think it remains open but only between Massawa (the Red Sea port) and the capital, Asmara. Until the late 1970s / early 1980s, it remained open northward from Asmara to Keren (Cheren). The line west from Keren to Biscia, we believe, ceased to operate much earlier. It is reported that Mallet steam locomotives and Italian-built pre-war railcars may still be seen in operation in Eritrea on the stretches that remain open.

Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions
Left : Italian railcar on the Asmara - Keren section of the line in the 1930s above the Dorfu Valley (spelling error on postcard).
Right : Steam train : Detail from a postcard, probably again from the 1930s, the card inscribed La Ferrovia Massaua/Asmara.
The engineering challenges of building, and maintaining, a railway in this country are evident.
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1936 : New definitives : (set/10) :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

1936 : 50c Aircraft over the Massawa - Asmara Railway [ . ] [ . ]
1936 : 2L Aircraft over the Massawa - Asmara Railway [ . ] [ . ]

The image also includes one of two values from the set that depict a road bridge, the 1 Lira and the 3 Lire. We know that it is occasionally put forward as a road bridge over a railway. This is unproven and we therefore do not currently list it.
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After this issue, the next stamps with an Eritrean content are those issued during the Federation with Ethiopia which we have already listed these under that country.
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Independent Eritrea (1993->) :

1995 : World Tourism Organization - 20th Anniversary. (one of a set/4 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

1995 : 85c Rural Road and Steam Train [ . ] [ . ]
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1995 : Eritrean Progress (one of a set/4 stamps) :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

1995 : 60c Bridge-Building - Railway ?? [ . ] [ . ]

We have seen this listed as work on a railway bridge. We have no opinion upon the accuracy of this claim.
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1997 : Revival of the Eritrea Railway :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

1997 : 40c Track-Laying [ . ] [ . ]
1997 : 55c Steam Train on Waterfront [ . ] [ . ]
1997 : 60c Diesel Train on Waterfront [ . ] [ . ]
1997 : 95c Railway Tunnel & Tracks [ . ] [ . ]

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1999: Currency Reform : Banknotes-on-Stamps (part of a set/6) & 2000 Millennium Issue :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

1999 : 80c : Train hauled by converted lorry on 10 Nafka banknote [ . ] [ . ]
1999 : 2 Nafka : Harbour Cranes on 50 Nafka banknote
** [ . ] [ . ]
** We have not fully verified that these are rail-mounted cranes, but we believe there are several in the port. The port also has a railway and there is a wonderful short video of 'the first freight train in Eritrea for 38 years' filmed in 2010 - and it's steam-hauled! You may need to watch a 5-second advertisement before this short not-to-be-missed video. Mallet at Massawa (opens in new tab)
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2000: Millennium : Various Subjects (the top value of a set/10 stamps) :
2000 : 10 Nafka : Train hauled by converted lorry on 10 Nafka banknote [ . ] [ . ]
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2003 : National Symbols (top value of a set/3) :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

100n : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
.

2004 : Previous Design, text size reduced, used for a set/9 (imprint date remains 2003) :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions
Train Stamps : Francobolli Eritrea 1930 : Sheet Marginal Inscriptions

5c : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
10c : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
15c : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
35c : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
50c : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
90c : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
1n : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
2n : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]
10n : Railway Gangers & Locomotive [ . ] [ . ]

The 2003 100n and the 2004 values are not often encountered, which is generally not fully reflected in catalogue values. Note that the face value of the stamp is misrepresented on those stamps denominated in cents, for example 0.90c instead of 90c or 0.90n
.

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There were a number of colourful railway designs inscribed ERITREA around this time, many carrying the date 2002, which were unauthorised / illegal stamps. We only list stamps we believe to have been issued under the authority of the Eritrea Post Office.


Flag from flagpedia.net Issues for : S O M A L I A

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Today's Somalia is, in general terms, the combined territory of the short-lived British Somaliland Protectorate and Italian Somaliland, the latter issuing stamps from 1903 to 1936 before becoming, like Eritrea and Ethiopia, a constituent part of Italian East Africa for five years. Since 1960, Somalia has been fully independent.

Railway thematic interest is found in the independent Somalia issues and the Alessandro Volta design of Italian Somaliland. It is noteworthy that, even amongst the modern philatelic offerings, both the authentic and the dubious, that show the railways of yesteryear, we have not spotted a single stamp that appears to show anything with a Somalian element at all. This would necessarily entail a depiction of the short-lived railway from Mogadiscio to Villabruzzi, built between 1914 and 1927 by the Italian colonial administration but dismantled by the British Army during World War II (1941/42), the rails possibly being shipped to Egypt preparatory to the Battle of El Alamein?

The Somalia Railway, excluding a few short branches, was only 117 kms long and built to the 950mm gauge. Images of the railway in Somalia are all but non-existent; many images which purport to be of Italian Somaliland in fact depict the railways in Djibouti, Eritrea or Ethiopia. Here are a couple of links to webpages that do show the railway in Somalia (slowish download encountered):
Link 1 (opens in a new tab). . . . . Link 2 (opens in a new tab).

Italian Somaliland (Somalia Italiana).

Italian Somaliland : 1927 Volta issue : Overprints on stamps of Italy :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia Italiana 1927 Alessandro Volta Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia Italiana 1927 Alessandro Volta Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia Italiana 1927 Alessandro Volta

1927 : 20c Alessandro Volta [ . ] [ . ]

1927 : 50c Alessandro Volta [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double [ . ] [ ? ]
- ditto - Overprinted in addition Tripolitania & with Somalia Italiana inverted
** [ . ] [ ? ]

1927 : 1L25 Alessandro Volta [ . ] [ . ]

** Stamps of this design were also issued for Tripolitania, part of the Italian colonial empire in what is, today, Libya.
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Independent Somalia.

It seems that the Somali Post Office ceased to operate from 1991 and that a few tentative efforts have been made to re-start the service by stages since about 2013. Despite this, many stamps from this country between 1991 and 2003 have some standing in stamp catalogues. Gibbons list most of the issues of that period but place them all in their 'appendix', whilst Michel continued to give many of the country's stamps full listing status into the 21st century. We have decided to list here the Michel-listed stamps from 1994 to 1998, supplemented by the issues of 1997 and 1999 in the SG Appendix, but we do not know of any stamps after 1999 of railway interest that have any form of official recognition.

The Stanley Gibbons 'Appendix' listings, applied to several countries, cover stamps that SG consider to be in excess of reasonable postal need or not to have been available in sufficient quantity to the general public. Miniature sheets are denied even an 'Appendix' listing. These 'appendix' stamps are neither illustrated nor given catalogue numbers, with each set given a simple one-line entry of the set's subject matter and its face values.

We have never considered the concept of 'Appendix' issues on the basis of 'reasonable postal need' to be a sound policy when compiling a stamp catalogue. Either a stamp is legal or it is not. Many countries issue excessive numbers of stamps but only a few are singled out for this specific form of downgrading of their stamps.

Whilst we would typically promote the idea of a full listing for most stamps in the many SG appendices, in the case of Somalia we have considerable doubt about a number of the stamps in this appendix being worthy of a place in the catalogue at all. This comment applies particularly here to the 1997 and 1999 railway issues below, which we have nevertheless listed, although they are widely held to be illegal stamps, a view with which we are inclined to concur.

Used Stamps of Independent Somalia : Although Michel gives used prices in its catalogue for stamps after 1991, always the same prices as mint, we do not think any stamps exist genuinely used from this period. We have seen one or two early 1990s issues with first day cancel but, other than that, any cancelleations that we have seen have all been on stamps listed only in the SG Appendix. We admit that our research on this subject has been minimal but, for the present, we provide only a mint check-box for the Michel-catalogued stamps. With one exception, we have not attempted detailed design descriptions for these issues.

1994 : Locomotives : Mi.524-527 + Block 33 :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1994 Locomotives
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1994 Locomotives
The stamps in the miniature sheet are in the same designs and in the same size as the normal sheet stamps.

1994 : 100sh Electric Locomotive [ . ]
1994 : 400sh Electric Locomotive [ . ]
1994 : 700sh Steam Locomotive [ . ]
1994 : 1300sh Steam Locomotive [ . ]

1994 : Miniature sheet containing one each of the above [ . ]

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1995 : Centenary of the Cinema : From set Mi.559-63 + Block 35.
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1995 Cinema Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1995 Cinema detail
The inscription shalemadii boqolaad appears to be Somali for 'hundreds of cinemas' rather than 'centenary of the cinema'.
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1995 Cinema detail
A set of five normal sheet stamps were produced for this issue with the 700sg being of railway interest; the central image area of the sheet stamps measures 44x33 mms and they have white margins. For the miniature sheet, only three of the designs from the set were selected, including the railway value, but these were printed in smaller format with each stamp measuring only 34x25 mms, the three designs being printed se-tenant (and having no stamp margins).

1995 : 700sh Naive-style image with Lion, Steam Train etc. (Mi.562) [ . ]

1995 : Miniature sheet of 3 stamps including the 700sh (in smaller format) [ . ]

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1997 : Trains / Motive Power : Listed in the SG Appendix, not in Michel, generally considered to be illegal stamps.
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1997 Locomotives Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1997 Locomotives
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1997 Locomotives
The miniature sheet is, in proportion to the set stamps, shown much reduced.

All stamps are dated 1997 :
100sh [ . ] [ . ]
200sh [ . ] [ . ]
300sh [ . ] [ . ]
400sh [ . ] [ . ]
500sh [ . ] [ . ]
700sh [ . ] [ . ]

1000sh Miniature sheet [ . ] [ . ]

.

1998 : Early Steam Locomotives : Mi.717-20 + Block 54 :
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1994 Locomotives Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1994 Locomotives
Image of the miniature sheet much reduced in proportion to the stamps.

1998 : 100sh Locomotive [ . ]
1998 : 200sh Locomotive [ . ]
1998 : 600sh Locomotive [ . ]
1998 : 3300sh Locomotive [ . ]

1998 : 4000sh Miniature sheet [ . ]

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1999 : Steam Locomotives : Listed in the SG Appendix, not in Michel, generally considered to be illegal stamps.
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1997 Locomotives Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1997 Locomotives
Train Stamps : Francobolli Somalia 1997 Locomotives
The miniature sheet is, in proportion to the set stamps, shown much reduced.

All stamps are dated 1999 :
100sh [ . ] [ . ]
200sh [ . ] [ . ]
300sh [ . ] [ . ]
400sh [ . ] [ . ]
500sh [ . ] [ . ]
700sh [ . ] [ . ]

1000sh Miniature sheet [ . ] [ . ]

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Flag from flagpedia.net Issues for : S U D A N

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Railway interest on the stamps of Sudan is extremely limited, the best-known stamp on the subject being the 1951 Road & Rail bridge over the Blue Nile at Khartoum.
Train Stamps : Sudan : Khartoum Blue Nile Road & Rail Bridge
We have been unable to find an image showing a train on this bridge but the tracks are visible on the left. The image source for the above, along with further pictures of the bridge, can be accessed here (opens in a new tab).

1950 Airmail Definitives & Officials :
Train Stamps : Sudan : Khartoum Blue Nile Road & Rail Bridge
The stamp shows a single span of this 7-span bridge, a major element in Sudan's transport infrastructure. It was completed in 1909 and is still in use today with a total span of 560 metres which includes a 30-metre bascule (opening) section.

1950 Airmail (one of a set/8) :
1950 2P Blue-Green : Blue Nile Bridge [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Pale Blue-Green (scarcer) [ . ] [ . ]

1950 Official (one of a set/8) optd S.G. for 'Sudan Government' :
1950 2P Blue-Green : Blue Nile Bridge [ . ] [ . ]
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The Sennar Dam (completed in 1926) :
Train Stamps : Sudan : Sennar Dam Churchman's Cigarette Card Empire Series 1931 Card #11 Train Stamps : Sudan : Sennar Dam Churchman's Cigarette Card Empire Series 1931 Card #11

There are several images online that show the quite recent introduction of one or two modern trains in Sudan, albeit obliged to run on track and alignments that are from a different era. There are, though, remarkably few images to be found of Sudan's railways in the twentieth century, which has led us to use an image from a cigarette card above, part of a series produced in 1931. The Sennar Dam was constructed from the outset to carry a railway.

1962 : Sennar Dam Issue : (one value from a set of 15 definitives) :
Train Stamps : Sudan : Sennar Dam - Railway Bridge
Postage (Perf 14 x 14½) and Official (Perf 13½ x 14) stamps, both with watermark, showing the dam and a mobile crane. .

This stamp, with or without Official overprint, was issued several times over a 29-year period and exists in a number of shades, which we do not cover. It also comes in up to four different perforations and on paper with and without watermark, all of which we do list. We have been unable to ascribe issue dates to each perforation / watermark type. Watermarked stamps of this issue entered use in 1962 with an unwatermarked version first appearing in 1975. New definitives replaced them in July 1991.

Watermarked :
1962-> : Postage : Watermarked on Ordinary Paper :
50p Perf 14 x 14½ [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Perf 13½ x 14 [ . ] [ . ]

1962-> : Postage : OFFICIAL : Watermarked on Ordinary Paper, overprinted as in scan above:
50p Perf 14 x 14½ [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Perf 14 [ . ] [ . ]
- ditto - Perf 13½ x 13 [ . ] [ . ]

SG also lists this stamp with the colour Blue omitted [ . ] [ . ]

Unwatermarked :
1975-> : Postage : Unwatermarked on Chalky Paper :
50p Perf 14½ [ . ] [ . ]

1975-> : Postage : OFFICIAL : Unwatermarked on Chalky Paper, overprinted as in scan above:
50p Perf 14½ [ . ] [ . ]
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2019 : Surcharge on 1962 Design :
Train Stamps : Sudan : Sennar Dam - Railway Bridge 2019 surcharged definitive 100 SDG / 50P Train Stamps : Sudan : Sennar Dam - Railway Bridge 2019 surcharged definitive 100 SDG / 50P Train Stamps : Sudan : Sennar Dam - Railway Bridge 2019 surcharged definitive 100 SDG / 50P

Nearly 30 years after the design was supplanted by the 1991 definitive issue, it made a surprise return, surcharged. These stamps appear to have been issued in 2019. The letters 'SDG' in the surcharge stand for 'Sudanese Pound'. We lack information as to whether any watermark or perforation varieties exist for this surcharged issue. On the normal stamps (non-varieties), moderate misplacement of the obliterating blocks over the old value is not uncommon.

2019 : Sennar Dam Surcharged : 100 SDG / 50P
100 SDG / 50p [ . ] [ . ]

100 SDG / 50p : Surcharge Inverted [ . ] [ . ]

100 SDG / 50p : Surcharge Double, One Inverted (some obliterating blocks à cheval) [ . ] [ . ]



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