Belgian Congo Belge & Ruanda-Urundi (principally 50c Mols railway)

This article covers the stamps and postal stationery of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi on a railway theme. It includes an in-depth study of the 1894-1922 50c Train on Bridge, one value of a beautiful group of engraved designs by Mols, by which name these issues are commonly known.

The Mols issues: All the stamps have BLACK CENTRES (except the 1918 Red Cross issue) but generally, thoughout this article, we do not include the mention 'black centre', as it is mostly only the frame colours which vary. We have (approximately) colour-coded the summary below as well as the section heading to each issue, using the colour of the frames of the stamps.

1894 : 50c in Green, inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO
1900 : 50c in a range of Bistre to Bistre-Green , inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO
1909 : Stamps of 1900 handstamped CONGO BELGE
1909 : Stamps of 1900 overprinted by typography CONGO BELGE
1909 : Tirage des Princes The Princes' Printing
1909 : So-called Unilingual Issue, inscribed just CONGO BELGE
1910 : Bi-lingual issue in Bistre to Bistre-Green inscribed CONGO BELGE / BELGISCH-CONGO
1915 : Bilingual issue as above but colours changed to Brown-Lake (& black)
1918 : Red Cross Fund in Brown Lake,
surcharged 50c(+50c); the centre of this stamp is in Blue, not Black
1921 : Stamps of 1909/1910 surcharged 15c/50c
1922 : Stamps of 1915 surcharged 5c/50c

1948 : 2f50 Train & Map design for the 50th Anniversary of the Matadi-Leopoldville Railway

1916 : Ruanda-Urundi overprints and surcharges on the 50c Mols railway bridge.

Other : We also refer you to our other Belgian Congo article, which describes the Railway Parcel stamps of the Vicicongo and the Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo à Katanga (BCK). You can access this other article via our 'List of All Railway Articles' page (link in left margin).

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge
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Stamps overprinted TAXE or TAXES, frequently within a box :
The Belgian Congo did not introduce bespoke Postage Due stamps until 1929. Instead, current postage stamps of the appropriate value were handstamped TAXE or TAXES in various styles, or occasionally handstamped just 'T'. Yvert and COB list these as overprints; SG says that they are cancellations. Both have some truth to them; the nomenclature depends on the process. If a postal employee takes a sheet of mint stamps and handstamps them 'TAXE' or 'TAXES' prior to their being needed, this is an overprint (handstamped). Stamps with TAXE/TAXES handstamps are often found with full gum, indicating that this was not an unusual practice, particularly, one imagines, in bigger centres with a higher demand for Postage Dues.

However, if a postage due stamp is needed and no pre-handstamped stock is to hand, it is more likely that a postal employee will affix a postage stamp to the envelope and then cancel it with TAXE/TAXES. This is now a cancellation, not a handstamp, but the same canceller/handstamp may have been used for both. On a cover, where the TAXE/TAXES marking extends from the stamp onto the envelope, it can be seen clearly to be a cancellation. On a stamp with full gum, it is clearly a handstamped overprint. In many cases, though, one cannot ascribe a precise nomenclature to individual TAXE(S) stamps with certainty.

We illustrate the Tax markings known to us issue by issue. We have included examples of the 'T' markings in the scans and also included them in the check-lists, but, although we think it highly improbable that these were ever anything other than cancellations applied once the stamps had been affixed to the envelopes, they too are interesting.

Le Pont sur le M'pozo.
The 50c design of the Mols issues shows a steam train, which has just crossed the Pont sur le M'pozo, a tributary of the River Congo, not far outside Matadi. The period card below shows a different angle on the bridge with a short steam train:

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Green

The railway, still open today, runs from Matadi to the capital Kinshasa, known in colonial times as Léopoldville. An aerial view on Google Earth showing the bridge can be seen by clicking here (opens in a new tab)
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The Mols stamps and the 50c Railway Bridge:
The Mols stamps are complex issues and have been the subject of very extensive study within the Belgian Congo Study Circle (BCSC) and elsewhere for many years. This is not surprising. The stamps are beautifully designed, engraved and printed, were in use in various forms for nearly 30 years, provide much scope for serious research and have benefitted from the work of very able philatelists over many years both in Britain and in Belgium.

Several of these issues are found with:
** Up to three shades
** Multiple perforations (but we limit ouselves to listing Perf 14 & Perf 15-15½ or 16)
** Plate Flaws (of the frames and the centres, which were printed separately)
** Handstamp & Overprint errors and varieties

To list individually every possible combination of all the above would make for an impossibly heavy (and lengthy) listing. We have looked for a middle way, providing good coverage with plenty of detail information, but limiting the combinations of features. For most collectors, the information provided will hopefully be enough for their purposes without the need to seek out highly specialized literature on the country. We appreciate that, for others, this will already be rather more than you need(!), but we hope you nevertheless find it interesting. If you do want to take your studies of these stamps further, you might well consider joining the excellent Belgian Congo Study Circle (BCSC).

Shades: We list the shades given by Willy Balasse for each issue but we do not try to list them in combination with any other feature. Where the emphasis is on properties of the stamp other than the colour, such as perforation and plate flaws, we have opted to use a general colour in the descriptions such as 'Olive / Bistre' on the 1900-1910 issues or 'Brown-Lake' for the later stamps, except where being precise with the colour can help identification.

Perforations: We provide check boxes for the two main perforations, Perf 14 and Perf 15, but stamps gauging 13½ and up to 16 are found on some issues. We do not list perforation types in combination with every shade and variety, although there is ample scope to collect in this detail.

Plate Flaws: We illustrate and list the plate flaws listed in Willy Balasse and usually provide only one check-box for each of them per issue, even though they may exist in several shades combined with both perforations. We give Willy Balasse (WB) catalogue numbers for all flaws listed by him and usually give sheet positions, the sheets being of 50 stamps (5x10). We have identified in the text, when significant, where plates A and B have been used for the centre design, but have kept discussion of this complex area of frame and centre plates to a minimum. For more information on centre and frame plates used, and how to identify them, the BCSC's Bulletin 158, Pages 21-26, contains an excellent article by Stuart Smith. We do not know whether it is currently available online.

Handstamps & Overprints: We list all handstamp and overprint/surcharge varieties but only once per issue, not in combination with flaws, perfs and shades.

The Willy Balasse (WB) catalogue for the Belgian Congo (published in 1949) is probably the most influential catalogue produced for this country. We make frequent reference to it. Sorry for the long but necessary introduction. Now, finally, the stamps!

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1894 : 50c in Green, inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO

Colours reported in Willy Balasse are vert foncé (dark green); vert-jaune vif (bright yellow-green); vert jaune (yellow-green)
We have never found the colours of the 50c Green straightforward. Most appear to us to vary from a distinctly Bluish-Green to a slightly yellowish green but we have kept to the Balasse colours below (translated).

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Green

Colours (50c Green):
1894 50c Dark Green [ . ]
1894 50c Bright Yellow-Green [ . ]
1894 50c Yellow-Green [ . ]

Perforations (50c Green):
1894 50c Green (shades) Perf 14-14½ [ . ]
1894 50c Green (shades) Perf 15-15½ [ . ]
1894 50c Green (perf and shade unknown) Imperf between stamp and sheet margin (WB 24 C 1) [ . ]

Plate Flaws (1894 50c Green):
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

WB 24 V 1 : Long scratch across top left corner of landscape, Centre Plate A, Posn. 42 [ . ]
WB 24 V 3 : Extra lines in left margin between the two frame lines Posn. 1 [ . ]
WB 24 V 4 : Plate scratches through Q or CINQUANTE and 5 of 50 (both at left) Posn. 47 [ . ]

Five other positions exhibit frame plate scratches through the word CINQUANTE at top left, but not through the figure '5' as well. These are in Positions 6, 12, 14, 19 & 33.
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TAXE / TAXES / T handstamps (1894 50c Green):
We have only seen one style of Postage Due handstamp / cancellation on the 50c Green but others may well exist.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Detail from a postcard posted in the early 1920s, showing the bridge from trackside, a strikingly colonial scene!

1894 50c Green with large boxed TAXE [ . ]

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Before going onto the second colours in shades of olive-to-bistre, a look at the Waterlow Proofs and Salesman's Samples of the stamps inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO, dates of production not known and could vary from 1894 through to the early 1950s. Those without overprint may be considered as colour trials, whereas those with WATERLOW & SONS LTD / SPECIMEN overprint were produced both as samples of their wares for salesman of the Company and perhaps also in conjunction with the Company's centenary celebrations much later. The section below is copied from our article on Waterlow samples, Types I and III referring to the styles of overprint as used in that article.

Belgian Congo 50c Mols Specimen sheetlet/9
Sheetlet/9, with standard perforations.

Belgian Congo specimen 50c sheetlet/9 var
Sheetlet/9 part-perforated, providing 2 examples each of imperf between vertical pair and horizontal pair. We know of at least two examples of this part-perforated sheetlet.

Belgian Congo 50c Mols Specimen Belgian Congo 50c Mols Specimen Belgian Congo 50c Mols Specimen Belgian Congo 50c Mols Colour Trial

Type I : 50c Orange & Black optd horizontally with punch, perf. [ . ]
- ditto - Imperforate between horizontally (vertical pair) [ . ]
- ditto - Imperforate between vertically (horizontal pair) [ . ]
Type I : 50c Orange & Black but optd diagonally, without punch, perf. [ . ]
Type III - 50c believed to be Orange & Black (monochrome photocopy shown) [ . ]

Colour Trial: 50c in Orange & Black, without Specimen opt or punch hole. [ . ]

We have not seen any plate flaws on the above stamps.

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1900 : 50c in Bistre to Olive-Green-Bistre, inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO

Once again, getting to grip with the colour of this issue is not straightforward, as the scan below shows. Our view is that bistre predominates with hints of olive, but we have stuck with the Willy Balasse colours, namely olive, deep olive and olive-yellow.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Green

Colours (50c Olive-Bistre):
1900 50c Olive [ . ]
1900 50c Deep Olive[ . ]
1900 50c Olive-Yellow / Bistre [ . ]

Perforations (50c Olive / Bistre):
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 14-14½ [ . ]
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 15-15½ or 16 [ . ]

Plate Flaws (1900 50c Olive / Bistre):
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The first image has been 'enhanced' to show the plate scratch better, resulting in slightly changed colours.

WB 25 V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
WB 25 V 3 : Extra lines in left margin between the two frame lines Posn. 1 [ . ]
WB 25 V 4 : Plate scratches through Q or CINQUANTE and 5 of 50 (both at left) Posn. 47 [ . ]

Five other positions exhibit frame plate scratches through the word CINQUANTE at top left, but not through the figure '5' as well. These are in Positions 6, 12, 14, 19 & 33.
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TAXE / TAXES / T handstamps (1900 50c Olive to Bistre):
We have seen several styles of Postage Due handstamp / cancellation on the 50c Olive-to-Bistre. Whilst we list major handstamp varieties such as inverted handstamps on POSTAGE stamps, due to the haphazard manner in which cancellations can be applied to POSTAGE DUE stamps, we do not list such varieties on the TAXE(S) stamps. Where these markings are applied very inaccurately to the stamp, the likelihood that the TAXE(S) marking is a cancellation (as opposed to a pre-applied handstamp) is increased.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'T' in Black [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'T' in Blue [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'TAXES' in medium-sized letters [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'TAXES' in large-sized letters [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'TAXES' in small letters in Black [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'TAXES' in small letters (different style, probably with an 'S') in Blue [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'TAXE' in Black [ . ]

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Waterlow & Sons Ltd kept two master reference books of their work, a 'Clean Book' and a so-called 'Dirty Book', containing not just Belgian Congo but examples of all their stamp productions. We believe one Die Proof of the 50c inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO was probably in the Clean Book, and there was one Die Proof in the Dirty Book and those two proofs are believed to be the only ones in existence. The Die Proof (in Black) from the Dirty Book is shown below (left).
Alongside is a single proof sheetlet showing both the frame and the centre of the 50c, printed in brown; perhaps a handful of such sheetlets may exist?

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

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1909 : Stamps of 1900 in Olive-Bistre inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO HANDSTAMPED CONGO BELGE

The stamps with Typographed overprint CONGO BELGE are covered in the next section and are fairly easily distinguished from the handstamped CONGO BELGE issues by their sharpness of appearance and because the INDENTATION OF THE OVERPRINT shows through onto the back of the TYPOGRAPHED stamps on both mint and used copies, but not on the handstamped issues.

Handstamped Issues:
The stamps with CONGO BELGE handstamp are complex. The handstamps were first applied to stamps in Bruxelles, before the handstamps were sent to the Congo for use there on the same issues. Differences in the appearance (ink) of the issues:

Handstamped at Bruxelles: Usually more neatly applied and more regular and the ink used is often dull, varying from grey to black.

Handstamped in the Congo (known as the LOCAL handstamps): Usually more carelessly and less regularly applied and the ink is more greasy, often blackish-violet showing through on the back more as violet. Local handstamps are occasionally found in blue-grey as well.

There are tiny differences between the handstamps, of which EIGHT are known in Bruxelles and EIGHT in the Congo. The 50c is only known with six of the eight types of Bruxelles handstamp but may be found with all eight types of the Congo handstamp. Research has identified where each of the handstamps shipped to the Congo appears to have been sent and applied, although some stamps may have been distributed elsewhere after handstamping, resulting in cancellations not being 100% reliable as a means of identifying the handstamp type.

There is a special gauge, produced by the BCSC many years ago, which helps you to identify the 8 Bruxelles handstamps and 8 Local handstamps, although we don't think it is currently available. We have, for convenience, provided check numbers for all the handstamps, but they are too specialized for most collectors as well as being rather difficult to collect without the special gauge. Most collectors will probably be happy with one Bruxelles handstamp and one Local handstamp from this section.

Placement of Handstamps : The standard position of the handstamp is near the foot of the stamp, but they are quite freqently encountered near the top of the stamp, especially on the Local Oveprints. Willy Balasse lists these stamps with variety 'misplaced' but we have used his numbering for misplaced overprints in our check lists as applying only to stamps handstamped à cheval, as handstamps can, by their nature, be applied with great variety.
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The Brussels (Brussel / Bruxelles) handstamps on the 50c :

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols Bruxelles surcharge à la main

Colours (50c Brussels Handstamps):
1900 50c Olive [ . ]
- ditto - handstamp inverted (any shade or perf, WB 35 B C 1) [ . ] (no scan)
- ditto - handstamp à cheval (any shade or perf, WB 35 B C 2) [ . ]
1900 50c Yellow-Olive [ . ]

Perforations (50c Brussels Handstamps):
1900 50c Olive - Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 14-14½ [ . ]
1900 50c Olive - Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 15-15½ or 16 [ . ]

50c with Brussels handstamps, handstamp type numbers that are reported for this value:

[ Type I . . ] . [ Type II . . ] . [ Type III . . ] . [ Type V . . ] . [ Type VI . . ] . [ Type VII . . ]
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Plate Flaws : Brussels Handstamps
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The above images are simply repeated from higher up for ease of reference.

WB 35B V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
WB 35B V 3 : Extra lines in left margin between the two frame lines Posn. 1 [ . ]
WB 35B V 4 : Plate scratches through Q or CINQUANTE and 5 of 50 (both at left) Posn. 47 [ . ]

Five other positions exhibit frame plate scratches through the word CINQUANTE at top left, but not through the figure '5' as well. These are in Positions 6, 12, 14, 19 & 33.
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TAXE / TAXES / T handstamps (on Brussels Handstamped issue):
We have not seen any TAXE(S) markings on the Brussels handstamps, most of which would not have been sent to the colony.

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The Local Handstamps on the 50c :

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols Local surcharge à la main

Row 1 : Stamps 1 & 2 : Local Handstamps (shades) ; Stamp 3 : Local Inverted ; Stamp 4 : Local Double
Row 2 : Stamp 1 : Local Diagonal; Stamp 2 : Partly Double, one à cheval; Stamp 3 : Local Double, one inverted (unlisted but genuine)

Colours (50c Local Handstamps):
1900 50c Yellow-Olive [ . ]
1900 50c Olive [ . ]
- ditto - handstamp inverted (any shade or perf, WB 35 L C 1) [ . ]
- ditto - handstamp double (any shade or perf, WB 35 L C 3) [ . ]
- ditto - handstamp à cheval (any shade or perf, WB 35 L C 2) [ . ]
- ditto - handstamp double, one inverted (any shade or perf, not in WB) [ . ]
We have not listed the diagonal handstamp as a variety but show it for interest. .

Perforations (50c Local Handstamps):
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 14-14½ [ . ]
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 15-15½ or 16 [ . ]

50c with Local handstamps, handstamp type numbers that are reported for this value:

[ Type I . . ] . [ Type II . . ] . [ Type III . . ] . [ Type IV . . ] . [ Type V . . ] . [ Type VI . . ] . [ Type VII . . ] . [ Type VIII . . ]

Local #1 (L1) was handstamped at Boma, L2 at Banana, L3 at Matadi, L4 at Boma, L5 at Leopoldville, L6 at Thysville, L7 at Bumba and L8 by the Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Congo, which also happens to be, by far, the scarcest on the 50c local handstamps on this value. As already mentioned, town cancellations on the stamps alone are not always a reliable method of identification.
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Plate Flaws : Local Handstamps
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The above images are simply repeated from higher up for ease of reference.

WB 35L V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
WB 35L V 3 : Extra lines in left margin between the two frame lines Posn. 1 [ . ]
WB 35L V 4 : Plate scratches through Q or CINQUANTE and 5 of 50 (both at left) Posn. 47 [ . ]

Five other positions exhibit frame plate scratches through the word CINQUANTE at top left, but not through the figure '5' as well. These are in Positions 6, 12, 14, 19 & 33.
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TAXE / TAXES / T handstamps (on Locally Handstamped issue):

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 handstamp CONGO BELGE, 'T' in Black [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 handstamp CONGO BELGE, 'TAXES' in small-sized letters [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 handstamp CONGO BELGE, 'TAXE' in large-sized letters [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre 'with 1909 handstamp CONGO BELGE, TAXES' in large letters in Black [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 handstamp CONGO BELGE, 'TAXES' in medium-sized letters [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 handstamp CONGO BELGE, 'TAXES' in medium-sized letters in Blue [ . ]

Other styles of Postage Due marking will probably exist.

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1909 : Stamps of 1900 in Olive-Bistre inscribed ETAT INDEPENDANT DU CONGO with TYPOGRAPHED overprint CONGO BELGE

The typographed overprints had widespread use. Rather than the 8 types of the Brussels and Local handstamps, these are much more regular, but specialists do recognize 4 stamps in each sheet of 50 to have a slightly larger overprint (in Positions 4, 10, 11 & 12 on the 50c stamps and are described as Type I and Type II (for the variety) below.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols 1909 typograhed overprint

Above (left to right) : Type I opt; Type II opt; Inverted Opt; Opt à cheval.

The type II overprint in longer but only by 0.25 mms and, again, the BCSC gauge is the best way to identify it. There are those who claim to be able to tell the two apart by sight, so, for those wishing to try, here they are: Type I on the left, Type II on the right.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols 1909 typograhed overprint Type I Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols 1909 typograhed overprint Type II

Colours (50c Typographed):
1900 50c Olive [ . ]
- ditto - overprint inverted (any shade or perf, WB 45 C 1) [ . ] (no scan)
- ditto - overprint à cheval (any shade or perf, WB 45 C 2) [ . ]
1900 50c Yellow-Olive [ . ]
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Perforations (50c Typographed Overprint):
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 14-14½ [ . ]
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Perf 15-15½ or 16 [ . ]

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Types I & II of the 50c Typographed Overprint:
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Type I [ . ]
1900 50c Olive / Bistre (shades) Type II [ . ]

Plate Flaws : Typographed Overprints
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The above images are simply repeated from higher up for ease of reference.

WB 45 V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
WB 45 V 3 : Extra lines in left margin between the two frame lines Posn. 1 [ . ]
WB 45 V 4 : Plate scratches through Q or CINQUANTE and 5 of 50 (both at left) Posn. 47 [ . ]

Five other positions exhibit frame plate scratches through the word CINQUANTE at top left, but not through the figure '5' as well. These are in Positions 6, 12, 14, 19 & 33.
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TAXE / TAXES / T handstamps (1909 Typographed stamps):
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols 1909 typograhed overprint Type II

The TAXE(S) markings we have seen on the Typographed CONGO BELGE overprints. Those on the top row are the only ones likely, at some locations, to have been overprinted TAXE(S); the markings on the bottom row were probably used almost exclusively on stamps already affixed to cover. As before, other styles and colours will no doubt exist.

The listing below covers TAXE(S) handstamps of both the regular and Princes' Printing stamps with Typographed overprint. You will probably need to read the next section of this article in order to understand this comment!
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, boxed 'TAXE' [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, boxed small 'TAXES' [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, boxed large 'TAXES' [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, unframed 'TAXE' in Violet-Black [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, unframed 'TAXE' in Blue [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, unframed 'TAXES' [ . ]
1900 50c Olive to Bistre with 1909 Typographed CONGO BELGE, with just 'T' [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols 1909 typograhed overprint Type II

Example of a Postage Due usage of the 50c on cover, here the 1909 CONGO BELGE typographed overprint (Type I).

The letter was sent unpaid from Charleroi, Belgium with printed instruction to 'taxer à l'arrivée' (to charge the addressee on delivery), which seems a somewhat unusual handstamp to possess, although the number of postage due markings on Belgian Congo stamps is unusually high, so perhaps this was not so uncommon. This, and a second (manuscript) instruction to 'faire suivre' (forward) is, like the first instruction, all but hidden by the stamp. It is addressed to a Mr. Delcourt, Chef de Station, and handstamped with the letter 'T' (tax to pay).
The letter left Charleroi on November 1st 1912 and presumably travelled as instructed via Cape Town to the Congo, where it was franked with a 50c stamp, the stamp being cancelled on the letter, a tiny part of the canceller being visible on the envelope. The postage rate from Belgium to the Belgian Congo at this time was Fr. 0.25 for letters up to 15 gms and that tax (postage due) rate is (correctly) double this at 50c. The letter chased after Mr. Delcourt for over 18 months, finally being received (and paid for, one imagines) at the offices of the Chemin de Fer du Katanga in Sofumwango on June 7th 1914. A rather splendid railway item.

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1909 : Tirage des Princes The Princes' Printing

This is a pretty strange affair. It seems a member of the Belgian royal family wanted some copies of the handstamped issue for Princes Léopold and Charles and that the Post Office obliged by printing 5000 copies (100 sheets) each of 10 values, including the 50c Railway Bridge & Train, all stamps being Perf 14. Just 100 copies of each were left unsurcharged and these are rarely offered on the market except in full sets of ten stamps at considerable cost. A further 250 copies of each value were handstamped with the Brussels Handstamps, mostly with the Type II handstamp but a few with the Type V. The remaining 4650 sets were overprinted by Typography and most were dispatched to the Congo.

Identifying these stamps is difficult. In general, the shades of both the frame and centre are said to be closer to the colours of the following 1909 Unilingual and 1910 Bilingual series, but we have not found this to be very obvious in the case of the 50c railway design. Unless you are very experienced with the stamps of the Belgian Congo, we would recommend you only purchase these stamps with a certificate if the price at which they are offered has been set at Princes' Printing levels.

We do not think any of the unoverprinted stamps will be found in used condition and very few, if any, of the handstamped types. In contract, the vast majority of the surviving Princes' Printing stamps overprinted by Typography were used and are hard to find in mint condition.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols 1909 typograhed overprint Type II

Princes' Ptg : Brussels Handstamp (Type V) and Typographed Overprint

Princes' Printing of the 1894-1900 Design:

WB 25P : 1909 50c Olive without overprint (no scan) [ . ]
WB 35P : 1909 50c Olive with Brussels Type II handstamp (no scan) [ . ]
WB 35P : 1909 50c Olive with Brussels Type V handstamp [ . ]
WB 45P : 1909 50c Olive with Typographed Overprint [ . ]

Plate Flaws : Princes' Printing
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The above images are simply repeated from higher up for ease of reference.

Plate Flaws on Princes' Printing. These will exist for the unoverprinted stamps (WB 25P V 2, V 3 & V 4) but there can only be at most TWO of each flaw in existence. They will also exist for the handstamped stamps (WB 35 V 2, V 3 & V 4) but only a maximum of FIVE of each can still exist. For these two printings, therefore, we have not provided separate listings or check-boxes. However, the varieties on stamps machine-overprinted by typography can be found in reasonable numbers and these are listed below.

WB 45P V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
WB 45P V 3 : Extra lines in left margin between the two frame lines Posn. 1 [ . ]
WB 45P V 4 : Plate scratches through Q or CINQUANTE and 5 of 50 (both at left) Posn. 47 [ . ]

Five other positions exhibit frame plate scratches through the word CINQUANTE at top left, but not through the figure '5' as well. These are in Positions 6, 12, 14, 19 & 33.

TAXE(S) handstamps / cancellations: We would not expect to find unoverprinted or handstamped Princes' Printing stamps with TAXE(S) handstamps.
They will, though, be found on the Princes' Printing with Typographed overprint but we have not attempted to distinguish TAXE(S) stamps of the Princes' Printing from the TAXE(S) stamps of the previous Typographed stamps, a comment which will hopefully shed some light on the slightly mysterious heading to TAXE(S) stamps in the section higher up.

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1909 : Inscribed CONGO BELGE (so-called Unilingual Issue)

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The Unilingual stamp and a detail from a postcard of la Gare de Matadi, one terminus of the railway. The card is postmarked Leopoldville 23 May 1906, the other terminus of the line.

Colours (50c Unilingual):
1900 50c Olive [ . ]
1900 50c Pale Olive [ . ]

Perforations: All stamps in this issue are Perf 14. No varieties, other than the plate flaw shown below, are reported for this issue.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Above: The only reported plate flaw on the Unilingual 50c.
The centre is printed slightly low in this example with the Plate B flaw line, resulting in the diagonal flaw passing through the figure '5' at lower left. The extension of the flaw up to the bridge is all but invisible in the scan (and almost on the stamp itself).

Plate Flaw

WB 53 V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
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Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

TAXE(S) handstamps / cancellations:
1909 50c Olive (unilingual) large boxed TAXES [ . ]

Again, others almost certainly exist but this is the only style to date that we have seen.

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1910 : Bi-lingual issue in Bistre to Bistre-Green inscribed CONGO BELGE / BELGISCH-CONGO

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Above, the stamp in olive shade and what seems like olive-bistre to us. On some issues, we are broadly in agreement with Balasse's description of colours but, from time to time, as here, colour listings appear either inaccurate or, more probably, incomplete. Given the likely number of different printings of this stamp, which was in use for many years, a large number of shades are to be expected.

Colours (50c Bi-lingual):
1900 50c Olive [ . ]
1900 50c Olive Green[ . ]

Perforations: All stamps in this issue are said to be Perf 14, but we have seen perfs in excess of 14½ as well. No varieties, other than the plate flaw shown below, are reported for this issue.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Above: The only reported plate flaw on the Bi-lingual 50c. Note that the flaw extends into the sheet margin.

Plate Flaw:
WB 59 V 2 : Long scratch from bottom left corner though railway bridge, Centre Plate B, Posn. 6 [ . ]
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TAXE(S) handstamps and cancellations (1910 Bi-lingual issue)

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Small boxed TAXE [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Medium-sized boxed TAXES [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Small boxed TAXES [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Large unframed TAXES [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Large unframed TAXE in Black [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Large unframed TAXE in Blue [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Large 'T' in Black [ . ]
1910 Bi-lingual issue Olive (shades), Large 'T' in Blue [ . ]

As with other TAXE(S) markings, we think it unlikely that any of the above, other than the three boxed markings, were used as overprints, i.e. sometimes applied to the stamps before they were affixed to envelopes. Other styles will almost certainly exist.

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1915 : Bilingual issue as 1910 but colours changed to Brown-Lake (& black)

There are two Dies of this stamp in Brown-Lake, Die I and Die II :

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Die I (top) : Almost no dots in loco smoke. The smoke is narrower, especially near the chimney. The shading on the left river bank is light and dotted.

Die II (bottom) : More dots in loco smoke. There is more smoke, especially near the chimney. The shading on the left river bank is heavier and lines are solid.

1915 50c Brown-Lake : Dies I & II
1915 50c Brown-Lake (shades) Die I Perf 14-15[ . ]
1915 50c Brown- Lake (shades) Die II Perf 14-15 [ . ]
1915 50c Lilac-Brown shade only IMPERFORATE Die II [ . ]
(scan below)

The imperforate stamps were from a special printing.
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Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Colours 1915 50c Brown-Lake, but listing per Balasse colours :
1915 50c Lilac-Brown [ . ]
1915 50c Brown-Red[ . ]
1915 50c Deep Lilac-Brown[ . ]
1915 50c Intense Brown-Red[ . ]

Balasse attributes the lighter colours to Die I and the deeper colours to Die II, but we are hesitant about adopting such clear distinctions. We use Brown-Lake as a general colour for this issue.
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Perforations (1915 50c Brown-Lake):
1915 50c Brown-Lake (shades) Perf 14-14½ [ . ]
1915 50c Brown-Lake (shades) Perf 15-15½ [ . ]

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Other:
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Black Print Block/4 and a postcard of the bridge from a similar viewpoint to that of the stamp.

1915 50c PROOF in BLACK, Perf [ . ]
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TAXE(S) handstamps and cancellations (1915 Brown-Lake issue)

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1915 50c Die I small boxed TAXES [ . ]
This is the only Postage Due marking we have seen on a Die I stamp to date.
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Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1915 50c Die II small boxed TAXES [ . ]
1915 50c Die II medium boxed TAXES [ . ]
1915 50c Die II boxed TAXE

Again, there are likely to be others.

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1918 : Red Cross Fund in Brown Lake, surcharged 50c(+50c)

The nine stamps of this issue all had a surcharge of 100% of the face value in aid of the Red Cross, so 50c + 50c in the case of the steam train at the M'Pozo Bridge. The stamps are essentially as Type II of the 1915 Brown-Lake & Black issue, in that the shape of the locomotive smoke and the river bank are the same. However there are no dots of colour in the smoke. Although not reflected in catalogue prices, used examples of all the stamps in this set seem to be much less common than mint.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1918 50c + 50c in Blue & Lilac-Red Perf 14[ . ]
1918 50c + 50c in Blue & Lilac-Red Perf 15[ . ]
1918 50c + 50c in Blue & Lilac-Red IMPERFORATE [ . ]

The imperforate stamps of this issue are from a special printing.

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1921 : Stamps of 1909/1910 surcharged 15c/50c
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Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The 15c surcharge was applied principally to the 1910 Bi-lingual stamp (right) but also to small numbers of the 1909 Etat Independant du Congo design with typographed overprint (left) and to a modest number of the 1909 Unilingual stamp (centre). We shall examine them in turn.

15c / 50c with Typographed Overprint
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Note: The diagonal flaw scratch illustration is taken from a different printing

WB 87A : 15c/50c optd CONGO BELGE [ . ]
WB 87A V 2 : as above, diagonal flaw across bottom left corner [ . ]
WB 87A S 1 : No stop below the left 'c' in the surcharge (Posns 41, 47, 48) [ . ]
WB 87A C 1 : Right-hand 'c' of surcharge omitted [ . ]
no scan available
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15c / 50c on Unilingual stamp
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

WB 87B : 15c/50c inscribed CONGO BELGE (unilingual) [ . ]
WB 87B S 1 : No stop below the left 'c' in the surcharge (Posns 41, 47, 48) [ . ]

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15c / 50c on Bi-lingual stamp
Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge
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WB 87 : 15c/50c inscribed CONGO BELGE / BELGISCH CONGO (bi-lingual) [ . ]
WB 87 S 1 : No stop below the left 'c' in the surcharge (Posns 41, 47, 48) [ . ]
left stamp above.
WB 87 C 1 : Imperforate between horizontally (vertical pair) [ . ]
WB 87 var : Surcharge misplaced (à cheval) [ . ]
WB 87 C 2 : Surcharge inverted [ . ]
no scan available
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TAXE(S) handstamps and cancellations (1921 15c/50c Bi-lingual issue)

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

The middle stamp in the bottom row above displays the missing stop below left-hand 'c' variety. Although this can, of course, exist with any of the tax markings, we have only provided below a single check-box for any type of TAXE(S) handstamp with the missing 'c' variety. We have only seen postage due markings on the Bi-lingual stamps with 15c surcharge, not on the stamp with typographed overprint, nor on the unilingual stamps.

1921 15c/50c Bi-lingual long and thin boxed TAXES [ . ]
1921 15c/50c Bi-lingual large boxed TAXES [ . ]
1921 15c/50c Bi-lingual large boxed TAXE [ . ]
1921 15c/50c Bi-lingual small boxed TAXES [ . ]
1921 15c/50c Bi-lingual with large 'T' [ . ]
1921 15c/50c TAXE / TAXES stamp with variety : missing stop under 'c' [ . ]

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1922 : Stamps of 1915 in Brown-Lake surcharged 5c/50c

Matt & Shiny Ink of Surcharge.
The 50c was surcharged 5c in January 1922 for reasons that are not exactly clear as, at the same time, many 25c stamps were being surcharged 50c, whilst 40c stamps were being surcharged 25c. Specialists recognize two INKS used for the surcharges, matt and shiny, but we have provided only one check box for a single example of each ink used, not for all the combinations that exist.

Sellos postales Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Above: Stamps 1 & 2 : Shades. Stamp 3 : Surcharge Inverted. Stamp 4 : Surcharge Double.
Note: The double surcharge is hard to see. Larger detail views of the normal and double surcharges are illustrated below, alongside another display of Dies I & II.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge . . Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Normal Surcharge

Belgian Congo Belge Briefmarken 50c Mols train on bridge . . Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge Double Surcharge

Die I (top) : Almost no dots in loco smoke. Smoke narrower, especially near chimney. Shading on river bank light and dotted.
Die II (below): More dots in smoke. There's more smoke, especially near chimney. Shading on river bank heavier, lines more solid

Colours per Willy Balasse (1922 5c/50c):
1922 5c / 50c Lilac-Brown DIE I only [ . ]
- ditto - Deep Lilac-Brown DIE I only [ . ]
- ditto - Intense Red-Brown DIES I & II [ . ]
The 5c/50c in DIE I only exists in Perf 14 and is rarely encountered. No price is given in Balasse for this stamp in used condition.
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Perforations of the 1922 5c/50c.
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Perf 14 [ . ]
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Perf 15 [ . ]
WB 95 C 1 : 1922 5c / 50c Horizontal Strip/3, the centre stamp imperf vertically on both sides [ . ]

There is no indication in Balasse which stamp (by Die or Perforation) has this variety.
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5c / 50c : Surcharge Inks :
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake with MATT surcharge [ . ]
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake with SHINY surcharge [ . ]

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5c / 50c : Surcharge Varieties:
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Surcharge Inverted [ . ]
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Surcharge Double [ . ]

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TAXE(S) handstamps and cancellations (1922 5c / 50c)

timbres-poste Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake - small boxed TAXES [ . ]

This is the only example we have seen of TAXE(S) markings on the 5c / 50c but there may well be others.

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1948 : 2f50 Train & Map design for the 50th Anniversary of the Matadi-Leopoldville Railway

timbres Belgian Congo Belge 1948 Chemin de Fer railway Waterlow Sample Specimen stamps

1948 2Fr50 Railway Anniversary in Green & Blue (issued colours) [ . ]

2f50 Railway Anniversary WATERLOW Salesman's Sample / Specimen in Chestnut & Green Perf [ . ]
- ditto - but Imperf [ . ]

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Die Proofs of the Centre & Frame from the Waterlow & Sons Record Book. Almost certainly unique; no other copies known to exist.

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The Lado Enclave

This is rather on the periphery of the subject matter of this article but it is interesting. Historical background per Wikipedia:

"British desire for a Cape to Cairo railway led them to negotiate with the Belgians to exchange the area that became the Lado Enclave for a narrow strip of territory in eastern Congo between Lakes Albert and Tanganyika. These negotiations resulted in the 1894 British-Congolese Treaty, signed on 12 May, under which the British leased all of the Nile basin south of the 10° north latitude to King Leopold II of the Belgians for the period of his lifetime.
This area, called the Lado Enclave, linked the Congo with the navigable Nile. The treaty also dictated that the whole of the Bahr-el-Ghazal (with the exception of the Lado Enclave) be ceded to the Congo State during the lifetime of King Leopold 'and his successors.' " Click here (opens in a new tab) to see the full Wikipedia page on the Lado Enclave.

The 50c Mols stamps are occasionally found cancelled with the diamond lozenge of the Lado Enclave, as shown below on a stamp sold by Cavendish Philatelic Auctions of Derby in 2017 and reproduced here with their kind permission and assistance:
Belgian Congo Belge Lado Enclave 50c Mols train

The Lot description carried the following:
"LADO ENCLAVE, 1906-08 & BAHR EL GHAZAL: Belgian Congo 50c stamp insc. "Etat Independant du Congo" pen-cancelled Lado & signed along with 306 dot rhomboid "Retta" cancel. With Vanni Alfani Certificate of Authenticity. All mail and such cancels originating in the Lado enclave are rare."

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Belgian Congo railway-related Cinderellas.

Belgian Congo Belge 1898 timbre-poste Excursion stamps Railway opening Ouverture Chemin de Fer

The above labels of 1898, which come in several colours (and on at least two papers - white or bluish) are thought to have been printed to promote an excursion to mark the Opening of the Matadi-Leopoldville Railway, the line of our 50c Mols. They may also have served as souvenirs of the event.
There is an article about them, and the building of the railway, in the BCSC journal 'Les Congolatres'. The article is in French and well illustrated. Click here (opens in a new tab) to view the April 2013 Les Congolatres magazine. (The article is on pages 10-16)

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Belgian Congo Postal Stationery with Railway Views.

Congo Belge Entier postal

There were three series of postal stationery cards (PSC) with views of the Belgian Congo on the back. Each series was numbered by the Post Office, simplifying matters considerably. Several PSC show stations, trains or tracks. The series were as follows:

Series 1 : Set of 72 Cards, numbered 1-72 : Railway Interest: # 2, 6, 16, 25, 27, 44, 46, 49, 58, 61

Series 2 : Set of 50 Cards, numbered 73-122 : Railway Interest: # 74, 82, 83, 85, 86, 104

Series 3 : Set of 50 Cards, numbered 1-50 : Railway Interest: # 1, 5, 37

The value of the imprinted stamp for each series is different and listed below after the scans of the views. Mint cards are sometimes found with stamps added and we believe this may have been done in some cases before they were sold over the post office counter in response to rises in postal rates. Below is a display of the printed 'stamps' used on the cards:

Belgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains Belgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trainsBelgian Congo Belge entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains
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1st Series
Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 2 : 5c [ . ] Pose du Rail (track-laying)
Card 2 : 10c [ . ]
Card 2 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 2 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 2 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

Card 6 : 5c [ . ] Locomotive
Card 6 : 10c [ . ]
Card 6 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 6 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 6 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 16 : 5c [ . ] Port, Matadi
Card 16 : 10c [ . ]
Card 16 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 16 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 16 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

Card 25 : 5c [ . ] Gare de Mayumbe
Card 25 : 10c [ . ]

We have not seen this card with 15c and 30c surcharges.
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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 27 : 5c [ . ] Bureau des Postes, Boma & Tracks
Card 27 : 10c [ . ]

We have not seen this card with 15c and 30c surcharges.

Card 44 : 5c [ . ] Port, Léopoldville
Card 44 : 10c [ . ]
Card 44 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 44 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 44 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 46 : 5c [ . ] Les bassins, Léopoldville (trucks on quayside)
Card 46 : 10c [ . ]
Card 46 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 46 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 46 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

Card 49 : 5c [ . ] Kilomètre 5, Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo
Card 49 : 10c [ . ]
Card 49 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 49 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 49 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 58 : 5c [ . ] Pont sur la Pozo, Chemin de Fer du Bas-Congo
Card 58 : 10c [ . ]
Card 58 : 15c / 5c *** [ . ]
Card 58 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 58 : 30c / 10c [ . ]
*** We have not seen the 15c/5c. It seems logical that it would exist, but it should be seen as a provisional listing here.

Card 61 : 5c [ . ] Vue de Matadi (railway trucks)
Card 61 : 10c [ . ]
Card 61 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 61 : 15c / 10c [ . ]
Card 61 : 30c / 10c [ . ]

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2nd Series
Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 74 : 15c [ . ] Train, Elizabethville
Card 74 : 30c [ . ]

Card 82 : 15c [ . ] Panda, Rails, Vue Générale
Card 82 : 30c [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 83 : 15c [ . ] Panda, Rails, Usines de Broyage
Card 83 : 30c [ . ]

Card 85 : 15c [ . ] Kambove, Mines
Card 85 : 30c [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 86 : 15c [ . ] Steam Excavator / Shovel & Trucks
Card 86 : 30c [ . ]

Card 104 : 15c [ . ] Train on Mountain Ledge (vertical)
Card 104 : 30c [ . ]

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3rd Series
Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 1 : 45c [ . ] Albertville, Pont de la Kalemie
Card 1 : 1 Fr. [ . ]

Card 5 : 45c [ . ] Chemin de Fer du Katanga, Locomotives
Card 5 : 1 Fr. [ . ]

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Belgian Congo Belge Entiers postaux series 1 Postal stationery view card railway train

Card 37 : 45c [ . ] Coal Mine, Makala (tracks)
Card 37 : 1 Fr. [ . ]

That completes the Belgian Congo section of this article.

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title Ruanda-Urundi title Ruanda-Urundi title Ruanda-Urundi title Ruanda-Urundi title Ruanda-Urundi

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1916 : Ruanda-Urundi overprints and surcharges on the 50c Mols railway bridge.

Ruanda-Urundi, a district of the colony German East Africa, was occupied by Belgian troops in 1916. It remained a territory under Belgian Mandate until 1962, but the only railway thematic interest in this territory is in the 50c Mols design issues of 1916-22. We examine these stamps as follows:

1916 Kigoma 'overprints'
1916 Stamps handstamped RUANDA
1916 Stamps handstamped URUNDI
1916 Belgian Occupation overprints
1918 Red Cross issue
1922 5c / 50c surcharges

Kigoma 'overprints'

As Yvert lists the Kigoma markings as Overprints / Handstamps, as opposed to Cancellations, we include them, although it is not a widely-shared opinion by experts that they are Overprints.

Ruanda-Urundi Kigoma 50c Mols train on bridge

The middle stamp has full gum and is signed as authentic by Théodore Champion, which does not help resolve the status of these stamps!

1916 50c Brown-Lake : Kigoma in Red Gothic letters (footnoted in Yvert) [ . ]
Yvert 6 : 1916 50c Brown-Lake : Kigoma in thick letters [ . ]
Yvert 6 : 1916 50c Brown-Lake : Kigoma in thin (larger letters) [ . ]
Yvert 6 : 1916 50c Brown-Lake : Kigoma in (to us) unknown style [ . ]

Yvert mentions that there are three types of Overprint / Handstamp for Yvert 6, not including the gothic overprint footnoted. We have not seen this third style but have provided a check-box for it.

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50c handstamped RUANDA only

Ruanda-Urundi RUANDA 50c Mols train on bridge

Handstamps (left to right) : Tombeur, Grysolle, Havre Perf 14, Havre Perf 15.

Below, Dies I & II copied from a different issue.

Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

Belgian Congo Belge Briefmarken 50c Mols train on bridge Belgian Congo Belge Briefmarken 50c Mols train on bridge

For this issue, and the next one (URUNDI handstamp), we are going to list every combination, since checking colour (as per Balasse), Die and perforation helps with the identification of the handstamp style, of which there are THREE.

The first handstamps were applied on the instructions of General Tombeur of the Belgian troops and the handstamp, which is bright lilac-red in colour is named after him. There was a second handstamp applied locally, in a much more GREY colour with a hint of red, known as the Grysolle handstamp. The third handstamp was applied at Le Havre, France, where the Belgian Government was in wartime exile, and is not unlike the Tombeur handstamp colour though perhaps more a greyish purple colour. The combinations of stamp shade and perforation, however, will often point towards the correct identification of these stamps.

WB R14 N 1 50c Lilac-Brown Die I Perf 14 [ . ] Type Tombeur
- ditto - but handstamp in BLUE * [ . ] Type Tombeur
WB R14 N 2 50c Intense Red-Brown Die II Perf 14 [ . ] Type Grysolle
WB R14 N 3 50c Brown-Red Die I Perf 14 [ . ] Type Havre
WB R14 N 4 50c Lilac-Brown Die I Perf 15 [ . ] Type Havre

* Handstamps in Blue are footnoted by Willy Balasse and are very scarce.
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50c handstamped URUNDI only

Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge

Handstamps (left to right) : Tombeur, Grysolle, Havre Perf 14, Havre Perf 15. The Havre Perf 14 stamp shown above is very similar to the Tombeur and the small difference in the shade of the stamp does not show up in the scan.

Note that two of the stamp colours given below for the URUNDI are different to the RUANDA.
WB R21 N 1 50c Lilac-Brown Die I Perf 14 [ . ] Type Tombeur
- ditto - but handstamp in BLUE ? ** [ . ] Type Tombeur
WB R21 N 2 50c Deep Lilac-Brown Die II Perf 14 [ . ] Type Grysolle
WB R21 N 3 50c Brown-Red Die I Perf 14 [ . ] Type Havre
WB R21 N 4 50c Brown-Red Die I Perf 15 [ . ] Type Havre

** We have only seen the handstamp in Blue on the RUANDA Tombeur issue and it is not specifically mentioned for URUNDI in Willy Balasse and should not be assumed to exist.
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1916 Belgian Occupation overprints

In November 1918, delivery was taken of Belgian Congo stamps with machine overprint in French and Flemish / Dutch which translates from both languages into English as 'German East Africa / Belgian Occupation'.

Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge

The first two stamps above are the two listed shades of the 'Long Overprint' (WB R33 N 2 and N 3) and the last stamp shows the variety 'Large 'T' in OCCUPATION, with normal and 'Large T' detail scans alongside.

There are two settings of the surcharge, with all the stamps in each sheet of 50 being in the same setting. In the 'short overprint', the words OCCUPATION BELGE are 21½ mms long. In the 'long overprint', the measuremnet is 22 mms. Note: Neither measurement includes the full stop. However, the gap between the two words is visually different in the two settings, forming a rectagle between the words in the 'short overprint' and more like a square in the 'long overprint'. The gap between the two words is shown below, 'short overprint' on the left.

Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge

The gap can also be measured, 1.2 or 1.3 mms for the short overprint and 1.6 mms for the long overprint. We have seen that sometimes the first 'O' in 'OCCUPATION' is slightly broken at right, almost making another 'C', but we have not listed this variety below.

All the 50c stamps in this issue are Perf 14 and in Die II. We give Willy Balasse colours below.

WB R33 N 1 : 50c Lilac-Brown SHORT overprint [ . ]
WB R33 N 2 : 50c Deep Lilac-Brown LONG overprint [ . ] see scan above for shade
WB R33 N 3 : 50c Intense Red-Brown LONG overprint [ . ] se scan above for shade
WB R33 S 1 : 50c with LONG overprint (either shade) with variety Large 'T' in 'OCCUPATION' [ . ]

The 'Large T' is only found on the Long Overprint setting.

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TAXE(S) handstamps and cancellations (1916 Occupation Opts)

Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge

1916 OCCUPATION BELGE opt on 50c Brown-Lake with small boxed TAXES [ . ]
This is the only style of TAXE(S) marking we have seen on this issue. They may well be others.

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Ruanda-Urundi 1918 Red Cross Surcharge

Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge

WB R41 N 1 : 50c + 50c Red-Brown & Blue optd A.O. in Black, surcharged in vermilion. Perf 14 [ . ]
WB R41 N 1 : as above but Perf 15 [ . ]
WB R41 E 1 : as above but Imperforate [ . ]

A.O. stands for Afrique Orientale (East Africa). Imperforate stamps are from a special printing. As with the Red Cross surcharges of the Belgian Congo, used copies are much less frequently encountered than mint, perhaps in the case of Ruanda-Urundi to the point of rarity?

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Ruanda-Urundi 5c / 50c

Ruanda-Urundi URUNDI 50c Mols train on bridge

Perforations of the 1922 5c/50c.
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Perf 14 [ . ]
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Perf 15 [ . ]

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5c / 50c : Surcharge Inks :
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake with MATT surcharge [ . ]
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake with SHINY surcharge [ . ]

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5c / 50c : Surcharge Varieties:
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake Surcharge Inverted [ . ]
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TAXE(S) handstamps and cancellations (1922 5c / 50c)

timbres-poste Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge timbres-poste Belgian Congo Belge 50c Mols train on bridge

1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake - small boxed TAXES [ . ]
1922 5c / 50c Brown-Lake - large boxed TAXES [ . ]

These are the only examples we have seen of TAXE(S) markings on the 5c / 50c but there may well be others.
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Ruanda-Urundi Postal Stationery with Railway Views.

There is only one set of views for postal stationery cards of Ruanda-Urundi. Again, the series is numbered by the Post Office.

Set of 50 Cards, numbered 1-50 : Railway Interest: # 19, 38, 47, 50

Below is a display of the two printed 'stamps' used on these cards and their two surcharges:

Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains
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Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains

Card 19 : 5c [ . ] Lulanguru, La Gare
Card 19 : 10c [ . ]
Card 19 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 19 : 15c / 10c [ . ]

Card 38 : 5c [ . ] Locomotive
Card 38 : 10c [ . ]
Card 38 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 38 : 15c / 10c [ . ]

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Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains Ruanda-Urundi entiers postaux postal stationery cards views vues trains

Card 47 : 5c [ . ] Entrée des Belges à Tamora (railway tracks, WITH horses)
Card 47 : 10c [ . ]
Card 47 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 47 : 15c / 10c [ . ]

Card 50 : 5c [ . ] Entrée des Belges à Tamora (railway tracks, NO horses)
Card 50 : 10c [ . ]
Card 50 : 15c / 5c [ . ]
Card 50 : 15c / 10c [ . ]

End of Ruanda-Urundi section of this article.
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Below is an extract from the Chemin de Fer du Katanga 'Règlement Géneral de Circulation' appendix booklet which illustrated lineside signal boards and, shown below, official handsignals for railway employees!

Chemin de Fer du Katanga Instructions Chemin de Fer du Katanga Instructions Chemin de Fer du Katanga Instructions Chemin de Fer du Katanga Instructions Chemin de Fer du Katanga Instructions

1. Le bras levé verticalement signifie en avant
One arm raised vertically means 'move forwards'

2. Un cercle complet décrit verticalement avec le bras étendu signifie en arrière
Describing a circle with the arm fully stretched upwards means 'move backwards'

3. Les deux bras grand ouverts, étendus horizontalement commandent l'arrêt
Both arms fully extended horizontally means Stop

4. Les deux bras ouverts et étendus, mais agités lentement de haut en bas, commandent le ralentissement.
Arms outstretched, slowly moved up and down, means Slow Down

5. Le battement des mains levées au-dessus de la tête signifie, en manoeuvres, que le machiniste doit avancer ou reculer très lentement de façon à mettre les buttoirs de deux véhicules en contact pour permettre leur accrochage.
Clapping the hands above the head is a signal to train drivers, when shunting, to go forwards or backwards very slowly, so as to bring the buffers of two vehicles together to enable them to be coupled.

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Belgian Congo Belge Vivicongo BCK

A reminder, as mentioned at the beginning, that the Railway Parcel Stamps of the Vicicongo and Chemins de Fer du Bas-Congo (BCK) are covered by us in a separate article. You can access this other article via our 'List of All Railway Articles' page (link in left margin and also directly below).
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