Paper Heritage - French Equatorial Africa - AEF - Mindouli Viaduct Issues

There are two designs with a railway viaduct in French Equatorial Africa (abbreviated FEA in English, AEF in French), the overprints on the Middle Congo Mindouli Viaduct and a new design of the same viaduct with face values of 1c, 2c, 3c, 4c and 5c, inscribed Afrique Equatoriale Franšaise. This article describes these issues as follows:

1. Middle Congo issue of 1933
2. FEA overprints on Middle Congo, 1936
3. FEA new design, 1937
4. 1936 & 1937 designs overprinted AFRIQUE FRANCAISE LIBRE (1940)
5. FEA 1937 design overprinted Afrique Franšaise Libre (1940)
6. Fiscal surcharges on Middle Congo & FEA Stamps
7. FEA Unadopted Design for a Mindouli Viaduct Postage Due (new design)

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1. Middle Congo issue of 1933

FEA stamps

Above, the un-surcharged 1933 values inscribed Moyen Congo (listed under French Congo in most catalogues).

1c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
2c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
4c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
5c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
10c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
15c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
20c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
25c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
30c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]

French Congo was split into several territories including Middle Congo in 1907, and in 1910 Middle Congo became part of French Equatorial Africa (FEA), being rejoined in that federation by Gabon and Ubangi-Shari-Chad, but not Chad. However, there were no stamps for this federation until 1936, when both Gabon and Middle Congo stamps were overprinted 'AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANCAISE' to provide the first issue for FEA. Bespoke definitive issues for the federated territory followed in 1937.

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2. FEA overprints on Middle Congo, 1936.

FEA stamps

1c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
2c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
4c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
5c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
10c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
15c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
20c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
25c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]

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3. FEA new design, 1937.

FEA stamps FEA stamps

Above: The 1937 Mindouli Viaduct values in the new design and an undenominated proof.
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1937 (except 3c, 1940): Low values of the First Definitive Issue for FEA.

1c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
2c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
3c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
4c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
5c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]

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4. 1936 & 1937 designs overprinted AFRIQUE FRANCAISE LIBRE (1940).

FEA stamps

Above: Large overprint in RED, 4 basic values 1c, 2c, 3c, 5c

FEA stamps FEA stamps FEA stamps

Above: Unissued 4c with Red overprint; the scarce 5c with BLACK opt; a detail of a 1c with thin 'L' in 'LIBRE'

** The scan of the 4c with Red Overprint above is from an illustration cut out of a 2001 Maison Roumet auction catalogue; the stamp sold for French Francs 4759.00 (convertible 2001-2005 at the rate 6.55957 Francs = 1 Euro, viz. 725 Euros at 2001 prices).
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1940 : FEA 1937 Definitives overprinted in Red Capital letters : AFRIQUE FRANCAISE LIBRE

1c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double* [ . ]

2c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double* [ . ]

3c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double* [ . ]

4c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
UNISSUED (8 stamps known to exist**)

5c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double* [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - 'I' of 'LIBRE' missing [ . ]

5c Mindouli Viaduct OVERPRINTED IN BLACK (scarce) [ . ]

* : These stamps with Surcharge Double are often found with the additional surcharge applied diagonally.

Thin 'L' in 'LIBRE' : The printing and inking of the overprint is frequently of disappointing quality, resulting in damaged letters, notably a thin 'L' in 'LIBRE', which probably exists at least on the 1c, 2c, 3c and 5c with Red Overprint. We have not listed this thin 'L' variety but have illustrated a 1c with this feature in the scans above.
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FEA stamps

1940 : Unoverprinted Middle Congo stamp of 1933 overprinted in Red Capital Letters : AFRIQUE FRANCAISE LIBRE

4c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]

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FEA stamps

Above: Row 1 : Normal; Thin 'L' in 'LIBRE'. . . Row 2 : LIBRE Double; LIBRE inverted.
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1940: Middle Congo stamp with 1936 FEA overprint, further overprinted 'LIBRE' in Black.

4c Mindouli Viaduct [ . ]
- ditto - 'LIBRE' inverted [ . ]
- ditto - 'LIBRE' double [ . ]
- ditto - Small (thin) 'L' in 'LIBRE' (Position 33) [ . ]
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5. FEA 1937 design overprinted Afrique Franšaise Libre (1940).
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1937 Definitives with overprint in Black, lower case letters (except first letter of each word). Two printings:

First Printing : Lines of Overprint 2 mms apart (narrow spacing).
Second Printing : Lines of Overprint 3.5 mms apart (wide spacing).

There are numerous varieties on the First Printing of these issues, as shown in some of the illustrations below.

FEA stamps FEA stamps FEA stamps

Above (left) : Examples of the Narrow and Wide spacing of the lines of overprint.
Above (right) : 'c' of 'Franšaise' with cedilla (normal) and without cedilla (variety).

FEA stamps

Above: 1c and 2c with Inverted Opt.; 2c (photocopy) with Double Opt.; 5c with major overprint shift (downwards).
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First Printing:

1c (narrow spacing) [ . ]
- ditto - no cedilla ('c' for 'š' in overprint) [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Inverted [ . ]

2c (narrow spacing) [ . ]
- ditto - no cedilla ('c' for 'š' in overprint) [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Double [ . ]

3c (narrow spacing) [ . ]
- ditto - no cedilla ('c' for 'š' in overprint) [ . ]

5c (narrow spacing) [ . ]
- ditto - no cedilla ('c' for 'š' in overprint) [ . ]
- ditto - Overprint Inverted [ . ]
- ditto - surcharge very low (listed in Maury, #139d) [ . ]
- ditto - surcharge Ó cheval [ . ]

We have not seen the 3c with Overprint Inverted but it may well exist. The scan shows a 2c with Overprint Double, again from a Roumet auction, a variety which is not listed in catalogues, to our knowledge. There appear to quite a few such unlisted varieties for this issue.
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Second Printing:

1c (wide spacing) [ . ]
2c (wide spacing) [ . ]
3c (wide spacing) [ . ]
5c (wide spacing) [ . ]

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6. Fiscal Surcharges.

Certain values of the postage stamps in this article were also surcharged for revenue use. The surcharge identified the purpose of the stamp as follows:

Surcharged DIMENSION or FISCAL : We have been unable to determine any significant difference between the usage of the words DIMENSION and FISCAL. These stamps were used for stamp duty / sales taxes and for numerous other duties, taxes and fees payable.

Stamps surcharged PECULE were used for the compulsory contributions of forced labour workers towards their own welfare and possibly retirement pensions. From this, one presumes that the forced labour workers were paid, but with the State then reducing the financial burden on itself by making obligatory social security deductions.

Our listing below, and much of our information, is mostly from older sources but John Barefoot's website carries a very recent work-in-progress, an unpublished listing of these stamps, which includes items that are not in our listing below. His website allows you to access his listing for private use only. This link (which opens in a new tab) takes you to an introduction page where you need to click on the words CLICK HERE to access his illustrated listing : Link to John Barefoot's unpublished catalogue

Note: Links between websites can fail over time. If the link doesn't work, try John Barefoot's website - Revenue Stamps Information - French Equatorial Africa.
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Moyen Congo Issue without FEA Overprint:

There was one issue around 1939 which used unoverprinted MOYEN CONGO stamps overprinted 'PECULE'. We do not have an illustration for these at present but there are illustrations in the John Barefoot listing.

10 fr / 1c PECULE [ . ]
20 fr / 2c PECULE [ . ]
20 fr / 4c PECULE [ . ]
20 fr / 20c PECULE [ . ]

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The other revenue stamps (below) are all on stamps overprinted or inscribed AFRIQUE EQUATORIALE FRANCAISE.

FEA stamps
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DIMENSION (1941-1945) :

5 fr / 1c DIMENSION[ . ]
10 fr / 1c DIMENSION[ . ]

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FEA stamps
FEA stamps
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FISCAL: (1941-1945)

0f50 / 1c FISCAL, 'f' of 'fr' about 30% taller than the 'r'.[ . ]
- ditto - 'f' of 'fr' about 60% taller than the 'r' [ . ]
- ditto - wider spacing between 'f' and 'r' of 'fr' [ . ]
- ditto - '5' of '50' in surcharge omitted [ . ]
0f75 / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
0f75 / 2c FISCAL [ . ]
1fr50 / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
1fr50 / 3c FISCAL [ . ]
2fr / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
3fr / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
4fr / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
5fr / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
10fr / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
- ditto - wider spacing between 'f' and 'r' of 'fr' [ . ]
50fr / 1c FISCAL [ . ]
- ditto - wider spacing between 'f' and 'r' of 'fr' [ . ]

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PECULE (1939):

FEA stamps

1936 Middle Congo with AEF overprint, further overprinted 'PECULE' : 10fr / 1c [ . ]
1936 Middle Congo with AEF overprint, further overprinted 'PECULE' : 20fr / 2c [ . ]

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A further overprint 'TIMBRE PECULE' was produced, for which we have one poor quality image at present:

FEA stamps
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TIMBRE PECULE (1942):

5fr / 1c TIMBRE PECULE [ . ]
10fr / 2c with small letters 'fr' in surcharge TIMBRE PECULE [ . ]
- ditto - with large letters 'fr' in surcharge [ . ]
25fr / 3c TIMBRE PECULE [ . ]
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7. FEA Unadopted Design for a Mindouli Viaduct Postage Due (new design).

FEA stamps FEA stamps

A sepia photographic record of an unadopted Essay for a Postage Due stamp for French Equatorial Africa, affixed to card. This is probably the Mindouli Viaduct again, but the train is now approaching, rather than receding. We have only seen one example of this essay, most likely emanating from a sale of printers' archive material. These photographic records can be unique survivors, but we have no further information on this particular design.

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