Postage stamps and postal history of the British Cameroons
This article is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of the British Cameroons. It falls into two essential parts: the occupation of German Kamerun by Anglo-French forces in 1915, when German Colonial stamps were issued with an overprint and surcharge; and the situation following a 1961 plebiscite, after which British Cameroons was divided between Cameroon and Nigeria.
Cameroon was a German protectorate called Kamerun on the outbreak of the First World War. It was invaded by Anglo-French forces in September 1914 and finally overrun in February 1916. The bulk of the country became the French colony of Cameroun while Great Britain claimed two western areas, adjacent to the Nigerian border. These were collectively known as British Cameroons and, following the Second World War, separately as Northern Cameroons and Southern Cameroons. The Anglo-French claims were ratified by League of Nations mandates in 1922.
British Occupation issues: 1915
The British occupation forces operating out of Nigeria issued stamps of Kamerun in July 1915 which were overprinted C.E.F. (i.e., Cameroons Expeditionary Force) and surcharged with values from one halfpenny to five shillings.
From about 1920, British cameroons used stamps of Nigeria without overprint. These can be recognised only cancellation marks which show one of 15 relevant post offices. After the Second World War ended, British Cameroons was formally divided into its northern and southern constituents but both continued to use the Nigerian stamps with local cancellations.
Northern and Southern Cameroons
After French Cameroun became independent in January 1960, it was decided to hold plebiscites in Northern and Southern Cameroons in February 1961. Northern Cameroons opted to join Nigeria, effective from 31 May 1961, and so continued to use Nigerian stamps as before.
Southern Cameroons opted to join Cameroon on 1 October 1961. In the meantime, the area was administered as a United Kingdom Trust Territory (UKTT) and used stamps of Nigeria, values one halfpenny to one pound, that were inscribed CAMEROONS U.K.T.T. These stamps were also valid in Northern Cameroons. The stamps became invalid in each area when its separate existence ended.
The stamps are readily available to collectors today, with most values not selling at low prices.
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Shilling stamp used at Mubi, now in Nigeria
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Threepence stamp used at Kumba, now in Cameroon
Southern Cameroons Free State
In 2011, the Federation of Free States of Africa, an organization representing various "emerging African new states" began to issue cinderella stamps (supposedly to be used as postage stamps upon the country's independence) for the Southern Cameroons Free State. Nine cinderellas have been issued, one containing the coat of arms and the other designs being based on postage stamps of the German colonies and British Guiana.
References and sources
- Rossiter & Flower, pp.314–315.
- Gibbons, British Commonwealth 1966, p.183.
- Gibbons, British Commonwealth 1966, p.810.
- Southern Cameroons Stamps. AfricaStamps.org , 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2013.
- Stanley Gibbons Ltd, various catalogues.
- Stanley Gibbons Ltd, British Commonwealth 1966, Stanley Gibbons Ltd, 1965.
- Stanley Gibbons Ltd, Europe and Colonies 1970, Stanley Gibbons Ltd, 1969.
- Stanley Gibbons Ltd, Great Britain Concise 1997, Stanley Gibbons Ltd, 1997.
- Rossiter, Stuart & John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald, 1986. ISBN 0-356-10862-7
- XLCR Stamp Finder and Collector's Dictionary, Thomas Cliffe Ltd, c. 1960.