Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Belgian Congo"


Mr. Derek Wiltshire


A most interesting display was viewed by members of the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society last Friday evening (25th April) on the subject of the Belgian Congo (known today as the Democratic Republic of Congo). 

This was presented by Derek Wiltshire who gave a brief resume of the events leading to the creation, by King Leopold II of Belgium, of the Independent State of the Congo in 1885. In 1908 it became the Belgian Congo. Derek began with a display of prepaid postal stationery with stamp illustrating a palm tree (Palm Oil was an essential trading commodity). 

In 1892 new stamps were issued depicting King Leopold II. In 1897 a return to the Palm Tree. In 1921, supplies of stamps ran out and stamps of 1910 were overprinted with "1921". Throughout the years there were many differing designs on the stamps - people, landscapes, animals, Fokker Aircraft, National Parks, natives and native occupations, Queen Astrid Fund for Children, Flowers of the Congo, Masks and carvings. Also displayed were Postage Due stamps. There were commemorative issues also - in 1947 marking the 50th Anniversary of the Abolition of Slavery & in 1952 - the 50th Anniversary of the Belgian Annexation of the Congo. Air Mail Covers and stamps were also shown. 

After the break Derek continued with a fascinating display of stamps from Ruanda-Urundi. In 1916 the stamps originally issued by the country were overprinted to mark the Belgian Military Occupation which lasted until 1924 when it became a League of Nations Mandate of Belgium. In 1931 stamps were issued for Ruanda-Urundi (no overprints) but they were Belgian designs. In 1961 Ruanda became Independent as the Republic of Rwanda. In 1962 Urundi became the Kingdom of Burundi. Each country was now able to issue its own stamps. 

Derek showed a wonderful array of postcards of Jesuit, and other, missions - who were supposedly giving the native people an education. Also postcards of landscapes, occupations, people etc. Many cards showed the gathering of palm oil - Lever Brothers had a big investment in the Belgian Congo. 

Margaret Allan led Members in giving thanks for such a variable and informative display.   

Our next meeting in St Johnís Church Hall, Duke Street, Hamilton, is this coming Friday, 2nd May, at 7:30pm when Club members will display 5 Sheets - or - pay 50p! 

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.