Lanarkshire Philatelic Society


"Mr. Derek Wiltshire"




Lanarkshire Philatelic Society enjoyed a marvellous display on Friday afternoon when Derek Wiltshire presented stamps, covers, postmarks, postal stationery and historic postcards relating to the island formerly named Zanzibar – off the east coast of Africa.

Zanzibar has a variable and complex history. Its existence really became known after Vasco da Gama claimed it for the King of Portugal in 1499 – and the Portuguese held the island for the next 200 years. Mail was taken and brought to the island by trading ships – and a few early covers and letters  were displayed. It was not until 1868 that a Post Office was opened by India and British Indian stamps, with Queen Victoria’s image, were used for mail. The PO was closed in 1869 for political reasons but opened again in 1875. Later the stamps were overprinted with "Zanzibar". In 1896, after a brief war – 38 minutes! – caused by an argument about who should be the next Sultan - the British won the choice and the postal administration moved to British East Africa. Until 1963 Stamps then were issued as a British Protectorate with the overprint. In 1926 – 27, owing to a shortage of low value stamps available, Indian stamps were once again used.

In 1896 the first definitives depicting the Sultan were issued. In 1899 a French Post Office, using French stamps, also used the overprint.

In 1904 when Ali-bin-Hamoud became Sultan, his monogram was displayed on the issuing stamps. 

The stamp design gradually became more picturesque –with views of ships, of historic buildings, of nature etc. In 1964 there was an ethnic Revolution – and stamps were issued with the overprint "Jamhuri" (Swahili - meaning "Republic")  Zanzibar then united with Tanganyika to form Tanzania. Until 1967 Stamps were issued bearing the legend "Zanzibar Tanzania".

There were many views of postal stationery. Throughout the display variable Postmarks and covers were viewed.  Postcards showed the German ship SMS Königsberg ("His Majesty's Ship Königsberg") which, in 1914 destroyed the British protected cruiser HMS Pegasus.  In 1915 the British retaliated and severely damaged the German ship. Also displayed were many historic postcards of many aspects of the country.

Also displayed was an Invitation to the Sultan to attend the Memorial Service for King Edward VII being held in the Cathedral Church of Christ in Stone Town, Zanzibar (1910). Also the Form of Prayer used in the Service. Programme of Visit to Zanzibar by Princess Margaret in 1956.


Bob Forrest led members in giving warm thanks to Derek Wiltshire for presenting such a marvellous and well researched display.

Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton, is on Friday 3rd Februar, 2023, at 1:30pm, when members will present their displays on the theme of ‘Winter/Spring’.

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


More details of the Society’s programme - and much more information – can be obtained from our web site –