First Issues of Mauritania
Mauritania's first stamps used generic designs for French West Africa
including this one depicting former governor, General Louis Faidherbe .
The first postage due issue depicts a coastal town and the heads of Africans.
When the editor of the Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal reported the release of Mauritania's first stamps he questioned the necessity of the stamps claiming that the colony was so obscure that the printers did not know where to send the stamps. He pointed out that the main motivation for releasing more than one issue for all of French West Africa was to generate revenue from philatelic markets:
We glean from Le Journal des Philatelistes some details as to the French possessions in this part of the world, which seem to be now grouped together philatelically, and for which one series of stamps might well suffice.
In September, 1902, these territories were officially divided into the colonies of Senegal, French Guinea, Ivory Coast, Dahomey, and Senegambia and Niger ; to these has now been added, we are told, by the Postal Administration of the Colonies, a division termed Mauritania, the geographical position of which appears to be unknown! Our contemporary assures us that the officials at the Colonial Office in Paris do not know where to send the stamps supposed to belong to this mythical colony. Most surely that little detail should give them no trouble, the destination of all these labels is the same ; a set more or loss can make little difference to those who can afford to collect French Colonials. The whole stock of the Mauritanian issue should be consigned to the department which supplies stamps to collectors and dealers.
This new set is in the designs described last month, but inscribed "MAURITANIA" We have seen the following values so far :
5 c., 10 c., 25 c.
M. Bernichon tells us that Mauritania is situated between Senegal and Morocco, being the western portion of the Sahara ; it is separated from the sea by the Spanish Colony of Rio de Oro. It was in this territory that the well-known French explorer, M. Coppolane, was assassinated last year by the Moors. It would be only right that a portrait of M. Coppolane should appear upon the stamps.
Contrary to the editor's suggestion that the stamps honour a colonial administrator whose life was lost in Mauritania, M. Coppolane, the stamps followed the same designs as those of the other French West African territories depicting General Louis Faidherbe who followed his career in the colonial administration with a military and political career in France and Dr. Noel Eugene Ballay who succumbed to tropical disease while serving in Senegal.
Mauritania is situated between Senegal and Morocco, being the western portion of the
Sahara it was separated from the sea by the Spanish Colony of Rio de Oro.
Ellis, William S. and Steve McCurray. "The Stricken Land." National Geographic. Aug. 1987: 140-179.
"Mauritania." Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. 2005.
"New Issues and Varieties ." Stanley Gibbons Monthly Journal. 31 May 2006: 225.
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