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Africa/All : Madagascar, March 1896 provisional set

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01 Aug 2015
Early Madagascar has a fascinating philatelic history, but due to numerous provisional and local issues it is certainly a difficult country to collect. The colonial war 1894/1896 which ended (predictably) with Madagascar becoming a French colony in August 1896 caused numerous philatelic rarities. In fall 1896 the first colonial stamps arrived and Madagascar becomes a country that can be collected more easily.

In any event, the March 1896 oval surcharged set was initiated by the French Military, so these really are military stamps. The French Military postmark "Tresor et Postes aux Armees 1 Madagascar" corresponds to the Bureau militaire Residence generale de Tananarive (Etat Major). It is the most common of existing postmarks on this set. Any other postmarks are either great rarities (Bureaus 2, 3, 4, or 5) or supremely suspicious.

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According to Neues Handbuch der Briefmarkenkunde, Vol. A3, the earliest use is noted on March 9, the latest on April 8, 1896. If someone has alternate information -- which could be plus/minus a few days -- this could be helpful. In addition to the fact that 90%+ of these stamps have all the same postmark (as shown), the one month usage also provides a simple way to eliminate existing fakes, such as this one:

Cancelled March 13 1897

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