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Somali Warriors Definitive of 1894

Obock Imperforate Definitive
The Obock definitive issue of 1894 features rectangular stamps depiciting Somali Warriors
and triangular designs depicting a camel and rider. The stamps are printed on quadrille paper
and are imperforate with simulated perforations printed as a frame in the design of the stamp.

Obock is a port on the Gulf of Tadjoura, just south of south of the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb at the entrance to the Red Sea. In 1857 the French Consul in Aden purchased the town. 1862, when the construction of the Suez Canal was well underway, this acquisition was ratified through a treaty with its Afar rulers. It was obtained for its strategic value as a coaling station to provide French ships with an alternative to the British controled port of Aden on the Arabian Peninsula. In 1894 France moved its administration to the more sheltered Port of Djibouti, a four and half hour cruise by dhow to the south. The "cradle of Djibouti's colonial history" went into decline. In 2011 it had a population of 30 000 with an economy based on fishing and shop-keeping. In the last decade it has been the subject of international attention as a training base for the U.S. Marines (particularly in preparation for the invasion of Iraq in 2003) and as a main port of exit for refugees from the horn of Africa attempting to flee to Yemen.

Map of Obock
Location of Obock from an Italian military map from 1896.
(University of Texas Map Library)

Indigenous Quarter Obock in 1885
The National Library of France has several images of Obock in early colonial times.

The first postage stamps used in Obock in 1883 were the general issues for French colonies. In 1892 French colonial issues overprinted "OBOCK" were introduced. These were superceded in the same year by French "Navigation of Commerce" key type designs. In 1893 and 1894 pictorial definitives were issued. The post office closed in 1894 when the colonial administration moved to Djibouti. Obock stamps were used in Djibouti until supplies were exhausted.

Navigation and Commerce Definitives
General issues for French Colonies and stamps overprinted "OBOCK"
were replaced by the "Navigation and Commerce" key type definitives.


DRC Yemen. "Migrants stranded in Obock between life and death." Yemen Mixed Migration Task Force - MMTF.
     9 Jul. 2010. Danish Refugee Council. Web. 18 August 2011;jsessionid=7E1F37DF097392068246EEF75455218C?redirect=%2Fstories%2F-%2Fasset_publisher%2F5sXD%2Fcontent%2Funhcr-y.

England, Andrew. "U.S. Military Grows in Djibouti." Free Republic. 30 Sep. 2002. np. Free Republic, LLC.
     Web. 18 Aug. 2011

Kloetzel, James E. ed. "Obock." Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. Sidney, Ohio: Scott Publishing, 2008. Print.

Mathieu, C. "Obock." Petite géographie de l'Afrique en général et des possessions françaises de la côte orientale en particulier :
     île de la Réunion, Madagascar, Ste-Marie de Madagascar, Mayotte, Nossi-Bé, Obock, etc... à l'usage des écoles. 87-88. Paris: Challamel, 1884.

"Obock." Wikipedia. 29 May 2011. Wikimeida Foundation, Inc. Web. 18 Aug. 2011

Rossiter, Stuart and John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald and Co., 1986.

"Tourisme." @djib. 2011. Djibouti Telecom. Web. 18 Aug. 2011

Vallée, George-François-Edmond. "Voyage d'etude a Obock." Miettes scolaires et administratives, par George Vallée. Paris: IMPRIMERIE BREVETEE CHARLES BLOT, 1890.

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