Beginner's Guide to Liberian Philately

What is philately?

According to Wikipedia:

Philately ( /fɪˈlætəliː/ fi-la-tə-lee) is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps. For instance, the stamps being studied may be very rare, or reside only in museums[1].

I personally like to collect early Liberian stamps and postal history. I also enjoy researching information about the items that I collect. One reason I set up this wiki is to gather and share that information.

Why Liberia?

There are many reasons why people enjoy Liberian Philately…

  • Many items of interest to topical collectors. Topical collectors collect stamps which have a certain subject such as elephants, dogs, flowers, etc. These collections cross many countries but Liberian stamps offer many subjects that topical collectors would be interested in.
  • For collectors in the United States, there is a historical tie between Liberia and the United States as Liberia was established by the American Colonisation Society in 1822 [2]. It doesn't hurt that English is the official language in Liberia so reading the stamps is easier for people from English speaking countries.
  • If you like searching for errors, freaks or oddities (EFOs), then Liberian stamps are perfect for you. How many of these EFOs are "manufactured" versus truly accidental is debatable but it does offer a lot of collecting possibilities and many are quite affordable.
  • Most of the stamps are quite attractive. From early on, Liberia contracted with some of the world's most renowned printing firms to product very attractive stamps including many with intricate engravings.
  • Plenty to discover. Some areas of philately have hundreds of books and thousands of articles written about them. There is still a lot of "unknowns" left to be researched and discovered about Liberian stamps and postal history.
  • There are probably many more reasons but these are the ones that first came to mind as I created this page. If you have other ideas, please let me know.


You mention "Liberia" to many stamp collectors and they shudder or giggle. As early as 1892, Liberia has been accused of manufacturing stamps directly for the collector market to help generate revenue for the country. This is especially true in recent years where Liberia issues stamps that have nothing to do with the country at all. In later years, Liberia also sold stamps through its philatelic agency at face value where $1 US = $1 Liberia. They would then sell off remainders at a later date for 80%-90% discount[3]. As you can image, this did not sit well with collectors who bought at face value. These are a couple of reasons why I concentrate on the first 100 years for my personal collection. But stamp collecting is a personal thing. Collect what you like. Just do some research before you buy and don't expect to make a fortune when you go to sell your collection. My advice to you before making any purchases is to look through eBay completed auctions to gauge what the going price is on what you are looking for. Learn and enjoy!

Further reading

Although the bibliography has many entries, for Liberian philately, the references most often quoted are:

  • Philip Cockrill series of booklets. This is a series of small booklets that contain a huge amount of information. Out of print but often found on eBay or can usually be found at Philatelic Bibliopole or other philatelic book dealers. Also can be found at most philatelic libraries.
  • A Century of Liberian Philately by Col. Henry Harper Rogers. Lacking some of the detail of the other two books on this list, it is still a very good reference book. Out of print but often found on eBay or can usually be found at Philatelic Bibliopole or other philatelic book dealers. Also can be found at most philatelic libraries.
  • Liberia Specialized Catalogue, 1975 by Lothar von Saleski. Published in a three ring binder, this book discusses many of the varieties that exist for Liberian stamps. Out of print and difficult to find an original although I have seen photocopies being sold on eBay. Also can be found at most philatelic libraries.


1. Wikipedia entry for Philately
2. Wikepedia entry for Liberia
3. "Another Canadian Innovation" / p. 200 / Postal Stationery / Sep-Oct 1974

External links

See also

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