Algeria - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Algeria spanning almost a million in square miles of land area is the second largest country in Africa (behind Sudan). Located in Northern Africa and bordered by Tunisia, Libya, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, and the Mediterranean Sea to the North it has a population over 33 million people. By African standards Algeria’s GDP of around $7000 (PPP) is very respectable but the disparity in wealth distribution is immense as the subsistence of close to 25% of the population is under $2 per diem. The major industries of Algeria are oil refineries, carpet and textiles, chemical and cement plants etc.

Travel Resources:

Algeria is a mine of  natural and historical attractions – deserts, mosques, ruins, mountains etc. Sites in the North include the Roman ruins at Djemila, Tipassa and Timgad and the historic towns of Oran, Annaba, and Constantine. The capital city of Algiers feature Ottoman architecture and the UNESCO site of Casbah. Areas in the Sahara desert covering the South include Assekrem with ‘The End of the World’ best sunrise views in the Sahara, and the oasis towns of Benne Abbes, and Timimoun. March through October are considered tourist friendly.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Algeria978-1741790993$40One of the only guidebooks to travelling in Algeria. Good coverage with itineraries, pictures, history, culture, and sites including a good introduction to Saharan Rock Art.
Algeria Bradt Travel Guide978-1841622323$20A practical introduction followed by region wise coverage of the sites.
Algeria Geographical Map by Gizi Map978-9638680815$131:2.5 million scale. Major and Minor roads along with distances, features, and sites.
A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 from the New York Review Books Classics978-1590172186$14Documents the Algerian War of Independence against the French during the period form 1954 to 1962. Over one million people died in the struggle and one criticism to the work is that the book does not adequately portray the brutality.
Algeria Travel AdapterB001FD3IUK$11


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Algeria were French ones issued between 1900 and 1929 (Scott #109-115) symbolizing liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, and fraternity), the national motto of France. The same stamps were reissued with overprints “ALGERIE” during the period from 1924 to 1926.
  • Both the French issues and ones with the overprint (Scott #1 to #4 and #6) are easily available.
  • Double overprints are known to exist and legitimate copies of those are valued in the hundreds.
  • Imperforate stamps in this series catalog in the $50 range.
  • Between 1859 and 1924, Algeria used special stamps of France issued for French colonies and many of those are valued in the hundreds (French Colonies Scott #1 through 59).
Algeria started issuing their own stamps in 1926. The first such issue depicts a street in Kasbah, Algiers the nation’s capital. Another design is that of the Marabout (tomb) of Sidi-Yacoub located in the small city of Blida, about 30 miles south-west of Algiers. Completing the collection is a couple portraying the famous mosques - Mosque of Sidi Abd-er-Rahman and La Pecherie Mosque in Algiers (Scott #33 to #67). The set catalogues for $100 mint and at about half for used.

Many of the stamps in the classic period (before 1940) had designs of famous mosques or tombs of Muslim saints called marabouts - Algeria is predominately a Muslim country (~99%). Among other themes are the 1937 “Taking of Constantine by the French” set (Scott #113 to #116) and the semi-postal set commemorating the 20th anniversary of armistice (Scott #B28 to #B31). The former set catalogs for under $10 while the latter one under $35. Also around are a pair of global themed sets of 1937, one issued for the Paris International Exposition (Scott #109 to #112) and the other for New York World’s fair (Scott #126 to #130). The sets catalog for about $5 and $10 respectively. Scenes from Algiers, Constantine, and Oran, the three provincial departments of the French, were another common theme for Algerian stamps during the early period.

The modern history of Algeria is predicated on the Algerian independence movement from 1954 to 1962, a guerrilla war also known as the Algerian War of Independence. Of particular significance is the issue in July 1958 illustrating the Algiers Arms Type of 1947 with the inscription “Republique Francaise”. This stamp is valued at around $20 used or mint (Scott #285 6fr red and green). In September 1958, Algeria became an integral part of France and from then on till July 1962, stamps of France were used in Algeria. The first issues after Independence were French stamps (Scott #939, #968, #945, #946, and #1013) with an “EA” overprint (Scott #286 to #290). These are valued at around $10. Genuine copies of the hand stamped overprints are valued much higher than the more common typographic overprint varieties.

Stamps of Algeria before independence in 1962 have the inscription “ALGÉRIE” while the ones after independence read “REPUBLIQUE ALGERIENNE”. Below are some other Algerian stamps enjoying good collector interest:
  • the 1963 Flag set (Scott #296 to 303) which catalog for around $30 Mint and about half that for used,
  • the miniature paintings set of 1966 by Mohammed Racim, the father of Algerian miniatures (Scott #362 to 364) which catalog for around $15 Mint and one-third that for used, and
  • the sister set of wall paintings from Tassili-n-ajjer (Scott #365 to 368) also similarly valued.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Algeria were French Colonial issues from 1949 onwards. Prior to this, the provinces covering present-day Algeria had a history of issuing hammered coins during the Ottoman era (Selim III – 1789 to 1807 AD, Mahmud II – 1808 to 1839 AD, etc) and local coinage from French colonial era (Abdel Kader – 1834 to 1847 AD). The designs from 1949 showed Head with Laureled Hood on the Obverse and wheat columns and denomination on the reverse. The Copper-Nickel issues had mintages into the millions and so are very affordable even in UNC (Uncirculated) condition. Token coinage from the provinces of Bone (Annaba), Alger, Bougie etc dominated the scene during the 1910s. The issues are comparatively more valuable fetching into the $100 range for UNC. Other numismatic items from Algeria include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Republic Coins$2 and upUNCs from the 1960s onwards start around $2. Slabbed MS65 or higher graded coins from the 1950s and prior dates go into the $100 range. Gold coins in the 1, 2, and 5 denominations released in 1992 is a popular collectible. They trade at a slight premium over bullion value.
Paper Money$2 and up1940s issues denominated at 5 francs start around $2. UNC issues from the 1990s denominated at 100 dinars and above start around $10. Rarer WWII notes, 1000 dinar bank notes from the late 1990s start around $20.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Popular reminders of Algeria are copper and brassware, local dresses, fine basketwork, pottery, postcards, and photos.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Postcards$1 and upLarge quantities of early 20th century color postcards are on the market with certain colorful ones showing caricatures of historically relevant scenes fetching a premium.
Photos$3 and upFrench colonial scenes, landscapes, and costumes form the major subjects.
Art$5 to $10KPopular themes include costumes, street scenes, and scenes portraying French influence.



Last Updated: 12/2015.
 

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