Gabon - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Gabon, a country in West Central Africa bordered by Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, and the Gulf of Guinea has a total land area of 103,347 square miles and a population of around 1.5 million. The natural resources of the country are petroleum, magnesium, iron, gold, uranium, and forests. Based on Gabon's oil revenues per capita GDP is $8,600 but it is a skewed figure in that the richest 20% of the population receive over 90% of the income while more than a third of all Gabonese live in poverty. Logging and manganese mining and remittances from other areas are the other major income generators. The country is renowned for its folklore and mythology. Work is underway to preserve these such as the mvett among the Fangs and the ingwala among the Nzebis.

Travel Resources:

Gabon has pledged to designate more than 11% of it to be set aside as National Park in its effort to promote ecotourism to the land. Though tourism is currently underdeveloped in Gabon, the country has excellent beaches, and fishing and hunting opportunities. The obala, ngombi, balafon and drums are the traditional musical instruments.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe: The Bradt Travel Guide978-1841620732$25Great introduction followed by region-wise coverage covering Libreville and the Estuary, The Middle Ogooue, The Ngounie, Coastal Ogooue, The Nyanga, Woleu-Ntem, The Ogooue-Ivindo, The High Ogooue, and the Ogooue-Lolo. Part 3 covers Sao Tome and Principe.
Cameroon and Gabon Travel Map978-1553411574$13Gabon Scale – 1:950,000. Cameroon Scale – 1:1,500,000. Inset maps of Yaounde and Douala.
Gabon Travel AdapterB001FDC9B4$8


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Gabon are stamps of French colonies from the 1881-86 time-frame hand-stamp surcharged in black with the denomination and ‘GAB’ released in 1886. Each stamp in the set (Scott #1 to #4) is valued upwards of $60 with the highest denomination cataloging for as high as $1700. A few other overprints were the only stamp issues of Gabon till the turn of the century. All those issues (Scott #6 to #15) are rare and catalogs from the hundreds to thousands of dollars. Gabon was under French West Africa before 1886.

Gabon was united with French Congo in 1886. They issued a long set of seventeen stamps showing a ‘Navigation and Commerce” allegory key type between 1904 and 1907. The set (Scott #16 to #32) catalogs for around $350 MNH or used. The key type inscription read ‘Gabon’. This was followed by an original issue in 1910 which has the Gabon inscription along with “Congo Francais”. That set (Scott #33 to #48) is even more valuable and catalog for around $750 MNH and used. The design shows Fang warrior, Fang woman, and Libreville. Fang people are natives of Gabon, southern Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Libreville is the largest city of Gabon and is also its capital. Surcharge overprints and overprints that read ‘Afrique Equatoriale Francaise’ on these sets were the primary stamp issues of Gabon until 1931.

Other issues of Gabon enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A long set of twenty four stamps issued between 1932 and 1933 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #124 to #147) catalogs for around $140 MNH and $100 Used. The designs show timber raft on Ogowe River, Count Savorgnan de Brazza, and village of Setta Kemma. Issues of French Equatorial African were used in Gabon after this issue.
  2. A set of two stamps released on November 28, 1959 to mark independence achieved on August 17, 1960 and the one year anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic. The republic set (Scott #148 to #149) is inexpensive and catalogs for less than a dollar. The designs show Prime Minister Leon Mba and a flag and map of Gabon and UN Emblem. Gabriel Leon M’ba was the first Prime Minister (1959 to 1961) and President (1961 to 1967) of Gabon. Although M’ba had aspirations to establish a democratic regime, his views shifted and by 1961 adopted a “hyperpresidential” regime. The regime, actively supported by France continued under Albert Bernard Bongo following the death of M’ba from Cancer in 1967. Gabon had to wait until 2009 to conduct the first contested elections following the death of President Omar Bongo from cardiac arrest.
  3. A set of five stamps issued on December 4, 1970 in the local fauna theme. The set (Scott #262 to #266) catalogs for around $8 MNH and $4 Used. The designs show bushbucks, flying squirrel, gray-cheeked monkey, African golden cat, and sevaline genet.
  4. A set of three stamps issued in 1984 in the Birds theme. The set (Scott #577 to #589) catalogs for around $5 MNH and $2 Used. The designs show crowned crane, hummingbird, and toucan. Gabon has issued a number of sets covering flora and fauna along with certain sets with the WWF inscription. Most of these sets can be acquired inexpensively.
  5. A set of four stamps released on February 26, 1991 in the Petroglyphs theme. The set (Scott #700 to #703) catalogs for around $10 MNH and around half that for used. The designs show lizard figure, triangular figure, incused lines, and concentric circles.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Gabon were 10 Francs Gold Proofs (0.1215 Troy Ounce) issued in 1960 with very low mintage (500). Remarkably, the coin can be had for a slight premium over bullion value. The design shows Head of Mba with date below in Obverse and Arms with Supporters and Denomination below in Reverse. A few other denominations were also issued in proof and for general circulation.

Numismatic items of Gabon include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$15 and upThe Giant Eland issues of 1975 starts around $15. Bi-Metal Pope Visit, Essais from the 1970s, etc starts around $50. Thee 1960 Independence Gold Coins starts around $350. Gold Proof varieties go into the $1000 range.
Paper Money$10 and up500 Francs UNCs from the 2000s starts around $10. High Value (10000 Francs) UNCs starts around $75. Rare varieties go well into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Masks from Gabon are internationally acclaimed. These masks are used in marriage, birth and funerals ceremonies. These are mostly done with rare local woods and other precious materials.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$10 and up19th century colonial photo prints start around $10. Punu spirit masks start around $100.
Antiques$25 and upFang and Punu figurines and statues start around $25 and go into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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