Madagascar - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Madagascar, an island nation in the Indian Ocean located Southeast of Africa has a total land area of 226,597 square miles and a population of over 20.7 million. With spectacular landscape, amazing wildlife, and wonderful people Madagascar provides. Almost 80% of the flora and the fauna found are endemic to the region. The main sectors of its economy are tourism (eco-tourism), textile, agricultural products, mining etc. It is the leading producer of vanilla. Lychees and essential oils are the other low-volume, high-value export items from the area. In spite of its resources, two-thirds of its population live below the poverty line.

Travel Resources: 

September through November is considered the best time to visit the country. Visitors seek Madagascar out for various reasons - wildlife, scenery, cultural activities, beaches and activities. The major attractions are Antananarivo, Berenty, Isalo. Ankarana, Nosy Be etc. Its rich musical heritage is usually an attraction in itself among the visitors. The zebu found in the country has sacred importance. Its cuisine is a blend of Indian, Chinese, and French cuisine. Rice, cassava, corn and sweet potatoes are the basis of every meal.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Madagascar Travel Companion978-0982261958$21Written by Sara LeHoullier who lived in Madagascar for many years, the book is the best travel companion. It combines information on food and accommodation along with what to see and how to go about it.
Madagascar Travel Map by Globetrotter978-1847730466$91:800,000 scale.
Madagascar Grounded Adapter Plug – GUB and GUFB001AQQ0C0$14

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Madagascar were a set of three stamps released in 1889 which were surcharge overprints on stamps of French colonies. The set (Scott #1 to #3) catalogs for around $1800 mint and around $500 for used. Madagascar became a protectorate of France in 1885 and a French Colony in 1896. The first original issues of Madagascar were a set of six stamps released in 1891 showing Numerals. The set (Scott #8 to #13) catalogs for around $3400 mint and $1400 used. Forgeries on the higher denominations are plenty in many different varieties. Overprints on French issues continued until 1896. Genuine copies of many of these stamps are in the hundreds and some well into the thousands.

Madagascar released a long set of twenty key types in the Navigation and Commerce theme between 1896 and 1906. The set (Scott #28 to #47) catalogs for around $200 and $100 used. This issue was followed by several surcharge overprints in the same time frame. Inverted surcharge overprints and other types of error varieties also exist. The first original issues in color were a set of fifteen stamps released in 1903. The set (Scott #63 to #77) catalogs for around $400 mint and around $200 ued. The set features a design that show zebu, traveler’s tree, and lemur. Zebu (humped cattle) is an important animal in the traditional culture. Traveler’s tree is a plant species of Madagascar – so named because the sheaths of the stems hold rainwater (a liter or so) which can be consumed. It is also called a traveler’s palm because the trunk resembles a palm tree. Lemurs are primates endemic to Madagascar.

Other issues of Madagascar enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A long set of twenty three stamps released between 1930 and 1944. The set (Scott #147 to #168) catalogs for around $25 mint and around $14 used. The designs show Sakalava Chief, Hova woman, Hova with oxen, and Betsileo woman. Sakalava people are an ethnic group in the Western edge of the island numbering about 700,000. Hova are one of the primary ethnic groups in Madagascar. Betsileo are another highland ethnic group of Madagascar.
  2. A set of ten stamps released in 1963 showing Birds and Orchids. The set (Scott #340 to #346 and #C72 to #C74) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $5 used. The designs show Madagascar blue pigeon, blue coua, red fody, Madagascar pigmy kingfisher, gastrorchis humblotii, eulophiella roempleriana, and angraecum sesquipedale. Madagascar’s isolation has resulted in the existence of a large endemic mix of plants and animals of which the majority are found nowhere else in the world. But, Madagascar is estimated to have lost more than 90% of its original forest cover due to human activity in the last 2000 years.
  3. A set of five stamps released on July 6, 1979 showing Fauna. The set (Scott #594 to #596 and #C172 to #C173) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around $4 used. The designs show lemur macaco, lemur catta, and foussa.
  4. A set of four stamps released on May 29, 1990 showing Scenic Views and Artifacts. The Set (Scott #957 to #960) catalogs for around a dollar MNH or used. The designs show Queen Isalo Rock, Sakalava Pipe, Sakalava Combs, and Diego Suarez Bay. 
Numismatic Profile:

The first coin of Madagascar was a French Colony Standard Coinage (100 Centimes = 1 Franc) 50 Centimes Bronze coin issued in 1943 showing Rooster in Obverse and Cross of Lorraine in Reverse. The issue has high mintage (2M) but still catalogs in the $20 range for UNC. Malagasy Republic Coinage Debut in 1965 with the issue of a Stainless Steel Franc showing Poinsettia in Obverse and Value within horns of ox head above sprigs in Reverse. That issue also has high mintage (1.17M) and catalogs for less than two dollars in UNC. Democratic Republic Standard Coinage (5 Frances = 1 Ariary, 1 Ariary = 100 Iraimbilanja) debut in 1992 followed by Republic of Madagascar Standard Coinage in 1996. Several Commemorative Gold Proofs have also been issued over the years starting with the 5th Anniversary of UN Membership issue of 1996. The gold proofs generally catalog for a slight premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of Madagascar include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upCommon Ariarys from the 1990s onward starts around $2 in UNC. High Value UNC Francs from the 50s onward starts around $10. Commemorative Silver Proofs from the 1970s onward starts around $50. Token Sets from the 1920s start well into the 100s.
Paper Money$2 and upCommon UNC Ariarys from the 2000s starts around $2. High Value UNCs from the 1990s onward start around $10. 50-piece recent bundles, High Value Francs from the 1950s in VF, etc start around $50. Bundles, Rare Dates, and other Scarce Notes go well into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Carved zebu horns, woodworks, embroidery, vanilla pods and other spices, and hand made paper are the typical buys of visitors to Madagascar.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Rocks and Fossils$1 and upAmmonite Fossil samples start around $1. Polished Carnelian, Microcline, Labradorite, etc start around $10. Petrified wood slabs start around $30. Fossilized Dinosaur Coprolites, Rough Madagascar Ruby and larger fossil samples start around $100.
Gemstones$10 and upBlood Red Madagascar rubies start around $10. Blue natural Madagascar sapphires start around $100. Certified gemstones go well into the 1000s.
Art$15 and up19th century photos and local scenes art prints start around $15. Agate Turtle Carvings, and vintage original oil paintings and portraits go well into the 100s.
Antiques$10 and up19th century maps start around $10. Older maps go well into the 50s and 60s. Authentic sculptures, Aepyornis Maximus (Extinct Elephant Bird) Egg etc can go into the 1000s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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