Sierra Leone - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa bordered by Guinea, Liberia, and the Atlantic Ocean has a total land area of 27,699 square miles and a population of around 6.5 million. Its terrain is very diverse which includes Savannah, forests, plains, mangroves swamp, coastal areas, and rain-forests. Mining is the major sector of its economy – diamonds, gold, titanium, bauxite and rutile. Other sectors are tourism, fishing, and agriculture. The government is taking steps to upgrade farmer skills and is investing in rural development and agricultural projects. Sierra Leone does not fare good in its Human Development index and Poverty index. It also needs to shake itself loose from other negatives such as corruption, suppression of the press, and take stock of its dwindling forest reserves and marine wealth. Conservation cum sustainable development project has been started in the Gola Forest region.

Travel Resources:

December through April is considered the better time to visit, with December and January being the coolest. Tourism has picked up since the civil war ended, but the country is still working to make it a destination for the faint hearted. Its main attractions are its beaches, montains, nature reserves, spectacular scenery, historical and cultural significance, and diverse recreational activities. Its cusine is centered on seafood – especially shrimp and lobster. A typical Sierra Leonean meal is cassava with fried fish and okra soup. Ginger beer is also a very popular non-alcoholic drink.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Sierra Leone Bradt Travel Guide978-1841622224$18Best Travel Guide for Sierra Leone. Background and practical introductory travel information cover the first 120 pages. The rest of the guide has chapters on Freetown, Western Area, Southern Province, Eastern Province, and Northern Province.
Sierra Leone by International Travel Maps978-1553413967$121:560,000 Scale. Includes inset map of Freetown.
Sierra Leone Grounded Adapter Plug – GUD and GUFB0016ZU3IC$14

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamp of Sierra Leone was a stamp released between 1854 and 1874 showing a head portrait of Queen Victoria (QV). The stamp (Scott #1) catalogs for around $55 mint and around $30 for used. There are a couple of varieties in dull violet and gray lilac as opposed to the bright violet color in the original. The stamps catalog for around $220 and $300 respectively for mint and around $55 and $45 respectively for used. Another variety issued in 1872 enjoys the highest valuation at around $425 mint and around $70 used. A slightly different design of the QV key type appeared in 1872 and varieties of that design along with a couple of surcharges formed the stamp issues of Sierra Leone during the period till 1896. The sets from the period are all valuable cataloging in the hundreds of dollar range with error varieties on the overprints enjoying the highest valuations at around a few thousand dollar range. Another QV key type design along with Postage and Revenue overprints and certain surcharged varieties on Sierra Leone Stamp Duty issues formed the stamp issues of Sierra Leone during the period till 1903. The overprints are among the most valuable Sierra Leone stamps. Scott #63 and #63A that are surcharge overprints on the 2sh lilac variety is very rare and catalogs for around $36K mint and over $42K used. Freetown was the residence of the British governor who also ruled the Gold Coast and the Gambia settlements. The country has around 5% Creole population – descendents of freed slaves that resettled there between 1787 and 1885.

Other issues of Sierra Leone enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of thirteen stamps released on October 2, 1933 to commemorate the abolition of slavery in the British colonies and centenary of the death of William Wilberforce, the prominent English philanthropist who agitated against the slave trade. The set (Scott #153 to #165) catalogs for around $850 mint and around $1050 used. The designs show African elephant, King George V, and a view of Freetown Harbor.
  2. A set of thirteen stamps released on January 2, 1956 showing local scenes and Queen Elizabeth II (QEII). The set (Scott #195 to #207) catalogs for around $40 MNH and around $25 used. The designs show Cape Lighthouse, QE II Quay, Piassava Workers, cotton tree of Freetown, rice harvesting, Iron Ore production at Marampa, Whale Bay at York Village, Bullom Boat, Map of Sierra Leone and Plane, Orugu Bridge, Kuranko Chief, Law Courts of Freetown, and Government House. Sir Milton Margai led Sierra Leone to Independence on April 7, 1961. He was Prime Minister from 1961 to 1964. The country went through three military coups in the mid-60s, and an authoritarian style of government by Saika Stevens between 1967 and 1985. Between 1991 and 2001, civil war resulted in the death of about 50,000 people. Mainly due to the tumultuous history and a culture of corruption, it is one of the poorest countries of the world, although the country is blessed with rich mineral resources.
  3. A set of fourteen stamps released on January 29, 1980 showing Birds. The set (Scott #463 to #476) catalogs for around $30 MNH or used. The designs show touraco, olive-billed sunbird, black-headed oriole, spur-winged goose, white-bellied Didric cuckoo, gray parrot, African blue quail, West African wood owl, blue plantain eater, Nigerian blue breasted kingfisher, black crake, Hartlaub’s duck, black bee-eater, and Denham’s bustard. Sierra Leone issued a number of stamps in irregular shape in the 60s and 70s. Those form a good collectible theme.
  4. A set of four stamps, a sheet of four stamps and a souvenir sheet showing Fish released on May 17, 2004. The set (Scott #2706 to #2709, #2710a-d, and #2711) catalogs for around $15 MNH or used. The designs show banded sculpin, black durgon, Atlantic spadefish, Queen triggerfish, peacock flounder, northern puffer, sea raven, tiger shark, and sea lamprey.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Sierra Leone were British Colonial Silver Cents issued in 1805 showing Lion in Obverse and Clasped Hands, Denomination, and Date in Reverse. The issue has low mintage and trades well into the 100s. Certain WR countermarked coins along with one-fourth cuts of Spanish Reales also were issued in the early 19th century. Republic Standard Coinage (100 Cents = 1 Leone = 1 Dollar) Bronze Cents debut in 1964. The first issues are common and can be had for around a dollar in Proof. Gold Coins with very low mintage (10) debut that year and they trade at a large premium over bullion value.

Numismatic items of Sierra Leone include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upUNCs from the 1960s onward starts around $2. Recent Commemorative Dollar UNCs starts around $10. Commemorative Silver Proofs from the 1980s onward starts around $50. Low mintage commemorative silver proofs and gold proofs go well into the 100s and 1000s.
Paper Money$2 and upRecent UNC Banknotes starts around $2. High Value UNCs, Continuous Serial Number UNCs with 5-pieces or more, etc starts around $10. Year Sets in UNC starts around $25. Bundles, Specimen Sets, and Early Large Notes start around $50 and go well into the 100s.

Collectible Memorabilia:

Hand woven baskets and wooden carvings are typical sought after items.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Art$10 and upOriginal Antique local scenes prints start around $10. Early 19th century bird prints, copperplate engravings etc start around $50.
Antiques$20 and up19th century maps start around $20. Mende Figurines, Temine Headcrests, etc go well into the 100s.
Miscellaneous Collectibles$2 and upStickers, Lapel Pins etc start around $2. Full-service medals, tribal queen masks, etc start around $40. Mende Masks and Statues go into the 100s.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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