St. Thomas and Prince Islands - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Saint Thomas and Prince Islands, an Island Nation in the Gulf of Guinea off the Western equatorial coast of Central Africa consisting of the two islands of Sao Tome and Principe, has a total land area of 372 square miles and a population of around 163,000.St. Thomas and Prince is among the poorest, and least-developed countries. It is also the most indebted country. Its economy is primarily made up of agriculture and its status as a flag of convenience. But the recent discovery of oil along with the potential for tourism is expected to change its future.


Travel Resources: 




ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Sao Tome and Principe Bradt Travel Guide978-1841622163$18Best Travel Guide Book Available for Sao Tome and Principe. Part I is a traveler’s introduction covering over 90 pages. Part II covers Sao Tome and Part III Principe. 256 pages.
International Travel Grounded Adapter PlugB001ISUCNI$5

Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of St. Thomas and Prince Islands were a set of nine stamps released between 1869 and 1875 showing the Portuguese Crown. The set (Scott #1 to #9) catalogs for around $60 mint and around $45 used. Reissues of the same set in different colors and denominations were issued between 1881 and 1885 and in 1887. The sets (Scott #10 to #14 and Scott #15 to #23) catalog for around $20 and $60 respectively for mint and around $17 and $40 respectively for used. This was followed in 1887 by a set of nine stamps that were King Luiz key types. That set (Scott #15 to #23) catalogs for around $60 mint and around $40 used. Surcharge handstamp overprints on part of the set were released between 1889 and 1891 and those stamps are rare and valuable. The set (Scott #24 to #26) catalogs for around $285 mint and around $90 used. Sao Tome and Principe came under the Portuguese crown as early as 1522 and 1573 respectively.

St. Thomas and Prince Islands released a set of twelve stamps portraying King Carlos in 1895. The set (Scott #27 to #38) catalogs for around $45 mint and around $37 used. A ‘S.Thome e Principe’ overprint with surcharge variety appeared in another long set of twenty three stamps between 1898 and 1903 and that set (Scott #39 to #61) catalogs for around $120 mint and around $80 used. Surcharges along with ‘Republica’ overprints on the King Carlos issues were the primary issues of St. Thomas and Prince Islands during the period till 1914. St. Thomas and Prince Islands released a long set of forty stamps between 1914 and 1926 in the Ceres theme. The set (Scott #194 to #223) catalogs for around $130 mint and around $90 used.

Other issues of St. Thomas and Prince Islands enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of three stamps released in 1938 to mark the visit of the President of Portugal. The set (Scott #320 to #322) catalogs for around $40 mint and around $15 used. The design shows a marble column, Portuguese Arms, and cross.
  2. A set of ten stamps released in 1948 in the Fruits and Nuts theme. The set (Scott #341 to #350) catalogs for around $65 mint and around $40 used. The set was also available as a sheet of ten and as a sheet the value roughly doubles. The designs show cola nuts, breadfruit, annona, cacao pods, coffee, dendem, avocado, pineapple, mango, and coconuts. Sugar industry, slave trade, coffee, and cocoa in that order formed the primary economic activity from the 16th century to the early 19th century. The country gained independence from Portugal on July 12, 1975.
  3. A miniature sheet of twelve stamps and a souvenir sheet released on November 1, 1978 to mark UPU Centennial. The set (Scott #493 and #494) catalogs for around $70 MNH or used. The designs show emblem, Concorde Balloon, sailing ship and Satellite, monorail and stagecoach, and Dirigible and steam locomotive.
  4. A set of four stamps released in 1992 in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) theme. The set (Scott #1051 to #1054) catalogs for around $20 MNH or used. The designs show whales under water.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of St. Thomas and Prince Islands were Portuguese Colony Reform Coinage (100 Centavos = 1 Escudo) Nickel-Bronze Centavos issued in 1928. The first issue (50 Centavos) is rare and catalogs for around $900 in UNC. Democratic Republic Standard Coinage (100 Centimos = 1 Dobra) and currency debut in 1977 with the introduction of a 50 Centimos Brass Coin. It has high mintage and can be had for around a dollar in BU. Large Gold Proofs with low mintage (100) debut in 1984 with the issue of a 1.4017 troy ounce gold coin. Gold Proofs of St. Thomas and Prince Islands trade at a premium over bullion value.

Last Updated: 12/2015.

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