The cancellations of Nigeria


People have been collecting Nigerian cancellations for a long time, and publishing information about them in magazines, pamphlets and books from the 1950s onwards. There are three major publications described below, which represent the state of knowledge at the time. Each draws of course on earlier published material as well as individual collections and on resources such as the GPO Archives.

These key publications use different approaches to the description of cancellations, and do not always agree. Earliest and last known use dates may also differ. This website arose out of an attempt to reconcile and add to the very considerable amount of information in these three key works. I have not attempted to go back to earlier sources - indeed it is often not clear what those sources were for individual illustrations or data, although Ince and Sacher give the most complete bibliography of sources of the three. To have attributed sources to every item of information in the three books would have made their authors' already mighty task that much greater.

The lists on this site contain no illustrations. Each canceller is identified by the code name(s) used in the books below so you will need the relevant book(s) to see what each canceller looks like. The first book is now out of print but reasonably available second-hand. It is possible to buy the other two new.

The three key books:

The Postal Services of the British Nigeria Region by Jack Ince and John Sacher. Publ 1992 RPSL ISBN 0 900631 25 2. ( referred to as IS in the rest of this site)

IS focus on the period up to the 1914 unification of Southern and Northern Nigeria. This most comprehensive and authoritative work considers all aspects of postal history from routes and postage rates through to stamps, varieties and post offices. Information about cancellations is but a part of the book, but the detail (for instance of letter code usages, manuscript cancels etc) is greater than one can find in the other two books

The cancellations and postmarks of Nigeria 1914-80 by Neville Jones. Publ. 1993 (1st Edition) WASC. 2nd Edition 1999 ISBN 0- 9525687-7-2 ( referred to as J in the rest of this site).

J takes over where IS finish. The first edition predates Proud (below), the second incorporates information from Proud's book, though it does not always agree with it. Cancellers are described as generic types, building on earlier publications, and the types are illustrated at the back of the book. It is not always easy when faced with an individual cancel to work out which type it is, particularly if the cancel isn't quite the same as any of the generic types described. With 265 pages devoted to listings of offices and the cancellers they used, J represents a vast amount of patient study.

Jones' estate kindly donated his notes to WASC, including information about new types, offices and usage dates discovered since edition 2 was published. This information is included in the lists from January 2018 onwards,

The Postal History of Nigeria by Edward Proud. Publ 1995 Proud Bailey ISBN 1 872465 17 X ( referred to as P in the rest of this site)

P covers the Nigerias up to the time of independence in 1960. The great strength of the book is that it illustrates every cancel it describes, on over 600 pages of careful work. The illustrations are, with the occasional exception, true to life, though in some cases it is impossible to distinguish between some of the different types shown. He gives date ranges which include information from J (Edition 1) and from IS. P also includes opening dates for the listed offices, either as given in the Nigerian Gazettes, or taken from cancel earliest usage dates.The book includes a wodge of postal history and detailed information on British Cameroons cancels. Alas, references to sources of information and cancel illustrations is scanty or non-existent.

Other sources

Other sources I have used are: