General issues: Portuguese colony, district 1895-1920
Country name on general issues: Lourenço Marques, L. Marques
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1895-1912, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1912-1920
Population: No statistics available – a rough estimate would suggest the population to have been in the order of 150 000 in 1900
Political history Lourenço Marques
Lourenço Marques was a district of the Portuguese colony of Mozambique in eastern Africa. The Portuguese had, since the 16th century, established themselves in Mozambique. When Mozambique was awarded to Portugal at the 1885 Berlin conference, where the colonial powers divided their respective spheres of influence in Africa, it was a prerequisite for continued recognition of territorial claims that effective colonial rule would be established. The Portuguese had little resources available to actually do so, and thus, large parts of Mozambique were transferred to chartered companies for further development – the Mozambique Company and the Nyassa Company. In parallel, the colonial administration was modernized. In 1894, districts were formed, each with a governor reporting to a high commissioner who in turn reported to the Cortes – the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon. With the formation of these districts, elements of the colonial administration and judiciary system came to be organized on district level – the postal administration being one of them.
Lourenço Marques was one of the districts formed – named after the Portuguese explorer Lourenço Marques who, in 1544, explored the region. The Portuguese actually settled in the region in the 18th century to build a fort at the location of what would become the most important city of the district, also called Lourenço Marques. The existing city is built from around 1850, and from the 1870’s will rapidly develop into a major port town. The driving factor behind this is the growing importance of the gold and diamond mines in neighboring Transvaal – which later becomes part of South Africa. A railroad is built from Transvaal to Lourenço Marques which opens in 1895. Lourenço Marques becomes a major gateway to the Indian Ocean. In parallel, Lourenço Marques develops as a major administrative center – becoming the capital of Mozambique in 1898.
The development of Lourenço Marques will continue in the 20th century. In 1975, the city is renamed Maputo which, currently, is the capital of modern Mozambique and its largest city. The district of Lourenço Marques is likewise renamed Maputo and, currently, a province of modern Mozambique, the city of Maputo being detached from it as a separate province.
Postal history Lourenço Marques
The first stamps stamps issued in 1895 are a set of definitives with the portrait of King Carlos. This, and following sets of definitives issued, are of the types common to Portugal and the Portuguese colonies. A second set with the portrait of King Carlos, of a different but equally common design, is issued in 1898. A set of the Ceres type is issued in 1914. Aside from these definitives, many stamps have been issued with overprints, especially after the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the republic in Portugal in 1910 – the overprint reading ‘Republica’. In 1914, overprints are issued for the new currency. It is interesting to note that for this overprint stamps of the 1898 Vasco da Gama issue for all of Portuguese Africa and stamps of Macau and Timor have been used.
The stamps of Lourenço Marques have been used until 1920, when they were superseded by the general issues for Mozambique.