General issues: Portuguese chartered company 1892-1942
Country name on general issues: Compa de Moçambique, Companhia de Moçambique
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1892-1916, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1916-1941
Population: No statistics available – a rough estimate would suggest the population to have been in the order of 300 000 to 350 000 in 1900
Political history Mozambique Company
The Mozambique Company was a chartered company active in 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 private companies for further development. One of these companies was the Mozambique Company, established in 1891. The Mozambique Company was a chartered company having, aside from commercial rights, also administrative powers in its territory. The territory of the Mozambique Company was in central Mozambique, the administration was transferred in 1892, Beira was made the capital of the Mozambique Company.
The Mozambique Company was financed largely by British and other foreign investors. The British had an interest in developing railroads and ports to allow access to the shipping routes on the Indian Ocean from their landlocked possessions in eastern Africa. One of the elements of the charter, therefore, was the construction of railroads from the Rhodesia’s and Nyassaland to the port of Beira.
The Mozambique Company did develop the railroads. Otherwise, little effort was put into the economic and social development of the territory. What money was made was made through the levying of taxes and through forced labor. The company exercised these rights to such an extent that the African population revolted twice – revolts that had to be put down by the Portuguese colonial administration. All in all, the Mozambique Company did not manage to turn a profit – which, by the way, was the fate of many of the chartered companies from other countries also.
The little the company did for the development of the territory under its administration, and changing views within the Portuguese government on the administration of the Portuguese colonies, resulted in the charter not being renewed when it ended in 1941. The administration of the territories of the Mozambique Company was transferred back to the colonial authorities in 1942. The Mozambique company has continued as a purely commercial company, being absorbed by a Portuguese commercial and industrial conglomerate in 1961.
Postal history Mozambique Company
Part of the charter of the Mozambique Company was the right to issue stamps. The first stamps issued in 1892 were overprints on previous Mozambique issues – the overprint being ‘Compa de Moçambique’. The first definitives were issued in 1895 showing the coat of arms of the company. The first stamps in the new currency – overprints on previous issues – were not issued until 1916 – four years after the new currency had been introduced in Mozambique. From 1918, the company ordered its stamps from Waterlow printers in London, which has resulted in several attractive sets – issued with the collectors market in mind, stamp sales being a substantial source of revenue for the company. The stamps of the Mozambique Company were withdrawn in 1942, to be superseded by the issues of Mozambique.