No anterior apontamento sobre os selos de Cabo Delgado, referi-me e apresentei documentação, sobre a rejeição por parte do Ministério do Ultramar dos selos proposto pela Companhia do Niassa para aí circularem, de acordo com o Decreto de 21 de Novembro de 1894. Alegava aquela entidade que na base da sua rejeição estariam principalmente a ausência dos símbolos da soberania portuguesa, mas nunca invocando uma das premissas do Decreto que obrigava os selos a serem impressos pela Casa da Moeda.
Porém, na eminência de ser aprovado aquele Decreto e numa jogada de antecipação foram mandados emitir os selos, e de imediato se procurou estabelecer contactos com comerciantes filatélicos para a sua comercialização. Sabedores das condições impostas pelo Decreto de 21 de Novembro, levantaram-se dúvidas sobre a emissão destes selos fabricados em Londres e não na Casa da Moeda conforme estava regulamentado.
Na dúvida o comerciante William Brown de Salisbúria (Inglaterra) a quem foi proposto um contrato de agente exclusivo, dirige uma carta ao Ministro do Ultramar, na tentativa de ver esclarecidas as suas dúvidas. É esta carta datada de 25 de Janeiro de 1895, que agora trago ao vosso conhecimento (que presumo ser inédita) e que transcrevo de seguida na sua versão em inglês e integral.
To His Excellency the
Minister of Marine and Colonies,
The Secretary of the Nyassa Company which I understand is a Company recently formed to administer the District of Cabo Delgado in the province of Mozambique, in East Africa under Royal Charter and the Portuguese Commercial Code, wrote to me on the 31st August last. Enclosing specimens of stamps which his company were adopting in their territories, and which I now send you herewith and suggested that I should enter into some arrangement with him for having a monopoly of the sale of them among stamp dealers an collectors. And after some correspondence we came to an arrangement of the nature proposed subject only to the restriction that I was not send the stamps out their territories for the purposes of exchange etc.
Doubts have recently been thrown upon the genuineness of these stamps by other stamp dealers (possible interested in obtaining a repudiation or annulment of the issue) and their criticisms are twofold. They say first that the right to manufacture and issue postage stamps in a Royal Prerogative and – as the Crown is not bound except by express words – that the Company had no right to issue postage stamps at all unless a power to do so was expressly conferred upon by the terms of their charter and that this power does not appear to have been so conferred until the 21st November.
And only referred to an issue of stamps to be manufactures at the Royal Mint at
the stamps enclosed are an unauthorized issue and have never been used at all as postage stamps. Lisbon
I received a letter from the Secretary of the Company dated 22nd November in which he states that he had received a letter from Portuguese Government that morning complaining of my advertisement in the “Echo de Timbrologie” and he asked me to refrain form advertising Nyassa stamps or that I was Agent from their sale, and in fact to do nothing further until he could send me stamps prepared at the Lisbon Mint. This looked auspicious, and I have never been able to get a straightforward answer from Mr. Coetta as to what it that the Portuguese Government really complain of.
What I Wish to know now is whether the Government repudiate the issue altogether as having been made without authority. And in fact ultra vires on the part of the Company or whether the Government object merely to the stamps being used to frank letter form Company territories to other part of the world. In a recent letter to me the Company assert that their powers of administration under their charter included the right to issue postage stamps saying “so far as we can understand the position of the Portuguese Government in this matter. They fully recognize the Company’s right to issue postage stamps but in November last they request that all our stamps should be printed at the Lisbon Mint” and this is one of the points about which I should like some information, form the Government direct.
I shall be much obliged therefore in Your Excellency will tell me what is the opinion of the Portuguese Government as to the status of these stamps. Whether they are as has been alleged a “bogus issue” or whether they are a genuine postal issue, and if so to what extent.
Also whether the wish of the Portuguese Government that all stamps should be printed in
referred simply to future issues. Implying that the issue which had been made in Lisbon would till the new issue was prepared act as a genuine, thought provisional, postal issue. England
I have the honour to be,
Your Excellency’s Obedient Servant
Este documento é um valioso subsídio para a história dos “misteriosos” selos da Companhia do Niassa. A dúvida de William Brown situava-se entre os selos serem originais ou simples “bogus” e por isso solicitavam o esclarecimento do Governo Português. Os espécimes que William Brown remete para o Ministério do Ultramar, são aqueles que normalmente aparecem à venda, porém são conhecidos outras taxas que não aparecem representadas no ofício. Existiam elas à data ou foram produzidas à posteriori?
Cota S/N.º 2G SEMU DGU Cx 1895 Companhia do Niassa, AHU