La Agüera was a town on the Atlantic coast at the southern tip of the Ras Nouadhibou Peninsula in what is currently Western Sahara. It was founded in 1920 when a fort was established by Francisco Bens just a few miles away from the French settlement of Port Étienne (now Nouadhibou) on the eastern side of the peninsula. A military air base established by the Spanish was used as a landing strip for trans-Atlantic flights.
The first stamps of La Agüera were prepared in June 1920 by overprinting those of the Spanish colony of Río de Oro. However, these were a “type” of its mother colony as the denomination colors are different. Control numbers are printed in blue on the backs of the stamps. The initial 13-stamp set was followed in June 1922 with a series portraying King Alfonso XIII and inscribed SAHARA OCCIDENTAL / LA AGUERA. The administrative district issued a total of 26 stamps before being incorporated into Río de Oro at which time it began using the stamps of Spanish Sahara.
The town is now almost completely abandoned with the encroaching desert sand covering many of the buildings and roadways. Only a few native fishermen currently live in the region. It is currently claimed by Morocco and the partially-recognized Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The abandoned ruins are guarded by a Mauritanian military outpost, despite this not being Mauritanian territory.
Preparing this entry reminded me that I need to replace my two stamps from La Agüera. They arrived from a dealer in Spain during our annual monsoonal rains and the envelope had gotten wet along the way (our mail carriers use motorbikes here). The mint stamps were stuck together by the gum on the back of Scott #14 (pictured here) and, despite my own best efforts, I still managed to rip the face off the other stamp. Part of it can be seen at the upper right. These were my first self-ruined stamps in some forty years of collecting. As a result, I no longer order mint stamps during the rainy season (roughly May through September) and really shouldn’t order anything as the potential for water damage is too high.
The Scott catalogue makes a notation that very fine copies of numbers 1 through 13 are somewhat off-center and that well-centered examples are uncommon. My #14, issued in June 1922, also suffers from poor centering. The one-centavo value is colored turquoise blue, printed by typography on unwatermarked paper and is perforated 13.