The featured image is of an envelope posted in Cairo on 24 February 1936 to an address in Canterbury, England and carries a red prepaid postage stamp. On the back of the envelope is a 1 piastre letter seal beneath the emblem of the Royal Horse Artillery, an arm of the Royal Regiment of Artillery that was formed in 1793 and is recognised today for its role supporting ceremonial duties. The ‘GR’ in the emblem represents George V who had died the month before. Edward VIII was to subsequently abdicate and George VI would not succeed to the throne until December that year. The envelope is a rich piece of both postal and military history – an era when the postal service supported communications between military forces and family at home.
With the defeat of Germany and the Ottoman Empire in World War I the political landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean was to change. The British retained its interest in Egypt even though it had become a kingdom under King Fuad in the early 1920s. With a large British military presence in the country, a cheap and efficient postal service was required for its troops to communicate with families back home.
In 1932 special postal ‘Seals’ were issued to members of the British armed forces – a special discounted postal service. The first issue was denominated 1 piastre and included the words ‘POSTAL SEAL’ but this was quickly replaced with the words ‘LETTER SEAL’.
The elongated seal design was retained with an image of the Sphinx for a subsequent issue, now called Letter Stamps, in 1934 comprised two coloured stamps of Carmine and Green, both 1 piastre in denomination. In 1935, George V celebrated his Silver Jubilee and an Ultramarine issue of the same design was overprinted in red with ‘JUBILEE COMMEMORATION 1935’.
The fact that there was little recognition of King Fuad I as the then monarch of Egypt was a source of some discord and therefore, in late 1935, two stamps were issued carrying the portrait of the King for the sole use by British troops at a special discounted denominations of 3m (Green) and 10m (Carmine).
King Fuad I died in 1936 and was succeeded by King Farouk. The same basic design was retained for a new issue with the same denomination, albeit with smaller dimensions and with the portrait of the new King. The issuing of special stamps ended in 1941 although concessions offered by the Egyptian postal authorities to the British armed forces continued until 1951.
To view postal issues of the Egypt, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.