Bermuda: Down at the Docks

Around the time of the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, pictorial stamp designs were introduced across the British Caribbean territories. Jamaica saw the introduction of the ‘Arms of Jamaica’ issue (1903) and the Bahamas ‘Queen’s Staircase’ issue (1901). This was a break from the traditional young portrait image of Queen Victoria that had graced many stamp issues to date; noting a few exceptions such as the ‘Llandovery Falls’ issue of Jamaica in 1900. Whilst not strictly speaking in the Caribbean, Bermuda followed suit with it’s iconic ‘Wet / Dry Dock’ pictorial issue which was first released in November 1902 and remained in circulation until 1910.

There is some debate as to whether the image is of a Wet or Dry Dock. The original badge, based on a seal approved by the Admiralty in 1817, clearly depicts a Wet Dock and it is this image that was used as the basis for the image on the stamp design by De La Rue. The design shows an empty dock in the foreground with three sailing ships in open water beyond. The scene alludes to the fact that the islands were a stopover base for the sailing ships of the period.

Bermuda 1903 Dry Dock Definitive 3d stamp
Bermuda 1903 Dry Dock Definitive 3d

Three denominated stamps were issued between 1902 and 1903 – ½d Black & Green (first issued December 1903), 1d Brown & Carmine (first issued November 1902) and 3d Magenta and Sage-Green (first issued September 1903). The issue was printing by typography on paper watermarked with Crown CA and perforated 14.

Bermuda 1908 Dry Dock Definitive ¼d stamp
Bermuda 1908 Dry Dock Definitive ¼d
Bermuda 1908 Dry Dock Definitive ½d stamp
Bermuda 1909 Dry Dock Definitive ½d

From 1906, the design was reused with four new denominations – ¼d Brown & Violet (first issued September 1908), 2d Grey & Orange (first issued October 1907), 2½d Brown & Ultramarine (first issued December 1906) and 4d Blue & Chocolate (1909, featured image) – and a watermark change to Multiple Crown CA. Subsequently, to comply with Universal Postal Union standards, the 1d was reissued in Red (1908), the ½d in Green (1909) and the 2½d in Blue (1910). The design was used for all the definitive stamps of Bermuda during the reign of Edward VII.

To view postal issues of Bermuda, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

France: Le Mans 24 Hour Endurance Race

2022 will mark the 90th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours Endurance Race organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). The race will take place between 11th and 12th June 2022 at the Circuit de la Sarthe near Le Mans, France. The featured image is of a French stamp issued in June 1973 commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the race, designed by the talented stamp engraver, Georges Bétemps.

The first Le Mans 24 hour endurance race was held on 26–27 May 1923 and has been held annually since then at the Circuit de la Sarthe near Le Mans France. The race has been cancelled ten times including 1936 (Great Depression) and between 1940 and 1948 (World War II). The event was noted for its ‘Le Mans start’ in which the drivers were separated from their vehicles and at the starters signal, were required to run across the track, start their cars without assistance and drive away. Due to safety concerns, from 1971 the ‘Le Mans start’ was superseded with the ‘rolling start’.

Unlike many other forms of motorsport, the winner of Le Mans is determined by the car that covers the greatest distance in 24 hours – last years winners completing 371 laps and more than 5,000km. The event represents one leg of an unofficial prestigious Triple Crown of Motorsport – the other events being the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. Indeed, there has only ever been one driver to win the Triple Crown; Graham Hill secured the win at le Mans in 1972, Indianapolis 500 in 1966 and the Monaco Grand Prix in 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1969. Since 2012, the race has been a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The featured stamp was issued in June 1973, denominated 60 centimes and commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the race. It was recess printed in two colours, blue and carmine brown and was designed by the talented stamp engraver, Georges Bétemps. Bétemps started engraving stamps in 1946 with his first issues being a number of values of a definitive set issued in Cameroon – his first French stamp did not appear until 1961. He is perhaps most noted for his designs featured on French Tourism and Europa issues. By the time of his death in 1992, Bétemps had been responsible for the design and engravings of more than 1500 stamps. The Le Mans race has appeared on the stamp issues of several countries including Belgium, Mali, Mexico, Sierra Leone and Togo.

To view postal issues of France, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Germany: Berlin Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition

The striking image that appears on the featured 1939 stamp is of two sports cars of the era battling it out on the track. It is one of three stamps that were issued in February 1939 for the Berlin Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition, also known as the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA). The event became a target for Nazi propaganda prior to World War II and the 1939 event would be the last to be hosted in Berlin. However, the stamp issue commemorates a number of notable motoring achievements.

The first IAA was held in the German capital of Berlin on 30 September 1897. At this first event, just eight motor vehicles were on display from Benz Velo, Lutzmann, Diamler and Kühlstein; the latter a manufacturer of electric cars between 1898 to 1902. The 23rd IAA in 1939 was inaugurated by the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, who used the event to announce major road construction and state-funded motorsport. The event became a showcase for German engineering and was attended by more than 825,00 visitors. However, this would be the last IAA event to take place in Berlin as a result of World War II, although it would eventually reappear in Frankfurt in 1951.

The featured image is of two racing cars models of 1938 dubbed the Silver arrows – a nickname given to Germany’s dominant Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union Grand Prix teams between 1934 and 1939. These two German teams dominated Grand Prix racing until the outbreak of World War II. The Auto Union Type D won the Italian Grand Prix in 1938 and the French Grand Prix in 1939. The Mercedes Benz W154 won Grand Prix in France, Germany and Switzerland in 1938 as well as Belgium, Germany and Switzerland in 1939. The Silver Arrows nickname remains to this day in reference to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

The 12pf + 8pf stamp was accompanied by two other stamps, one denominated 6pf + 4pf featuring an image of Benz and Daimler motorcars of 1886 and another denominated 25pf + 10pf featuring an image of a vehicle introduced as the KdF-Wagen, later to become more popularly known as the Beetle.

German9 1939 6pf + 4pf stamp featuring Benz and Daimler motorcars of 1886
Germany 1939 6pf + 4pf featuring Benz and Daimler motorcars of 1886

Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz are widely recognised as pioneers of automobile manufacture. Interestingly, Daimler and Benz never met personally but simultaneously developed the world’s first automobiles in Stuttgart and Mannheim respectively in 1886. It took several years before the automobile was commercially popularised and not until 1926 before predecessor companies were merged to form Daimler-Benz AG.

Germany 1939 25pf + 10pf stamp featuring the KdF-Wagen (Beetle)
Germany 1939 25pf + 10pf featuring the KdF-Wagen (Beetle)

The KdF-Wagen was designed by Ferdinand Porsche following an order from Hitler to develop a people’s car or Volkswagen, insisting that it should transport two adults and three children at 100 km/h and would be available to German citizens through a purposely arranged savings scheme. Ironically, early production was limited due to World War II and only a handful of KdF-Wagen were produced primarily for the Nazi elite. Today, the Beetle as it would come to be known, is acknowledged as the longest-running and most-manufactured car ever made.

To view postal issues of Germany, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Netherlands: Erasmus

The Netherlands stamp issued on 30 September 1969 commemorates the 500th birth anniversary of Desiderius Erasmus. His name will be known to many, mainly in the field if education – many schools, facilities and universities employ the name and in Europe, the Erasmus Programme enables students to spend up to a year of their university courses at a university in another country. So, who was Erasmus and why does he feature on a stamp issue of the Netherlands?

As it happens, this was not the first time that Desiderius Erasmus had appeared on a Dutch stamp. His portrait appeared on an earlier 1936 stamp, one of four in an issue raising funds for cultural and social relief. Erasmus is featured on the highest 12½ (+3½c) denominated stamp on the 400th Anniversary of his death on 12th July 1536.

1936 Netherlands Cultural & Social Relief Fund 12½ (+3½c) stamp featuring Erasmus
1936 Netherlands Cultural & Social Relief Fund 12½ (+3½c) featuring Erasmus

Desiderius Erasmus in believed to have been born in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in 1466. Although closely associated with Rotterdam, he spent only four years there and received a worthy education at a number of monastic or semi-monastic schools. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1492 and studied at the University of Paris. He went on to become a celebrated philosopher and  theologian and one of the greatest scholars of the Renaissance. Most notably, he translated new Latin and Greek editions of the New Testament that would influence the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation.

Unlike the earlier stamp issue, the featured 25c denominated stamp was released as a single stamp on phosphorescent paper and quite striking maroon on yellow green. Erasmus was painted at least three times in 1523 by the artist, Hans Holbein. The portrait used in the 1936 stamp issue is based on the painting by Holbein that now hangs in the Louvre, Paris, and the later 1969 stamp based on the Holbein painting that hangs in the National Gallery, London. Despite more than 30 years separating the two issues, both were designed by Shem Hartz.

1523 painting of Erasmus by Hans Holbein
1523 painting of Erasmus by Hans Holbein (courtesy of wiki:contents)

Although widely celebrated in academic circles, it worth noting that Erasmus was capable of getting it wrong. The Greek proverb ‘ten skaphen skaphen legein’ can be translated to English as ‘to call a bowl a bowl’. Erasmus mistook the Greek skaphē (bowl) for a derivative of skaptein (to dig), hence deriving the phrase ‘to call a spade a spade’. It is perhaps a testament to the influence of the man that the inaccurate translation stuck!

To view postal issues of Netherlands, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Thematics: Britannia

Perkins, Bacon & Co. will forever be identified as the printers of the first adhesive stamps, the Penny Black in 1840. They were the designers of many other early influential stamp issues including the Britannia type. These represented many of the earliest issues of Barbados, Mauritius and Trinidad.

Jacob Perkins was an inventor, mechanical engineer and physicist, born in Massachusetts, US in 1766. Amongst his many inventions is the first patent for the vapour-compression refrigeration cycle in 1834 which has led to his recognition as the father of the refrigerator. However, prior to that, Perkins had developed important innovations in printing technology including the use of soft steel engraving plates. In 1816 he set up a printing shop and became noted for quality printing of American bank notes. In 1819 Perkins moved to England and formed the partnership, Perkins, Fairman & Heath producing books, currency and the first adhesive stamps. After several changes to ownership, the company would eventually be named Perkins, Bacon & Co. in 1852.

The stamp design used for some of the earliest issues of Barbados, Mauritius and Trinidad depicted Britannia seated on sugar bags with a sailing ship in the background – a controversial image by modern standards. The design was introduced for Barbados in 1852, for Mauritius in 1854 and for Trinidad in 1851. Initially, each denomination was identified only by the different colours of the stamps.

Trinidad 1854 1d Britannia Imperf. stamp
Trinidad 1854 1d Britannia Imperf.
Trinidad 1879 ½d Britannia Surch. stamp
Trinidad 1879 ½d Britannia Surch.

Later issues from 1858 were redrawn with the name of the colony as a header and the denomination in words at the foot. The Britannia stamps had a comparatively long lifetime and were used in Barbados until 1882, in Mauritius until 1860 and in Trinidad until 1883. As a thematic topic they represent an interest to philatelists due to the numerous changes in paper, watermark, perforation and colour.

Barbados 1852 1d Britannia Imperf. stamp
Barbados 1852 1d Britannia Imperf.
Barbados 1875 6d Britannia stamp
Barbados 1875 6d Britannia

Whilst Perkins, Bacon & Co. were highly successful, the company found itself in repeated financial difficulties. In 1861 they temporarily lost the contract to print stamps as punishment for undisclosed distribution of new issues to friends of the management. Perkins, Bacon & Co. completed their printing contract for stamps on 31 December 1879, losing subsequent business to competitor De La Rue. They went out of business in 1935 and the records were acquired by the Royal Philatelic Society London.

To view Britannia postal issues, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Grenada: CARIFTA

The featured image is of a stamp from the Grenada 1969 issue commemorating the now defunct Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA) Expo event in April 1969. Grenada had joined CARIFTA in July 1968. However, despite the apparent success in improving trade relations between the various Caribbean islands, CARIFTA was wound up in mid-1974. The 60c stamp is one of four in the issue also including denominations of 5c, 15c and 50c.

As countries of the Caribbean were moving towards independence from the United Kingdom in the 1960s discussions began on establishing a free trade agreement modelled on the 1960 European Free Trade Association Agreement. An initial CARIFTA agreement was signed on 15 December 1965 between Antigua (now Antigua & Barbuda), Barbados and British Guiana (now Guyana) – known as the Agreement of Dickenson Bay (Antigua). The free trade area was to be created in May 1967 but was postponed to allow Trinidad and Tobago to be included. The new CARIFTA agreement eventually came into effect on 1 May 1968 with the participation of Antigua, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana. Within a few months Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent, Jamaica and Montserrat had joined. British Honduras (now Belize) joined in May 1971.

Grenada 1969 CARIFTA Expo 69 Commemorative Stamp Issue
Grenada 1969 CARIFTA Expo 69 Commemorative Issue

Intra-CARIFTA imports and exports rose more than four-fold compared to 1966 levels. However, by 1973 CARIFTA was superseded by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an attempt to establish a Common Market. Grenada officially left CARIFTA in October 1974. CARIFTA left several legacies including several common institutions and youth athletics events such as the CARIFTA Games.

Grenada 1969 60c Surch. of $2 on stamp issue commemorating Mexico '68 Olympics
Grenada 1969 60c Surch. of $2 on issue commemorating Mexico ’68 Olympics

Two of the stamps in the 1969 postal stamp issue feature the portrait of Dame Hilda Bynoe, who was Governor of Grenada at the time of the CARIFTA Expo and the first woman Governor of a Commonwealth of Nations country. The other of 15c denomination, features the portrait of Sir Eric Matthew Gairy, the premier of pre-independence Grenada. Gairy would go on to become the first Prime Minister of Grenada, serving from independence in 1974 until his overthrow in a coup by Maurice Bishop in 1979. As well as the commemoratives issued in May 1969, an earlier issue of stamps commemorating the Mexico Olympics of 1968 were surcharged with overprints including the text ‘VISIT CARIFTA EXPO ’69 April 5-30’.

To view postal issues of Grenada, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Barbados: Victory

Barbados was one of only a few British colonies to issue stamps commemorating victory after World War I. It was originally proposed to overprint unused 1d War Tax stamps but it was generally felt that a dedicated issue would be more befitting of the event. Based on designs refined by the printers De La Rue, eleven denominations were issued on 9 September 1920 ranging form ¼d to 3s and are regarded as one of the finest postage stamp issues of the era.

The issue comprised two designs, one being used for denominations of ¼d to 6d and the other for denomination of 1s to 3s and were printed on Multiple Crown CA watermark paper:

  • ¼d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Bistre-Brown]
  • ½d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Bright Yellow-Green]
  • 1d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Vermillion]
  • 2d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Grey]
  • 2½d Victory (Greek goddess) [Indigo & Ultramarine]
  • 3d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Purple]
  • 4d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Blue-Green]
  • 6d Victory (Greek goddess) [Black & Brown-Orange]
  • 1s Victory (Roman goddess) [Black & Bright Green]
  • 2s Victory (Roman goddess) [Black & Brown]
  • 3s Victory (Roman goddess) [Black & Dull Orange]
Barbados 1920 2½d stamp Victory (Greek goddess)
Barbados 1920 2½d Victory (Greek goddess)
Barbados 1920 3d stamp Victory (Greek goddess)
Barbados 1920 3d Victory (Greek goddess)

The lower denomination design is believed to be based on the Winged Victory of Samothrace, an ancient statue held at the Louvre in Paris. The marble statue depicts Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, and is a masterpiece of Greek sculpture dating from the beginning of the 2nd century BC. Given that the statue is missing its head and arms, a certain degree of poetic license was clearly required. The higher denomination design is a little more easily recognised depiction of the Roman goddess of Victory, inspired by the figure that appears in a four-horsed chariot atop Wellington Arch in London.

Barbados 1920 3s stamp Victory (Roman goddess)
Barbados 1920 3s Victory (Roman goddess)

For the collector, there are multiple variations in the set, notably of inverted, reversed and missing character watermarks. Demand for the stamps was high and supplies of the 1d in particular was so strong that it was reissued on 22 August 1921, this time on Multiple Script CA watermark paper.

100 years later in 2021, Barbados hit the headlines when an amendment to the Constitution was passed by the government, introducing the office of the President of Barbados to replace the role of Elizabeth II as monarch. Barbados became a republic and the incumbent Governor-General of Barbados, Sandra Mason, was nominated to be the first President of Barbados.

To view postal issues of Barbados, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

France: Chateaubriand

Refer to Chateaubriand and most will naturally associate with the culinary delight, sometimes called chateaubriand steak, traditionally comprising a fillet of tenderloin grilled between two lesser pieces of meat. The steak may be served with a Chateaubriand sauce prepared with shallots and white wine, and mixed with butter, tarragon, and lemon juice.

The origins of the naming is attributed to Vicomte François-René de Chateaubriand, a French writer, politician and statesman who appeared on the 1948 postage stamp (featured image). Chateaubriand was born in September 1768 to an old aristocratic family in Brittany, France, with strong allegiance to the royalists. Aged seventeen, he joined the military and gained a commission as a second lieutenant in the French Army based at Navarre, eventually rising to the rank of captain.

The French Revolution broke out in 1789 and, with the increasing violence, Chateaubriand decided to escape to North America in 1791. He travelled extensively where his experience provided the setting for his novels Les NatchezAtala and René – his style helped spearhead what would later become the Romantic movement in France. Chateaubriand returned to France in 1792 and joined the royalist army but was later badly wounded at the Siege of Thionville and exiled to England.

Chateaubriand Meditating on the Ruins of Rome, oil painting by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson
Chateaubriand Meditating on the Ruins of Rome, oil painting by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson (courtesy of Wiki:Contents)

Chateaubriand returned to France in May 1800 taking advantage of an amnesty. In 1802 he published Génie du Christianisme (‘The Genius of Christianity’), which won him the favour of Napoleon Bonaparte who appointed him secretary of the legation to the Holy See and later, minister to the Republic of Valais. He resigned his post having fallen out with Napoleon and travelled extensively across Greece, Asia Minor, The Ottoman Empire, Egypt, Tunisia, and Spain. Again, he used his experience to publish extensively.

Chateaubriand returned to France at the end of 1806 and as a severe critic of Napoleon, retired to a modest estate just south of Paris. After the initial fall of Napoleon, Chateaubriand supported the Bourbons in the form of Louis XVIII but was then forced into exile to Ghent, Belgium, following Napoleon’s return. After Napoleon’s final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Chateaubriand became a French peer and state minister. Again, he fell in out of favour with successive monarchs including Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe I. In his later years, he lived as a recluse in Paris and died in Paris in July 1848 during the the Revolution of 1848 that established the French Second Republic.

The featured postage stamp was issued in July 1948 and commemorates the death centenary of François-René de Chateaubriand. It is denominated 18 French francs and was designed by the celebrated Paul Pierre Lemagny and recess printed by the engravers, Barlangue. Chateaubriand also appears on postage stamp issues of a number of other countries including Monaco and Fujairah (United Arab Emirates) as well as French colonies such as Saint Pierre and Miquelon.

To view postal issues of the France, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Lithuania: Rise and Fall of Empires

Historically, the fortune of Empires has rested on the outcome of war. The Ottoman Empire crumpled after World War I, as did many of the western European empires following World War II. In other examples, wars have united states as demonstrated by the unification of Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal under the state of South Africa following the Boer War.

Central Lithuania 1920 25f stamp (perf.)
Central Lithuania 1920 25f (perf.)
Central Lithuania 1920 2m stamp (imperf.)
Central Lithuania 1920 2m (imperf.)

At the end of World War I in 1918, the state of Central Lithuania was formed that embraced regions of todays Lithuania, Belarus and Poland. Russian Bolshevik troops occupied the capital of Central Lithuania, Vilnius, in 1919 where they established a communist government. The Polish army took Vilnius later that same year and in a Treaty with Russia in 1920, established Central Lithuania as an independent sovereign state. The Polish Army again seized control of Vilnius later in 1920 and established a puppet republic (also referred to a the Republic of Central Lithiania) a few weeks before its first issue of postage stamps in October 1920.

Central Lithuania 1921 2m stamp Optd. Red Cross & Surch. 1m
Central Lithuania 1921 2m Optd. Red Cross & Surch. 1m

In 1922, the state of Central Lithuania was absorbed into Poland following a nationwide vote (plebiscite) and no more postage stamps were issued. In the two years of stamp issues, Central Lithuania issued a total of 47 postage stamps and one set of Postage Due stamps in six denominations.

Central Lithuania 1921 1m Postage Due stamp
Central Lithuania 1921 1m Postage Due
Central Lithuania 1921 50f Postage Due stamp
Central Lithuania 1921 50f Postage Due

For the philatelist, the Central Lithuania postage stamps represent a concise collection and have a relatively low catalogue value, with the exception of the 1920 issue. This issue employed the 1919 issue for Lithuania itself overprinted with ‘Środkowa Lit Poczta’ (Central Lithuania Post) and the set can secure slightly higher catalogue values.

Central Lithuania 1921 2m stamp of St. Stanislaus Cathedral
Central Lithuania 1921 2m St. Stanislaus Cathedral
Central Lithuania 1921 4m stamp of Queen Jadwiga and King Wladislaw Jagiello
Central Lithuania 1921 4m Queen Jadwiga and King Wladislaw Jagiello

In 1939, Russia returned Central Lithuania to Lithuania itself, severing ties with Poland. However, this had little long term significance as at the end of World War II, the whole region including Poland, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia came under the communist influence of the Soviet Union.

To view postal issues of the Lithuania, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.

Egypt: Egyptian Ports

In the nineteenth century, international trade relied heavily on ships and so ports became important places through which that trade flowed. Strong trade links required effective communication systems and with telephony and radio still to be discovered and electrical telegraphy still in its infancy, this demand fell to the postal system. Established trading nations such as France and Great Britain added overseas ports to their reach, serviced by the ‘paquet-boats’. Apart from the polar regions, Post Offices were opened on every continent in the world creating the first dedicated international communication system.

Great Britain 1859-78 2½d Stamp Cancelled 'B02'
Great Britain 1859-78 2½d Cancelled ‘B02’

As we have discussed in earlier blogs, Egypt was of particular interest as it offered communication channels to the east and therefore was of particular interest to both the French and the British – with slight differences in approach. The British chose to issue British stamps at its foreign Post Offices and used cancellations to indicate the point of origin. Postmarks on British stamps used in Egypt carried the code ‘B01’ (featured image) for the Egyptian port of Alexandria and ‘B02’ for Port Said.

France 1899 4c Stamp Optd. Alexandrie
France 1899 4c Optd. Alexandrie
France 1899 3c Stamp Optd. Port-Said
France 1899 3c Optd. Port-Said

In 1899, the French chose to use its ‘Peace and Commerce’ definitive postal stamp issues at their Post offices in Alexandria and Port Said, each with an overprint identifying the name of the port; fifteen stamps made up the set for each port. A new set of definitive stamps was issued in France in 1900, consisting of three designs named after their designers, ‘Blanc’, Mouchon’ and ‘Merson’. Each of these key plate designs offered space for the location to be detailed without the need for overprints. These stamps were introduced in French Post Offices in Alexandria and Port Said in 1902.

France 1902 2c Stamp 'Blanc' design, Port-Said
France 1902 2c ‘Blanc’ design, Port-Said
France 1902 15c Stamp 'Mouchon' design, Port-Said
France 1902 15c ‘Mouchon’ design, Port-Said
France 1902 50c Stamp 'Merson' design, Alexandrie
France 1902 50c ‘Merson’ design, Alexandrie

In 1915, the 10c denominated ‘Mouchon’ was issued for both ports with a 5c additional surcharge to support the Red Cross. This was indicated on the stamp with a red cross and the 5c surcharge. This surcharge was prompted by the World War I conflict which has extended into the Middle East.

France 1915 10c Stamp Optd. & Surch. Red Cross Fund, Port-Said
France 1915 10c Optd. & Surch. Red Cross Fund, Port-Said

The French continued to use French currency on these stamps until 1921 when the Egyptian currency in milliemes was overprinted onto the French stamps. The French closed its Post Offices in Egypt in March 1931 but in the 10 years from 1921, three sets of ‘Blanc’, Mouchon’ and ‘Merson’ stamps were issued for Alexandria (two in 1921 and another in 1925) and two for Port Said (one in 1921 and another in 1925), the differences between each set being the design of the local currency surcharge overprints.

France 1921 2c Stamp Surch. 15m, Alexandrie
France 1921 2c Surch. 15m, Alexandrie
France 1921 30c Stamp Surch. 10m, Alexandrie
France 1921 30c Surch. 10m, Alexandrie
France 1921 2f Stamp Surch. 60m, Port-Said
France 1921 2f Surch. 60m, Port-Said

The 1921 and 1925 surcharges were overprinted in figures and words. The two 1921 issues for Alexandria show the overprints on one line on the first issue and on two lines on the second issue. The 1921 Port Said overprints were only produced on two lines. A further modification occurred on the 1925 issues for both Alexandria and Port Said with an overprint of three bars through the French currency.

France 1925 3c Stamp Surch. 5m, Alexandrie
France 1925 3c Surch. 5m, Alexandrie

The 1927 issue, comprising six stamps for each port, had a further change to the ‘Blanc’, Mouchon’ and ‘Merson’ design. The overprinted surcharges were no longer used and the local denomination was inserted in the key plate previously occupied by the French currency value. The only additional stamps issued by the French during this period was a set of three ‘Mouchon’ stamps for each port each with an additional charge of 5m in support of the ‘French sinking fund’; a response to the crippling economic circumstances brought on by the aftermath of World War I, the cost of building the Panama Canal and the start of the Great Depression.

France 1927 15m Stamp, Alexandrie
France 1927 15m, Alexandrie
France 1927 15m Stamp Optd. & Surch. Sinking Fund, Alexandrie
France 1927 15m Optd. & Surch. Sinking Fund, Alexandrie

To view postal issues of the Egypt, please visit the M&S Philately HipStamp store.