By Janet Klug
One way to expand both your stamp collection and your knowledge of worldwide stamps is to acquire a small collection of a country you do not normally collect.
Figure 1 shows a remainder collection of Egypt that I recently purchased.
A remainder collection is one that has been stripped of its better items, which have been sold separately. The leftovers are generally stamps that have lower catalog values and are kept together and sold as a lot to maximize the return for the seller.
It is fun putting stamps in an album, but it is even more fun to try to learn something from them.
Every stamp has a story. What stories were the stamps trying to tell me?
The first thing I noticed was that some of the stamps were inscribed "Egypt" or "Egypte." Some were inscribed "Roi d'Egypte et du Soudan," while others bore the initials "U.A.R." Were all of these stamps Egyptian?
Some of the stamps from the mid-1950s had a strong military appearance. What was going on then? There were some amazing stamps relating to ancient Egypt. It would take a long time to unravel all of the stories, but stamps are patient. They sit quietly and wait until you have time for them.
The logical first place for a stamp collector to turn is the Scott catalog. The introduction to the Egypt section states that modern Egypt was a part of Turkey until World War I, when Egypt became a British protectorate.
In 1922, the British protectorate ended and Egypt became a monarchy that lasted until it became a republic in 1953. In 1958, Egypt merged with Syria to become the United Arab Republic, accounting for the U.A.R. stamps I found.
Syria opted out in 1961, and in 1971 Egypt styled itself as the Arab Republic of Egypt.
That's a lot of change to track with stamps.
Vol. 2 of the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue begins listing stamps for Egypt in 1866 under a title of "Turkish Suzerainty." A suzerainty is a synonym for sovereignty, so this 1866 period was a time when the Ottoman Empire had sovereign power over Egypt.
My new collection had no stamps from the first surcharges issued in 1866. In 1867, new stamps illustrating a pyramid and sphinx were released for the Turkish Suzerainty.
The Turkish emblem of a half-crescent and star flank each corner around the central design on some of these stamps, and the face values printed on the stamps are in the Turkish currency of paras and piasters, as shown on the 1875 stamp in Figure 2 (Scott 26).
The collection I purchased actually begins with a few Pyramid and Sphinx stamps from 1888. These are inscribed in French, "Postes Egyptiennes."
In 1914, Egypt issued a handsome pictorial regular-issue set illustrating Egyptian themes such as the Colossi of Thebes (Scott 55). By 1915, Egypt had become a British protectorate and the stamps, such as the Statue of Ramses II issue in Figure 3 (Scott 70), switched to inscriptions in English reading "Egypt Postage."
The protectorate status ended and Egypt became an independent kingdom. A portrait of King Faud appeared on the first stamps from the kingdom, as shown in Figure 4 (Scott 103).
In 1936, Faud's 16-year old son Farouk became king. He is featured on the 1938 stamp in Figure 5, which celebrated the royal wedding of 18-year old King Farouk to his first wife, Farida (Scott 223).
Farouk was a compulsive coin and stamp collector with a taste for both quality and quantity. The bulk of his extensive stamp collection was sold in Cairo by H.R. Harmer of London in 1954, two years after Farouk abdicated.
In 1953, Egypt became a republic. The stamps took on a military appearance as tensions grew in the region, leading to the 1956 Suez Crisis.
The strategic importance of the Suez Canal cannot be overstated. Egypt's stamps reflected its claim on the canal with the Nationalization of the Suez Canal stamp (Scott 386) in Figure 6. The stamp was issued Sept. 26, 1956.
The Egyptian government had taken control of the canal in July 1956, and Israeli forces moved into Egypt in late October. Troops from Great Britain and France followed days later.
The canal was closed. The United States and the United Nations put pressure on the combatants, and a cease fire was issued Nov. 6, 1956. Forces were withdrawn by Dec. 22, and United Nations peacekeeping forces were engaged to police the area. An overprint on a stamp issued Jan. 14, 1957 (Scott 389) noted that British and French troops evacuated Port Said.
Even though events in Egypt and the Middle East continue to make headlines regularly, it is nice to be able to thumb through a stamp album and gain some insight into how events of history have helped shape the region. It is also enjoyable to be able to tour a country and regard its ancient history from the comfort of a stamp album.
Stamps teach. With a bit of curiosity, you can learn a lot about the world through your stamps.
The American Philatelic Society is beginning a free pilot program to get stamps into more classrooms. If you are a third-grade through fifth-grade schoolteacher — or know one — and would like to participate, contact the APS Education Department, 100 Match Factory Pl., Bellefonte, PA 16823 or e-mail Gretchen Moody at Gretchen@stamps.org.
July 01, 2015 10:28 AMIn the Spotlight on Philately column this month, Ken Lawrence presents a lengthy and fascinating history of the United States 30¢ orange Benjamin Franklin stamp of 1917 with gauge 10 perforations on unwatermarked paper. Read More ›
June 30, 2015 05:14 PMSince the abhorrent murder of nine African-American churchgoers by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C. on June 17, calls have spread across the United States for symbols of the old Confederacy to be removed from public places. Read More ›
June 25, 2015 03:34 PMThe hardcover edition of the 2015 United States Postal Card Catalog arrived on my desk in mid-June. The catalog is published by the United Postal Stationery Society, of which I am a longtime member. Read More ›
June 17, 2015 04:15 PMDuring its most recent board meeting, held by telephone June 10, the American Philatelic Society board of directors approved the Institute for Analytical Philately as an APS affiliate. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the announcement that Scott catalogs is assigning Scott number 5000 for United States stamps.
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz discusses a new Spanish stamp commemorating the first international congress on bullfighting as cultural heritage.
Chad Snee reports on the National Postal Museum reception for the display of the British Guiana 1¢ Magenta stamp.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke reports on the recent U.S. postage rate changes and the 10 new stamps being issued this week.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
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Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.