World Stamps

Elusive Syria 1961-63 airmail set a good buy

May 1, 2024, 8 AM
The set of eight Syria 1961-63 airmail stamps (Scott C255-C262) depicting historical and cultural treasures is a good buy in mint, never-hinged condition at up to full Scott catalog value.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea bordering Turkey, Iraq, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon.

An Arab nation ruled by the Ottoman Turks for hundreds of years, it was awarded to France as a mandate of the League of Nations after World War I. After gaining independence in 1945, it muddled through a series of coups until a one-party state was established by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in 1963.

Syria eventually became the dictatorship of the al-Asad family. The ruling family and their supporters are mainly drawn from Alawite Islam, while the majority of the country’s population are Sunni Muslims.

In 2011, much of the country rose in revolt against the al-Asad regime, launching the ongoing civil war in which an estimated 600,000 have perished.

In 2014, large parts of the country were seized by the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and strict fundamentalist Islamic rule was imposed in the areas it controlled. Territorial control was wrested from ISIS in 2017.

In 2015, ISIS gained control of the ancient city of Palmyra, a cultural and economic center since the second millennium B.C., located in central Syria. The city was the home of irreplaceable historic, cultural and archaeological treasures.

As strict Islamic fundamentalists, ISIS destroyed most of Palmyra’s ancient statuary and buildings as pagan and idolatrous. One place the destroyed treasures can still be seen is on Syrian stamps.

From 1961 to 1963, Syria issued a set of eight airmail stamps (C255-C262) depicting The Beauty of Palmyra (a funerary statue of an aristocratic Palmyrene lady) and an archway of Roman construction.

The Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue values the set at $28.40 in mint, never-hinged condition and $6.80 in used condition.

This set is of interest to Old World archeology topical collectors. It is surprisingly elusive and is a good buy at up to full Scott catalog value in mint, never-hinged condition.

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