A Short Introduction To The Philately Of Palestine

Part 1: The Blues (1918)

Though the issue of a series of postage stamps for the occupied territories had been envisaged in 1917, it took until only a few weeks before free postage ended, for the first stamps to be printed. Proud argues that the postage free period could only end once the new stamp was ready:

Post offices there were already in plenty, stamps there were none, and in order to prevent a flood of overprinted and surcharged stamps, "Occupation" and such-like provisionals, both British and French, the Director of Army Postal Services of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Colonel Peter Warren, C.M.G., O.B.E., requested the Egyptian Survey Office to undertake the designing and printing of stamps of the value of 1 piastre. Three sketches of suggested designs were submitted by J. H. Rowntree, of the Survey Office, and the one chosen, [...], was reproduced under that gentleman's direction by photo-lithography. Four ferro-prussiate proofs of the final negative were sent to the D.A.D.A.P.S., G.H.Q., 2nd Echelon, and approved, [...]

Although the designer of that stamp was so modest that in his own words "the design was purposely made as simple as possible, with a view to preventing it being used, for the final issue," [...]

(J.J. Darlow: Palestine, p4 and 6.)

The 1 (egypt.) Piaster (covering the overseas rate) was designed by Lt. J.H. Rowntree (T1) and printing by Survey Of Egypt started on 15.01.1918. The sheets have the distinct control number A18. Colour varies from indigo, dark blue to shades of blue. The stamp was issued, rouletted (20) and ungummed on 10.02.1918.

Type 1

Design Type 1

Type 2

Overprint Design Type 2

SG No. 1

SG No. 1. Field 110 of Transfer F

SG No. 2

SG No. 2. Field 62 of Transfer D

SG No. 3

SG No. 3.
 

SG No. 4

SG No. 4.
 

Images: Aladdin Adwan.

Domestic letters (ie. for the occupied territories and Egypt) lost their postage-free status only a week after mail to overseas destinations. For unknown reasons, no value of 5 Millièmes (half a Piaster) had been prepared. On such short notice only a provisional issue could be realized by overprinting the 1p value. One can again argue that only once a 5m stamps was ready, the postage-free period for inland letters could end.

Public Notice No. 38, Egyptian Expeditionary Force, Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (South):

As from 10th February 1918, the privilege of free postage granted temporarily to the inhabitants of Palestine will be withdrawn and postage must be prepaid on all letters etc., tendered for transmission to "OTHER COUNTRIES".
Letters: Postage will be charged on letters at the rate of 1 Piastre Egyptian for each 20 grams in weight. Turkish money will be accepted at the rate of 1 Piastre and 3 metalliks or 7 metalliks per 20 grams. Turkish notes will not be accepted. Letters addressed to places in Palestine and Egypt will continue to be accepted free of postage. Rates for such letters will, however, be introduced shortly.
Parcels: Particulars of the postage rates for parcels and the conditions under which they will be accepted can be obtained at the Post Offices established for the use of civilians.

29th January, 1918.
[signed:] Ronald Storrs, Lieut. Col., Military Governor.
(cited in W. Hoexter: The Stamps Of Palestine [Handbook of Holy Land Philately])
001_cb (72K) Left:
Controlblock of the first print-run (A18).
Image: Ebay
003_cb (40K)
Right:
Controlblock of the third print-run (C18).

Since the original printing of the 1p stamp (A18) seemed to be too dark to receive a black overprint, a second printing (control number B18) using the lighter colour of cobalt-blue had to be arranged. The entire print run was immediately overprinted (design T2). The sheets of this overprint issue consequently bear the control number B18A. Printed on 12.02.1918, this 5 Millièmes stamp was issued, in time, on 16.02.1918.

The 1p value got another, third printing on 26.02.1918. The colour is now ultramarine, again rouletted (20), but now printed on gummed paper. This issue, control number C18, was released to post offices in the occupied territories from 5.03.1918. Part of this print run received the T2 overprint, the resulting control number is C18B.

002_cb_A (28K)002_cb_B (28K) Control number from transfer plate G and overprint plate A2. 002_cb_Adet (4K)
002_cb_Bdet (4K) Control number from transfer plate D and overprint plate A1.

Images: Ebay.

003_cover (33K) 003_lett (21K)

Letter to New York, USA with SG no. 3, cancelled with ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 44 / A / 17 SP / 18 (Sacher A2). Censorship marking: PALESTINE / CENSORSHIP / No. 3............ (Sacher QA16, Firebrace PCC3/6).

Commercial cover. SG No. 3 cancelled with ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 44 / A / 2 OC / 18 (Sacher A2). Additional censor marks: PALESTINE / CENSORSHIP / No. 3. (Sacher QA17, Firebrace PCC3/3) and 0. (Sacher QA18, Firebrace ILC12).

180417_card (35K) 180728_APOSZ44 (80K)

Registered postcard sent to Port Said. The 15m rate is covered by one copy of each SG nos. 3 and 4. Datestamps: ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 44 / B / 17 AP 18, alos on the manually corrected blank registration label. Transit mark: ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 22 / X / 20 AP / 18. Censor handstamp: PALESTINE / CENSORSHIP / No. 2 (Sacher QA13, Firebrace PCC2/2).
Image: Ebay.

Letter sent during the period when the first values of the Typo series had been issued, but not the new 1p stamp: SG nos. 3, 5, 6, and 11, all tied by a parcel post handstamp ARMY / POST OFFICE (Sacher Q, Firebrace PCH4). Registration label for SZ44 office with manulal corrected registration number: ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 44 / A / 28JY18. Censor handstamp: PALESTINE / CENSORSHIP / No. 2 (Sacher QA14, Firebrace PCC2/4).
Image: Ebay.

004_pcard (23K) 004_card2 (27K)

Picture postcard of Shechem and Mount Gerizim. SG No. 4 cancelled with ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 44 / B / 25 AP / 18 (Sacher A2). Additional censor mark: PALESTINE / CENSORSHIP / No. 2 (Sacher QA13, Firebrace PCC2/2). Sent to Heliopolis, Egypt (inland rate).
Image courtesy Aladdin Adwan.

Picture postcard of the Nativity Church Bethlehem, dated 13.5.18, with SG no. 4. Cancellation: ARMY POST OFFICE / SZ 44 / [B?] / 13 MY / 18 (Sacher A2). First day of issue for the second print (D18C) was 13.05.1918.
004_FDC (16K)
Censorship marks: PALESTINE / CENSORSHIP / No. 2. (Sacher QA13, Firebrace PCC2/2). Ex Kahanoff-Correspondence.

A fourth printing (12.05.1918), exclusively for the 5m overprint, has the control number D18C. It was issued on 13.05.1918.

A full sheet comprises of 120 stamps, arranged 12x10. The sheet margins bear central guide dots and (interrupted) guard strips (so called Jubilee Lines).

Full Sheet Of No. 4 (355k)

Full sheet of No. 4. Printed 12.05.1918. Image courtesy Aladdin Adwan.

All issues use paper provided by Somerset House in London (Stamping Debt., Board Of Inland Revenue) with watermark Royal Cipher with Crown (simple in column) (W100). The word POSTAGE appears on the left (upwards) and right (downwards) sheet margins. The same paper was used for regular British postage stamps at the time. At the end of February, ready gummed paper arrives in Cairo, which is subsequently used for the C and D prints. Both of these prints have a specific watermark variety (missing crown), while other varieties (inverted or divided watermark) appear on all issues.

A certain kind of ribbing can be detected on stamps from the very outer rows and lines. Hoexter quotes Lt. Rowntree that when the sheets were cut, the pressed-on lid of the cutting machine indented these marks. The sheet were cut on four sides, so ribbing occurs vertically, horizontally and mixed (corner stamps).

The expert philatelist discerns between four transfers of the original stamp and seven tansfers for the overprinted values. These resulted from the initial reproduction of the original cliché and subsequent repairs. Four arrangements (Hoexter: D, G, B, F) can be distinguished by the form and position of the control marks and guide dots as well as the numerous typical plate varieties.

It is documented that the postage stamps were available only at the post offices of Jerusalem, Jaffa and Bir Salem (HQ of the occupation forces) up to April 1918. At other field post offices rates were prepaid and many letters bear army cancellations with a paid remark (eg. 1/2 PT or 1 PT) in addition to the stamps that were later added and cancelled at the three offices named above.
Michael Sacher remarks that the first EEF stamps were not sold in Jerusalem until 20.02.1918:

EEF postage stamps were issued on 10 February 1918 but apparently not placed on sale in Jerusalem until 20 February 1918. In the period from the opening of the Army Post Office [17.12.1917] until 15 February 1918, letters were cancelled and forwarded with-out stamps. In the period 10 to 20 February stamps were affixed and cancelled at other Army Post Offices in Palestine.
(M. Sacher: The Postal Markings Of Mandate Palestine, p.63)
SG Michel Control Value Print Issue Colour Type Paper Watermk. Perf. Plates Circul.
1 1 A181 p 15.01.191810.02.1918 indigoT1 ungumm.W100 roulett (20) B, D, F, G209,760
1 a--dark blue
1 b--blue
2 3 a B18A 5 m 12.02.1918 16.02.1918cobalt blue T1 + T2ungumm. W100roulett (20) D, F, G50,280
3 2 C18 1 p 26.02.1918 5.03.1918ultramarineT1 gumm. W100roulett (20)B, D, F, G 338,880
3 a--(pale ultr.)
3 b--(deep ultr.)
4 3 b C18B 5 m 26.02.1918 5.03.1918ultramarineT1 + T2 gumm. W100roulett (20)B, D, F, G 55,560
4 3 b D18C 5 m 12.05.1918 13.05.1918ultramarineT1 + T2 gumm. W100roulett (20)B, D, F, G 54,120
4 b--(bright ultr.)
4 c--(deep ultr.)
N.B: The print-run of A18 is listed in the Memorandum of J.H. Rowntree at 233,760 (JJ. Darlow: Palestine : the transfer varieties of the "Blues", Gibbons Stamp Monthly 1929; cited from BAPIP Bulletin 65, p.xi)

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[Created 8.07.2002, last revised 14.11.2006]
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