Ajman COA 1Ajman Flag

Ajman (1964-1972)

LOCATION: Oman Peninsula, Arabia, on Persian Gulf
AREA:  100 sq. mi. (260 sq. km)
Population:  4,400 (est. 1970)
GOVERNMENT:  Sheikdom under British protection
CAPITAL:  Ajman

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED:  20 June 1964
LAST STAMPS ISSUED:  1972 [those issued after 18 December 1965 are unlisted in Scott]

CURRENCY:
100 Naiye Paise = 1 Rupee (1964-1966); 100 Fils = 1 Dinar (1966-1972)

Ajman is the smallest of seven emirates, centrally located on the western coast of the present-day United Arab Emirates in eastern Arabia.  It is the smallest of the emirates by area and had an estimated population of 4,400 in 1970.  Today, the population is more than 360,000.  Ajman City is the capital and the port is situated down a short creek.  The emirate is bordered by Sharjah and is only 10km away from Dubai in the south and Umm al Quwain in the north.

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British influence in the region increased in the early nineteenth century.  Following the capture of Ras al Khaimah by a British force, the sultan of Sharjah sighed the General Maritime Treaty with Great Britain on 8 January 1820, surrendering the towers, guns and vessels of Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain and their dependencies.  Ajman initially refused the primacy of the sultan of Sharjah but capitulated in 1823.  A British maritime survey in 1822 had noted that Ajman had one of the best backwaters on the coast and was a small town with a single fortified building, the ruler’s house.

Postcard from Ajman

Ajman town and its date groves were attacked by the Bani Yas tribe in 1831.  Forces from Ajman subsequently attacked Sohar and Muscat which prompted a British naval force being sent to curb the raids in 1832.  Ending conflicts between Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ajman, a Maritime Treaty was signed in 1835.  Forces from Al Heera invaded Ajman in 1840 which prompted further reprisals and another Maritime Treaty between the Trucial sheiks and the British in 1843.  A “Perpetual Treaty of Peace” was entered into by the coastal sheiks on 4 May 1853; a further treaty bound the Trucial States to Britain in 1892.

Ajman as seen from the air

In 1948, the British Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia were set up to provide postal services to countries in the region with mail processed in Dubai using stamps issued for the Trucial States.  The first post office in Ajman was opened on 29 November 1963 by the Agencies.  The first stamps inscribed with the individual emirate name of Ajman were issued on 20 June 1964.  The sheikdom released 64 stamps – 46 general issue, nine airmail, four airmail official, and five official stamps – in 1964 and 1965.

On 5 July 1966, Ajman opened a post office in its small dependency of Manama.  The first Manama issue appeared soon afterwards and the two postal agencies released thousands of stamps designed solely with the worldwide collector in mind.  As these had little to no postal validity, the Scott catalogue does not list any Ajman stamps released after December 1965, nor any of the Manama issues.  To identify these unlisted stamps, the Oh My Gosh website is useful.  I believe that the Michel and Stanley Gibbons catalogues list some of these disputed issues, but I don’t have the pertinent volumes available to check.

Ajman - Scott #C3 - 1965-11-15

Ajman agreed to join the independent United Arab Emirates on 2 December 1971 and the UAE took over postal operations on 1 August 1972.   Ajman stamps were allowed to be used for postage until the following April. Numerous Ajman-inscribed stamps continued to be released throughout 1972 and beyond but these weren’t recognized as valid by the government.  In addition to the sixty-four listed in Scott, it has been estimated that an additional six to seven thousand different Ajman stamps came onto the philatelic market between 1964 and 1972.  It’s been reported that the Ajman postmaster, without consulting the government, sold “exclusive” stamp-printing contracts to at least two separate agencies during this time.

Ajman - Scott #C9 - 1965-12-18

The majority of the Scott-listed stamps are valued at less than US $1 with the most expensive being Scott #18, priced at US $4.30 in my 2009 edition of the catalogue.  Most of the postally-disputed unlisted stamps are considered to be practically worthless but can offer nice additions to certain topical collections.  It is probably impossible to aim for completeness, however…

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I currently have twenty-nine stamps from Ajman in my general worldwide collection, one of which will be earmarked for my A Stamp From Everywhere album.  I own all nine of the Scott-listed airmail stamps, C1-C9.  The first six values were released on 15 November 1965 and the remaining three high-value stamps appeared on 18 December 1965, about two weeks after my birth.  I also have twenty tiny unlisted airmail stamps picturing various countries’ military uniforms and carrying the date 1972, along with the inscription “Ajman State and its Dependencies.”

France Coat of Arms (Unofficial 1898-1953)

Alaouite Flag

Alaouites / Alawites State

LOCATION: A district of Syria, bordering on the Mediterranean Sea
GOVERNMENT: Under French mandate
POPULATION: 278,000 (est. 1930)
AREA: 2,500 square miles
CAPITAL: Latakia

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: 1 January 1925
LAST STAMPS ISSUED: 1930

CURRENCY:
100 centimes = 1 piaster

The Alawite State, listed in most stamp catalogues under the French name Alaouites, was a region in western Syria bordering on the Mediterranean Sea. It was part of the Ottoman Empire at the start of the twentieth century but was occupied by France at the close of World War I. Growing anti-French sentiment in the region led to the establishment of the Arab Kingdom of Syria on 7 March 1920. The League of Nations issued a mandate on 5 May 1920 for France to govern the area of Syria and Lebanon. France divided the area of its mandate into territories and the Territory of the Alawites was formed on 2 September 1920. The coastal city of Latakia was the administrative capital. At the end of 1924, the territory became an independent state while still administered by France under mandate.

mainmap

The first stamps issued for Alaouites were overprinted French stamps and were available in Latakia from the first of January 1925. This initial regular issue included twenty-one definitive stamps, four for airmail, and five French surcharged stamps intended for postage due. All included an overprint of the denomination and state name in both French and Arabic. Beginning in March 1925, Syrian stamps were overprinted for use in Alaouites. There were a total of twenty-five regular issue Syrian overprinted stamps released between 1925 and 1928 as well as thirteen intended for airmail and five for postage due.

The total count, then, for Alaouites stamps is forty-six general issue, seventeen airmail and ten postage due stamps.  Because every issue is  an overprint, almost every stamp issued has variations of the overprint. Some have multiple copies of the overprint, but the most common variation is the inverted overprint.  Most of the stamps are reasonably priced with only ten cataloguing at US $10 and above.  The most expensive is Scott #49, 4p on 25c olive black issued in 1928 and valued at US $75 mint and $50 used.  Collecting doubled impressions or different colored overprint variations is much more expensive.

In 1930, the Alawite State was renamed the Government of Latakia and Syrian stamps overprinted with “Lattaquie” were released the following year.

To date, I only own one stamp from Alaouites, but it’s a beauty – Scott #C17, 50 centimes yellow green with red overprints, perforated 13½.  In June and July 1929, the Alawite State released three airmail stamps, applying an additional overprint of an airplane on previously overprinted stamps in either red or black. The 50 centime value, with its initial overprint of country name in French and Arabic on the Syrian yellow-green type A4, was originally released on 1 March 1925. The view pictured is the harbor area of Alexandretta, to the north of Alaouites.  The Scott catalogues lists three varieties for this stamp with minor numbers: #C17a features a doubling of the airplane overprint; #C17b has the airplane overprint on both the front and back of the stamp; and #C17c is a listing for a pair of stamps with the airplane overprint tête bêche, a philatelic term from the French for “head-to-tail” describing a joined pair of stamps in which one is upside-down in relation to the other.

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Afghanistan National EmblemAfganistan Flag

LOCATION: Central Asia
GOVERNMENT: Republic
POPULATION: 23,500,000 (est. 1995)
CAPITAL: Kabul

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: 1871.

Afghanistan is a mountainous landlocked country in central Asia. Emerging as an independent state in the mid-18th century, during the 19th century, the country was caught up in the struggle between Russia and Great Britain and became a de facto British protectorate until it won its independence in 1919. The emir was crowned king in 1926 and the kingdom remained until 1973.

In 1978 a Russian-inspired coup installed a puppet Soviet regime and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was established. Following opposition by Muslim loyalists, the Russians invaded in December 1979, an occupation that lasted ten years. Moderate Muslims replaced the Marxist government in 1992, followed by the radical Taliban in 1996. A United States-led invasion occurred in the early 21st century, toppling the Taliban government. An Islamic republic with a democratic constitution was formed in 2004.

Afghanistan issued its first stamps in 1871 as the Kingdom of Kabul. However, these weren’t valid for postage outside of the country as Afghanistan didn’t join the Universal Postal Union until 1928. British India stamps were required for postage abroad.

Afghanistan A1 from Scott CatalogueThe Lion’s head issues of 1871-1878 are famous for having a corner torn off to indicate cancellation.   Created during the reign of the emir Sher Ali Khan who had initiated the postal service a few years earlier, the first of the square stamps featured a circular design printed in black ink.  The lion’s head in the central emblem symbolized the reigning emir – Sher means “lion” in the local Dari language.  Note that my copy of the Scott catalogue (2009 edition) calls these stamps “tiger’s heads”; the first issue is numbered #2.

Stamps were issued between 1876 and 1878 for each postal district, printed in different colors for the main post offices at Jalalabad, Kabul, the Afghan office in Peshawar in neighboring Pakistan, and Khulm (Tashqurkhan).  Catalogues differ in how they treat these issues; Scott has them listed as #29-108 but is unclear as to which color belonged to which office.  It does note that some specialists view the black printings as proofs or color trials.

The emir died in 1880, after which a similar circular design was used but without the lion’s head emblem.  This basic design was used until the Kingdom of Afghanistan was established in 1891 after which all designs were rectangular in their layout.  In February 1927, the first stamps to include the words “Afghan Post” in English were released; prior to that, only Arabic script had been used to label the stamps.  The French equivalent, “Afghanes Postes” began appearing shortly thereafter.

As a result of the civil war, no official stamps were issued from 1992 until 2001. The Taliban issued stamps during this period after they were expelled from the capital but still controlled parts of the country, but these aren’t listed in catalogues.

Afghanistan Map 2

Between May 1870 and 7 December 2004 (the last issue listed in my 2009 Scott catalogue), Afghanistan issued 1600 general issue stamps. There are many more unlisted varieties, many of which were imperforate versions designed to be sold solely to collectors.  By my count, the nation released 113 semi-postal stamps between July 1952 and October 1981.  The first air post stamps were released 1 October 1939 with the last appearing in 1962, a total of 62 stamps including a few souvenir sheets.  Other back of the book issues include 10 registration stamps (used on post office receipts), nine official stamps which were used only on interior mail, 21 parcel post stamps, and 25 postal tax stamps.  This all makes a grand total of 1,842 stamps released by Afghanistan that are listed in Scott.

Only the pre-1891 Afghani stamps are fairly expensive with some retailing for USD $200 and up.  Most of those released after 1891 are affordable.  The most valuable are Scott #8 and 9, “tiger’s” head stamps released in 1872 on toned wove paper and dated “1289”.  They were printed in sheets of four (2×2) – two of the 6 shahi and two of the 1 rupee kabuli, both in violet.  There are two varieties of each with the date varying in location.  Unused copies of the 6sh are valued at USD $1,000 (2009) and the 1rup goes for $1,500.  Used copies are valued $650 and $1,100, respectively, with most used examples smeared with a greasy ink cancellation.

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Currently, I only have three stamps issued by Afghanistan in my collection.  Scott #285 – 2 pouls black – was released imperforate in 1937, paying the newspaper rate.  I found a mint pair in a packet of 100 all-different stamps from 100 different countries (a VERY good mix, by the way).  An unused single is worth USD $1.00.

Scott #689 is the high value of a set of three issued on 12 July 1964 to publicize Afghanistan as a tourist destination. The 3 afghanis red, black and green stamp was printed in Photogravure and is perforated 14×13½. A map of the country is superimposed upon the national flag, a vertical tricolor of black, red, and green charged in the center with the national emblem (not seen here).

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The flag of Afghanistan has had more changes since the start of the 20th century than has that of any other country in the world. The design remained static through most of the constitutional monarchy period but has been changed thirteen times since 1973. The current design is very similar to the one flown from 1930 until 1973 with the addition of the shahadah at the top of the coat of arms.