Aden Colony COA

Aden Colony Flag

LOCATION: Southern Arabia

GOVERNMENT: British colony and protectorate

POPULATION: 220,000 (est. 1964)






1 Rupee = 16 Annas; 1 Anna = 12 Fils (1937-1951)

1 Shilling = 100 Cents (1951-1965)

1 Dinar = 1000 Fils (1965-1968)

On 19 January 1839, the British East India Company landed Royal Marines at Aden – a city in southwestern Arabia – as it was considered an important place due to its location where attacks by pirates against British shipping could be stopped. Upon the opening of the Suez Canal it was used as a coaling station for the steamship route from Suez to India. The British governed Aden as part of British India, originally as the Aden Settlement under the Bombay Presidency. British influence then began to extend inland, both west and east, with the establishment of Aden Protectorate.

A residency post office was opened under Indian administration in 1839 and it became the exchange point for mail through the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean and Far East. Indian stamps were used in the protectorate starting in 1854. The city of Aden itself became a separate Crown Colony on 1 April 1937 and began to issue its own stamps.  These were also used in the Protectorate of Aden.

A several of the individual emirates objected to the usage of the British monarch on the stamps.  In 1942, the Kathiri State of Seiyun and the Qu’aiti State of Shirh and Mukalla (renamed Qu’aiti State in Hadramaut in 1955) began issuing their own stamps which were valid for postage throughout Aden, portraying local sultans.  Although  they are listed after Aden in the Scott catalogue, I will deal with the individual emirates when they come up alphabetically.  Neither Scott nor Stanley Gibbons list the post-1963 emirates issues as these are in some dispute (as are later issues by Mahra State and the State of Yaffa).

On 18 January 1963, the Colony of Aden (the port) and the sheikdoms and emirates of the Western Aden Protectorate formed the Federation of South Arabia. South Arabian stamps replaced the stamps of Aden on 1 April 1965. In 1967, Aden became part of the People’s Republic of Yemen.

Aden issued a total of 81 General Issue stamps between 1937 and 1965 (no Air Mails or Postage Dues, etc.).  The majority are relatively inexpensive with the exception of definitive high values scattered throughout its stamp-issuing period.  The most expensive stamp is Scott #12, the 10-rupee olive green picturing the ubiquitous dhow.  It’s valued at USD $450 mint and $475 used in my 2009 edition of the catalogue.

Aden Colony Map 01


I currently have ten stamps from Aden – the three stamps marking the 1937 coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Scott #13-15); the 1946 Peace issue pair (#28 and 29); the four issued in 1949 commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union, surcharged with new values in Annas and Rupees (#32-35); and the 1-anna value of the 1939-1948 definitive set (#16-27a).  I aim to add more of these beautifully engraved stamps, such as the low values of the 1937 Dhow set.

The stamp I chose to represent Aden in my A Stamp From Everywhere collection is Scott #18, the 1a bright light blue released in 1939, part of a set of thirteen definitive stamps.  Perforated 12½ and engraved, the stamp features the ancient natural harbor at Aden which lies in the crater of a dormant volcano forming a peninsula joined to the mainland by a low isthmus. The original port city is called Crater while the modern port is known as Ma’alla. The area of Tawahi was called “Steamer Point” during the colonial period. The same design is also featured on the 2 rupee value, issued in 1944.

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