Yemen Releases 6Bgs. "Exile" Of 1947 Stamp Theft;
Catalog Listing May Now Be Restored

Bruce Conde

Copyright 6 October 1958
Linn's Stamp News, Sidney, Ohio USA 45365
Reprinted with permission from the October 6, 1958 issue of Linn's Stamp News


In June of this year the Yemen Post Office Department apparently found that the stock of 6 bogash APU stamps was going to run out before the other two values (4 for internal postage and 16bgs. airmail abroad). Only 20,000 complete sets had been prepared by the United Arab Republic's Survey Department Press at Cairo the year before, although an extra 480,000 4bgs. items had been printed.

As philatelic sales accounted for possibly 5000 complete sets, the 6bgs. value, which is needed for first-class overseas mail as well as inland registry and for airmail combinations, was seemingly insufficient.

Since all other stamps of Yemen had been demonetized and declared invalid for postage (largely to stop the "looted stamp" racket whereby regular issues and postage due stamps stolen in the 1948 revolution were being sold by merchants at half face to defraud the post) this posed a problem. But the Department apparently had an ace up its sleeve.

From somewhere in some unknown way, the Sana'a Post Office suddenly acquired a stock—possibly most of the quantity originally printed—of one of the unissued varieties of the 1947 Paris-printed Mokha coffee tree pictorials. For many years this 6bgs. green carried Scott Catalog No. 55. Along with it were Nos. 56-58, the 10 and 20bgs. and 1 'Imadi, which carry illustrations of the Royal Palace at Sana'a.

A few years ago, however, Scott dropped these four numbers when investigation disclosed the fact that the stamps had never been issued by Yemen for postal use but had been stolen from the vaults, unissued, during the 1948 revolution. Complete sets had occasionally turned up abroad in philatelic hands, but the main cache had never appeared on the market and it is still not known if it is hidden in Yemen or held abroad.

Where did the Sana'a Post Office get the supply of the 6bgs. value, which it is now issuing to other Yemen post offices to supplement the APU item? Has the entire hoard of unissued high values been recovered, or was a semiofficial "deal" made for the recovery of the needed 6bgs. value only? Sana'a is mum on the details, but it is probable that if one value was retrieved, all the rest are available under similar circunstances.

6bgs. issue from the 1947 postage series

If the APU set, which had previously been declared the only series valid for prepayment of postage, begins to run low on all values and there is still no new issue in the offing, the chances are good that the 10 and 20bgs. and 1Im., ex-Nos. 56-58, will be prime candidates for issue at that time.

The reason is that whereas all other issues are represented by looted stock held by merchants, the 1947 issue has apparently been held intact somewhere by a single party, and the cache seems to have been made available to the government on terms which will probably remain undisclosed.

Chances for release of any other obsolete issues in unoverprinted form are slim, for the reasons stated above. However, a series of attractive new cliches, in place of the deplorable 4bgs. handstamps of yore, is now available to overprint any of the demonetized issues for release as new issues.

Vitually millions of copies of unnecessary denominations, particularly of the 1Im. top value, remain in the post office vaults, and it would be an economical move for the post office to use them up before ordering new stamps to be printed. It is understood that the new cliches are not only in the value of 4bgs. but also as 6 and 16bgs. It is said that they display, respectively, a mail truck, a ship, and an airplane, in addition to the surcharged new value.

This still does not solve the problem of a 1 bogsha value for the newspaper rate. This constitutes another flaw in the proclamation of the APU set as the only series valid for prepayment of postage. It will be discussed in a separate article concerning the reappearance of the elusive 1bg. "Official" stamp of the ill-fated 1951 series.

The newly released 6bgs. definitive is an extremely handsome stamp, like all of the 1947 set, which was prepared by the Institute de Graveure of Paris. It is brilliant green in color. The design is the same as for Scott's Nos. 50-52 Mookha coffee tree stamps. Printing is in sheets of 50 with the elaborate initials and decorative design of the Institute de Graveure in the form of tabs above or below each stamp of the top and bottom rows of the sheet.