Philatelic Middle East Forerunners in Yemen;
Faked Overprints; A Mystery Solved
7 July 1958
Linn's Stamp News, Sidney, Ohio USA 45365
Reprinted with permission from the July 7, 1958 issue of Linn's Stamp
Publication of the
photo and data concerning Herbert Bernstein's Turkish 1892 bisected 2-piaster
(Scott No. 98) in the January 6 issue of Linn's has smoked out a number
of additional early Ottoman forerunners of Yemen including an additional
bisect of the type described.
It has also brought
forth indications from both England (where Yemen collecting, perhaps due
to its close connection with Aden, is apparently quite popular) and from
those in contact with the American auction prices for such material, that
Turkish forerunner covers of Yemen are worth approximately $50 apiece.
When suitable photos
are forthcoming, these additional Yemen Ottoman Post items will be written
up for this paper, but in the meantime, collectors interested in this
phase of philately should consult Major T. L. C. Tomkins' "Turkish Arabia"
if they can locate a copy. This "bible" of Ottoman cancellations on the
peninsula of Arabia and in the Levant up to 1918 also includes Palestinian
and Syro-Lebanese forerunner material.
Major Tomkins lists
three types of cancels for Sana'a and three for Hodeida, rating them from
"scarce" to "very rare", but there exist additional types, and possibly
cancels for Taiz and Mokha. It is unlikely that there were any additional
Mr. Bernstein, owner
of the Hodeida-cancelled 1892 bisect on cover, was subsequently the recipient
of another cover, with similar type cancellation, but with the town name
"Makrikfuy", which he asks about, supposing it to be another Yemen small
town item. This is not, however, a Yemeni or even an Arabic name. The
bilingual type cancel, of a type used after 1890, is common throughout
the whole Ottoman empire, in Europe and Asia Minor as well as on the peninsula
of Arabia. Earlier types are in Arabic script only, and this is true of
later types, when exaggerated Turkish nationalism, or Turanianism, caused
a reversion to Turkish-Arabic script only.
Re. forged 4 bogash
overprint varieties of Yemen, Ernest H. Smith, Northville, Mich. writes
that he understands there are some 4 bogash overprint forgeries of Yemen
and asks that they be described. This is a sore point with the writer
and a source of disagreement between him and the publishers of Stanley
The fact is that
there are no known forgeries of the overprints themselves, but that the
wrong type of overprint was subsequently applied to older, already canceled,
stamps in order to create a supply of rather scarce overprint items no
longer available in legitimate form.
To be specific, the
Post Office in 1949 resurrected four of the old 1931 Berlin-printed set
(1, 2, 3 and 5 bogash, Scott's basic types Nos. 9, 11, 12 and 15) and
overprinted them "4 bogash" with the Type "a" surcharge, as
illustrated on page 1281 (2nd column) of the Standard Catalog (1958 edition),
thus creating Scott's Nos. 62-65, inclusive. There happens to be a sleeper
among themNo. 63, which catalogs $6.50 mint and $3 used, the others
being listed at 60c mint and 30c used, each.
When the late Yemen
specialist-dealer Benjamin T. Baroody, of Beirut, began to get requests
from overseas dealers for additional supplies of this set in 1950, he
contacted his agents in Sana'a and ordered additional quantities.
It happened that
the quantities overprinted were small, and that the "a"-type surcharge,
with which the stamps had been overprinted, had, in the meantime, become
worn out and discarded in favor of the new "b" surcharge (illustrated
in column 3 of page 1281 of the 1958 catalog).
Unable to get any
more mint copies, and finding the used ones in short supply, one of the
suppliers, perhaps ignorant of the niceties of philately, hit on a brilliant
idea. He would borrow the post office's 4 bogash Type "b" surcharge
cliche (it was a small copper handstamp) and apply it to unoverprinted
copies of Nos. 9, 11, 12, and 15!
Had the counterfeiter
been more generous, he would have escaped detection. He could have purchased
the four stamps mint as face (22c total), overprinted them, and got them
recognized along with Nos. 66a and 67a. These two are the 1947 Mokha coffee
tree stamps which had received both the "a" and "b" type
surcharges legitimately during the transition period in 1949.
However, he chose
to try to make more money out of the transaction by handstamping already
used stamps with the overprint, and this fact led to his detection
and to the branding of all supposed Nos. 62-65 with the "b"-type
overprint as counterfeits.
The facts about this
case were discovered jointly by the writer and Michel Stephan, general
manager of the Baroody Stamp Co., Ltd., in 1954. While writing up the
two types of overprint for "Scott's Monthly Journal", the writer had access
to Baroody's vast stock of thousands upon thousands of Yemenite provisionals.
He was struck by the relative scarcity (a few hundred copies) of the 1949
Nos. 62-65 set, and by the surprising clarity of the "b" overprint
(which he had provisionally listed as authentic) and the fact that several
were inverted and double, a most rare occurrence for Yemen provisional
More careful examination
revealed 1935 postmarks on a number of these supposed 1949-surcharged
items! Furthermore, no mint copies were ever known to exist.
items were struck from the list and Scott was advised to list and illustrate
both types of overprint in order to avoid further such chicanery. Stanley
Gibbons, reticent about going into too much detail about non-British items,
declined to list two types of surcharge, although cautioned that the omission
might lead to the successful sale of counterfeit overprints on the British
with Gibbons has indicated a possible change of attitude about listing
the two types, and it would not be surprising to see Gibbons follow Scott
in this matter in subsequent editions of Part III of the Gibbons Catalog.
On January 4, 1958,
the Iraqi parliament finally ratified the Arab Postal Union Convention,
thus leaving Yemen as the only signatory whose association with the union
has not yet been formalized by ratification. It was supposed that Iraq
had not issued APU stamps for political reasons only, but this is now
known to be incorrect, and we may look forward to a possible Iraqi uniform
APU issue in the near future.
The mystery of who
shares the 15-piaster violet brown stamp of Lebanon's 1957 Arab "Kings
and Presidents" series with handsome Lebanese President Camille Chamoun
has finally been solved (Linn's of November 4, 1957).
Despite press reports
that Major General Abdul Hamid Ghalib, Egyptian Ambassador to Lebanon
(who deputized for President Gamal Abdul Nasser at the November 1956 meeting
of Arab Kings and Presidents in Beirut) had been honored on the stamp
in lieu of his absent President, the Post Office Department has definitely
confirmed that the picture is that of Sudanese Prime Minister and acting
Chief of State Abdallah Khalil.
This was in line
with the Department's decision to show only actual Chiefs of State who
personally attended the Conference, to the exclusion of deputies who represented
the Kings of Yemen and Libya and the President of Egypt. This applied
even though the Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister represented his
father at the meeting.
This means also,
of course, that the "eight o'clock man" on the big diamond-shaped
100-piaster high value of the series is to be identified as Abdallah Khalil.
The high value, when held in its correct "diamond" position
(with the word "Liban" at the bottom of the diamond), shows
Chamoun at the top, or 12 o'clock position, and then, clockwise, Hosein,
Kuwatly, Feisal, Khalil, and Saud.
January mail coming
from Beirut is provided with a new and attractive, and very appropriate,
postal tax stamp to replace Scott's No. RA-11 of 1956. The latter
was issued on the heels of the disastrous earthquake which devastated
the South Mount Lebanon area. It showed a woman and her two children ruefully
looking at the ruins of their destroyed stone house, and its 2½pi.
tax was applied to the reconstruction and relief fund of the victims of
Under the energetic
guidance of Lebanese Deputy Emile Bustany, as the responsible official
in charge of reconstruction activities, great progress was made in getting
the homes of the earthquake victims rebuilt, and the work is steadily
going on today.
central design is taken up with an almost finished house. In front of
it two men, presumably the architect and the contractor, are examining
a mammoth plan, laid out like a carpet, with the second story and its
staircase outlined as in an architect's drawing.
As the stamp is for
internal use within Lebanon and the Arab Postal Union area only, it is
inscribed with the country name "Lubnan" in Arabic script only,
in upper right. The "Earthquake Fund" designation in Arabic
in the upper left.
The bilingual Arabic
and foreign figures of value occupy lower right and left, respectively,
with the minute superscription of the Saikali Press in lower right margin.
The entire background of the stamp is in the form of a masonry wall, and
it is printed in dark brown, but in a horizontal instead of a vertical
format, in contrast with No. RA-11.
This stamp, whose
face value is slightly less that 1c U.S., is obligatory on all first-class
letter mail and airmail destined to points in Lebanon and the Arab Postal
Union countries, but is not compulsory for foreign mail or other classes
of postal matter. It must be used by Lebanese and foreigners alike, thus
the foreign figures of value at lower left.
(Questions of general
interest about Middle East Philately addressed to Bruce Conde, Taiz, Yemen,
will be answered in this column, but the writer cannot undertake additional
direct correspondence at this time. Requests for philatelic services will
be passed on to reputable Middle East dealers.)