Unwanted Stamp Made Provisional

Bruce Conde

Copyright 22 April 1957
Linn's Stamp News, Sidney, Ohio USA 45365
Reprinted with permission from the April 22, 1957 issue of Linn's Stamp News

When writing up the accidental release of a 1 bogshah official stamp of 1951 in a last year's issue of Linn's, and later following it up by describing how a single sheet seems to have been used as a provisional last October, the writer hinted that a whole set of officials may have been "prepared but not issued".

1951 - 5 bogash Bab al-Yemen Gate Official issue

This guess now stands confirmed. The Sana'a post office has just released—as of late March 1957—a 5 bogash blue-green value of the same design (the Bab al-Yemen Gate of Sana'a). This item is now being distributed to all post offices in Yemen on the same basis as its predecessor—the 5 bogash flag stamp of the 1951 regular set—which is now in short supply.

The Imam has authorised this provisional release of another unwanted 5 bogash value as a 4 bogash stamp, without surcharge, due to the continuing critical stamp shortage in this kingdom. There is no dearth of other values, from the ½ bogash to 1 ahmadi, or riyal, from the second Berlin print of 1931 to the second Rome print of 1953. But there is not a single 4 bogash item in sufficient quantities to begin to meet the needs of the postal service for first-class inland letter mail.

The beautiful bicolored flag stamp will be very plentiful in used condition, and will certainly dress up Yemen mixtures or packets for some years to come, as it was the only first-class adhesive in use here for the past five or six months. Unused it will be scarcer that any other value of the 1951 regular series (Scott Nos. 68-77), and this will pose a problem for purchasers of complete sets in wholesale quantities, mint. If the balance of that unpopular set (with the French lettering on top of the Arabic) is not destroyed, but continues to be available for philatelic sale, it may be impossible for the post office to furnish it with the 5 bogash value in the future.

It now appears that precendent has been set for using up surpluses of unnecessary values higher than 4 bogash in face, as 4 bogash provisionals without surcharge. Lower values will probably continue to have some sort of a revalidating 4 bogash overprint. For various reasons it has not been possible for the postal authorities to secure the three approved and pending new stamp issues for Yemen, and this may lead to even more unorthodox provisionals in the future.

The present issue, while not an attractive bicolor like its handsome predecessor, is of pleasing design. The view shown is that of Sana'a's principal gate, Bab al-Yemen, built by the Turks in the late 19th Century during their second attempt (1872-1918) to conquer Yemen. The Ottomans inserted this structure in the medieval (12th Century A.D.) wall of Sana'a, Yemen's traditional capital, which had been built by Turan Shah, the brother of Saladin, during the Ayyubid conquest of most of Yemen.

Sana'a has six other gates in her encircling ramparts, with their 128 towers, and all are securely locked at the third hour after sunset, making it impossible to get in or out of the city till sunrise.