Copyright July 1932
Reprinted with permission from the July 1932 issue of Gibbons Stamp Monthly
am indebted to Mr. Frank H. Oliver, proprietor of Messrs. Bright and Son,
for permission to reproduce here (in slightly reduced size owing to the
lack of space) a sheet and a large block
of the stamps of the first issue of the Yemen, which he possesses.
was in the autumn of 1926 that my attention was first drawn to this interesting
issue, when Mr. N. N. Marino showed me a few specimens and supplied me
with a translation of the inscriptions. He added that the stamps were
for use in the interior only, and that letters intended for foreign countries,
generally posted at Hodeida, did not then usually bear any stamps, though
occasionally stamps of India were used, especially when letters were addressed
to Aden. This information was given in the Monthly Journal for
December 1926, and The Times philatelic correspondent repeated
the information (which he may, of course, have received independently)
in the issue of that journal of December 24th.
I reserved my decision
as to whether these stamps should be catalogued, pending further information,
but all was quiet on the Yemen front until December 1929, when it was
reported in the philatelic press that the Yemen was to join the Postal
Union and that in consequence a series of stamps was in preparation.
When the new stamps
appeared in 1930, it seemed time to list their forerunners, which had
no philatelic motive behind them,a remark which cannot be truly
made about the German-printed issue.
It was in recording
and commenting on the latter, that Scott's Monthly Journal gave
some further notes about the first issue (December 1930 number of the
magazine). It was there stated that the postal service was first organized
in 1926 and that this led to the issue of the two stamps we are discussing.
While they were used on letters in the interior, letters for countries
abroad had to be provided with stamps of the country of destination, or
else postage paid in cash, which confirms Mr. Marino's observations, mentioned
The Editor added,
We have before us about twenty newspaper wrappers (usually with
fragments of the newspaper adhering), to each of which are affixed a copy
of the 5 b. stamp and one of the current 1 anna brown of India. ... We
have these stamps with various postmarks, indicating a general distribution
It would appear from
the above that 5 b. was the rate for inland newspapers, and the Indian
1 anna presumably paid the newspaper rate from Aden to India.
A large block on orange paper.
While on the subject
of postmarks, it may be added that Mr. Oliver has also shown us two envelopes
addressed in Arabic script, franked on the back ; in one case with eight
of the 10 b. and in the other with a pair of the 5 b. The postmarks are
circular with Arabic inscriptions in white on a black ground.
As regards perforations,
the pair of the 5 b., which is from the margin of the sheet, is roughly
perforated 10 on three sides, the margin being imperf. The block of the
same stamp which we illustrate has a similar rough perforation along the
upper margin. The remainder of Mr. Oliver's stamps are imperf., which
confirms the catalogue listing, with the exception that the 5 b. exists
both imperf. and perf.
I have used the catalogue
description in referring to the stamps as being of the denominations of
5 bucksha and 10 bucksha (this word presumably being the equivalent of
the bogaches singular bogchah of
the current issue), but Mr. Oliver describes them as 1/8 amadi (on white)
and 1/2 amadi (on the orange paper), which reverses the values given in
Our original informant
gave us the values as we show them in the catalogue, and Scott's Monthly
Journal agreed. As to the currency, there was the same agreement80
bogaches=1 imadi, the equivalent of the silver dollar of Maria Theresa,
but it now seems to be agreed that only 40 bogaches go to the imadi.
This involves a new
complication, for it would make Mr. Oliver's eighth imadi and half imadi,
5 and 20 bogaches respectively.
A complete sheet on white paper.
Mr. Oliver supplies
the following translation of the inscriptions which, apart from the vexed
question of values, agrees fairly well with our original note and with
Scott, except that the inscription in the central circle is variously
interpreted Under the protection of God or by the
will of God, which, to the Arab, would be the same as the
appointed of Mr. Oliver's text. Another discrepancy is as to the
position of the words Al-Yemen in Yemen post. Scott stated
that this is the small inscription below the central circle, while Mr.
Oliver gives that word as Aminan.
Here is Mr. Oliver's
Sān'a. (The Capital of Yemen.)
Central circle. Al-Hukumat al-metwaklet al-Islamieh.
(The appointed Islamic Government.)
Right scimitar blade. Berid al-Yemen. (Yemen Post.)
Left scimitar blade. Thumen 'Amādi. (Eighth 'Amadi
on the white paper.)
Left scimitar blade. Nesf 'Amādi. (Half 'Amadi on
the yellow paper.)
Below the central circle. Aminan. (The one trusting in God.)
Lower right corner. Yahya. (The name of the Sultan.)
Lower left corner. Nasarhu Allah. (God succour him.)
As my knowledge of
Arabic is confined to a couple of dozen words (mostly terms of abuse)
picked up in the East during the War, I do not feel competent to decide
the vexed question of the value, especially as it is written in words
and not figures, but there seems to be a family resemblance between the
lowest group of characters in the left-hand scimitar blade on the white
paper stamp, and the ½ in such surcharges as Type 12 of
Transjordan, which would make Mr. Oliver's translator right as regards
the value ½ imadi (i.e. 20 bogaches at forty to the imadi), but would
make him wrong in respect to the colour of the higher value. However,
we need not labour the point, as I know several G.S.M. readers
will be able to confirm, or refute, my suggestion, and I hope they will
let me hear from them, in order that the point may be cleared up.
In regard to the
method of printing, Mr. Oliver writes me :
I have spent quite a lot of time trying to determine positively
how these were produced. In the first place there is no doubt that they
were printed letterpress from either a stereotype or electrotype block
or a made-up forme of twenty stereotype or electrotype separate blocks.
Probably several casts were taken from the original block and fresh casts
were taken from them, because a number of them are more or less alike.
They apparently have had very rough usage which would account for many
of the breakages, battered corners, etc. On the complete pane several
of the stamps show quite clearly the tops of the nails used to fasten
the plates on the wood, notably in the lower right corner.
Examination of the
sheet and block tends to confirm these suggestions, though the impressions
are so faulty in many cases that it is difficult to compare one stamp
Before I close these
rather discursive notes, perhaps a word about the Yemen may be of interest.
Lying in the south-west corner of Arabia, adjoining the Aden protectorate,
it has an area of some 70,000 square miles, and a population of about
3 millions. Before the war it was, of course, ruled by the Turks ; but
when they withdrew, the Imam began to spread himself, and
now holds Hodeida, Midi and Loheiya on the coast. He has attempted to
encroach on the protected Aden tribes, and in 1929 had to be given a forcible
hint from the air that he was out of his ground.
As the Imam is the
head of the Zeidi sect of the Shiahs, while many of his original subjects,
and most of the inhabitants of the territories he has annexed, are Shafais,
he is distinctly unpopular with the latter and has to rule them by force.
Parts of the Yemen
are very fertile, and various cereals are grown, but coffee is the chief
is a very interesting issue, but it is unlikely that many were printed,
and judging by what has appeared in the Press, only a few dozen copies
of the stamps have come into the hands of collectors and the trade.