Stamps of the Levant

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Map showing overview of the Ottoman Empire in 1862
Map showing overview of the Ottoman Empire in 1878
Map showing overview of the Ottoman Empire in 1882
Map showing overview of the Ottoman Empire in 1912

Stamps of the Levant is a broad category of stamps emitted by several European countries for use within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. Most notable ones are those issued by Germany, Great Britain, Austria, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia (in the order for the Yvert&Tellier French catalog). They were finally out of service in 1923 (a clause of the Treaty of Lausanne), although most were closed in 1914 due to the war. Levant refers to the East (where the sun rises).

Stamps of Lombardy-Venetia and Austria[edit]

An overland courier service in the Levant was established after the Peace of Passarowitz (1721) and was recognized in 1739. In 1748 an Austrian post office was set up in Galatia separately from the Constantinople embassy, and the service extended to Smyrna. After 1836 mail was carried by the Austrian Lloyd Steam Navigation Company (Österreichischer Lloyd), based in Trieste, which operated train post offices and whose agents acted as postmasters. There were a total of 81 Levant post offices, half of which were Lloyds post offices, ran by the Austrian Lloyd shipping company. Stamps were used from 1863 to 30.9.1914 when all Austrian post offices were closed. The stamps were valid in Albania until early 1915.

Currencies: 1 Florin (Gulden) = 100 Soldi, from 1.5.1888: 1 Piaster = 40 Para and 1 Franc = 100 Centimes.

Attempt is made to link the offices to the current country.

Post offices in Egypt[edit]

Offices were located in Alexandria and Port Said.

Post offices in Greece[edit]

Offices were located in Cavalla, Corfu, Dedeagach (now Alexandroupoli), Janina, Metelino (Mytilene), Prevesa, Salonich (now Thessaloniki), Sayada, Serres, Vathy, Volos. Sorted by date of issue.

Post offices in Crete[edit]

The island was officially attributed to Greece in 1913.

Offices were located in Candia (now Iraklion) and Canea (now Chania), Rettimo.

Post offices in Ottoman period in Palestine[edit]

Offices were located in Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem.

Haifa[edit]

Operated in period 1854-1914.

Jaffa[edit]

Operated in period 1854-1914.

Austrian post office in Jerusalem located inside the Jaffa Gate

Jerusalem - Gerusalemme[edit]

Operated in period 1852-1909.

Post offices in Lebanon[edit]

Post offices were located in Beirut (since 1845) and Tripolis (since 1858).

Post offices in Montenegro[edit]

Offices were located in Antivari (now Bar) and Dulcigno.

Post offices in Romania[edit]

The newly established post of Hungary in 1867 ruled 6 post offices in the future Romania. They closed on 31 March 1869[1].

Post offices in Turkey[edit]

Offices were located in Adrianopel (now Edirne), Alexandrette (now İskenderun), 3 offices in Constantinopel (now Istanbul), Dardanellen, Gallipoli, Ineboli, Kerassund (now Giresun), Latakieh, Mersina (now Mersin), Rodosto (now Tekirdağ), Samsun, 2 offices in Smyrna (now İzmir), Tenedos, Trapezunt (now Trabzon).

Alexandrette - İskenderun[edit]

The Austrian office operated between 1854 and 1914[2].

Constantinopel[edit]

A post office was opened before 1787, offices II and III in 1887.

Gallipoli[edit]

Operated in period 1845-1909.

Kerassunde[edit]

Operated in period 1872-1914.

Mersina[edit]

Operated in period 1854-1914.

Samsun[edit]

Operated in period 1845-1914.

Smyrna - Izmir[edit]

A post office office was opened before 1813.

Trapezunt - Trebisonda, Trabzon[edit]

A post office office was opened in 1845.

Ship mail[edit]

Stamps of Austrian post offices abroad with a ship cancellation.

Undetermined postmarks[edit]

Includes stamps in French currency, so-called 'stamps of Creta', but used in Austrian Levant post-offices.

Unused stamps[edit]

Includes stamps in French currency, so-called 'stamps of Creta', but used in Austrian Levant post-offices.

Private Company of Steamboats on the Danube[edit]

Office of the Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft in Trieste.

The Erste Donau-Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft, or D.D.S.G. 'Donau Dampfschiffahrts Gesellschaft' (DDSG) (the word means Danube Steamboat Shipping Company) was a shipping company founded in 1829 by the Austrian government for transporting passengers and cargo on the Danube. In 1846 it received the right to transport mail within and from their sites (Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire) to the state border of Austria-Hungary. D.D.S.G. issued its own stamps. A private company made the train liaison between Cernavoda and the Black See (stamp issued in 1867).

Stamps of France[edit]

The first French post office in Levant was opened in Constantinople in 1812. It was suspended during 1827-35 as a consequence of the Greek War of Independence. France began issuing stamps for its offices in the Levant in 1885. Some French Offices in the Ottoman Empire stamps were denominated in centimes and francs. Others were denominated in centimes, paras and piasters. World War I forced the closure of all the post offices on 13 October 1914. After the war, only the office in Istanbul reopened, operating from August 1921 to July 1923. Stamps of France were again surcharged, with values from 30 paras to 75 piasters.

Post offices in Crete[edit]

Post offices were located in Candia (now Iraklion) and Canea (now Chania).

Post offices in Greece[edit]

Offices were located in Cavalla, Dedeagach (now Alexandroupoli), Port Lagos, Rhodes, Salonica (now Thessaloniki), Vathy (Samos island) and Volos.

Post offices in Lebanon[edit]

Post offices were located in Beirut and Tripolis.

Post offices in Turkey[edit]

Offices were located in Alexandretta (now İskenderun), Alexandrie, Castellorizo, Constantinople, Galata, Gallipoli, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Kustendje (now Constanţa), Latakia, Mersin, Port Said, Rodosto (now Tekirdağ), Sinope, Smyrna (now İzmir), Sulina, Trebizond, Tulcea and Varna

Stamps of Germany[edit]

In use between 1870 and 30-9-1914. International (French) currency since 1908.

German post office in Galata, one of three German offices in Constantinople, 1905.

Stamps of Great Britain[edit]

British Embassy mail started in 1832. In November 1854 an Army post office was established in Constantinople as a sorting and forwarding office for forces in the Crimea. The PO was opened for public service (postmark 'C' in oval of bars) in September 1857; further offices were opened in Smyrna in 1872 (postmark 'F87') and Beirut in 1873 (Postmark 'G06'). A second office was opened at Stamboul (postmark 'S' in oval bars) in 1884 but this was closed in the 1890s and did not reopen until 1908.

Stamps of Italy[edit]

General issue[edit]

Both Venice and Naples maintained postal connections with the Levant in the 18th century but these had lapsed before unification. In 1873 Italian postal agencies were established in Constantinople, Smyrna, and Beirut.

The general stamps of Italy of 1863 were in 1874 overprinted 'ESTERO' ('ABROAD') and had some corner ornamental design alterations. The general issue was intended to meet the demand of all Italian post offices abroad: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Montevideo (Uruguay), Erithrea, Alexandria, Tunesia, Libya and The Ottoman Empire. In 1881 a second issue followed, Estero overprinted 1879 stamps. Area of usage of these stamps and the forerunners can be identified by its number cancellation eg. 234: Alexandria (1863-1884), 235: Tunis (1852-1897), 3336: La Goletta (1880-1897), 3051: Tripolis (1869-1911.

Usage of 'ESTERO' overprinted stamps stopped at the end of 1889, because specific stamps per area were issued. Some remaining Estero stamps were officially cancelled to order for the philatelic market, by two numeral-bar cancels made in Rome: 3364 (Susa) and 3862 (Massaua).

Post office in Egypt[edit]

Office was located in Alexandria.

Stamps of Russia[edit]

Russian post and telegraph Office in Trebizonde.

Russian post offices were located in Beirut, Constantinopel, Dardanelles, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Kerassund, Mount Athos, Mytilene, Rizeh, Saloniki, Smyrna, Trebizonde.

References[edit]

  1. Die Poststempel auf der Freimarken-Ausgabe 1867 von Österreich und Ungarn, Edwin Mueller, 1930, Allegemeines (in German)
  2. Österreich 1850-1918, Spezialkatalog und Handbuch, von Dr. Ulrich FERCHENBAUER, Wien 1981, p.408 (in German)