Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Postal history of Kuwait and my collection of stamps

The postal history of Kuwait dates back to 18th century (1775 to be exact), when the East India Company began a desert camel service through countries of the the Persian Gulf to Aleppo and Constantinople. This service lasted only for next twenty years, terminating in 1795.

Almost a century later in 1899, when the British had a firmer control of the British India, a council's office opened to handle mail through Persian Gulf. On 21st January 1915, a dedicated postal system was established using stamps of British India with over prints of countries using these stamps. The stamps with "KUWAIT" over print were issued as Kuwait's first stamps and Kuwait's formal entry into the world postal system.

Kuwait continued to use the stamps of British India till 1947 when the British India was divided into independent states of Pakistan and India. Kuwait then used stamps of Pakistan from 1947 and 1948. In 1948, the British again took over control of Kuwait postal system.

Now the British stamps with "KUWAIT" over print came to be in use with face value in Annas and Rupees (as was the the then currency of Pakistan, and earlier of the British India). In 1957, the face value changed to decimal system and stamps were priced in NP (naye paisa). The British stamps with NP over print face value, bearing head of the Queen Elizabeth II, were the last of the stamps as on 31st January 1959, Kuwait took over the postal system upon its independence.

The first indigenous stamps of Kuwait with a face value of 5 and 10 NP, bearing portrait of Sheik 'Abdullah III al-Salim al-Sabah and a 40 NP stamp showing a dhow for local mail in 1958. The full set of 13 values went on sale 1 February 1959, and included additional scenes of oil-related activities.

In 1961, the Kuwaiti government issued its stamps in its currency of Fils and Dinar. Also the text on stamps now bore both Arabic and English text, which read “State of Kuwait” instead of simple Kuwait as has been the previous practice.

My stamp collection of Kuwait stamps has NP stamps (third column second row), and the indigenous stamps of Kuwait bearing text in English only with Fils/Dinar currency in second and third columns from the left. The first row was the first set of stamps with both English and Arabic text. 


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