Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stamp Issuers - Aden

Aden is a port city located in present day Yemen in the Middle East. It is home to almost 600,000 people and has been occupied since antiquity. Local legend even goes so far as to say that Aden is a transliteration of the Biblical word Eden, the birthplace of the human race.

Aden sits on the Arabian Sea and is near the mouth the Red Sea. It's location has made it a vital seaport for the region. Its ancient harbor has an interesting geological history; it lies inside a huge crater formed by an extinct volcano.

A Very Brief Synopsis of Aden History:

In 1839, the British captured Aden in an effort to stop piracy of British ships in the region. It was placed under British rule as the Aden Settlement and ruled as part of British India. In 1937, Aden became a British Crown colony. It remained as a colony until 1963, when Aden joined the Federation of South Arabia as the State of Aden. In 1967, the Federation joined with the Protectorate of South Arabia to became South Yemen, which in 1990 joined with North Yemen to form what is now known as the country of Yemen.

Stamps of Aden:

From a standpoint of Aden as a stamp entity, we are primarily interested in the stamps issued between its status as a British colony and protectorate (1937) until it became South Yemen (1967). Prior to 1937, stamps from British India were used in the area and those bearing Aden postal marks are known to have been used in Aden.

The first stamps of Aden, issued in 1937, bore an image of a dhow, a sailing vessel in common use in the area. Due to Aden's history as a seaport, dhows are featured on many of their stamps.

Beginning with the second issue of stamps, almost all of the rest of the issues bear the likeness of the reigning British monarch, due to it being a colony of Great Britain. The monarch's image is small, usually taking up one of the upper corners of the stamp.

It is this use of the monarch's image that caused some irritation with the leaders of two of the states included in the Aden Protectorate -- the Kathiri State of Seiyun and the Quaiti State of Shihr and Mukalla (later, the Quaiti State in Hadhramaut). Beginning in 1942, those states issued stamps with the image of the current sultan on them. Some of these stamps feature frontal portraits of the sultan; others relegate the sultan to an upper corner of the stamp, just as the British monarch had been.

In 1951, the currency on stamps changed from Indian rupees to East African shillings. That year saw a number of the earlier stamps surcharged with the new currency values.

In 1965, the last stamps of Aden were issued. They were two different denominations of a stamp bearing the image of a minaret, a tower attached to a mosque that is used to call people to prayer. The original version of the minaret stamps were issued in 1953; a collector must check the watermarks to differentiate between the two versions.

Almost all Aden stamps are engraved, revealing a richness common to stamps of the British Commonwealth at that time. A few were issued in more than one color; mainly those of higher denominations.

Checking for watermarks is necessary for the stamps issued in 1964 and 1965 to differentiate them from prior issues.

All in all, the stamps of Aden form a popular group of stamps to collect. Many of them have values in catalogs under $1 (USD) with quite a few stamps with minimum values ($0.20 in the U.S.). The most expensive stamps, valued up to $400 (USD) are found in the high values in the 1937 dhow issue. A collector could easily collect all but these highest values on a very modest budget.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone,
I have recently inherited my Great uncle's stamp collection and it contains a stamp from Aden, dated 12th March 1937. It's blue and has crossed sceptres in the centre with George VI to their right and his wife Elizabeth to their left. If anyone could tell me anything more about this stamp I would be very grateful.