Monday, April 14, 2008

Stamp Issuers - Alaouites

Alaouites, 1925 (Scott #12)
Overprinted France 'Sower'
The Alawites State (French, Alaouites) is a region on the western side of Syria. France occupied Syria at the end of World War I, and following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, France received the area by mandate from the League of Nations. In 1924, the territory became an independent state, although France was still under mandate to administer the area. In 1930, the area was renamed Latakia.

France never printed stamps for Alaouites; all of the stamps in use during the period were overprinted stamps of France or Syria.

The first stamps were issued in 1925 and were French definitives. The stamps were overprinted with "Alaouites" and the denomination, and included the Arabic translation. There were a total of 21 French overprints used and these stamps catalog anywhere from about $1.50 (USD) to $7.00 each.

Because every Alaouites stamp is an overprinted stamp, almost every stamp issued has variations of the overprint. Some has multiple copies of the overprint, but the most common variation is the inverted overprint, where the overprint is upside-down, when viewing the underlying stamp right side up. The inverted overprints for the first series of stamps (the French overprints) run from about $10 to $20.

Sample overprint showing
name and denomination
Beginning in March 1925, Syrian stamps were overprinted and used for postage. There are a total of 25 regular issue stamps from 1925 through 1928. Combined with the 24 French overprinted stamps, there were a total of 49 regular stamps issued for Alaouites.

For the Syrian stamps, there are a variety of overprints, including those in black, blue, or red ink. With this many options on overprints, there are several varieties for most stamps. However, collecting the main issue of Syrian overprints would not be very expensive ... most of these stamps catalog for $1 or $2.

Two types of back-of-the-book stamps were issued for Alaouites -- air post and postage due stamps.

The air post stamps are double overprinted; the first overprint consists of the basic stamp overprinted for service in Alaouites but with an additional overprint indicating their use for air postage. The 1925 stamps were overprinted with words and numbers; the 1926 issue and later were overprinted with a large red or black airplane. There were 21 air post stamps issued (excluding variations) and the total catalog value is around $115.

Alaouites, Air Post, 1926 (Scott #C12)
Regular Issue Overprinted with Red Airplane
Postage due stamps were also issued for Alaouites. A total of 10 stamps of this type were issued with a total catalog value of about $30.

Price-wise, the basic stamps for Alaouites should be in anyone's budget. With a total catalog value of about $300 for the entire run, most any collector could afford these stamps. Many of the lower-value stamps can be obtained for well under their catalog value, although the few high-values seem to hold up well.

If you decide to collect the overprint variations, you will find them much more expensive. I've seldom seen any listed on auction sites and will probably have to be obtained by a dedicated stamp dealer.

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