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Before 1914

FIRST STAMPS Turkish up to 1878 and British until 1880



1881, 40 paras = 1 piastre 180 piastres = £ 1

1955, 1000 mils = £1

1983, 100 cents = £1

Island in eastern Mediterranean inhabited from earliest times. Captured by Richard I of England during the Third Crusade (1196), and handed to the Knights Templar, who controlled it until they sold it to Venice in 1487. Letters of the 15th and 16th century are known but did not represent an official postal service. Turkey conquered island in 1570 and it remained a Turkish possession, 'Kibria,' until handed over to the British administration on 12 July 1878. A Turkish postal service operated before the British administration. There were three POs, at Larnaca, Limassol and Nicosia, but the use made of these can be gauged by the fact that only £14 worth of stamps were sold in the whole of Cyprus in 1871. Consular offices for the use of nationals were established by Britain, Austria, France, Naples and Spain. The Austrian office in Larnaca had a P0 and Austrian adhesives were used there from 1864.

When the British military administration took over in 1878, a P0 was opened at Larnaca on 27 July with British stamps on sale. After 1878, a number of British numeral obliterators were issued to offices in Cyprus as they opened:

942* Larnaca

969* Nicosia

974* Kyrenia (Papho)

975* Limassol (Famagusta)

981* Papho (Limassol)

982* Famagusta (Kyrenia)

098* Platres

047* Polymedia Camp

D48* Headquarters Camp

Between 1854 and 1874 numbers marked with an asterisk had been issued to British towns and, unless the stamps are on pieces showing the date-stamp, additional evidence that it was used in Cyprus is necessary. The names in brackets are those to which the numerals were officially allocated but evidence from covers indicate that the usage was different.

In 1880 postal administration was taken over by the island authorities and Cyprus overprints, which had been ordered by the military, were introduced. The Cypriot definitives were issued on 1 July 1881. In 1886 rural and parcel services were introduced. First rural post was for POs on the Karpas peninsula and was served by a mounted postman. Service was further extended and by 1914 the whole island was covered. Cyprus joined the UPU in 1875 (under Turkey).


Cyprus took little part in World War I, but was formally annexed by Britain after Turkey entered the war. Used as a transit base between Egypt and the Salonika area and also for rest and reinforcement. Postal service continued to be expanded and by 1917 mule transport, which had been the traditional link between villages, was replaced by motor transport.


Became a Crown Colony in 1924. External links in the eastern Mediterranean had traditionally been provided by steamship companies, and links existed with Turkey, Greece and Egypt. First flight from Famagusta to Egypt took place on 25 September 1930. In April 1932 flights were made to link with flights to England. Cyprus became part of the Empire 'All-up' service, via Alexandria, in 1937.


During World War II Cyprus was a base for Allied forces and was garrisoned by British troops. Field P0 markings. were used. After the fall of France in June 1940, mail from Cyprus to Britain was carried by airmail via Singapore and Hong Kong to the USA. As in other colonies, there were some problems with the supply of stamps during the war, and unusual perforation varieties for the 1 piastre and 2 piastre stamps appeared in 1944.

1945 to date

During the 1950s agitation for Enosis - Union with Greece - began and resulted in a campaign against Britain by EOKA terrorists. As there was a large Turkish minority, Britain had to try to ensure an equitable solution to the problem, and for several years from 1956 there was a large British garrison, which was served by British Field POs. In August 1960 Cyprus became a republic within the British Commonwealth but with strong ties with Greece. A British presence was retained by bases on the south coast of the island, which continued to use British Field POs.

Clashes between the Greeks and Turks began in 1963 and a separated postal service was established in the Turkish Cypriot areas. A handstamp reading KIBRIS TURK POSTALAI was used and some local stamps were produced. During 1964 agreement was reached for the restoration of postal services and Turkish employees of the Cyprus Post Office staffed POs in the Turkish areas of Famagusta, Limassol, Lefka and Nicosia.

On 29 October 1973 stamps to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Turkish republic were issued by Turkish Cyprus, but these were not used for mail outside this area until after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974. Following this intervention, an autonomous Turkish area was set up in the northeast of the island. On 13 February 1975 a Turkish Cypriot federated state was proclaimed in the area of Turkish occupation and 9000 Turkish inhabitants were moved from the southern area. Turkish Cyprus has continued to issue stamps since that date, but is not recognized by the UPU.

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