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FIRST STAMPS Turkish 1863.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1 September 1918.


1917, 16 annas = 1 rupee. 1931, 1000 fils = 1 dinar.

Known also in the West as Mesopotamia, the land between the rivers (Tigris and Euphrates), Iraq was part of the Turkish Empire from 1638 to 1918, when it comprised the vilayets of Baghdad and Mosul. During World War I Basra was occupied on 22 November 1914 by British and Indian forces who fought their way, with many reverses, to the capture of Baghdad on 11 March 1917. An Indian Expeditionary Force occupied Mosul on 10 November 1918.

The British occupation was succeeded by a mandate under the League or Nations and, on 23 August 1921, the Emir Faisal was proclaimed king. Mosul vilayet was transferred to Iraq by the League of Nations in December 1925. The mandate was given up on 3 October 1932 in favour of an independent kingdom, though Britain retained rights of transit and air bases at Habbaniya and Shaibah. In 1941 a pro-German government posed a threat countered by British military action in May-June. King Faisal II was assassinated on 14 July 1958 and a republic declared. A further military coup d'etat occured in 1963.

Postal History
An efficient Assyrian postal service carrying merchants' letters written in cuneiform on clay tablets and enclosed in addressed (clay) envelopes is known by finds on many sites over a wide area. In the 8th and 9th centuries BC the Assyrian royal post reached to the capitals of subject states.

Turkish POs operated from (?) 1863 at Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk, Mosul and elsewhere. Indian POs were open in Baghdad and Basra in 1868-1914. Troops in Iraq in World War I used stamps of India overprinted I.E.F. (see India) in their FPOs.

Stamps of Turkey used in 1863-1917 have town cancellations in Arabic script.

Stamps of India can be identified by cancellations of Baghdad (alternative spelling Bagdad) or Basra (Bussorah or Busreh).


Special stamps for British occupation forces September 1917.


1917, as India.


Special stamps for I.E.F. 'D' Force from February 1919.

The RAF operated a desert airmail in 1921-27 between Baghdad and Cairo which was taken over by Imperial Airways in 1927 and extended to Basra as the first regular stage of the service planned for India and Australia. In 1923 Nairn Transport Company ran a motorized 'Overland Mail': Baghdad- Damascus-Haifa. There were 352 POs in 1973.

Middle East after 1916
Click map for larger view

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  • MAURITIUS - 1835 UNIQUE POSTAL HISTORY ITEM. 1835 (10 Jun) entire letter with full contents (French) from Port Louis to Bordeaux, endorsed

    MAURITIUS - 1835 UNIQUE POSTAL HISTORY ITEM. 1835 (10 Jun) entire letter with full contents (French) from Port Louis to Bordeaux, endorsed "pr Nouvelle Louise", and showing a fine upright centrally- placed previously unrecorded large (approx 37.5mm) circular "POST OFFICE/JUIN / 10 / 1835 / MAURITIUS" datestamp with framed "PAYS D'OUTREMER" handstamp & manuscript "10" (decimes) French delivery charge alongside; Bordeaux arrival cds of 14 Sept 1835 on reverse. The exhaustive work by Proud shows a gap between markings PS5 and PS6 for the years 1834 to 1838, where this new datestamp now comfortably sits. The rarest postal marking of Mauritius and deserving of international exhibit.

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