The stamps that caused a riot!
There is something very attractive about Egyptian stamps issued during the first half of the 20th century. There are many stunning, well executed and beautiful images, often incorporating the use of hieroglyphics to give a historic feel to the design. These include the Pyramids, reference to the Pharaohs and pictorial displays of day to day scenes on the River Nile.
One unique example is the set of four “Port Fouad” overprinted stamps that were issued in 1926 to celebrate the opening and inauguration of Port Fouad, a marine cargo facility built adjacent to Port Said to ease congestion with easy access to the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean. Perhaps one should also add that it was the enthusiasm and zeal of the King Fouad I (also spelt Fuad) of Egypt, a fanatical philatelist that caused the unplanned chaos that followed.
One of the four stamps was first issued in April 1926 to celebrate the King’s 58th birthday which became known as the “King’s Birthday Stamp”. This large rectangular 50 piastre purple stamp, shows the full-length image of the monarch in the regalia and uniform of a Naval Commander. The remaining set of three in brown, red and blue depict an ancient sea going Egyptian galley ship in full sail with oarsmen originally issued to commemorate the 14th International Navigation Congress held in Cairo in December 1926.
When in 1922 the country was granted Independence, Sultan Fuad (also spelt Fouad) became King. As Head of State he was responsible for commissioning and approving many of the memorable definitive and commemorative stamps that appeared regularly throughout his reign including the varieties or so called “Palace” printings. To celebrate the opening of the new port, the King ordered a limited edition re-issue of the ‘King’s Birthday Stamp’ overprinted “Port Fouad”. Shortly afterwards he also agreed that the three commemorative stamps celebrating the International Navigation Congress should similarly be overprinted and re-issued
Serious public order problems arose when it became known that only 1500 of the sets would be issued and speculation ran rife as it was believed that the stamps would carry a significant re-sale premium. Officials within the Postal Service recognised the investment potential and bought most of the issue before they officially went on sale. As a result, stocks were virtually non-existent and what had initially been the expectation of a profitable investment turned to disappointment and anger. The Authorities had considerable difficulty in controlling the crowds who believed they had been duped who and ran riot around the area of the main post office.
Time has indeed proved the issue to have been a profitable investment and surviving sets are now valued at well in excess of £1000.00