Postage stamps and postal history of Aden

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An Aden Steamer Point postmark of 1868 on a stamp of British East India. (Image inverted to allow the postmark to be read)

Aden is a city in southern Yemen. Aden's location made it a popular exchange port for mail passing between places around the Indian Ocean and Europe. When Captain S. B. Haines of the Indian Marine, the East India Company's navy, occupied Aden on 19 January 1839,[1] mail services were immediately established in the settlement with a complement of two postal clerks and four letter carriers.[2] An interim postmaster was appointed as early as June 1839.[3] Mail is known to exist from 15 June 1839 although a regular postmaster was not appointed until 1857; one of the officials of the Political Agent or the civil surgeon performed the duties of postmaster for a small salary.[4]

Stamps of British India[edit]

By the Indian Post Office Act of 1837 (Section XX) all private vessels were required to carry letters at prescribed rates for postage.[5] A handstamp was applied to preadhesive ship letters in Aden; although these handstamps were used until 1867, examples are rarely seen.[6]

The Aden Settlement used adhesive postage stamps of British India from 1 October 1854 until Aden became a crown colony on 1 April 1937. As an outpost of the British East Indian empire, Aden was supplied with India's first lithographed adhesives, which became available in Aden just as they were issued on the Indian mainland. Until 1857, the only Aden post office was in the Crater, later known as Aden Cantonment or Aden Camp. Mails were carried by camel to and from Steamer Point. In 1857 a Postmaster was appointed and the main post office was moved to new quarters at Steamer Point.[7] Covers from Aden with the Indian lithographed stamps are rare.[8][9][10]

Although these stamps did not have an Aden overprint, many of them may be recognised (even off cover) from the frequent use of the number 124 in postmarks, a number assigned to Aden as part of the Indian post office identification system. However, other numbers and letters also were used to identify the offices in Aden: these include 132,[11] 125, A/125, B and B-22.[12]

First stamps[edit]

Stamp of the definitive issue of 1937
Stamp of the George VI issue of 1939

Dhow Issue[edit]

In 1937, the Settlement was detached from India and became the Colony of Aden, a British Crown colony. The new colony received a series of twelve definitive stamps depicting a dhow, produced by De La Rue & Co.

George VI[edit]

Stamp of the Kathiri State issue of 1942
1951 shilling overprint on definitive issue of 1939

In 1939, a new definitive issue with the effigy of King George VI was issued. The sultans of the two major states in the Hadhramaut (part of the Aden Protectorate) objected to this since they were sovereigns in their own right and were not subjects of the King of the United Kingdom. Therefore the British government issued separate stamps in 1942, with the additional inscriptions Kathiri State of Seiyun and Qu'aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla (later Qu'aiti State in Hadhramaut), with portraits of the respective sultans replacing the effigy of George VI. All of these types were valid in Aden and in the Aden Protectorate.

In 1951, the definitive issue of 1939 was overprinted with shilling denominations when the British East African shilling replaced the Indian rupee as the legal currency of Aden.

Stamps inscribed Aden were used until 31 March 1965 when all were withdrawn.[4]

Stamps of the Federation of South Arabia, formed from Aden Colony and Aden Protectorate, were issued from 1963 to 1966.

See also[edit]

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ India. Foreign and Political Dept., Precis of Papers Regarding Aden, 1838-1872, Government Central Branch Press, 1876, p. 4.
  2. ^ Frederick Mercer Hunter, An Account of the British Settlement of Aden in Arabia, pp.151 et seq., London, Trübner (1877) ISBN 9781313803939
  3. ^ Sismondo's Classics: Notes on the postmarks and postal history of Aden in the classic period 1840-1900.
  4. ^ a b Rossiter & Flower, p.223.
  5. ^ Acts of the government of India from 1834 to 1838 inclusive: Ordered to be ... p. 66. Online.
  6. ^ J. L. R. Croft, "Aden Ship Letters", The Philatelist, (December 1868) p. 70.
  7. ^ Robson Lowe, Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps, v. III (1950), p.43.
  8. ^ M. A. M. Graham, "The Postal History of Aden: The Introduction of the First Indian Adhesives", The Philatelist (April, 1966), p.186.
  9. ^ J. L. R. Croft, "The First Indian Adhesives Used in Aden - I", The Philatelist, August 1966, pp. 310–11. A cover with 16 of the half-anna stamps was posted from Aden to Madras, arriving 9 November 1854.
  10. ^ Robson Lowe, Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps, v. III (1950), p. 53.
  11. ^ E. W. Proud, "The '132' Used in India and Aden", India Post, v.37 no. 157 (November 2003), p. 142.
  12. ^ R. W. Pratt, Postal History of British Aden, 1839-1967, ed. E. B. Proud, Proud-Bailey Co Ltd. (1985), ISBN 1872465005.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brown, Gary. Catalogue of a Display: Aden Postal History to 1914 given to The Royal Philatelic Society of London April 28, 2011. Melbourne: Gary Brown, 2011.
  • R. W. Pratt. Postage stamps and postal history of Aden, ed. Proud, Edward B. Proud-Bailey Co. Ltd., 1985. ISBN 1-872465-00-5
  • Proud, Edward. The Postal History of Aden and Somaliland Protectorate. Proud-Bailey Co. Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-872465-41-2
  • Victoria Stamp Co., "The Jerone R. Hart Collection, Aden and India Used in Aden", Public Auction No. 28 (October 9, 2010).

External links[edit]