Postage stamps and postal history of Bahrain
Bahrain first used the postage stamps of British India before eventually issuing its own stamps in 1960.
The first post office in Bahrain opened on 1 August 1884 in the capital Manama. This was a sub-office of the Indian Post Office at Bushire in Iran, both of which were part of the Bombay Postal Circle. This remained the only post office until 1946. Until 1933 un-overprinted stamps of British India were used in Bahrain and used examples may be identified from the cancels used which are illustrated in specialised catalogues.
1933 to 1947
British India stamps overprinted BAHRAIN were used from 1933 to 1947 depicting George V (1933) and then George VI from 1938. Un-overprinted Victory stamps of India were also on sale in Bahrain during January 1946 and a 16 anna stamp booklet was issued in 1934.
Overprinted British stamps
From 1948 to 1960 Bahrain used the stamps of Great Britain depicting George VI then Queen Elizabeth II all overprinted BAHRAIN and the applicable value. Numerous varieties of overprint exist which are listed in specialist catalogues and eagerly sought after by philatelists.
First Bahraini stamps
A number of local stamps were issued between 1953 and 1961 which, whilst intended only for domestic mail, are known used on international mail. These stamps all depicted Shaikh Sulmanbin Hamed al-Khalifa and are similar in design to the later 1960 series.
The first stamps specifically designed for both domestic and international mail were a definitive set issued in 1960, which featured Shaikh Sulman bin Hamed al-Khalifa with Arabic text at the top. In 1964 a new definitive set was issued depicting Shaikh Isa bin Sulman al-Khalifa. The Bahrain Post Office fully took over postal services from Britain on 1 January 1966 when a further definitive set was issued.
War Tax issues
Beginning during the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973, Bahrain required that all letters bear evidence of the payment of a 5 fils tax that raised funds for Palestinian refugees. At first regular 5 fils stamps were added at the post office and handstamped 'War Effort' in Arabic. On 21 October 1973, similarly inscribed stamps, printed with light blue ink, were issued. On 1 December 1973, this first issue was replaced by one with a more stylized script, also in light blue. In 1988, this second stamp was issued with slightly larger perforations. While more appropriately known as postal tax stamps, major catalogues have classified them as war tax stamps.
Recent stamp issues
Since obtaining postal independence, the Bahrain Post Office has pursued a conservative policy issuing four or five sets of stamps each year with an occasional new definitive series. The stamps have generally featured subjects of local or regional interest.
A number of cinderella and bogus stamps have been issued over the years including official traffic safety labels available free from Bahraini post offices in 1981 and a bogus Bahrain Camel Post series between 1986 and 1990. The Camel Post series was based on the famous desert postman stamps of Sudan and sold in aid of a home for disabled children.
- Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue: Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840-1970. 110th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2008, pp.86-88. ISBN 0-85259-653-7
- Stanley Gibbons Simplified Catalogue of Stamps of the World. 71st edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2005, p.279. ISBN 0-85259-603-0
- The funds were turned over to the Arab League for administration.
- Scott 2001 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. 1 (2001 ed.). Scott Publishing. 2000. p. 540. ISBN 0-89487-260-5.
- The Scott catalogue indicates 1974.
- Cooper, Jeri (1990) The Alnis Guide to the Revenues, War Tax Issues & Cinderellas of Bahrain (Alnis Guide No 13) Glass Slipper, York, England; reprinted in 2000 by HH Sales Limited, Bradford, England
- Cooper, Jeri. The Alnis Guide to the Revenues, War Tax Issues & Cinderellas of Bahrain. Bradford: HH Sales Limited, 2000, pp.26-31.
- Cooper, Jeri. The Alnis Guide to the Revenues, War Tax Issues and Cinderellas of Bahrain, Stop Press of York, 1990. (Reprinted by Harry Hayes, 2000)
- Cooper, J.A.L. India Used Abroad, Western Printers and Publishers' Press of Bombay, 1950.
- Dastur, V.S. An Introduction to India Used Abroad, Mysore Philatelics, Printing and Publishing House, 1977.
- Donaldson, Neil. The Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia and The Gulf, Harry Hayes Philatelic Study No. 14, Leeds, 1975. ISBN 0-905222-03-2
- Donaldson, Neil. The Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia and The Gulf (Supplement), Bridger & Kay (Guernsey) Ltd., 1994. ISBN 0-902784-09-9
- Parson, Alan. The Indian Postal Agencies in The Persian Gulf Area, Sahara Publications Limited, London, 2001. ISBN 1-903022-11-8
- Tomkins, Major T.L.C. The Persian Gulf, Stamp Collecting, London, 1950.
- Postage Stamps of Bahrain 1933-1983, Postal Directorate - Ministry of Transportation - State of Bahrain, Oriental Press of Bahrain, 1983.
- Postage Stamps of the Kingdom of Bahrain 1984-2002, Postal Directorate Philatelic Bureau - Ministry of Transportation - State of Bahrain, Oriental Press of Bahrain, 2002.
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