Postage stamps and postal history of Tripolitania

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A map showing the location of Tripolitania
This 1-lira airmail stamp of Tripolitania, depicting an Arab horseman pointing to an airplane passing overhead, was used in 1937
A British stamp with a Middle East Forces overprint

This is a survey of the postage stamps and postal history of Tripolitania, now part of Libya.

Tripolitana is a historic region of western Libya, centered on the coastal city of Tripoli. Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Tripolitania was captured by Italy in 1911 during the Italo-Turkish War. Italy officially granted autonomy after the war, but gradually occupied the region. Originally administered as part of a single colony, Tripolitania was a separate colony from 26 June 1927 to 1934, when it was merged into "Libya". During World War II, Libya was occupied by the Allies and until 1947 Tripolitania (and the region of Cyrenaica) were administered by Great Britain. Italy formally renounced its claim upon the territory in the same year.

All stamps of colonial Tripolitania were printed at the Italian Government Printing Works.[1]


The first stamps of Tripolitania were Italian "Propagation of the Faith" stamps overprinted TRIPOLITANIA issued on 24 October 1923 at the same time as those for Cyrenaica.[1][2]

Regular issues[edit]

The first stamps inscribed for the colony were the semi-postal "Colonial Institute issue" in 1926, followed by several sets of airmail stamps, from 1931 to 1933. October 1934 saw the only regular Tripolitanian stamps issued, a set of six (along with six more airmail) promoting the 2nd Colonial Arts Exhibition. In 1934 Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan were united as the Italian colony of Libya.

Genuinely used stamps of Tripolitania (fake cancels are common) are valued at about twice as much as unused stamps.

British stamps[edit]

British stamps overprinted M.E.F. (Middle East Forces) were used from 1943 to 1948 after the area was captured by the British during World War II. From 1 July 1948 stamps overprinted B.M.A. TRIPOLATANIA were used. From 6 February 1950 to December 1951 the stamps were overprinted B.A. TRIPOLITANIA.[2]

Kingdom of Libya[edit]

On 24 December 1951, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan were unified as the Kingdom of Libya under Amir Mohammed Idris Al-Senussi. After unification, stamps of Libya were used.[3]

See also[edit]

References & sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue Part 8 Italy & Switzerland. 6th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2003, pp.197-201. ISBN 0-85259-554-9
  2. ^ a b Rossiter, Stuart & John Flower. The Stamp Atlas. London: Macdonald, 1986, p.275. ISBN 0-356-10862-7
  3. ^ Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalogue: Commonwealth and British Empire Stamps 1840-1970. 110th edition. London: Stanley Gibbons, 2008, p.123. ISBN 0-85259-653-7

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ministero delle colonie, Mostra coloniale di Genova. I servizi postali ed elettrici della Tripolitania. Rome: Tipografia nazionale, di G. Bertero e C., 1914 97p.
  • Sirotti, Luigi and Nuccio Taroni. Le Occupazioni Britanniche Delle Colonie Italiane 1941-1950: storia postale = Postal History of the British Occupation of Italian Colonies 1941-1950. Rome: Sassone S.R.L., 2006 363p.
  • Tchilinghirian, S.D. & Rag. R. Bernardelli. Stamps of Italy used abroad: Parts 1 and 2. London: Harris Publications Ltd., 1963-64.