GB Overprints Society

Egypt (British forces)

The British Army had had a resident presence in Egypt since 1882. From 1932 to 1936 special seals were attached to the rear of letters to show that the letter was covered by special forces postal services. The two issues of interest to GB Overprint collectors are those issued in 1935 for King George V's Silver Jubilee and later in the same year for Christmas. It is arguable whether these stamps count as "GB Overprints". The argument in favour is that they are stamps issued by the British Government, supplied by them for use by British people, and are therefore "British stamps".

For a time these stamps were regarded as "cinderella" items, as they were treated by the Army not as postage stamps but as a receipt showing that the serviceman/woman had paid the special reduced rate postage and was permitted to post this letter, but only in the special forces postboxes. At this point the distinction from a "postage stamp" gets rather philosophical. They were stuck on the rear of the letter, not on the front, and inscribed "Letter stamp", "Postal seal", "Xmas seal", or "Letter seal", so as not to confuse Egyptian postal staff.

For further information on these stamps, consult the Egypt Study Circle, who kindly passed to me one of the images shown below.

Note: this numbering system was drawn up by the Society for the website, and may not be used without permission.

King George V

Letter stamp showing the Sphinx

Silver Jubilee

6 May 1935

Egypt Jubilee 72

(image courtesy of Silverjubilee stamps, also shows thin "N" - see below)

1 1 piastre blue, overprinted "JUBILEE COMMEMORATION 1935" diagonally (in red)

27,000 copies issued only in booklets, 5 panes of 20 in each. It is reported that servicemen were only allowed to buy 10 at a time, so complete booklet panes of 20 are incredibly rare.

Egypt jubilee booklet pane 200

(image courtesy of Silverjubilee stamps, who report that "Broken 'U' varieties appear at 2/2 & 2/4, the thin stroke to the 'N' at 3/1 & 3/3 and pinholes (produced by the overprinting process) occur at 2/4, 5/1, 3/1 & 2/1.")


1 v1 Broken U (stamps 2/2, 3/4) see pane image above

1 v2 Thin stroke to "N" (stamps 3/1 & 3/3) see pane image above (and somewhat more discernibly in the stamp image)

Egypt jubilee colour trial 200

1 v3 The above image is of a unique item auctioned in 2005; it is presumed to be a colour trial.

Image courtesy of Phoenix International auctions.

Christmas commemorative

16 December 1935

Egypt Xmas 200

2 1 piastre red, overprinted "XMAS 1935 3 milliemes"
Issued in booklets, 5 panes of 20.

Egypt Xmas colour pane 200

(image courtesy of EH)

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page last updated: 2 August 2006, 6 March 2013 

gbos: GB Overprints Society