Sunday, October 16, 2011
Today's Collectors Focus: Afghanistan Postage Stamps
The first postal arrangements in Afghanistan are credited to Sher Ali Khan, who established a postal service in the 1860s as part of a program to modernize the country.
The first stamps appeared in 1871. They were round in shape, and printed in black, with a tiger's head surrounded by Arabic script specifying one of three denominations.
The defeat of Sher Ali by the British brought Abdur Rahman Khan to the throne in 1880, and the following year brought new stamps, still round, but with inscriptions in the middle instead of the tiger head.
The first issue after independence came out on 24 August 1920, a design featuring the royal star of King Amanullah.
Afghanistan joined the Universal Postal Union in 1928; previously international mail required stamps of British India. In 1927, the first Roman letters had appeared on an Afgan stamp, the inscription reading "AFGHAN POSTAGE". This changed to the French "POSTES AFGHANES" in 1928, and remained in that form until 1989.
A large number of Afghan stamps appeared in the 1950s. Since the Afghan Postal Authority issued some stamps well below the minimal amount of postage, this was considered to be scheme for making money from stamp collectors.
The first issue of a postage stamp after the civil war was the May 2002 stamp showing Ahmad Shah Masoud, a military general and national hero who defended Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and later led a resistance movement against the Taliban.