Lanarkshire Philatelic Society

 

"Afghanistan"

 

Dr David Kindlay

 

"Afghanistan" – a country that is unfortunately familiar to us today for reasons of war – and this is the fourth war with Afghanistan that Britain has been engaged in!
 

On Friday, 18th September, 2009, Dr David Kindley travelled from Aberdeen to Hamilton to present his philatelic display of ‘Afghanistan’ to members of the Lanarkshire Philatelic Society. He is well known as a collector of Postal History and this was clearly demonstrated in his wonderful display. He spoke of the turmoil caused to the postal service of the country by the four wars.

He began with the 1st Afghan War of 1838 – ’42 and, having explained that this war began because the British were afraid that the Russians would invade India through Afghanistan, showed a letter written by the Duke of Wellington to the Right Honourable Sir Gore Ouseley making the plea "I hope Herat will not fall". The British relieved Herat, but the war continued and the British roundly defeated.
A postal service was established in the 1860s but it was not until 1871 that postage stamps were introduced in the Kingdom of Kabul.  These were circular in shape and depicted a tiger’s head in the centre. They were printed in black, were imperforate and were cancelled by having a piece torn off the stamp. In 1876 the design was printed in different colours, each representing a different post office.
The 2nd Afghan War of 1878 – ’81 began when a British mission to Afghanistan was refused entry at the Khyber Pass. British Forces then penetrated the country on three fronts and defeated the Afghan army. In 1881, having achieved their objectives, the British withdrew from the country.
During this time, British Indian stamps were used but, after the British established Abdul Rahman on the throne there was a return to the Afghan stamps but with inscriptions in Arabic script in the centre instead of the tiger head. In 1891 these circular stamps changed to rectangular and further new designs appeared; - mosque gate and crossed cannons. Perforation and variable sizes also appeared.
The 3rd Afghan War of May to August, 1919 began when King Amanullah decided to invade India. This was a British victory. Also an Afghan victory in that, in 1920, they gained their independence and the right to conduct their own foreign affairs.
Again, during this war, British Indian stamps were used, but after gaining their independence, stamps featuring the royal star of King Amanullah were issued. These also used Latin script for numerals as well as Arabic. In 1927 Roman letters were also used to name the country.
In the second round, the various issues of stamps through the years  were displayed. In 1928, Afghanistan has joined the UPU and the 50th anniversary in 1978 was marked with special stamps.
It was interesting to see newspaper stamps of 1936 where all genuine stamps of this issue had a small dot out of place in the right hand corner. Forgery is nothing new!
 
In 1986 a series of stamps depicting ‘ships’  was issued – produced for stamp collectors and not acceptable as postage issues – these are not relevant to Afghanistan which is land locked!
The 4th Afghan War – the ‘War Against Terror’ – and from 1989 to 2001 stamp issues stopped. An Air letter from Britain was shown with a label attached;  ‘Return to sender’ – services to Afghanistan suspended.
Alan Wishart, giving the Vote of Thanks, remarked that members had learned a lot about Afghanistan and its postal history from this most inspiring display and warmly thanked Dr Kindley for it.