Lanarkshire Philatelic Society




Dr. Stewart Gardiner FRPSL



The Lanarkshire Philatelic Society was treated to a wonderful display at its meeting on Friday, 31st January.  Dr. Stewart Gardiner FRPSL, of the Caledonian Philatelic Society, presented his display of "The Levant" in which many rarely seen stamps were viewed.


The Levant – the name means "The eastern place where the sun rises" – and is, very generally, the historic "Turkish Empire" – eastern lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.


Stewart began with poster stamps advertising the "Levant Fair" – a trade fair then held every 2 years in Tel Aviv. The stamps depicted the "Flying Camel" –the icon adopted by the Fair.


In exchange for trade opportunities, various countries were permitted to operate Post Offices in the Levant – Russia, Austria, France, Britain, Greece. British stamps of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V were overprinted with "Levant" (including the "Seahorses" issue) - also the currency - and used by British Post Offices in the Turkish Empire. Austrian and Italian Post Offices in the Turkish Empire also overprinted their own stamps for use there. Many different issues were displayed. Stamps of Italian Consular Post Offices in Egypt - and also interesting stamps printed by a privately owned Postal Service, Posta Europea, founded by an Italian to further mail between Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt, were viewed.


In 1863 Turkey issued its own stamps – these were the first "adhesive" stamps ever issued. The design shows the "Tughra"- the emblem of sovereignty. Examples of the papers on which they were printed – some very thin, easily damaged and other much thicker and durable. 


Stamps issued for the "Suez Canal"; Turkish Shipping Companies’ posts; Danube Steam Navigation Company (DDSG) ; also Danube and Black Sea Line of Steamers (D&BSLS) were displayed as were those of another shipping line, T.B.Morton and Co of Constantinople carried mail from Romania’s Danube ports to those on the Black Sea. Mail from Greece was also carried by the Orient Express – advertising labels were attached to letters – but also displayed were postmarks used by the Orient Express service – and by ship to Levant.


In 1861 Greece issued essays and proofs of possible forthcoming issues of stamps – of which the Large Hermes Head (Hermes – Greek messenger god) became the accepted issue. These – and the later smaller issue – were displayed in differing colours.


The display ended with stamps issued in 1921 when the Dodecanese Islands (off Greece) were captured by Italy from the French (who had taken it from the Turkish Empire in 1915) and Italian stamps were overprinted with "Isole Italiane dell’Egeo".


Bob Bradford led members in giving warm thanks to Stewart Gardiner for giving such a deeply interesting presentation of this little known area.


Our next meeting in the Caledonian Bowling Club, Motherwell Road, Hamilton, is on Friday 14th February, 2020, at 7:30pm when members will display the theme of "Valentines".

Anyone with an interest in stamps, postal history, postcards etc is very welcome to attend.