The Historama
Alex Ben-Arieh
P.O.Box 32128
Tel Aviv, Israel 61321
Phone: +972-547-680-086
Fax: +972-3-546-1971


Israeli Stamps and Philatelic Resources

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Although philatelics is complex and often dependent on small details, it's probably the best source of first-hand historiography because every frank, cancellation mark and recorded use of post indicates the occurence of certain events in history. Postal material is literally a stamped document attesting to a historical occurence. To help collectors better understand the material in their hands, and to give enthusiasts a better appreciation of the details of history, on this page is a collection of assembled information and reference material on Israeli, pre-State Israel, Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine stamps and philately. More related resources will be added as I come across them.




KEY DATES

3 November 1947 -
14 March 1948

The "Lechi" underground movement changes foreign names of certain streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Hebrew names.

Postal employees were requested to alter addresses on mail, by hand, to the new names:

Allenby =>
HaCherut
Kikar London =>
Kikar HaMaapilim
King George =>
King David
(source: Lechi-'Yair' Museum, Tel Aviv)

25 April 1948
Lod (Lydda) Airport closes; no more regular incoming air mail from abroad

1 - 15 May 1948
Labels of the Kofer Ha'Yishuv (Jewish Community Tax) used (infrequently) as legitimate postage

2 May 1948
First day of use of Minhelet Ha'am stamps

5 May 1948
Last day of British Mandate in Tel Aviv and Haifa

5 May 1948
Ship mail services to Israel cease completely

14 May 1948
Last day of Minhelet Ha'am post

15 May 1948
The armies of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria invade Israel

16 May 1948
Last day of use of Minhelet Ha'am postmarks

16 May 1948
Demonitization of all British Mandate stamps

16 May 1948
First day of Israel State stamps ("Doar Ivri" - Hebrew Post)

16 - 22 May 1948
Mixed franking of Doar Ivri and Minhelet Ha'am stamps

22 May 1948
Last day of extended validity for Minhelet Ha'am stamps

23 May 1948
Accepted and delivered mail from earlier days with no tax

24 - 30 May 1948
Mail from 23rd May delivered and taxed

28 May 1948
Foundation of Israel Defense Forces; IDF cachets on army mail instead of "Hagana"

1 June 1948
The Egyptian administration in Egyptian occupied (southern) Israel opens 8 post offices, including in Be'ersheva and Ashkelon (Isdud)

17 August 1948
Bank of Israel sets 1000 Mils equal to 1 Israeli Lira (Pound)

24 December 1948
Bank of Israel sets 1000 Prutot equal to 1 Israeli Lira (Pound)

POSTAGE RATES
The purpose of the information in these tables is to assist collectors to better appraise whether the cover they have or intend to acquire is properly franked as per the rates of the relevant period. All the information in this section comes from Bale's Israel catalogues of 1994, 2004 and Bale's Palestine Mandate catalogue from 2001.


ISRAEL 1948
The information in this section covers Pre-State Israel and the period immediately after her declaration of independence, from April-June 1948. This period is set against the backdrop of the undeclared War of Independence which unofficially began on 29 November 1947, with the United Nations assembly resolution to partition Palestine. From then until the day after the declaration of Independence (on 14 May 1948), when external Arab armies invaded Israel, there waged a partisan type of war between Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians for control of transportation arteries and population centers. Between April to June 1948, certain Jewish (i.e. soon to be "Israeli") communities were cut off or beseiged - Nahariya, Rishon Le'Zion, Tzfat (Safed), Jerusalem and generally the western Galillee - prompting need to deliver mail by armoured convoy or special air service (like "Menora" air mail service), and bringing about the creation of special "seige" postmarks and cachets, and "armoured car" stamps. In late April and early May incoming air mail and sea mail ceased, leading non-postal organizations to act as tranferring bodies of mail from abroad into Israel: the Jewish Agency (mail from France and Italy); Peltour Tourist Agency (mail from London); Jewish National Fund 'Suisse' (mail from Switzerland); Louis (mail from Cyprus); and Postal Communications Box 18 (mail from South Africa).

1948: Interim Period Postage Stamps
In Israeli postal history, the specific period of 2 May 1948 until 22 May 1948 is known as the Interim Period of postage stamps. Though the functions of the British Palestine Mandate continued until its end on 14 May, 1948, against the backdrop of the War, the Mandate's Postal Administration began to phase out its activities during the period of 15 April to 14 May 1948 (Israel declared her independence that same day), and this led to a lack of service in many cities and towns.

A series of local stamps began to be produced in these areas on an emergency basis as early as 5 April in Rishon Le'Zion, and as late as 24 May in Jerusalem (which was cut off from the rest of Israel at this stage of the War). For brief periods these areas also applied special local postage rates different to that from the rest of the country. On 2 May the interim governing body of the Jewish community of Eretz Israel, the "Jewish People's Administration" (or "Minhelet Ha'Am", in Hebrew), authorized the entire countrywide use of available labels produced by the Jewish National Fund ("Keren Kayemet Le'Israel"), overprinted with the Hebrew word "Do'ar" ("Post") as postage during the period of 2 May - as the British closed Mandatory post offices - and Friday, 14 May, the date Israel declared her independence. Both locally produced stamps and centrally distributed JNF labels formed the basis of Israeli post in this period.


The interim cancellation marks of the Israeli Minhelet Haam post: about 80 such city-specific cancellations existed in this double-circled / double-starred style, with the word Doar in Hebrew at top, the phrase Minhelet Haam in the center, and the city name (in this case Tel Aviv) at the bottom.
It's importance to point out that the use of JNF labels overprinted with "Do'ar" began in small towns on 2 May, but in the main 3 cities - Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa - only on 5 May; furthermore, the People's Administration permitted the continued use of Mandatory stamps as legitimate postage through to Saturday 15 May (i.e. the day after Independence; Saturday - a day of rest, with Sunday [the 16th] being the first working day of the week after the declaration of Independence - Israel's first working day as an independent State), and the use of the overprinted JNF labels in all cities and towns except Jerusalem, up to 22 May, 1948.


Further details: Requisitioned JNF stamps were overprinted with the word "Do'ar" in Tel Aviv in violet or red ink; those overprinted in Haifa bore the word "Do'ar" in a circle, all in black ink. However, Tel Aviv overprinted stamps were sometimes used to send mail from Haifa, and likewise Haifa overprints were used on mail from Tel Aviv. And Jerusalem produced her own set of labels altogether. Many philatelists produced "philatelic covers" with stamps during this period though these often bore incorrect postage and incomplete franking. Nevertheless as long as such covers conform to proper franking and bear full postmarks they may be considered proper commercial covers. However, there are also some period frauds: airplane labels inscribed or overprinted with "P.A.T.C.O" (Palestine Air Transport Company) are fake; some fake addressee names used (in Hebrew) were Robintel, Korngold and Korniel.



Tel Aviv overprint of 3 letters of Hebrew word Doar on JNF label, for Minhelet Haam post

Haifa overprint on JNF label, for Minhelet Haam post, consisting of the Hebrew word Doar in long letters within a circle - all in black

A fabricated cover of sorts, sent by H. Ahronson Stamp Shop to himself, with Tel Aviv overprinted JNF labels - but incorrectly franked at only 4 Mils instead of 10 for a letter (see table below). A self-made cover is acceptible as long as it conforms to the regulations of the post at that time.



NATIONAL POSTAL RATES:   mail service was for inland use only. The basic postal rates which were adopted from the British Mandate rates system were:
Item Rate
Printed matter (paper, journals) 2 Mils
Printed matter (commercial, private) 3 Mils
Postcards 7 Mils
Letters 10 Mils
Registered Printed matter 18 Mils (3+15 Mils)
Registered Postcards 22 Mils (7+15 Mils)
Registered letters 25 Mils (10+15 Mils)
Registered double weight letter 31 Mils (25+6 Mils)
Registered triple weight letter 37 Mils (25+12 Mils)
Express letters 50 Mils (10+40 Mils)
Registered Express letters 65 Mils (10+40+15 Mils)
Taxed Mail Interim stamps used as Postage due
Official Mail exempt of 10 Mils letter rate (i.e. a stampless cover)
Registered Official Mail exempt of 10+15 Mils Registered letter rate (i.e. a stampless cover)
Registered Express Official Mail exempt of 10+15 Mils Registered letter rate, but Express fee of 40 Mils is paid



Identifying correctly charged and franked Minhelet Haam mail is tricky: this cover bears legitimate Tel Aviv overprinted JNF labels (including the 50 Mils Bialik-Herzl stamp which is rare on legitimate covers), and is cancelled with Tel Aviv cachets - the letter was sent from Tel Aviv. ...But the cover is franked for 60 Mils, whereas the going rate for a letter in this period was only 10 Mils. This cover was created by the sender for philatelic, but illegitimate, purposes.

Another cover with nice JNF labels and Minhelet Haam cancellation cachets from Tel Aviv - but again, over-franked by 60 Mils! Created by the same person as before, also for philatelic purposes.

A scarce, legitimate commercial cover of Israeli Minhelet Haam post, bearing one 10 Mils stamp with Haifa overprints. It was sent from Zichron Yaakov to the Tel Aviv municipality and so also bears the scarce Zichron Yaakov cachet.



SPECIAL LOCAL POST AND RATES
Item Jerusalem under seige Nahariya Tzfat (Safed) Rishon Le'Zion Other Areas under seige Courier and Tax Letter
Printed matter 5 Mils --- --- --- --- ---
Postcards 5 Mils (instead of 7 Mils rate) 7+10m 10 Mils (instead of 7 Mils rate) --- 5 Mils 5 Mils
Postcards 10 Mils (instead of 7 Mils rate) --- --- --- 10 Mils (instead of 7 Mils rate) 10 Mils (instead of 7 Mils rate)
Inland Letter rate 10 Mils 10+20m 10 Mils --- 10 Mils 10 Mils
Registered Postcard --- --- --- --- 15 Mils 15 Mils
Registered Letter, inland 25 Mils 25+50m --- --- 25 Mils 25 Mils
Express Letter, inland 50 Mils --- --- 40 Mils 50 Mils 50 Mils
Registered Express Letter 65 Mils --- --- --- 65 Mils 65 Mils





ISRAELI POSTAL RATES, 16 MAY 1948 - 31 JANUARY 1952
(in Mils through 23 Dec. 1948; in Prutot from 24 Dec. 1948 to 1952)
Domestic 16-5-48
to
30-9-48
1-10-48
to
31-1-52
Printed Matter
up to 50g




3




5




Postcards






7





10





Letters
up to 30g


10


15


Next 30g


6


10


Registered
Mail
Surcharge
15 25
Express
Fee
40 40
Foreign
Air
16-5-48
to
31-10-48
1-11-48
to
15-10-49
16-10-49
to
31-1-52
Printed Matter
up to 25g
Europe
USA
S.Africa
S.America

No
Service



35
55
75
70-85



40
65
55
80-90
Post Cards
Europe
USA
S.Africa
S.America
Australia


20
40
45
--
--


20
35
40
50-60
80


20
40
25
55-65
70
Letters
up to 10g
Europe
USA
S.Africa
S.America
Australia


25 - 60
65
85
--
--


35
70
80
100-115
160


40
80
50
100-115
180
Registered
Mail
Surcharge
15 25 25
Express
Fee
40 40 40
Foreign
Surface
16-5-48
to
28-2-49
1-3-49
to
31-1-52
Printed Matter
up to 50g

5


10


Next 50g


5

5

Postcards






13





15





Letters
up to 20g

20


30


Next 20g


13


15


Registered
Mail
Surcharge
15
25
Express
Fee
40 40




It's almost as tricky discerning between proper and incorrect commercial covers from Israel's first years as it is with Minhelet Haam post: here we see a lovely cover with the full set of low-Mils Doar Ivri (Hebrew Post) stamps, a nice cachet commemorating new immigrants who were originally detained by the British in Cyprus, a registered mail label - and an Israeli Army post office box address. The problem is, even with registered mail fees, this cover is over-franked by 65 Mils, and so an improper cover.

A view of the reverse of the cover affords us a chance to see the two Israeli Army cachets (on far left and far right), though it does not improve the value of this fabricated cover.