SAUDI ARABIA 1968-1975, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina 2 Piastres stamp.

Finding to cataloging some stamps, I realized that sometimes the stamp catalogs dealing with a lot of superficiality the stamps with the same subject, value and colors but issued with different perforation or watermark types. Specifically I speak of the stamps issued by Saudi Arabia. Among them, those stamps issued between 1968 and 1975. It is a stamps series depicting four Holy Sites, an archaeological site, a camel with an oil drawing tower, and finally an Arab stallion (fig 1).

(fig 1)

I want to show the type “A”, depicting the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina and specifically the value of 2 Piastres (fig 2).

(fig 2)

The only catalog that mentions three types with different features is Stanley Gibbons, but in my opinion with not all clear details. This stamp has been issued in three different times, thus distinguishing three different types, these are the S.G. numbers 840, 925 and 943. For all, the perforation results to be 13 1/2 x14 and the printing made in two steps, in two different colors. One interest the country name inscriptions and the value, and was originated from a chalk-graphic plate but printed in offset, the other, always printed in offset, is originated from the screen-plate made from a photographic image with the written addition of the site. The first print was made in September 1968 with inscriptions printed in chestnut and photographic screen-plate in emerald. It was printed on white paper with watermark recorded by Stanley Gibbons as w70 (fig 3) affecting only one stamp.

 (fig 3) The watermark covers about one stamps

In 1972 it was decided to make another print run of this value, but as the other values, even for the 2 Piastres, the usury of inscriptions prompted the postal administration to prepare a redraw of the frames. Before entering the field of differences, I would like to express my opinion, believing that in reality the rare second type of this value was made randoming, since it was carried out on the residuals of the watermark w70 paper sheet stock. So, except for a small amount printed on W70 watermark sheets, the most quantity was printed on sheets with the new watermark w95 (fig 4).

(fig 4) The watermark covers about four stamps

To summarize, there are therefore three types, the first printed on the original frames, on paper with watermarks w70 (SG No. 840), the second with redrawn frames, still printed on paper with watermarks w70 (S.G. No. 925), the third with redrawn frames but printed on paper with the new watermarks w95 (S.G. No. 943).

(fig 5Press in the image to large.

The differences:
(a) the first type has the two points on the letter “t” of “al arabia” united, while in the second and third type are disjoint.

(b) in the first type the “P” after the “2” is intact and well defined. The second and third types have constantly in the “P” the top chamfered right and the general appearance bad defined.

(c) the emerald photoengraving network, in the first type is well defined, while in the second and third type is clearer. This is due to the photoengraving network wear, so the small dots are less thick. From this we can deduce that only the chestnut frames were redrawing and not the emerald photoengraving.

(d) the shape of the two numbers “2” is distinctly different, in the first type the horizontal thickness base of “2” is 3/10 of millimeters, in the second and third types is thicker,  5/10 of millimeter about.

So, to differentiate the first type from the other two I think there are no doubts, regarding the difference between the second and third it depends only on the watermarks:

w70 positioned sideways for n. 925, as seen in the strip of five without gum in fig 6.

w95 for the n. 943.

(fig 6)

Bernardo Longo





ALAOUITES: the overprint of 05 for revalue the stamp of 10 centimes.

Alexander Kaczmarczyk, in his remarkable work “The Postal Issues of Syria, Lebanon and the Alaouites 1919-1945“, recorded the 05 centimes overprinted on 10ct stamp (fig 0) made on 2 November 1928, printing in 400’000 copies in sheet of fifty. It also lists two shades of overprint in Red and Carmines and only two glaring errors: double overprint and overprint front-back. A happy coincidence made me discover at the Sunday market of Beirut (سوق الأحد), several full sheets of this small value overprinted. Immediately you could observe the presence of the two different color shades used for overprinting: Red and Carmine. With a more detailed examination it was noted that the sheets with Red overprint, constantly had an error in the position 28 (the eighth stamp of the center strip): “I” and “E” broken in so as to be “ALAOU:TƩS” (fig 1 and 1a).

ofig 0

1fig 1 1afig 1a

Also from the discovered sheets, he takes out one with sloping red overprint, not much, but sufficiently to be able appreciate the slope and, especially, to put well in light the error overprint in position 28 (fig 2 and 2a).

2fig 2  2afig 2a

The stamps with overprint “Alaouites”, were issued the first time in 1925 on French and Syrian stamps and it not be necessary to issue a value of 5 centimes. Only in 1928 came the need to use this small value for domestic rates of newspapers not exceeding weight of 50 grams and covers with advertising papers shipped in more than 200 specimens. The first printing issued was with overprint in Red but had to be small in numbers and therefore it was necessary to resort a new overprint of 5ct on 10ct stamp but by a new typographical cliché. It has different characteristics from the previous one, but the showiest was for the Carmine color. It is much more accurate and no longer appears the error at position 28, but this new plate appears recognizable even for a recurrent flashy flaw in the “0” of 05 at position 31 (Figure 3 and 3a).

3fig 3 3afig 3a

The reduction of rates from 10ct to 5ct was short, in fact I have never seen wrappers franked for 5 centimes, while the few I saw were all franked for 10 centimes (fig 4 and 5). This is also confirmed by the fact that the new series of stamps issued in 1930 did not present a value of 5 centimes.

4fig 4 5fig 5

This happened also in the other Levant’s States under French mandate, but this will be the subject of another future article about this two very small rates. Be patient, please emoticon.

Bernardo Longo



1954, Union Postale Arabe

Egypte (1954-55)

Among its efforts to coordinate their economic life, the founders of the Arab league held their first Arab postal union meeting in July 1954. The postal administration of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Yemen released a joint issue of stamps to commemorate the event on 01/01/1955.


Fig.1 – Libyan FDC.


Fig2 – Jordanian Issue.


Fig 3 – KSA Issue.


Fig 4- Syrian Issue.


Fig.5 – Lebanon FDC.


Fig-6 –Missing Gulf.

Each country issued 3 different values. The stamps depicts a globe with arabesque on background. If we take a closer look to the globe we notice a poor mapping. The Persian or Arab Gulf is missing (red arrow)! This error is not included on any of the Lebanon stamps!


Fig 7 – Another example.

One can reasonably rule out a propaganda stamp on which the mapping error is voluntary in order to claim a territorial entity at the expense of a neighboring country. The dispute over the name of the body of water separating the Iranian plateau, historically and internationally known as the Persian Gulf, after the land of Persia (Iran), has only occurred since the 1960s with the emergence of Arab nationalism.


Fig.8 – Gulf.

I thought it is interesting to report this information and to incite philatelist to examine more carefully details on stamps.

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