Maxicards from Lebanon

Maximum cards are born in the late nineteenth century with the appearance of picture postcards and postal stamps.

At that time, the back of the postcard was reserved only to the name and address of the recipient, correspondence and postage were thus on the front, on the side of the illustrated card, hence the name “T. C.V.”   T.C.V. stands for “timbré côté vue” or “stamped side view”. At the publication of the first commemorative stamps, symbols, characters, landscapes, have formed, casually at first, then deliberately, the first TCV concordant, which are the precursors of maximum cards.


Fig.1 The Egyptian pyramids. Stamp worth four thousandths issued by the Egyptian Post. Old postcard, from the same period. Pyramids Obliteration (Egypt).


Fig.2 the Sphinx and the Egyptian pyramids. Stamp worth five thousandths issued by the Egyptian Post 1888-1906. Old postcard, from the same period. Cairo 1902 Obliteration (Egypt).

The first maximum cards, such as the ones above, are the fruit of chance and spontaneous creations obeying only to the fantasy and taste of their authors. In France, the first maximum cards emerge from 1900 with commonly used stamps (Type Blanc Type Mouchon then Sower). It takes at least 1922 to the philatelic production to diversify with the issuance of the first commemorative stamps. Therefore, maximum cards will be performed at almost every stamp issue, but in very few and isolated collectors who are true pioneers.


Fig.3 Nice concordance between the stamp and the postcard view. Cancelled in Beirut 11/7/1931.

Maxicards from Lebanon before WW2 are rare and should be sought. I only came across one regular postcard (Tarazi edition) depicting “La grotte aux pigeons” fixed with a stamp issued in the 1930 depicting the same view. The stamp was cancelled with a Beirut postmark. All in relation! Unfortunately I missed the sale!!!!

What is a Maxicard? 

The Maxicard consists of 3 elements:

1- The valid stamp (used between emission and withdrawal from sale). The stamp must be in perfect condition.Tax stamps, fiscal stamps are not to be used.

2- The postcard of the same subject as not being an exact copy of the stamp except in respect of works of art (paintings, statues ….) The postcard must be existing for sale before issuance of postage stamp (ancient or modern).

3- Concurring postmark with the place where the monument is located. If it’s a character, place of birth or the place where he has carried on business or even the place where he has his statue. It indicates the name of the post office the date of obliteration. It must still be readable and fully implemented on all postage stamp / postcard (valid for the special stamps and postal flame). The ordinary cancellations without illustration are valid provided that the relation is respected.

A variant Maxicard  

Among all the different maximum cards made ​​from the same stamp, two or more of them are called variants if and only if the same stamp is used on different postcards (but on the same subject) with different cancellations.

Are not considered variants of the maximum cards, Maxicards fixed with postage stamps of the same subject but different from each other by their presentation: Perforated or imperforated. From sheets or booklets. With different denominations. With different colors or value. Overprinted.

Examples from Lebanon:

Birds on postcards



Complete fish issue on postcards










“Variant” Maxicards from Lebanon:



Same postage stamp, different postcard. Beirut cancellations.








The stamp and subject are the same, obliteration (Beirut/Chtoura) and the postcard are different.

“Variant” or “not variant”:

“A picture is worth a thousand words”



Same subject, different stamp and different postcard. These are two different maxicards



Same subject, same stamp and cancel but different postcards. They are “variant” Maxicards.



Same subject, same stamp, different cancels but certainly different angle view of Saint Joseph: definitively “variant” maxicards.

But confusion can occur, specially if the stamp depicts different possible topics:



The main theme of the stamp is the Baalbek festival. No doubt about it. That said, the first postcard is to be considered as a Baalbek Maxicard. But if one dissects the stamp, female emancipation and glamour side of the 60s with these elegant hairstyles can be outlined on the stamp to. The second postcard (edited by the Lebanese ministry of tourism) is then also a Maximum postcard but with a different topic. So when a stamp has multiple subjects, secondary or partial, each subject should be treated separately on a postcard representing only this one subject. Maximum cards thus produced are therefore not “variant” but different maximum cards.







Two “variant” Maxicards depicting cedar ski resort. Skiing in Lebanon has been a popular sport since an engineering student (Ramez Ghazzaoui) returning from studying in Switzerland brought back with him the sport of skiing to Lebanon in the early twentieth century (1913).

Are these variant Maxicards?





Well no!

Collages, cut-outs, private photographs on paper, photocopies in color or black and white, montages, drawings, documents designed specifically for the stamp issue and printed privately on special paper for photography, cannot be used for the realization of maximum cards!!!



Beirut airport maxicards. The second is a homemade post card. Notice the maximum concordance between the stamp, the picture and the Hariri airport cancel. Nevertheless as stated above, home printed pictures are not considered as Maxicards by the Maximaphilatelic society. Even though I had a lot of pleasure receiving it by post 3 weeks after posting it in the transit area.

The beginner Maximaphili can be tempted (I did) in the early stages of collection, and if he is not careful, he will buy improperly philatelic souvenirs qualified as maximum cards by dealers, more often because of lack of knowledge of this specialty.








The first stamp depicts the bridge over Nahr Ibrahim. The postcard illustrates a bridge and a river but located outside Lebanon. The second postcard features a cedar along with two cedar stamps. Unfortunately lack of concordance of the location. These 2 postcards look like Maxicards but are not!

Make your own postcard: 

Personal achievement of a good maximum card is tricky but not impossible, although when the postcards are returned, we are disappointed with the quality of the obtained cancellation. We can only persevere.

Be inspired, find a postcard in which the pictures will be the most concordant with the subject of the selected stamp. Determine the position of the stamp in providing a clear location for the obliteration.

The recurrent problem I have encountered is the brilliant and glossy picture of the modern postcards that prevents the ink from drying properly.






Creating these postcards was not only fun in many different ways but gave a second life to these low value stamps ( 500LL, 1000LL).

The use of high value stamps is as much fun but I admit a little more stressful.


Some disappointments:



Fainted cancel on postcard!                                         Cancel on stamp, not touching the postcard!!

Citius, Altius, Fortius

This maxima, of the Olympic Games in Paris 1924, inspired also forgers.

I found this exceptional Maxicard while surfing on the web.


The web’s author presents outstanding Lebanese philatelic material on his page and I thank him for sharing his collection with us. As I told you, Lebanese maxicards before WW2 are scarce and commercially speaking a lot of money can be involved. This card if genuine is exceptional. Fortunately, these games are well documented for the one who knows where to search.

I learned that On the 5 of July 1924, the overture ceremony is held at Colombes Stadium in front of 40,000 spectators. The 44 delegations enter the stadium alphabetically. South Africa is the first nation to enter and Yugoslavia last. The most applauded delegations were France, the UK and the US. Gaston Doumergue, new President of the French Republic, officially proclaimed the opening of the 1924 Olympics in the presence of members of the International Olympic Committee, particularly its Chairman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. After trumpet and a gun shot, the Olympic flag is raised on top of the central pole of the stadium. The ceremony ends with a speech by Count Clary, President of the Organizing Committee. Finally, the Olympic athletes’ oath was sworn by the French Geo André, former Olympic medalist in 1908 and 1920.

Ashampoo_Snap_2015.05.05_00h32m02s_004_ Ceremony picture of the 5th of July when G. ANDRE read the Olympic oath.


And if we take a closer look at the game’s schedule, the opening ceremony is well on the 5Th of July. Thus the typology of Baalbek’s cancel used, was issued in 1932 and see it used on 7 June 1924, only makes a smile to the naive attempt to create a rarity. The Maxicard is a forgery! What a disappointment!

The purpose of this example is to recall the principles of caution. We have to be careful, to think before we buy, to document …. No need to turn into an expert, but we should present more critical attitude while shopping in order to avoid future disappointments.


My first involuntary Maxicard. Notice that unlike old postcards, this Grand serial post card shows the additional floor added when Prime Minister Hariri renovated the building. Stones from demolished buildings where used for restoration in order to keep its homogeneous front.


My latest acquisition


To end this presentation, I wish to share with you this Dutch Red Cross Maxicard. It immediately held my attention. Something was familiar about it. After research, I knew why: It represents a prisoner exchange at the Museum checkpoint after the siege of Beirut in 1982. My modest tribute to the red cross.