The Healing Mountain
Philatelic notes on Lebanese ant tuberculosis stamps
On the first of June 1971, Lebanon issued it’s only stamps referring to the ant tuberculosis fight. It honors the 50th anniversary of the founding of the nation’s Tuberculosis Association.
The design feature two different view of the Dahr-el-Basheq sanatorium.
The stamps where designed by M. Porada and printed by Kultura, Budapest. 50.000 sets where produced.
Dahr el Basheq means “Peak of the sparrow-Hawk”. Home to this particular specie of fast birds, this peak is one of many in mountainous Lebanon.
The sanatorium has a long and interesting history. It was founded in 1909 on a beautiful hill overlooking the coast of Beirut. It was among the first of its kind in the Middle East. The sanatorium came to exist thanks to the efforts of a foundation created and lead by a group of Lebanese and American philanthropists at a time when American missionary activity had initiated many important projects including the A.U.B. Pillaged by Ottoman troops during WWI, the sanatorium continued its activities thanks to the contribution of its patients, many of whom came from rich families in the Middle East and the Gulf, and the commitment of its clients, including a non-profit foundation started in Boston in the late 1920s by immigrants. By the 1960s, tuberculosis recovery rates had risen to 95% ( from 25% in the 1920s) and a declining number of rich patients came to the sanatorium as the average recovery period dropped from 20 months in the 1940s to four months in the 1960s and as the “white plague” was no more feared and home care became possible. By 1971 the sanatorium was no longer able to cover its costs and was donated to the government, which transformed it into a public hospital.
On figure 2, you find a rare cover from Dahr el Basheq sanatorium heading to Baghdad in 1948. On the cover’s left corner you find printed in Arabic “nour wa ighatha” meaning “light and relief”, which is the national anti-tuberculosis association. As for the double barred Red Cross, it is the world-wide symbol of the fight against tuberculosis, used and adopted since 1902. It is also widely admitted that the color of the cross is red.
So the orange cross depicted on the 1971’s stamps is used “erroneously” and only used for artistic purpose (and not political as it would have been said nowadays).
It’s the only ant tuberculosis stamp known with an orange cross. The same lengths of the arms of this cross on the stamp is another variation of the anti-tuberculosis cross.
Covers with anti-Tbc stamp
Al Zarif-Beyrouth post-office FDC
Outgoing cover from CHEHIM on 27.05.72 heading to IYS , a company in Finland that provides a directory service for pen pals around the world.
Outgoing cancel from Baabda on 28.05.72 to Finland.
Registered cover from Bourj Hammoud 24.07.71 heading to Germany.
Stamping out tuberculosis remains a priority especially nowadays with Lebanon weak economic profile, the afflux of third world foreign workers and recently refugees from neighbor countries. Stamps by its icons can turn into an instrument of health education in the fight against tuberculosis. Wish that Libanpost remains part of this international movement.