The two lozenges with large digits used by the Beirut French post Office

The French post office in Beirut was opened in November 1845. Although already available since 1849, the French stamps began to be used in the Levant Offices starting from 1857. The office in Beirut is not an exception and the lozenges of points were used to cancel stamps, featuring the office’s number, as already used in France. The first used lozenge was characterized by the number 3706 along with a double circle cancel (fig.1),

fig. 1

as seen on the letter below (fig. 2 and 2a). Unfortunately, the letter was mutilated from another 40ct stamp to complete the double rate of 50ct each.

fig. 2

fig. 2a

The use of this combination lasted until August 1862. Since that date, the French post office began to use the new lozenge with large digits characterized by the number 5082 always together with the double circle with “BEYROUT SYRIE” and dater (fig. 3).

fig. 3

A change of linguistic nature occurred from June 1866 when the double circle cancel was replaced with another one adding an “H” to Beyrouth (fig. 3a).

fig. 3a

So far “nothing new under the sun” except that, while checking the lozenge 5082 on a 5 Francs stamp (fig. 4 and 4a), I used a letter of 1873 (fig. 5) with very clear lozenges and I realized that the cancel on the 5 Francs stamp differed from the one applied on the envelope. The easy deduction is that the postmark on the 5 Francs is a fake.

fig. 4

fig. 4a

fig. 5

But a curious observation concerning the lozenge’s perfection used on the envelope has prompted me to analyze one more envelope, from 1868 to be precise (Fig. 6),

fig. 6

and with great surprise I noticed the substantial difference between the lozenges applied on the two envelopes. These differences are visible through the widths of number 5082 as well as the two points on the corner and their position from the base of digit 2 (fig. 7)

fig. 7 (please zoom)

In my stock of images, the last date of use of the old deteriorated postmark I could find was 2 October 1870 (fig. 8) and the first with the new postmark was 30 June 1871 (fig.9):

fig. 8

fig. 9

the substitution occurred in this time range, but I leave you the fun game to discover the closest date.

                                                                                                                                                 Bernardo Longo