|“The immediate cause of the issue of these stamps… was the inconvenience caused to the officials in charge of the Army Telegraphs in Egypt, through having to keep account of small amounts paid in currency. With a view to obviate this inconvenience, Colonel Webber, C.B., of the Royal Engineers, personally applied, in the autumn of 1884, to the Controller of Stamps at Somerset House, for a series of stamps from the ‘unappropriated dies,’ overprinted ‘Military Telegraphs’… They were received about the middle of September, 1884, and presumably issued at once.” 1
|From Zobaidah Ali from Almotiah in Jadidah
To Council of Egyptian Decisions
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|“It would appear that in 1886, the Director of Army Telegraphs in Egypt found that considerable difficulty was experienced, in maintaining equation between the telegraph charges in Egyptian currency, and the telegraph stamps with value in English money: and this difficulty was further increased by the depreciation of English silver which took place about this time. To remedy this, the entire stock of these [Military Telegraphs] stamps then in Egypt was surcharged with arbitrary piastre values… The extreme dryness of the African climate naturally caused the sheets of stamps to curl up; and that to such an extent, as to make it impossible to surcharge entire sheets at once… The stupendous task of surcharging each stamp separately was resolved upon, and was, in July, 1886, carried out by means of a self-inking revolving [hand]stamp.”13
The values attributed to the original issue were as follows: “0.1 P.T” (x2) on 1d, “0.25 P.T.” (x2) on 3d, “ONE PIASTRE” on 6d, “FIVE PIASTRES” on 1/-,
“TEN PIASTRES” on 2/-, “TWENTY FIVE PIASTRE” on 5/-, “FIFTY PIASTRES” on 10/- and a “HUNDRED PIASTRES” on £1. It is not known how many stamps were so treated.
“This issue was in use from July, 1886, to the end of the following February. The unused remainders were subsequently brought back to England and destroyed.”
The significance of this “self-inking revolving [hand]stamp” does not seem to have been discussed in previous articles. The implications of this statement can be seen when blocks of these stamps are examined, but because individual stamps are very scarce, blocks are rarely encountered. The author is of the opinion that when blocks are examined, it seems there are variations in the surcharge from one stamp to another. This it would appear is because, as stated above, the handstamp revolved as it self-inked and that it seems it had more than one face and so slight variations in the surcharges can be identified on stamps of the same value (see Figure 4). The number of faces on the handstamp is not known.
|At least three sets of the handstamped surcharged stamps exist bearing the word “Specimen” in manuscript (the original set in sterling and the later set overprinted in London also exist with a manuscript “Specimen” applied in Cairo.) Fig 5 left.