Not included here are instructional marks ie, insufficient postage, etc

The study of Egyptian Postal markings and Cancellations was first undertaken by R.Seymour Blomfield. as Study VI of the ESC. His first report was published in L'OP 30 in October 1936 with subsequent reports in the same magazine. His initial studies involved the postmarks up to 1880 (known as the Classic Period) and these fell relative easily into categories as determined by the words and frame ornaments used.

To these he gave type and numbers irrespective of the place of use. So handstamps of Type V could have been made for use in Cairo, Benha, Luxor and so on. As more data appeared these types were given sub-types (such as V-1, V-2 etc). Then later these themselves were given sub-types (V-2.1 V-2.2 etc) as made necessary by the discovery of small design differences, such as the way the date-slug was made up or some slight change in CDS-ornament. This method of classification makes eminent sense if a unified design for handstamps is maintained, and if one was studying current British postmarks the current interlocking double wavy rings can no doubt be ascribed pattern to hundreds if not thousands of post offices. While this worked reasonably well in the beginning for Egypt, for later postmarks the complexity of different uses, shapes and sheer variety meant that types were distinguished that followed no logical pattern, especially as those who succeeded Blomfield named types and sub types perhaps without any clear understanding of the original system.

Complicating matters further, after the turn of the century and the First World War Egyptian hand-cancels often failed to follow nicely categorised styles with many (perhaps locally produced?) being unique in design.

As well as his unified designs, Blomfield had also categorised some markings by usage, ie, Air Mail, Arrival, Registration, TPO etc. This itself can be problematical since more then one service indicator may occur within the same handstamp, ie, registered parcels: should this be entered under Registered or Parcels? Or both? This lack of clarity resulted in one or more cancels ending up with different type numbers in different sections of the study.

Later researchers have tended to concentrate on postmarks for a particular use, such as Hotels or TPOs etc. In doing so they have tended to implement their own typing methods more suited to the particular style of postmark under study. Those postmarks hived off as separate studies remain referred to by their original numbers or in some cases are not given any typing at all. The special-purpose handstamps are often found misused, probably from carelessness or lax approach by the post office employee or because the appropriate canceller had been mislaid. No particular meaning need be attributed to this apparent misuse. Without doubt, though, Egyptian postal historians owe Blomfield an enormous dept of gratitude as he left a legacy of over 400 drawings of postmarks which, although never published as such, were circulated to members of the ESC. Those up to 1880 are all available in Peter Feltus's extensive update of Study VI and some of the rest, with a few additions, in Peter Smith's Egypt, Stamps and Postal History book albeit scattered throughout the book according to subject. Chichini's book tarikh el barid contains all of Blomfield's drawings with a few additions.

Air Mail markings extending way beyond those of Blomfield are to be found in John Sears's Airmail book, while Peter Smith classified his TPOs according to the Blomfield pattern, But the Hotel postmarks have been reported in several philatelic journals, with the latest update in the QC, and a few other specific-usage postmark studies and reports (Stations, Paquebots, Palaces and so on) have also appeared in the QC, so over the years in total the recorded number of postmarks must be well over the 1,000 mark. Other areas of study for specific-use types have been suggested, but perhaps the most glaring omission is that of the general purpose type all in Arabic. Most of those who have been recording Egyptian postmarks have had no or little understanding of Arabic, so the native language has tended to be given second place behind the more easily read European-language (first Italian, the French or English) section of the handstamp. In a few cases the Arabic in the drawn cancels included in the study has been traced "as seen", in such a way that it is incoherent or even meaningless. Undoubtedly to gain full enjoyment from studying Egyptian postmark some time spent getting to grips with the Arabic script can pay huge dividends.

The following table gives the fundamental types as outlined by Blomfield with some modifications as found in Egypt, Stamps and Postal History It is the merest hint of the depth of the study of Egyptian postmarks, about which there is still much to discover.

Fundamental postmarks showing the basic Blomfield types and numbers
Type I
Egypt's first circular datestamp, introduced in 1865, with the inscription in Italian: Posta Vice-Reali Egiziane
Type II
In 1867 the inscription Regie (Royal) Post Egiziane was introduced. The Regie was removed within months to appease the Sultan of Turkey
Type III
The datestamp with V.R.(Vice-Reali, ie, Vice-Regal) Poste Egiziane was introduced in 1869 to replace the earlier types.
Type IV
In 1873 a type with Posta Khedeuie (ie, Khedivial) Egiziane appeared, some with double rings.
Type V
1874 saw the introduction of handstamps inscribed with simply Poste Egiziane; some of those for Upper Egypt also had the place name in Arabic
Type VI
When Caillard Pasha was appointed Postmaster General the basic language was change to French. The first Postes Egyptiennes handstamps were put into use in 1877.
Type VII
In 1878 a killer type with Arabic appeared similar in design to the contemporary British postmark. This type has been seen only for Alexandria
This simple design of Roman (French or English) over Arabic was introduced in 1880 and continued in use for many years.
Type IX
In the early 1880s a postmark with vertical bars in the inner ring was introduced. This is sometimes referred to as the Swiss Type. Some do not have an inner ring or have bars only in one half or other.
Type X
The Star and Crescent postmark was introduced in 1882 and was used in fewer than 40 locations, some of them in Sudan. The last recorded use is 1919.
Type XI
Star without crescent types were used from 1907 until 1923. The type as shown is more popularly known as the star and bridge.
Type XII
Similar to type VII but after declaration of the Kingdom in March 1922 the style with Arabic over the Roman was gradually introduced.
Intaglio Seals
The original intaglio seals stem from the post of Mohammed Ali, being used on stampless covers from the 1850s. Later types appeared in 1866, a few containing a star and crescent. Possibly intended as seals for wax, they are also found cancelling stamps.

Postmarks for Specific Purposes
Air Mail
The first Air Mail postmark is the one emanating from the Heliopolis Air Meeting of 1910. Inscribed HELIOPOLIS AERODROME, this is mostly found on souvenir postcards. The first Air Mail service was the Cairo-India route via Baghdad which began in 1918.
Arrival postmarks appeared in the late 1880s in larger offices as a backstamp to signify date of receipt. Used also for postage due cancellations.
First used in the late 1890s, these were used for cancelling stamps on receipts and packets/envelopes that were handed over at the counter. Also found on postal orders.
COD and
Known soon after the turn of the century for packets that were sent COD and bills to be paid to the sender
These are not commemorative postmarks as such and the name Special Events would be more apt. Ignoring the Heliopolis Air Meeting cancel, the first recognised Special Event is the Geographical Congress of 1924. Many more were to follow.
Customs Service
Customs (in French Douane) marks appeared at the turn of the century, principally for use on exported parcels. Some contain the word drawback, used when the sender of cigarettes could claim back import duty paid on the raw tobacco from which they had been made.
Delivery seems to serve a purpose very similar to that of Express, though the first recorded Delivery postmark is Oct.23 1906 and the express service was inaugurated only on Sept. 20 1922. Perhaps the early Delivery marks were used in the house to house service? Some later marks contain both the words delivery and express (1940-1978), and others House to House Delivery (1948).
The first recorded use of postmarks containing Départ (French) or Depart is 1880. Usage is uncertain - aren't nearly all postmarks indicating the point of departure? - but possibly to indicate departure overseas.
Government Service
Issued from the early 1880s, these were used strictly only on mail emanating from a government office. Included in this group are postmarks with specific named governmental organisations.
Machine Cancels The first machine franking in Egypt was introduced in 1922.
Money Orders
Introduced in 1881 for international money orders. Initially included among the cash postmarks by Blomfield, hence the Cas type number.
Introduced in the mid-1880s, these were issued to a post office parcels counter. As this was often the same as for registered mail, dual purpose cancels also exist with the letters R&P or the equivalent in Arabic.
Postal Service
These markings were used by the postal service itself for administration purposes and are rarely found cancelling stamps. The most common use is on interpostals
The Postmen cancels are mostly found as backstamps, possibly as an indication of personal handling. Perhaps somehow connected to the Express service
Originally designated Proprietary Post Offices (later found to be a misnomer), these comprise mainly Hotel postmarks. The Hotels have been studied fairly extensively and are no longer referred to by their Blomfield type. The example shown postdates Blomfield's study, which would have given it a PPO number; it is now HL2 (ie, Hotel Luxor type 2). The latest report in the QC, Sept.2000, contains over 100 drawings with earliest and latest dates.
These were used to cancel registered mail and covers. Often used with an accompanying rectangular boxed registration cachet with a large R.
Rettas or dumb cancellations are recorded from 1866, at first used to cancel the stamp with the postmark struck elsewhere on the envelope. This practice was later abandoned in favour of the cancel alone. Rettas continued in use to cancel stamps that had missed being cancelled at the point of origin, and often also to cancel mail emanating from ships.
Rural Service
Inaugurated in May 1888, the rural post served smaller villages that did not warrant a post office. A postman on foot or donkey carried out a round taking in several villages each with a post-box containing its own oval village indicator (cartouche), which the postman applied there and then clear of the stamps (hence outgoing only). The circular datestamps were applied to cancel the stamp at the main collection office at the end of the round.
Savings Bank
Not intended to cancel stamps for postage but for used in childrens savings books in which postage stamps acted as savings stamps. When the book was full the value was credited to the child's account and the stamps cancelled. As with other special purpose types, these cancels are occasionally found used as postmarks on cover. The earliest recorded date is 1922.
Sea Post
The Sea Post is for mail cancelled on ships to and from Egypt and therefore includes cancels on non-Egyptian stamps from shipping lines plying to and from Egypt
These postmarks are for use in post offices mostly in railway stations. Bus stations and seaport terminals have also been recorded with the word station in them
Used basically to indicate onward transmission, but just as often seen as the only cancel on a cover.
Post Offices
Egypt was the one African nation that took to the railways early on, partly because the inhabited areas are all fairly flat. The first TPO began in 1875 between Cairo and Alexandria. This illustration was originally TPO-6.1 but became TPO-5A3 in Peter Smith's 1983 book The Travelling Post Offices of Egypt and then TPO-5A in his Egypt book. The TPO book gives nearly 80 drawings with dates and routes.
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