It is about hundred and forty five years since Turkey first attracted the Philatelists’ attention. Turkey’s first stamps were issued in 1863. In the same year Russian offices were opened and a large square label, a 6k blue, was put forth by the Russian Steam Navigation Company. This is now quite an un-common stamp.
Austria, seeing the advantage of having its own office in such a cosmopolitan land, followed by issuing a set in 1867 for its newly formed postal station.
Germany was third, putting forth a series in 1884.
Great Britain was fourth, issuing adhesives in 1885.
In the same year France, the fifth nation to establish its own Levant mail service also put forth a number of surcharges. Separate issues for Dedeagh, Port Lagos, Cavalle and Vathy did not come out until 1893-94 however.
Roumania was sixth, overprinting six values with Turkish currency in 1896.
Italy was seventh, making the first two definite sets, for Albania and Janina in 1902. However, a set for use all over the world had been available since 1874. A general issue for the whole Levant and separate issues for Constantinople, Durazzo, Jerusalem, Salonia, Scutai, Smyrna and Valona come out within the following five or six years.
Russia followed Italy’s lead by issuing separate stamps in 1909 for the following cities: Constantinople, Jaffa, Jerusalem, Kerassmunde, Mont Athose, Salonique, Smyrna, Trebizonde, Beyrouth, Dardanelles, Metelin and Rizeh.
The seven nations kept up their own services until 1914. Then come a crushing blow, the Abolition of Capitulations which did away with all for foreign offices in the land of the star and crescent.
But collectors who hoped that this act would lessen the flood of labels from this part of the world were destined to be disappointed. Turkey was on its way to the carving.
The first piece to bereak loose was Hejaz, which declared its independence in 1916. A little later the British occupied Palestine and Mesopotamia.
The next nation to wield the butcher knife was Greece. Although three sets came out about this time all were bogus. The first for Rodosto, a place never occupied by the Greeks and the second and third for Smyrna and Cydonia, both private speculation.
As hostilities had ceased, Roumania and Poland opened offices at Constantinople and the adjacent coast in the latter part of 1919.
Then came an avalanche of issues make by France, for Cilicia, Syria and Castellorizo.
Three independent countries Arabia, Armenia and Trans-Jordania were also formed from fragments of the ‘old bird’.
Later all these countries issue many interesting stamp issues, which attract philatelist’s attention.