Cyprus Collectors' Stamps

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Located off the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, the island country of Cyprus is home to just over 1.1 million people. Though evidence of human activity on the island dates back to the Neolithic era, it was not until 1959 that the country became an independent state. Today, it’s an important tourist destination with high levels of development, though Turkish occupation in the northern part of the island remains a geopolitical flashpoint.

Cyprus’ Postal History

Formal and informal postal systems have been in place in Cyprus since the 15th century. The country’s postal history is tied closely to its history of occupation. Initial courier routes were established to connect the island to merchants and authorities in Venice. Cyprus came under the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1871, at which point a Turkish office was opened.

It was not until 1880, with the arrival of the British, that formal mail service began within the island. Though it was still technically under Ottoman control, Britain came to play a key role in the political administration of the island throughout the latter half of the 19th century. This influence was formalized by the establishment of six regional post offices, which initially used overprinted British stamps, but began producing their own issues as early as 1881.

Important Collectors’ Stamps of Cyprus

Britain remained in control of Cyprus’ postal system until the country gained independence. During that time, a number of rare Cyprus collectors’ stamps were issued. These include:

  • The initial Queen Victoria issues, the first Cyprus stamps designed specifically for use on the island, released between 1881 and 1894. Many color and denomination variants are extant, some of which command high values at auction.
  • A 1928 commemorative issue marking 50 years of British presence on the island. These highly attractive issues were called by then-governor Lord Winster “the best stamps that were ever issued from a colony.”
  • The 1934 King George with pictorials series, which featured the monarch in profile superimposed over scenes of Cypriot life. Of these, an 18 piaster olive green and black "Buyuk Khan, Nicosia" illustration is currently among the most expensive and rare Cyprus collectors’ stamps on the market today.

British stamps issued for use in pre-independence Cyprus have a lot to offer collectors. Many of them deviate in interesting ways from other stamps used in colonial territories, with attractive and unique pictorial designs.

With independence in 1960, Cyprus began issuing its own stamps and continues to do so to this day.

Buying Rare Cyprus Stamps

Apfelbaum, Inc. offers philatelists several ways to begin a collection of rare Cyprus stamps. We frequently have Cyprus stamps for sale in our online store and buy-it-now sales. Our inventory is constantly being updated, too — if you can’t find what you’re looking for online, check back often — or, better yet, contact our office directly for assistance.