1763421One could write a good history of Iran simply by studying its stamps for the last 150 years. The first issues, called the Lions, were issued in 1870. They are crudely printed typographed stamps featuring the coat of arms of Iran. What strikes one about the early Iranian issues is that despite Iran’s relative poverty and being technologically primitive all the early stamps were domestically produced. This has created many collectible varieties but it also tells of a strident Iranian desire for freedom from Western influence and dependence. Many countries in the late nineteenth century with Iran’s lack of technical sophistication were contracting with big English and French printers for their stamps. Iran from the beginning showed an aggressive self sufficiency that persists today.

And when Iran used outside printers in the early part of the twentieth century they were poorly served by their Western contacts. The plates of their stamps were often stolen or “sold” by corrupt postal authorities who blanketed the world with bogus Iranian stamps some of which were smuggled back to Iran to defraud the government. Nearly one hundred listings from this period in the Scott catalog have been removed as these stamps were found to be produced from stolen plates solely for collectors. Later,the Shah issues of the mid twentieth century show an exaggerated fealty and cult worship which makes one wonder just how legitimate the Peacock throne felt itself to be and the post Revolution issues are largely cartoonish propaganda that reminds one of the 1930 Soviet issues or the early Mao PRC stamps (you know smiling workers off to the factory). Certainly when one knows the outlines of the history of a nation it is easy to fit its philatelic output into that history (in this case Iran- its proud population misused by western friends, ruled for years by a pompous king and now by a government that offers simplistic theistic solutions to complex problems). But the real question is can the study of the historical, sociological and psychological aspects of a nation’s philately be predictive telling us things we don’t already know.

Share on:
Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top