Israeli Collectors' Stamps
Any discussion of Israel’s history is bound to be too complex and too contentious for a single article — particularly one on a website dedicated to stamp collecting. But what stamps do offer us is a way of looking at history as it happens. In a country’s philately, we can see its ambitions and accomplishments, as well as the way it responds to historical events.
In this regard, Israel is no exception — read on to learn about the various postage that has been used in the region and the many opportunities for collecting Israeli stamps that exist today.
Postage existed long before the 1948 creation of modern Israel and likewise, stamps were used during the Ottoman and British occupations of the region. Both the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force and the later British Mandate of Palestine issued their own stamps, which can often be found today in collectors’ auctions.
As well, prior to 1918, Italy, Germany, Egypt, Russia and several other countries established post offices in what is now Israel, often using special overprints or postmarks.
While, of course, none of these pre-1948 stamps use the word “Israel,” they remain an important predecessor to the country’s postal system, and the rarest of them are highly sought-after by Israeli stamp collectors.
Israel began issuing its first stamps on Sunday, May 18, 1948. At the time, the name of the new country had not been settled on, so these early issues were inscribed as Hebrew Post (“Doar Ivri”). Printed in 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, 50, 250, 500 and 1000 mils denominations, these first Israeli definitives featured a design based on a coin used in the First Jewish-Roman War of 66-73 CE.
Israeli stamps regularly feature unique cancellations to mark special events, such as the 1950 Maccabiah Games. First day covers are common, as is an annual commemorative series issued at the start of the High Holidays. Hyperinflation during the 1980s led the the printing of non-denominational stamps in 1982 and 1984.
Following the Oslo Accords of 1994, the Palestinian National Authority began managing its own postal services and issuing its own stamps in the self-governing areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Initially limited to local use, over time, service was extended to neighboring Egypt and Jordan. In 1999, the PNA postal system was split into separate administrations in Gaza and Ramallah/al-Bireh, each of which currently produces their own unique stamps.
Collecting Israeli Stamps
The global Jewish diaspora has created an enduring market for rare and collectible Israeli stamps. You’ll find many fine examples available for sale in the Apfelbaum, Inc. online store. For help building your collection, or for appraisal services and other consultations, contact our office directly.