Kuwait's Rare and Valuable Stamps

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Tiny, oil-rich Kuwait is best known as the site of the 1990 Iraqi occupation, which set off the first Gulf War. The outsize role it has played on the world stage is just one of the reasons why collectors have taken an interest in the country’s stamps and postal history. While rare Kuwait stamps routinely fetch high prices at auctions, the country’s philately has a lot to offer even collectors with modest ambitions.

Kuwait’s Postal History

The first mail routes were established in Kuwait in 1775. For much of the 18th and 19th centuries, British and Ottoman forces vied for influence in the region. In 1899, a treaty assigned control of mail delivery and other services to British authorities. This led to the opening of the country’s first post office in 1915, though administration was handled in nearby Basra, Iraq.

Initially, Kuwait's postal system used Indian stamps, though by 1923 authorities had begun producing special “KUWAIT” overprints. This practice continued, with minor interruptions, until India achieved independence in 1947. At this point, Kuwait’s postal system was briefly run by Pakistani authorities before reverting to British control in 1948. With this, mail service in the country used British stamps, though a currency change in 1957 required the production of a new series of overprints.

Independent Kuwait

A period of rapid modernization following the 1938 discovery of oil in the region precipitated Kuwait’s eventual independence. This was formally achieved in 1961, though a national postal system was established two years earlier.

The first official Kuwait stamps were printed in 1958. These included 5-naye paise (np) and 10np issues depicting Sheik 'Abd Allah III al-Salim al-Sabah, and a 40np dhow pictorial that commemorated the country’s longstanding reputation as excellent mariners.

With independence, Kuwait adopted the dinar as its currency, which led to a reprinting of the 1958 issues in new denominations. Some of the more unique Kuwait stamps issued in the years to follow included a 1977 games pictorial set and a 1964 full-color definitive series.

Kuwait’s brief occupation by Iraq led to the cessation of the national postal service. During this time, Iraqi stamps were used in the area.

Collecting Kuwait Stamps

The country’s rich history means there are plenty of areas for Kuwait stamp collectors to explore. Multiple currency changes and shifts in control make the pre-independence period particularly fascinating, though more recent stamps from independent Kuwait are also highly attractive and worth a look depending on your interests.

Apfelbaum, Inc. routinely has Kuwait stamps for sale in our online store and Buy It Now sales. We can provide advice about starting a collection, or help you track down a hard-to-find issue. We also offer appraisals of valuable Kuwait stamps and other consulting services. Contact our office directly for assistance.