A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, December 30, 2013


1919 Scott N42 1/2a on 1pi green & brown red
Mosul Issue
Quick History
During WW I, the British captured Baghdad in 1917, as Mesopotamia (now Iraq), was under Ottoman (Turkish) control. By the end of 1918, the British had deployed well over 100,000 troops to the area.

The Capital was Baghdad, and the population was 2,900,000 in 1920.
Proposed British Mandate map for Mesopotamia 1921
An armistice was signed on October 30, 1918, but the British continued to march and entered Mosul and the rich oil field between November 1- 14, 1918 ( Different sources give different dates).

A British Mandate for Mesopotamia was instituted on April 25, 1920, but widespread rioting occurred throughout Iraq in 1920. The British administration continued, but the Kingdom of Iraq was then created under British guidance in 1922. Iraq became fully independent in 1932.

This blog will focus on the British occupation issues of 1917- 1922, as well as the Mosul issue of 1919. All of the stamps consist of surcharged/overprinted stamps of Turkey. One will find these stamps under "Mesopotamia" in the Scott Classic catalogue. The Stanley Gibbons catalogue files all entries under "Iraq".

For the issues of Iraq proper, from 1923-1938, see the Iraq blog.

1918-20 Scott N36 8a on 2 1/2pi orange & olive green
On stamps of Turkey, Surcharged
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, for the British Mandate/Occupation years of 1917-22 for Mesopotamia, 75 major descriptive numbers for the regular and official categories. Of those, 21 are CV <$1-$1+, or 28%.

The 1917 "Bagdad" overprinted stamps- some 27 major numbers, are all very expensive ( CV $150-$9000), and definitely not the playground of the WW classical generalist. ;-)  I have none, and will say no more about them.

The rest of the issues- the "Iraq" issue of 1918-20, the "Mosul" issue of 1919, and the Official stamps of 1920- are where the 21 less expensive stamps are found. There are moderately expensive stamps among these issues also.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
16 Annas = 1 Rupee
1918-20 Scott N31 1 1/2a on 5pa violet brown
Issued under British Occupation
Between 1918-20, fourteen stamps were overprinted/surcharged on the 1914 pictorial issue of Turkey. They have the curious phrase "In British Occupation". This foreign occupation, as perceived, was not welcomed by many of the inhabitants.

1918-20 Scott N34 4a on 1 3/4pi slate & red brown
On stamps of Turkey, Surcharged
CV is <$1-$2+ for 12 stamps. This lovely issue is well within the affordability index for worldwide collectors.
1919 Scott N45 2 1/2a on 1pi violet & yellow
Mosul Issue
For Mosul, an overprinted/surcharged issue was produced in 1919 using Turkish fiscal stamps. The eight stamp issue has a CV of $1+-$4 for seven stamps.

1919 Scott N49 8a on 10pa claret
Mosul Issue
Neither Scott or Stanley Gibbons explains the "I.E.F. 'D'". Since there were both Indian and British occupation troops, " International or Indian? Expeditionary Force" is my best guess. Any readers know?

Update: "IEF "D" is Indian Expeditionary Force "D"- see comment section

1920 Official Scott NO5 3a on 1 1/2pi claret & black
1918-20 Issue overprinted
Using the previously surcharged 1918-20 stamps, official stamps were produced in 1920 by adding "On State Service". There are both unwatermarked (14 stamps) and watermarked "wmk 4" varieties (8 stamps).
CV is moderately expensive, but 12 stamps are <$1-$4.

For a continuation of the stamp issues for Iraq, see the Iraq blog post.

Deep Blue
1919 Mosul Issue stamps in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has seven pages for Mesopotamia 1917-22, and includes all the major number spaces in the Scott catalogue. I suspect the two pages for the "Bagdad" issues will be empty for a long time. ;-)

1918-20 Scott N30 1a on 20pa red
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two lines of one page, has nine spaces for Mesopotamia for the British Mandate/Occupation years of 1918-22. Coverage is 12%.

In the '69, Mesopotamia is after the Maldive Islands, and on the same page as the beginning of Mauritania.
The 1940s editions have the same coverage, but it is located between Mongolia and Mauritania.

• No expensive stamps- actually an accomplishment. ;-)
• BB does not cover the 27 "Bagdad" overprinted issues of 1917. These issues are quite expensive, and one wouldn't expect coverage. ;-)
• I found some 11 stamps (including officials) that are CV <$1-$1+, and are not in BB. Big Blue could probably double the coverage without raising the average CV that currently have spaces.




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold): None

1919 Scott N44 1a on 20pa rose
"Mosul Issue"
Out of the Blue
The stamp issues here represent an interesting interim period between the end of WW I, and the creation of Iraq proper in 1923. The overprinted/surcharged stamps are quite attractive. And, there are enough inexpensive ones, so even the WW classical generalist can have a small collection. ;-)

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.



  1. IEF "D" is Indian Expeditionary Force "D"


    "The largest Indian Army force to serve abroad was the Indian Expeditionary Force D in Mesopotamia, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir John Nixon. The first unit sent in November 1914, was the 6th (Poona) Division and they were tasked with guarding British oil installations in and around Basra. As part of the Mesopotamian campaign they served under the command of Major General Barrett and then under Major General Townshend. After a string of early successes, the campaign was delivered a setback at the Battle of Ctesiphon in November 1915 due to Logistical constraints. Following this engagement, the Poona Division withdrew back to Kut, where Townshend made the decision to hold the city and the Siege of Kut began."


  2. DJCMH- very good information-Thanks!

  3. Jim, as usual, nice write up. Although I do have some of these, I haven't even begun to look at them.

    So much was going on in this region during this timeframe. The end of WW1, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of a Turkish Republic, the advance of the allies and creation of the mandates, the Russian revolution and chaos to the north -- not to mention the constant revolts and infighting of the local tribal populations.

    It will be an interesting area to research indeed.


  4. Thanks Michael

    I look forward to your transition map when you do tackle the area!