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 by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Bahrain - a closer look

1941 Scott 35 10r rose carmine & dark violet "George VI"
India Stamps of 1937, Overprinted
Into the Deep Blue
The 2017 Scott Classic 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Bahrain 1933-1954, 88 major descriptive numbers. Of those, 34, or 39%, are CV <$1-$1+. However, the 48 Indian Postal Administration stamps (1933-1944) are generally more expensive. In fact, some of them are CV $tens-$hundreds.

All of the stamps during this classical era are either overprinted/surcharged stamps of India, or of Great Britain.

The original Bahrain blog post and checklist is here.

Map of Bahrain
To add to the history here. Bahrain is an archipelago in the Persian Gulf with Bahrain as the largest   and most important island. During the 19th century, it was known for its pearl fisheries. It was a British protected territory, and, of course, during the 20th century, an oil rich one.

The capital was/is Manama, and the population was 120,000 in 1940, and 1,234,000 (including 666,000 non-nationals) in 2010.

It became an independent sheikdom emirate (which changed to Kingdom of Bahrain in 2002)  on August 15, 1971.

A closer look at the stamps and issues
12 Pies = 1 Anna
16 Annas = 1 Rupee
1933 Scott 11 12a claret "George V"
Indian Postal Administration
Stamps of India, 1926-32, Overprinted
Bahrain had only one post office (at Manama) for the first 62 years, and that opened on August 1, 1884 as a sub-office of Bushire (Iran), through the Indian postal administration, Stamps of India were cancelled with a "Bahrain" postmark until 1933.

Then on August 10, 1933, 1926-32 stamps of India were overprinted for Bahrain, as shown above.

Eleven stamps in a smaller format for denominations 3p-12a were overprinted.

CV is <$1-$3+ for eight stamps.

1933 Scott 12 1r  green & brown "George V"
Stamp of India, 1926, Overprinted
Three stamps in a larger format were overprinted for the 1r-5r denominations.

CV is $10-$160!

1934 Scott 17 4a olive green "George V"
In 1934, three additional stamps were overprinted.  CV is <$1.

1938 Scott 20 3p slate "George VI"
Stamps of India, 1937, Overprinted
Between 1938-41, 16 stamps from 1937 India were overprinted.

The above design was used for the four lowest denominations.

CV is <$1-$4+.

1938 Scott 24 2a scarlet "Dak Runner"
India Stamps, 1937, Overprinted
The second design for the overprinted issue was used for the six middle denominations.

CV is $2+-$7+ for three stamps.

Now, what is a "Dak Runner"?

Dak or Mail Runner
A "Dak Runner" carried messages from village to village using old worn paths, often carrying a spear and lantern. They were appointed by the British Raj, beginning in the 1850s.

1938 Scott 27 3a6p ultramarine "Dak Camel"
This design shows a "Dak Camel"

Dak Camel
The Indian postman sometimes transported mail using camels. Camels were also used in non desert zones, often for carrying royal or official mail.

1938 Scott 32 1r brown & slate "George VI"
India Stamps of 1937, Overprinted
Finally, the highest six stamp denominations used the large format 1937 India stamps, overprinted.

CV is $2+-$10+ for three stamps.

1943 Scott 46 3a violet "George VI"
Stamps of India, 1941-43, Overprinted
Between 1942-44, a thirteen stamp overprinted issue was released, using India stamps of 1941-43.

CV is <$1-$8 for nine stamps.

1942 Scott 49 6a peacock blue "George VI"
The four highest denominations for the 1942-44 issue used this design.

1948-49 Scott 57 3a on 3p violet "George VI"
British Postal Administration
Stamps of Great Britain, Surcharged in Black
The British Postal Administration took over April 1, 1948, and continued until December 31, 1965.

The eight lower denomination stamp issue of 1948-49 was surcharged/overprinted as shown.

CV is <$1-$1+.

1948-49 Scott 61 5r on 5sh dull red 
For the 1948-49 issue, the three highest denominations were surcharged/overprinted on large format stamps as shown.

CV is $6+-$60+.

1950-51 Scott 77 4a on 4p ultramarine "George VI"
Stamps of Great Britain, Surcharged
Between 1950-51, a six stamp surcharged/overprinted issue using Great Britain stamps of the era was released.

Great Britain continued to use their overprinted stamps for Bahrain until 1960, when portrait stamps of the Sheik were produced,

With the beginning of the Bahrain postal administration on January 1, 1966, the subjects/themes on the stamps began to reflect a local flavor.

Finally, as an independent state, beginning August 15, 1971, Bahrain's stamps were free to go their own way.

Deep Blue
1948-49 Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has five pages for the 1933-54 stamps of Bahrain. All of the major Scott numbers have a space.

1938 Scott 34 5r deep ultramarine & dark green "George VI"
India Stamps of 1937, Overprinted
Out of the Blue
The classical era for Bahrain is dominated by the conservative theme stamp output of India and Great Britain. Nothing about Bahrain itself.

Note: Map, "Dak runner" and "Dak camel" pics appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Though outside your Big Blue (but inside Big Red) there were "local issues" depicting the current Sheikh of the time issued in 1953, 1957 and 1961. According to the Gibbons "Arabia" catalog, these were "primarily for local use but apparently also had franking value when used on external mail".

    So there was a "little" local flavor pre-postal autonomy in 1960.

    1. Gene- thanks for the alert.

      I note that Scott has a small note (and illustration) about these local stamps, and my Gibbons 1840-1970 has a more complete listing of these locals. I will keep my eye out for them. Do you happen to have them?