The information on this site was last updated on 02.12.2023




international mail from the Land of Israel

On the 28th of March 2023, the post of Israel issued a series of stamps on international mail from the Land of Israel. An interesting combination of history of the post, geopolitics, transportation, view of Israel and other relates elements. It is more about mail in the Middle East - an area that was a remote desert than on mail from the Land of Israel itself, but nevertheless, it is a very interesting stamps series and most important it is a Stamps on Stamps series.


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International mail from the Land of Israel, Issued: 28.3.2023


Immediately after the publication of the stamps and after a quick identification of the stamps, a discussion began among the members of the club regarding the design of the stamps and the choice, which at first glance seems unnatural, of the envelopes that are not actually mailed from the Land of Israel.

I sent the questions from our discussion to the designer of the stamp Mr. Zvika Roitman, who directed the questions to Israel Post. Within few days, I received an in-depth, comprehensive answer from Mr. Moshe Rimer who is the treasurer of the collection of the late Alexander Zvi, kept in the Alexander Museum of Postal and Stamp History in Tel Aviv.

Mr. Rimer was also kind enough to send me copies of the envelopes used to design the stamps and they are shown here courtesy of the Alexander Collection.


Here is a free translation of Mr. Rimer's extensive answer to the questions that came up in the discussion among the club members as well as additional information about the thoughts behind the spectacular design of the stamps in the series.


International mail from the Land of Israel

In the period to which the first stamp in the series refers, the one dealing with the development of maritime mail relations, the Land of Israel was nothing more than a remote and insignificant province of the vast Ottoman Empire. Even during the British Mandate period, in which the other two stamps in the series are anchored, the Land of Israel (despite its official definition as a separate entity called Palestine) was part of a much larger territorial unit that stretched from Egypt in the west, through Mesopotamia to India and Australia in the Far East. The development of international postal relations was made out of a system of considerations that went beyond the limits of the limited Land of Israel, and was largely derived from the imperial system of considerations of Great Britain.

The choice of the envelopes that were incorporated into the stamps of the series was made with deep thought on the way in which they illustrate the position of the Land of Israel as an international crossroads. With the exception of the first envelope, which was sent from Jerusalem, the two envelopes from the British era were not sent from the Land of Israel, nor were they sent to the Land of Israel as a final address, but passed through the Land of Israel as part of the global routing system. The envelopes were carefully selected from the huge variety kept in the collection of the late Alexander Zvi, which was deposited by him in the Alexander Museum of Postal History and Stamps in Tel Aviv. Also the landscape postcards integrated into the design of the stamps, which describe the points of the settlement in which the international postal services operated, originating from the collection of the late Alexander Zvi.


Sea mail


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דואר ים - המעטפה מירושלים לצרפת

Envelope from Jerusalem to France (1853)

The publication is made with the permission of the collection of the late Alexander Zvi,

kept in the Alexander Museum of Postal and Stamp History in Tel Aviv


The first stamp in the series focuses on the mid-fifties of the nineteenth century, a period in which the shipping companies of Austria, France and Russia began to visit the ports of Israel as part of the regular shipping lines that left the mother countries and sailed to the eastern Mediterranean. This is in the pre-stamp era, so the folded letter chosen for presentation on the Israeli stamp has no postage stamps. The folded letter was sent on August 14, 1853 at the French post office in Jerusalem, and was transferred to the French post office in Jaffa, where it was stamped

The rare stamp of this post office. The letter was routed through the port of Beirut and arrived at the port of Marseille in France on September 6, 1853.

In addition, a stamp of the Austrian Post Office in Jaffa was incorporated into the stamp's back and a photo of the Russian mail ship "Chihachov" which ran aground on the Jaffa coast was incorporated into the center of the stamp.


Overland mail


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דואר יבשתי - המעטפה מהנסיעה הראשונה

Envelope from the First Overland Mail Bagdad – Haifa (1923)

The publication is made with the permission of the collection of the late Alexander Zvi,

kept in the Alexander Museum of Postal and Stamp History in Tel Aviv

 Iraq Scott #2 (1923)

 Iraq Scott #8 (1923)

The second stamp deals with the development of a unique land mail line, initiated by the brothers Norman and Gerald Nairn. The two brothers arrived in Israel as part of the British army in the First World War, and decided to settle there. They were engaged in the development of land transportation lines based on cars, which were a modern and less known means of transportation at that time. In 1921 they established a daily mail, cargo and passenger transport service from Haifa to Beirut, and in light of the success of the service they decided to expand it and establish a transportation line that would cross the arid and dangerous Syrian desert, and lead from Haifa (the terminus of the railway line from Egypt) through Beirut and Damascus to Baghdad (the terminus of lines the shipping that led along the rivers of Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf to India).

The development of the transportation line involved a long series of difficulties of various kinds, starting with the signing of political agreements between the authorities of the British Mandate (which controlled the Land of Israel and Iraq) and between the authorities of the French Mandate (which controlled Lebanon and Syria), through the signing of agreements with the Bedouin tribes who collected patronage fees in the territories of the Syrian desert, And including technical problems of navigation and supplies along the long deserted road.

On August 30, 1923, a special trip left Baghdad for Haifa that was intended to be used as proof of the applicability of the continental mail line to the postal authorities, and based on the success of this trip, the official contract was signed on October 18, 1923 between the British Post Office and the company of the Nairn brothers. Letters from this trip are extremely rare, and for the purpose of presentation on the Israeli stamp, a registered letter sent on this test trip from Baghdad to Haifa, and intended for an address in England, was chosen. Two Iraqi stamps with a total face value of 9 Annas were affixed to the envelope (3 Annas for sending a regular letter from Iraq to England + 3 Annas for the registration fee of the letter + 3 Annas for the additional payment for the special service of the mainland mail).

I repeat and emphasize that the letter was not sent from Iraq to Israel, but from Iraq to Britain, and the Land of Israel was only a transit station that served as the terminus of the overland mail Haifa - Baghdad. The complete line of mail delivery included departure from Baghdad by land mail to Haifa, loading the mail on the railway line to Egypt, and from there by ship on one of the routes to Southern Europe (mostly France or Italy), from there by train to the ports of the Lemanche Canal, from there by ferry to Britain and from there by train to London.



Air mail




דואר אוויר - המעטפה מפתיחת הקו מקפריסין להודו

Envelope from the First Flight Cyprus to India (1932)

The publication is made with the permission of the collection of the late Alexander Zvi,

kept in the Alexander Museum of Postal and Stamp History in Tel Aviv


sos cyprus 97  1924 Cyprus Scott #97 (1924 2 Piastres)

sos cyprus 93  1925 Cyprus Scott #93 (1925 3/4 Piastre)

 Cyprus Scott #72 (1921 - 10 para)


The development of air traffic lines in the 1920s and 1930s involved very difficult problems, both technical problems that arose from the limited capabilities of the planes in those days and political problems that arose from the need to sign appropriate agreements with the various political authorities through which the air route passed. The location of the Land of Israel placed it as a key point on the long way from Britain to the Far East, and especially to India and Australia. Over the years, various sites in the Land of Israel, such as Gaza, Lod, Haifa and Tiberias, have been used as transition points for the landing and routing of cargo and passengers. On the Israeli stamp, it was decided to show as an example one of the routes along the line between Great Britain and India, the one that connected Cyprus and Tiberias. This line operated for a short period only, and was canceled due to lack of economic viability. There are very few items of mail sent in this line, and one of them is preserved in the Alexander collection and is shown on the Israeli stamp. It is important to remember that the modern concept that we are used to today, according to which a passenger on an airline from Britain to India boards a plane in London and does not get up from his seat until he lands in Mumbai or New Delhi, did not exist in the early 1930s. The air route from Great Britain to India included a complex mix of a variety of means of transportation (trains, ships and planes) which was constantly changing, while being influenced by political decisions, technological development, and even weather conditions. The full route was made up of sections, some of which were made by air, such as the one made by seaplane from Cyprus to Tiberias.


The Short S.8 Calcutta airship left Limassol and landed in the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias.

The letter appearing on the stamp was sent from Cyprus to Cairo, Egypt. The sender had the option of choosing the sea route, and sending the letter by ship from Cyprus to Alexandria and from there to Cairo. He preferred to send it by the new air route that had just been inaugurated, so the letter was flown to Tiberias, from there it was transported by car to Haifa, and continued by train to Alexandria and from there to Cairo. The air route (including the land part of it) was faster than sailing by ship, and justified the extra payment.


The back of Envelope from the First Flight Cyprus to India

The row of stamps stamped on the back of the letter document
the route after landing in the Sea of Galilee: Haifa, Alexandria, Cairo

The publication is made with the permission of the collection of the late Alexander Zvi,

kept in the Alexander Museum of Postal and Stamp History in Tel Aviv


I am attaching the questions forwarded by the club members and Mr. Rimmer's answers:

Q: Why was a letter sent from Iraq to Israel (land mail) chosen instead of a letter sent from Israel on the stamp intended to show the international mail from the Land of Israel?

A: Because this is an envelope that participated in the proof-of-capacity campaign that formed the infrastructure for the establishment of the overland mail on the Baghdad-Haifa line.


Q: Why does the airmail stamp indicate the first flight from Cyprus to India by Imperial Airways in 1932?

A: This is an example of a route change within the full line from the UK to India. This is a relatively rare route that operated for a short time and landed in an unusual site on the Sea of Galilee in front of Tiberias. The inauguration of this line shifted the landing point in Israel from Haifa to Tiberias.


Q: The same stamp shows a letter originating in Cyprus but destined for Egypt (air mail), is there a reason for this?

A: The letter that was sorted in Tiberias and transported to Egypt illustrates the position of the Land of Israel as a mail routing point along the route. The sea mail letter describes a letter that left the Land of Israel, the land mail letter shows a letter that passed through the Land of Israel without local handling, and the air mail completes the picture with an example of a mail item in transit that was handled and sorted through the Land of Israel as part of an international route.


Q: Why were stamps used by the Hebrew settlement in the Land of Israel not incorporated into the design?

A: I repeat and emphasize that the purpose was to illustrate the historical role of the Land of Israel as a land of transit, and therefore there was no place to select letters that originated in the Land of Israel or were destined for the Land of Israel and were fined with local postage stamps. This is the reason why there is no representation of the stamps of Palestine (AI) in the envelopes. By the way, envelopes originating from the Land of Israel are also very rare in the land mail letters, and most of the mail that was handled by the land mail was part of international traffic that only passed through the Land of Israel.



Since ancient times, and throughout recorded history, the Land of Israel has been a focal point for extensive international movement between the regional and world powers. The trade caravans between Mesopotamia and Egypt in the ancient East, the Nabatean caravans that carried valuable goods to the Roman Empire, the extensive trade from the Far East during the Crusader period, and the oil lines from Iraq to Haifa during the British period - all these reached the ports of the Land of Israel and from there to Europe. The Arab boycott of the State of Israel interrupted this historical sequence, but did not cancel the natural status of the Land of Israel as a crossroads between the three continents of the ancient world. The peace agreements that have been signed in recent years reveal the historical status of the Land of Israel, and it suffices to examine the volume of goods unloaded in recent years at the port of Haifa and sent through them in hundreds of trucks to the border crossings to Jordan and from there to the rest of the Arab world.

The series of stamps denoting the international mail from the Land of Israel is intended to illustrate the historical role of the Land of Israel, and the items from the past that illustrate this reflect hope for a future of peace, in which the Land of Israel will return to its natural position as a crossroads of international trade and roads.



Stay well,




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