Foreign Offices

Prior to World War One, most of the area now known as the Middle East was part of the Ottoman (or Turkish) Empire. The empire lasted from around 1300 to the end of World War I.

Compared to other areas in the Empires, Palestine was a dusty, sparsely populated backwater. (Figure 1)

Turkey had its own post offices in Palestine.

Many Europeans frequently were in Palestine for business or religious purposes. As modes of travel improved, this trend grew. As the Ottoman Postal System had very poor service, the visitors preferred that their own governments handle the mails.

The first such post office opened around 1850. These nations either overprinted their regular stamps or issued stamps for usage in Palestine (Figures 3 – 5). They used their own postmarks. In brief, an overprint is defined as a stamp that, after being printed, has additional printing such as a change in value or a country name. The study of these postmarks (the devices used to cancel the stamp) is quite extensive)(Figures 6 – 8).
The Ottoman Empire was nearly bankrupt during the latter part of the nineteenth century. One way to raise money was to require the usage of revenue stamps on nearly everything. Again, the revenue stamps are an interesting study in and of themselves. I will just show you three examples in Figures 9 – 11.

During World War One, the Ottoman Empire collapsed. All foreign post offices were closed at the end of the war, in 1917.

“A Brief Overview Of Holy Land Philately,” Israel Philatelist, Winter, 2017, pp, 53-55.

Images for “A Brief Overview Of Holy Land Philately,”
Israel Philatelist, Winter, 2017, pp, 53, 55

Figure 1
Map of Ottoman Empire 1885

Figure 3
Austrian stamp overprinted for use in the Holy Land

Figure 4
Italian stamp overprinted for use in the Holy Land

Figure 5
Russian stamp overprinted for use in the Holy Land

Figure 6
Austrian post card with handstamps –  last Christmas in 19th century

Figure 7
Turkish World War I field post cover and cancellations

Figure 8
French post card with Jerusalem cancellation