Huberman The Postal & Philatelic museum

  • Issue: June 1991
  • Designer: E. Weishoff
  • Sheet size: 120 x 88 mm
  • Sheet of 1 stamp
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Offset

The Postal history of Eretz Israel

Eretz Israel was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. With the decline of the Turkish Empire, and particularly in the 19th century, the number of European inhabitants in Eretz Israel grew and the European powers - Russia, Austria, Italy, France and Great Britain - competed with each other to increase their influence on the Sultan's regime.

The European powers finally signed the Capitulations Agreement with Turkey which granted foreign nationals the right to set up their own Representative Offices in the country. As a consequence of this Agreement there was an expansion of the postal services and the various Offices were permitted to organize their own overseas postal services - the Consular Post.

It seems that the first postal cancellation effected by one ot these foreign postal services was that of the French Postal

Agency in Jaffa in 1852. In 1854 the Austrians opened a Post Office in Jerusalem, to be followed by offices in Jaffa and Haifa. Russia opened its Post Office in 1861, Germany in 1898 and Italy in 1908. The success of these Consular Posts persuaded the Turkish authorities to establish their own postal services, and the first Turkish Post Office was opened in Shechem (Nablus) in 1865. The quality of the Turkish Postal Service was very poor. The mail to most destinations was conveyed on the backs of camels or donkeys - very little went by carriage. On more than one occasion, the post offices ran out of stamps and it took quite a time until new supplies were received. In spite of this, the Turkish authorities continued to compete with the Consular Post and opened additional post offices in Rishon Leziyyon (1904), Rehovot and Petah Tikva (1910), and Zichron Yaakov (1912). They even sold stamps intended for overseas mail at half the price fixed by the Universal Postal Union.

One month after the outbreak of the First World War, all the Consular Post Offices were closed down. Very little use was made of the civilian postal services during the war, and postal connections with abroad came to a virtual standstill.

During the period of British, rule, first as a military occupation in 1918, and later under a League of Nations mandate (1920-1948), the local population used the Mandate postal services. In a very few cases, the Jews set up their own postal services - the settlements in the Negev maintained contact with the Jewish authorities by using pigeons and the resistance movement had its own communications services.

In April 1948, the British Mandate authorities planned to suspend all postal services in the country and all the post offices were due to be closed. However, the Minhelet Ha-Am - the State on the Way - got to know about this closure order which would have dealt a serious blow to the country's foreign postal communications, and all Jewish postal workers were ordered to remain at work.

When the British left, the post offices continued to sell the Mandate stamps for a time. JNF labels were also used, as were the "Kofer Ha-Yishuv" stamps which had been issued by the Hagana during the riots. The Minhelet Ha-Am was anxious to print Hebrew stamps, but when it became apparent that there was insufficient time for this, they authorised the use of various JNF labels which were overprinted with the word "DOAR" POST.

These Minhelet Ha-Am stamps were in use for only a short time - from the beginning of May until the day of the Declaration of the State - two days later, the "Doar lvri" stamps were issued. It was only in the besieged towns and settlements that people continued to use the JNF labels until supplies of the Doar lvri stamps arrived.

Some besieged towns even issued their own stamps as a temporary measure.

The Postal and Philatelic Museum

On looking at all those multifarious items which come under the heading of "mail", we find ourselves coming into contact with, among other things, the daily life of the people who once inhabited Eretz Israel. Historical events, such as the break-up of the Turkish Empire, are illustrated by the peregrinations of a letter, or by the changes in a postmark. The establishment of the Postal and Philatelic Museum provides us, therefore, with a window through which we can gaze upon the history of Eretz Israel. This museum will house objects illustrating written communications between Man and his neighbour, with particular emphasis on the Land of Israel. On display there will be mail and stamps from various periods including the period of Turkish rule, that of the Consular Post, the British Mandate and the Minhelef Ha-Am. Stamps on the theme of Judaica from all over the world and stamps from the period of the Holocaust will also be exhibited. There will be a prominent display of all the stamps and postmarks of the Israel Postal Service. Explanations of the subjects portrayed on the stamps will also be provided, so that the spectator can understand the concise "language" of the stamp.

The procedures involved in preparing stamps will be explained, too, and the Museum is to have a collection of documents concerned with the planning and production of new stamps; minutes of the Stamp Design Committee, documents from the Ministerial Committee on Ceremonies and Symbols, etc. Printing plates, designs and photographs which will reveal to the visitor the "secrets" of the stamp planning and production process will also be on display.

The museum will give expression to all aspects of postal and philatelic activity - the printing of stamps; the uniforms of the postal couriers; postal coaches and motor vehicles, and objects portrayed on Israel's stamps.

The museum's objective is to become a busy institution which will not only meet the expectations of confirmed philatelists, but will also arouse the interest of young people and the general public. The museum library will provide a source for the furthering and widening of research into the various aspects of Holy Land postal history and philately.

The museum is being built on the campus of the Tel Aviv "Eretz Israel" Museum.

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Souvenir sheet - The Postal & Philatelic museum