THE LOCAL MAIL STAMPS OF THE BRITISH LEVANT
by Tony Stanford

 

I have enhanced my collection of British Levant with these elusive but fascinating stamps produced for local mail services that were provided during the second half of the 19th Century. The charges were made in Turkish Currency, 40 Paras being One Piastre. To provide or request more information contact Tony Stanford at gbos@talk21.com.

 

The Liannos et Cie Local Mail Service

 

In August of 1865 the local post distribution company “Liannos et Cie” was established to distribute the mail arriving at Constantinople which was not addressed in Arabic as the  staff of the Ottoman Postal Service were not able to do so.

 

Liannos charged a price for each piece of mail based on the distance from the city centre. To manage these charges, in the autumn of 1865 Liannos issued three stamps, with denominations of 5, 20 and 40 paras, printed by Perkins Bacon of London. These stamps are mostly perforated 14 but some are  imperforate. Liannos would attach the stamps to letters coming from abroad and charge the recipient the postal fee, using an oval handstamp with the word Liannos and the date to cancel the stamp. The mint stamps are fairly common but genuinely used are scarce.

Fig. 1  Stamps of the Liannos local Ottoman post 1865.

 

Liannos also contracted with the Egyptian Post Office, to deliver letters with a supplementary delivery fee paid by the recipient. These stamps indicated the amount due to Liannos for the local service to which would be added the amount due to the Egyptian Post Office. Four values were issued, 10 paras on yellow, 20 paras on rose, 1 piastre red on white and 2 piastres blue on white, the value used depending on the distance from the city centre.

 

Fig. 2  Stamps of the Liannos local Egyptian post 1866.

 

On 31 March 1867 the local post closed due to financial problems caused by the Ottoman government failing to fulfil its part of the contract. The Liannos service had lasted a little over a year and the Egyptian contract only some nine months.

 

T.B. Morton & Co.

 

T.B. Morton & Co. was a British company active in Romania but established in Constantinople that was founded in 1855 to carry mail from Constantinople to Romanian and Black Sea ports.

 

From 1869 Morton issued rudimentary stamps. The second issue of 1870 featured a steamer flying the Red Ensign with D. & B.S.L.S. below for the Danube and Black Sea Line of Steamers.

 

 

 

Fig. 3   A Mortons ship stamp of 1870.

 

 

Morton’s on-demand service gradually widened from coastal traffic to eventually include runs to Malta, Marseilles and other Mediterranean ports. This later service, under the name of Constantinople & Danube Line of Steamer, provided a circular handstamp for the letter post.