Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika hold the world record for the costliest postage stamp ever issued. Out of these three countries, Tanganyika did not exist as a separate country. It was only in 1964 when it merged with Zanzibar and formed what is now known as the United Republic of Tanzania.
What’s common for these three modern nations, though, is that they have been under British rule at the beginning of the 19th century. In 1903, a joint postal service of Uganda and British East Africa was established and called the ‘East Africa and Uganda Protectorates.’ It ran between April 1, 1903, to July 22, 1920.
In the year of its establishment, the administration released postage stamps featuring King Edward VII with an inscription of the postal service name. Throughout the period, the first design has been utilized. However, there was an integration of new colors and watermarks in 1903 and 1907. Moreover, King George V also replaced King Edward VII in 1912. The cost of the stamp was decreased from 6c to 4c in 1919.
Stamps of lower denominations were standard during the said period, there were also stamps sold amounting to 500 rupees and were primarily used as revenue stamps.
The joint postal service continued to reconstitute in the following years. It was then called East African Post and Telecommunications Administration, which has been formed as part of the East African High Commission in 1948, East African Common Services Organization in 1961, and the East African Community in 1967.
The British stamps released during the said period were called as KUT, an abbreviated form of Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika. As part of the KUT stamps, another standard stamp was created in 1925, bearing the profile of King George V. Tanganyika was then known as the ‘Tanganyika Territory.’ However, its name was so lengthy, and it didn’t fit the limited space on the stamp. Thus, it was omitted. Another reason for the removal of the name was that Britain was the only nation given the power to fulfill administrative functions only under a mandate from the League of Nations.
The price of the stamp had enormous face value when it was first issued, amounting up to 100 pounds in postage value. It equals the average annual salary of a construction worker in the 1920s to 1930s. Quantities of precious smaller items, like gold and diamond, could be posted by then on Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika. It was believed that the stamps were needed as payment for the packages sent in the said area. However, the KUT stamps were double duty and were inscribed with ‘postage and revenue.’ It surmised that the stamps were utilized more for the payment of fiscal taxes rather than being used for postage.
The Scott catalog usually determined the prices of stamps that have been both used for postage and revenue, such as the KUT stamps. They were generally defined by looking at fiscal cancels, which is a manuscript, pen, or colored cancel, which indicates if the stamp has been indeed subjected to fiscal use. Those revenue uses are usually priced at a low percentage of the postally used value. For the last twenty years, the ratio of fiscal compared to postal cancels has been leaning more on the fiscal side. However, it’s good to note that there are forgers, unfortunately, that have removed the fiscal cancels and attempted to regum the stamps for them to sell them as a mint stamp, one that is its original state of issue.
Nevertheless, these high-value British stamps are very rare and are beautifully printed. Some rich philatelists or stamp collectors bought these expensive stamps. Today, it is considerably more precious than its printed value of 100 pounds.
Stamps in Culture
Stamps aren’t dead yet, but gone are the times when kids would rush to the mailbox and snatch the letters from their parents to get that unique stamp from an overseas pal or loved one. Nevertheless, stamps surely had left a significant mark in the history of communication around the world. And, while we don’t write personal letters anymore – thanks to technology – we still receive mail with stamps abundantly for business purposes.
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- Which country issued the world’s first adhesive postage stamp? And what was it called?
- Which is the most valuable object relative to its weight and size?
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