Eight stamps from Sudan bearing the Camel Postman design, mounted in my Scott International Stamp Album (Part 1) as being from 1920s releases. These are probably misidentified and actually from the 1948 series, Time to check!

While I do have several country and topical stamp collections, my main focus at this period of philatelic pursuits is as a general worldwide collector, classic to modern issues. I have been working steadily through two Scott International albums (known affectionately as “Big Blue” by collectors) that I purchased prior to the pandemic. The Part 1 (1840-1940) volume had several thousand stamps already mounted inside when I bought it; so many stamps to catalogue and learn about, a daunting process but one I relish.

Scott #33 (issued February 4, 1922) OR Scott #83 (issued January 1, 1948) – 5 millièmes black & orange brown

One of the most interesting and long-lived stamp series was one with designs first issued in 1898 and still seen, with modifications, on up to the present day. These are the famous “Camel Postman” stamps from Sudan which has seen the basic design reissued on more than a hundred releases since they first appeared one hundred and twenty-four years ago. Collectors term these as “definitives”, the regular stamps that have much longer life than commemoratives and were the “workhorses” of postal operations before the advent of modern metered postage.

Scott #35 (issued December 14, 1921) OR Scott #85 (issued January 1, 1948) – 15 millièmes orange brown & ultramarine

I wrote a long article about the postal history of Sudan and the background of this particular design on my A Stamp A Day blog in September 2018. I quote from my earlier article:

In 1898, the British achieved victory at the Battle of Omburdman finally ending the barbaric rule of the Mahidists. General Sir Herbert Kitchener was appointed the Commander of the Anglo-Egyptian Army with orders to restore peace and the rule of law.. The country was then jointly administered by Great Britain and Egypt, the reason that Sudan’s stamps do not portray a British monarch.

One of Kitchener’s first tasks was to re-introduce a workable postal system which included postage stamps. A professional artist was asked to submit ideas for a new design, one of which featured the Abu Simbel temple in southern Egypt. The cost of 25 guineas was considered to be too high. Early the previous year, Kitchener had made a routine visit to troops stationed at Korti where he met with a Captain Edward Stanton whose job was to draw military maps. Such was the wilderness and boredom of the task that Stanton had “doodled” sketches in the margins. During this inspection visit to Korti, Kitchener sought him out and instructed him to come up with a design for stamps, announcing that he would be back in five day’s time.

It was the arrival of the regimental mail by camel rather than the normal steamer that gave Stanton the idea for his iconic stamp design. Using a local tribesman dressed in war kit as a model, and the addition of two leather carriers filled with straw as substitutes for mail bags, he produced a watercolor sketch of the “postman”. He even inscribed a minute Star and Crescent on the outside of the dummy mail bags along with the names of two towns — Khartoum and Berber — although both locations were still in enemy hands. The backdrop of desert and mountains completed what was to become an iconic stamp design, the “Sudan Camel Postman”.

Scott #36 (issued 1927) OR Scott #79 (issued January 1, 1948) – 1 millième dark orange & black

However, I find now that I have a problem. In that article, I identified the stamps as eight out of 16 from the series of January 1, 1948, listed in the Scott catalogue as ranging from #79-94. However, my original scans of the stamps from the album they were mounted within has them catalogued as ranging from Scott #33 to 49, issued in 1927.

Scott #37 (issued 1927) OR Scott #80 (issued January 1, 1948) – 2 millièmes chocolate & orange

Since purchasing the album around mid-2018, I have been going through it and carefully removing stamps (most of which were mounted using peelable hinges) and then scanning them before putting them back onto the pages where I took them from. I have then been using the scans to catalogue the stamps (I rename the file to include the entity name, date of issue and catalogue number). Here, I have uncovered a major flaw in my process: I cannot check the watermark on a scan unless, of course, I scan the back of the stamp as well which I rarely do and the watermark might not be visible anyway.

Scott #41 (issued 1927) OR Scott #84 (issued January 1, 1948) – 10 millièmes black & carmine

I do not recall if I had double-checked the watermark on these stamps before I wrote the earlier blog article to obtain the 1948 identification or not. I may have done that and forgotten by the time I adjusted my scans and went through the renaming process (by which time, they would have been remounted into the album). There was also a change in the Arabic inscription below the camel effective with the 1948 issue so I need to compare those with the appropriate images online (it is too difficult to see in my printed catalogue).

Scott #43 (issued 1927) OR Scott #86 (issued January 1, 1948) – 2 piastres orange yellow & violet brown

I will recheck these stamps at the earliest opportunity. I wonder how many other definitive stamps in my worldwide collection are misidentified in a similar fashion. I suppose I have some work to do to make sure there aren’t any rarities in my collection, lurking due to my not checking the watermark or for other minute varieties. I highly doubt it, but you never really know until you exercise that level of due diligence which helps to keep this hobby endlessly fascinating.

Scott #46 (issued 1927) OR Scott #89 (issued January 1, 1948) – 5 piastres dark green & orange brown

At any rate, these stamps are even more interesting than I previously realized. I had been drawn-in, as have many others, by the design and the story behind it but there is so much more to learn. In my preparation to highlight the stamps on this very rainy Sunday evening, I came across several sources which will surely add to my knowledge. I will list these below but they have already served to pique my interest enough to purchase a few (or many) more for my collection. Once I do, I will write those up and give a bit more background on the “Camel Postman”.

Scott #49 (issued 1927) OR Scott #92 (issued January 1, 1948) – 10 piastres deep rose lilac & black

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