Yemen, as we now call the place, is a nation formed from several ancient princely states and a Brtish colonial project. the latter was the coaling depot of Aden, where ships on their way to and from India along the Red Sea would refuel and replenish their water. Holding it was the best insurance against the piracy at this cross roads of the world's shipping.    

Aden Camp postmark

There is plenty on record about the postal history of this operation. A whole journal, "The Dhow" covers the area. Start at the Aden page at the Stamp Domain on Wikipedia. Many of the India Study Circle's members have written on Aden. Look at its journal, 'India Post' should you get interested.

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A postcard from a century ago, shared with us by Zahid islam

Not only did Aden open the alphabet in my stamp album of childhood, it also supplied the first stamp in my collection, the British capture of Aden, 1839; 

Aden Capture 1839 Fort

What a stamp to start, and what a hook to an 8-year old boy! This battered copy was from the issue of 100 years later, and is in the style of so many British possessions' stamps of the time. The engraving is taken from a pen and ink drawing by Captain John Sparkall Rundle (1815-1880, who was the first Officer to get ashore and raise the flag, when the port fell. 

This stamp appeared in 1945, a late addition to the issue, to pay the standard airmail rate.

These stamps circulated along the coast and into the interior. The local Sheikhs supposedly enjoyed some military protection from the British but were not going to accept a foreign ruler's head on the mail. Hence issues such as this showing Sultan Awadh II bin Saleh, postmarked in the 50s. By then, Indian currency had been dropped, in favour of the British East African Shilling.

Qu'aiti State Hadhramaut Potter

The artwork for these superb stamps came from the hand of Mme M. de Sturler Raemaekers, an explorer in the area of whom I wish I knew more.

Meanwhile, in the north of the Yemen, Sana'a was the capital of Imam Yahya, who ruled after the Turkish departure in 1918. Stamp design was influenced by a European fascination with the traditions of Islamic design. This engraving of a view of the four -storey Sana'a Palace originated in Paris, and is aimed at the discerning collector. It appeared in 1947.

Yemen Aden palace Sana

By the 1950s, Aden's role was changing, and its population were impatient to see the end of British rule. Collectors can check out the one definitive set of those 15 years, with its shades, overprints, watermark and perforation changes. Here is the top value, taking us back to the start of the story of the port within the crater. The centre or vignette, in chocolate tells us that this stamp is from the original printing released to dealers in 1953, just two weeks after the coronation. 

Aden 1572

In 1962, the Sana'a regime was overthrown, and a Republic set up. The Sultan fled to Saudi Arabia and for the rest of the decade fought Egyptian-backed republicans to retrieve his throne. 

In the South, the British organised 15 of the protected Emirates to the west of the peninsula into the Federation of South Arabia. Off with the Queen's head, on with the star, an incoherent symbol of progress.

Federation SOuth Arabia star

In 1967, an independent republic was declared. Britain's role in the area was formally over. 

Peoples Republic of Southern Yemen

Civil war continued in the north. As the Royalist position worsened, they looked for any source of income. Including stamps...

Robert H Goddard space exploration yemen

By 1970, when this interesting design appeared, there was little ground under Royalist control, and really no need for such issues. But the designs can be interesting.

Victory for the Yemen Arab Republic in the north brought little prosperity, but plenty of inflation. 

This definitive issue of 1976 marked the change to decimal currency, the rial was divided into 100 fils instead 40 bogaches. By  1981 the 10 fils value had to be repriced at 350 fils. The overprint is interesting, The old denomination is blocked out in black, then the 350 F surcharge is applied, in red! In what looks like the same printing process. Any comments?

Yemen Arab Republic

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In 1990 the two Yemens got together, but so far the postal history has yet to come my way.