The Trojans and their successors

1 03 2008

DardanellesTurkey, Scott 571, 1919, 32mm x 23mm
Here is a somewhat plain-looking stamp with many historic resonances for those who care to look for them.

It is a 1 piaster stamp featuring a map of the Dardanelles, black overprint “Accession to the throne of His Majesty, 3rd July 1334-1918,” the portrait on the right hand side of the frame of the last sultan Mehmed V heavily obliterated. This strait was of strategic importance during World War I because it controlled traffic between the western allies and Russia, and was the site of pitched naval battles and the Battle of Gallipoli remembered to this day especially among the Australians and New Zealanders. Only four months later, the war ended with Turkey and the government of the new sultan on the losing side along with the Central Powers. Also, one year later saw the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence (the victor being one of the Turkish generals at Gallipoli, Kemal Atatürk) which gave rise to the current system of government in that country.

The ancient city of Troy, often destroyed and rebuilt, was located near the western end of the Dardanelles, right at the bottom of this map. Visitors to the area can see a modern re-creation of the Trojan Horse.

The identification of the issuer of this stamp, which lacks any inscription in the Latin alphabet, is made easier for me by the star and crescent of the Ottoman empire in the upper corners. The language is Turkish, written in an old, ornate Arabic-based script predating the republic.

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