Afghanistan #29 (1874)

Afghanistan #29 (1874)

Afghanistan #29 (1874)

Yes, that is a stamp albeit a rather basic (even ugly) one.  That is one of the famed “Tiger’s Head” stamps issued by the mountainous landlocked country in central Asia we know as Afghanistan.  It began issuing stamps in 1871 when it was known as the Kingdom of Kabul. The  Scott catalogue lists 108 different major numbers for the Tiger’s Heads between 1871 and 1878 and many of these have additional varieties.  Until 1891, cancellation was done by cutting or tearing a piece from the stamps and this isn’t considered damage.  The stamps were valid for postage outside of the country until Afghanistan joined the Universal Postal Union in 1928.  Until then, stamps of British India needed to be added for postage abroad.

The Tiger’s Head stamps were released during the reign of the emir Sher Ali Khan who had initiated the postal service a few years earlier. The first of the square stamps featured a circular design printed in black ink.  The tiger’s head in the central emblem symbolized the reigning emir – Sher means “lion” in the local Dari language; early collectors named the stamps incorrectly as sher means “tiger” in the Hindi language which is not spoken in the region.  The incorrect name persists to this day.  The variety featured today is Scott #29.  The 1 shahi gray stamp was printed using lithography on white laid paper and released in 1874 (dated “1293”).

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