THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO

 

1946: Cairo Regional air navigation meeting

 

As Egypt was the very hub of all airlines between Africa, Asia and Australia, and some routes to Asia and America, Cairo was therefore a natural choice to host the first Middle East Regional Air Navigation Meeting (MERAN Meeting) of the Provisional International Civil Aviation (PICAO), which was convened on 1 October 1946 at the Palace Hotel, Heliopolis, Cairo, and concluded on 18 October 1946.

 

Cairo – 1946 – Palace Hotel, Heliopolis

 

  

 

Egypt – Stamp before and after overprint

Sample of text

Like Heliopolis (i.e. the city of the sun) itself, the grandiose Palace Hotel rose out of the desert wastes in 1908-10. Works were completed in less than three years, a time record for those days taking into account the size of the building. During the inauguration of the Palace Hotel on 1 December 1910, the first inhabitants of Heliopolis discovered a building of 400 rooms, including 55 private apartments, being spread out over 150 meters of frontage and surrounded by a park of more than 54,000 square meters. Its banquet halls were among the biggest anywhere; the utilities were the most modern of their day. But more than its dimensions, it was the luxury of the hotel that made its celebrity. In the 1980s, this hotel became the Presidential Palace.

 

The commemoration of this meeting with a special postage stamp was a justifiable move; however, the Egyptian Postal Authorities did not have sufficient time to design, engrave and print an appropriate and fitting stamp. Moreover, King Farouk, an avid stamp and coin collector, ordered that Egypt's most popular airmail stamp be overprinted to commemorate the historic event.  Accordingly, supplies from the existing stock of the 30-millième deep green stamp (Scott #C37 watermarked, issued on 18 March 1941) were overprinted to become Scott #C38. It is the only stamp issued during the lifetime of PICAO, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization. The first line of the stamp overprint reads (in transliterating the printed characters) The International Air Navigation Conference for the Middle East in Arabic, and the second line Le Caire 1946 in Arabic and French.

 

Imprinted commercial airmail cover with Scott #C37 sent from Alexandria to Tel-Aviv, Palestine; cancellation date: 14 November 1946. Provisional registry markings.

The overprinting in black was carried out hurriedly by the Government Printing Works at Boulac, a printing plant that had no prior experience with this kind of work and no concept of the philatelic interest in slight imperfections. Consequently, the quality was not of the highest class, thus giving rise to a number of inconsistent varieties and flaws, which must have been caused by clogged type, dirt on the press or smears of ink before it was dry. Several scarce varieties of overprints are found, i.e. double overprint, inverted overprint, and off-centre overprint. In addition to the surprising differences in the spacing between the two lines of the overprint, the relative position of the `L` in Le Caire and the last character directly above, the `T` of the Arabic may differ.

 

The green stamp Scott #C38 shows a Handley Page H.P.42 over the Giza Pyramids. The aircraft is from the Imperial Airways, the British national airline created in 1924, which became over its 15-year life one of the world’s great airlines linking the British Empire with the mother country. The popular H.P.42 was designed at the request of Imperial Airways and its first true flight was recorded on 17 November 1930; it was withdrawn from service in September 1939 without having caused a single fatal accident.

 

Two types of cancels exist, differentiated by the time shown to the right of the date 1.OC.46, i.e. 4.00P. and 7.00P.

 

First Day Cover with postmark dated 1 October 1946.

 

First day cover; same as above with map of Egypt.

 

First day cover with postmark at Cairo.

 

First Day Cover with registry imprint in black, hand-written figures in blue. Addressed to well-known Philatelist Antoine Adinolfi.

 

Cover with hand-stamp FIRST DAY COVER.

 

Second Day Cover, 2 October 1946.

 

Although the MERAN Meeting ended on 18 October 1946, postmarks commemorating this Meeting were used beyond this date (in the above case: 2 November 1946). Mail sent on the Palace Hotel’s stationery.

 

First Day Cancellation at Port Said: 1 October 1946.

Private design by Philatelist: Antoine de Majo Adinolfi.

Registered cover sent Via Air Mail.

 

First Day Cancellation at Port Said: 1 October 1946.

Private design by Philatelist: Antoine de Majo Adinolfi.

More information on this cancel can be obtained by clicking on the following link: Simon Arzt Cancels.

 

First Day Cancellation at Port Said: 1 October 1946.

Private design by Philatelist: Antoine de Majo Adinolfi.

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