Egypt : First Middle East Regional Air Navigation Meeting


Issue date: 01/10/1946




Handley Page H.P.42 of Imperial Airways over the three pyramids at Giza.

The  overprint  in  Arabic  reads  as  follows:  “The International  Air  Navigation  Conference  for  the Middle East”; overprinted text in French and Arabic: ”Le Caire 1946”.


Multiple Crown and Arabic “F” in watermark standing for Fuad (sometimes spelled Fouad), King of Egypt and Sudan.



Stamp before overprint.


Inverted overprint. Only one sheet was printed with inverted overprint.


Double overprint. Only one sheet was printed with double overprint.


Variety: Off-centre overprint


The ink pierced the paper.


Missing tail at digit 4 (upper-left stamp), and 1943 instead of 1946 (upper-right stamp).


Marginal inscriptions: double




Hand stamp of the Royal Collection on the back of a corner stamp.

Background: This is the only stamp issued during the lifetime of PICAO, the Provisional International Civil Aviation Organization.

The first Middle East Air Navigation Meeting (MERAN Meeting) of PICAO was convened on 1 October 1946 at the Heliopolis Palace Hotel and concluded on 18 October 1946; it was attended by 150 delegates and advisers, representing 15 States and 5 international organizations. The commemoration of this event with a special postage stamp was a justifiable move; however, the Postal Authorities did not have sufficient time to design, engrave and print an appropriate and fitting stamp. Therefore, 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 (issued on 18 March 1941) were overprinted. Stamps with double or inverted overprints are extremely scarce, as only one sheet was printed for each. This issue is full of flaws and varieties due to hastily overprinting.

More background information (including the first day covers) on this issue can be found by clicking on: 1946: Cairo Regional air navigation meeting or on ICAO's First Stamp and Regional Aviation Meetings or on Simon Arzt Cancels.

A couple of generations ago, airmail stamp collecting was very popular. Aviation was new and exciting. Airmail service was fraught with adventure and danger. Collecting all the airmail stamps issued worldwide was one way to share in the excitement and adventure without sharing the dangers. Kids who hoped to grow up to be daring pilots could join their heroes vicariously through their airmail stamp collections.

Early airmail stamps often had bright, colourful designs denoting the unusual postal service for which they paid. Some of this spirit of adventure is evident in this airplane flying over the Giza Pyramids. The stamp’s vignette, showing a Handley Page biplane, man’s newest technological achievement, lumbering above a colossal achievement three millennia older, still gives a hint of the allure of airmail stamp collecting in the early days.

Much of the regular mail began to move by air in the 1970s and later, many postal administrations no longer provided a separate airmail service or issued stamps designated for payment of airmail service.