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Story behind the red flags of Zanzibar

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Zanzibar stamp

Zanzibar stampThe history behind today’s item is fascinating and too involved to post the whole story here. Briefly, this stamp from Zanzibar was first issued in 1896, some months after the Sultan of Zanzibar, Seyyid Hamed-bin-Thwain, whose portrait appears on the stamp, had died. Because of a slight mis-alignment of the printing plates, the red flags shown on either side of the portrait had a white border. As a white border on the flags could be taken as a sign of mourning, and therefore ill-omened in the country’s culture, the British printer De la Rue hand-painted the flags on poorly registered stamps. Postbeeld has this, and other values in the series, currently in stock. If you follow these links you will find more information:

PDF document with more information
PostBeeld website

Zanzibar letters

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