16 July 2019
Our philatelic private eye takes a look at stamps issued to celebrate a global railway event held in Cairo in 1933.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Egypt hosted a number of international congresses which were marked by some very interesting sets of stamps.
The 1933 International Railway Congress took place in Heliopolis, one of Cairo’s more affluent suburbs, and the commemorative set of four stamps features an 1859 steam locomotive (5 and 13 mils) and a modern 1932 steam engine (15 and 20 mils).
The railway comes to Egypt
The first railway in Egypt was built in 1854 and by 1856 it linked Alexandria on the Mediterranean coast with Cairo. Today there is an extensive rail network in the country but it appears to be severely underfinanced.
Egypt’s Railway Museum was opened in January 1933 to coincide with the Congress. The museum houses some 700 pieces of models in addition to a variety of historical documents and maps. It is located next to the busy Ramses station in Cairo. It was the first of its kind in the Middle East.
There is an incredible interest in railways generally if we are to judge from the amazing amount of railway related magazines available at newsstands throughout the UK and in many other countries. In all probability many railway buffs are also stamp collectors seeking out the issues featuring steam engines, trains and the like.
What are the stamps worth?
With a current catalogue value of £70 in mint condition, a nice mounted mint set retails in the £10-£20 range depending on condition. They are readily available. However, unmounted mint sets are considerably scarcer and many dealers are asking close to full catalogue for a nice set.
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