The Interpostal Seals in Historic Perspective

1832 After Turks defeated by Russians, Mohammed Ali shakes off Ottoman Suzerainty and advances into Syria

With the rise to power of Mohammed Ali in 1805 the government organized a postal service for state-only mail using a number of couriers who carried the mail on foot from Cairo to the towns of the country. Since this postal service was meant for state business only, individuals, such as diplomats and foreign businessmen began to courier mail by forwarding their agents to distribute their direct mail within the country. Each community had its "Agent Walker." As for correspondence with foreign countries the community relied on consular offices which handed the correspondence to the masters of vessels in the ports of Alexandria, Port Said and Suez.

With increasing European immigration favored by the modernization policy of Mohammed Ali this crude form of postal service was no longer sufficient. In 1820 the enterprising Charles Meratti, born in Livorno and lived in Alexandria, a professional printer and newspaper publisher, had the idea of forming a company to replace foreign consuls in sorting the mail which arrives or leaves the ships docked in Egyptian ports. This new ‘private mail’ worked so well that it was widely used by Europeans. The success encouraged the distribution of mail within the country from Cairo.

In 1843 Charles Meratti died leaving the mail company in the hands of his nephew Tito Chini who appointed his brother Amero Chini postmaster of Cairo, located in Rue Neuve in the district of Musky.

In subsequent years, correspondence with Europe became more regular and the number of European immigrants increased considerably. These were the years of the construction of the Suez Canal. Several people came from Italy to help Tito Chini. Among these was Jiacomo Muzzi. Born in Bologna in 1823, he immigrated to Egypt in 1846 and first worked in the printing business of Chini and later at the post office where he soon became his right hand man and, after some years, his partner and director of the company, Chini named his organization Posta Europa. At that time postal stamps were not yet invented and mail processed by the Posta Europa was struck with oval markings of different kinds.

The seven original postmarks of the Posta Europa

In 1854 Posta Europa took advantage of the opening of the Egyptian railway network. New post offices opened in Rosetta and Atfe in 1854, in Damanhour and Kafr el-Zayat in 1855 and then in Benha, Tanta and Birket el-Sab in 1856. In the same year Muzzi signed an agreement with the Railway Administration for carriage of mail between Alexandria and Cairo for an annual payment of 72,000 piastres.

In 1857 more post offices were opened at Damietta, Mansoura, Mehalla, Samanoud, Zagazig and Zifta. The link between Cairo and Suez through the desert was opened in 1858. On 5 March 1862 the Posta Europa monopoly was officially recognized by an edict of the viceroy, who granted Posta Europa an exclusive ten year monopoly over the Egyptian Postal Services and the distribution of government mail.

Type I interpostal seals issued 1864

in 1863 the Posta europa devised the system of interpostal seals for the distribution of government mail. These colorful labels, applied to mail sacs and some letters made their destinations very visible during sorting, which was often done by illiterate local employees . The labels also served to indicate that this correspondence had to travel for free without any fee. The Interpostals were used from 1863 to 1893.


Napoleon arrives in Egypt to destroy British trade and influence in the area He defeats a Mameluke army at the Battle of the Pyramids. But, the British destroy his fleet at Aboukir Bay.


Napoleon conquers Middle and Upper Egypt before he returns to France.


The French in Cairo and Alexandria are compelled to surrender to the British.


Mohammed Ali proclaims himself Pasha of Egypt.


With the support of the Mamelukes he defeats the British forces which had occupied Alexandria and Rosetta and forces them to withdraw.


In the Battle of Navarino in the Greek War of Independence the Turkish and Egyptian fleets are annihilated.


After Turks defeated by Russians, Mohammed Ali shakes off Ottoman Suzerainty and advances into Syria.


The Turkish Government tries again to enforce its authority over Mohammed Ali. The Turkish Army is annihilated at Nisibin. After the death of Sultan Mahmud II the entire Turkish fleet, under Ahmed Pasha, the Turkish High Admiral, goes over to Mohammed Ali. However, the European powers intervene, and the Egyptians are defeated in Lebanon by a British and Austrian expeditionary force. A fleet appears off Alexandria and compels Mohammed Ali to submit


The Turkish Government grants hereditary soveriegnty to Mohammed Ali and his heirs.


Mohammed Ali dies. Replaced by Abbas I


Khedive ‘Said’ the 1st. takes over. He is an enthusiastic moderniser and supports construction of the Suez Canal.


Ismail is made Khedive of Egypt and achieves political autonomy. However, he embarks on a hugely expensive modernisation programme.


Suez Canal opened. In the year 1875 Disraeli buys the Khedive's 40% holding in the Suez Canal company. Britain is now the largest single shareholder.


Khedive Ismail forced to abdicate.


British and French stewardship brings finances under control. However, this loss of independence causes a nationalist uprising led by Arabi Bey the Egyption.


British forces land at Alexandria. French forces were intended to take part in the operation but domestic political problems precluded their involvement. The British bombardment of Alexandria and the defeat of the Nationalists at Tel-El-Kebir means that British power is now paramount in Egypt.


The Mahdi leads a revolt in the Sudan. His forces defeat two Egyptian columns led by British officers (Hicks Pasha and Baker Pasha)


Gordon sent to Khartoum to organise its evacuation. He remains there and is killed by the Mahdi's forces.


Britain and France declare the Suez Canal neutral.


Abbas II Hilmi becomes the Khedive, but his actions are limited by the British authorities.


General Kitchener launches British and Egyptian army to recapture the Sudan.


Mahdists defeated at Omdurman. Potential flashpoint with French at Fashoda is averted.


Sudan declared to be an Anglo-Egyptian condominium.


First Cairo to Khartoum Train runs


Aswan Dam completed.