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Ethiopia 1931: The Second Air Mail Issue



2nd Air Mil Issue


Historical Context



Frame 1



This exhibit presents an overview of Ethiopia’s second air mail stamp. Original, reprint, and fantasy stamps along with covers flown via internal and external air mail routes are displayed.


Historical Context

On 17 June 1931, Ethiopia issued its second air mail stamp. This issue was to replace the provisionally overprinted first air mail stamp which was originally intended to be used to commemorate the landing of the first government aircraft in Ethiopia. This issue depicts this first plane flying over a map of Ethiopia that shows the route of the original flight. The Amharic inscription reads “The airplane-eagle of Tafari” (or Hailé Selassié). From a practical standpoint, there was no compelling reason for Ethiopia to issue air mail stamps. There was no demand for internal air service and little if any demand for external air mail service. Rather, the Ethiopian air service was designed to show the world that Ethiopia was a modern country.


Air mail service began in 1929. All external air mail flights originated in Addis Ababa and ended in Djibouti. Some flights made a stop in Dire Dowa to pick up or drop off mail while traveling to or from Djibouti. Once delivered to Djibouti, commercial mail was forwarded via paquet boat to other destinations for onward transmission to other countries. It is believed that all of the philatelic mail received special caches and marking proclaiming the flight number while regular commercial mail was not so marked or cached. Scheduled  flights ended in 1934.


Most of the internal air mail during 1932-1934 was sponsored by Adrian Zervos, the Ethiopian Director of Posts in Addis Ababa. Internal routes went between Addis Ababa and Dessie, Debra Marcos, Djigdjiga, or Djimmah. Around 60 flights were so sponsored.



Doig, Ken (probably the most accessible as it is an excellent Internet reference)

     Doig’s Ethiopia Stamp Catalog, by Ken Doig.

 Payne, Eric

     Ethiopia Booklet No. IV, The Issues of 1917 – 1936. by Eric Payne. Cockrill Series Booklet No. 16, Philip Cockrill, Berkshire, England. 1981.

Sciaky, Roberto

Ethiopia 1867 – 1936: History, Stamps and Postal History, by Roberto Sciaky. Vaccari srl, Vignola, Italy. 1999.

Ethiopia 1867 – 1936: History, Stamps and Postal History - Addendum, by Roberto Sciaky. Vaccari srl, Vignola, Italy. 200




Award: Vermeil

Show: Winepex 2010

Date: 1-3 October 2010

Place: San Rafael, CA