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Middle East/All : Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 3: CILICIA

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Retired Ap. Book Mod, Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Hi Tech Consultant
23 Jul 2016

Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 3. CILICIA
(For historical references check Wikipedia)
This is a multi part series.

Part 1, summarizes the historical context (sorry it is a bit long, and complicated), and looks at the unique regional stamps of Ile Rouad (prior to the French Mandate).
Part 2 looks at the Syrian Arabian Government of 1918-1920 (prior to the Mandate).
Part 3 looks at Cilicia, the French Administered territories of the Armenian part of Turkey (prior to the Mandate, and their return to Turkey).
The collection is still incomplete and the pages will be updated in the future.


In antiquity, Cilicia or Kilikia was the south coastal region of Anatolia. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia and Byzantine Empire. Cilicia extends inland from the southeastern coast of modern Turkey. Cilicia corresponds to the modern region of Çukurova in Turkey.

From Wikipedia See also: Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia, and the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire

In the 15th century, Cilicia fell under Ottoman dominion as the Adana District.
Cilicia was the most important regions for the Ottoman Armenians because it managed to preserve its Armenian character throughout the years. The Cilician highlands were densely populated by Armenian peasants. In ports and cities of the Adana plain, commerce and industry were almost entirely in the hands of the Armenians and they remained so thanks to a constant influx of Armenians from the highlands. Their population was continuously increasing in contrast to other parts of the Ottoman Empire, where it was, decreasing due to repression. This is true despite the fact that in 1909, Armenians were subjected to a massacre in Adana, in the heart of Cilicia.
The Armenian genocide period which culminated in 1915-1916, made protecting the Armenian population a key element of European policy (French) that led to the forming of the Cilicia French Administered Territories at the end of WWI.
Read about it. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenian_Genocide).

The Armenian had organized a successful resistance against the Turks in the early 1900s.. In order to finally subjugate them, the Turks had to resort to violence, treachery, and ultimately to repopulating the area with Turks while forcing the remaining Armenian into exile and death. While Turkey has yet to agree to the term of genocide, there is little historical doubt that Turkish policy resulted in the death and deportation of approximately 1 million Armenians.
From December 1918 to October 1921, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the French controlled Cilicia, and attempted to build an enclave for the Armenians to counter the Turkish policy that lead to the Armenian genocide and exodus.
Measures were taken by the French to repopulate the region with survivors of the Armenian Genocide. More than 170,000 Armenian refugees, the majority of whom were originally from Cilicia, were to be taken back to their homes by the French and British.
The Armenians formed the Armenian National Union which acted as an unofficial Cilician Armenian government composed of the four major political parties and three Armenian religious denominations. However, rivalries between the French and British and Turkish Mustapha Kemal "Kemalist" incursions shattered Armenian aspirations for an autonomous Cilicia, and ended the Armenian dreams of an autonomous area. The French faillure led to the end of this process, with Turkey getting full control of the area.
On October 21, 1921, France signed the Treaty of Ankara with the Turkish Kemalists and relinquished Cilicia to Turkey. French troops withdrew in 1922.

A map of Cilicia is shown below.

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The region become part of the Republic of Turkey in 1921 with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne. The modern Turkish provinces Mersin, Adana, and Osmaniye are located in former Cilicia.

Key Dates
1918, Oct 30 – Ottoman Empire unconditionally surrenders to the Allies
1919, Feb 1 – France officially assumes control of Cilicia
1920, Jan/Feb– Nationalist forces under Kemel began “liberating” Cilicia
1921, Oct 21 – French agree to leave Cilicia
1922, Jan – French complete withdrawal from Cilicia
After 1922: Republic of Turkey


Scott Catalogue: (Cilicia) 1-127, C1-C2, J1-J12
Overprints on Turkish Stamps: Scott Catalog #1 to 99, J1 to J12
Overprint of France Levant Stamps: Scott Catalog #100
Overprint on France Stamps: Scott Catalog #101 to 127, C1 to C2, J13 to J16

Cilicia used stamps of Turkey and France with an overprint for postage.
Note: Beware of counterfeit overprints on the stamps!
In 1923 Cilicia became part of Turkey and began to use Turkish stamps for postage, while Cilicia overprint stamps were discontinued.

Some examples of Cilicia overprints follows:

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Typical overprints are:

O. M. F.
(overprint on stamps of France)
(O.M.F. means Occupation Militaire Francaise)

T. E. O.
(Stamps of France overprinted)
(T.E.O. means Territoires Ennemis Occupes)

CILICIE, Cilicie
(Stamps of Turkey overprinted CILICIE or Cilicie, in upper and lower case)

(Stamps of France overprinted)

Stamps of France overprinted
(Air Mail Postage overprint)

The following is a description of the surcharges from "Dead Country Stamps" www.dcsstamps.com:


OTTOMAN OVERPRINTS (Mar 1919 – Feb 1920)
The first phase of Cilicia postage stamps was the French taking various issues of Ottoman stamps on hand from the local post offices and overprinting them. Five different overprints were issued. All of the overprints come with errors including doubles and inverts.
Overprint #1 (large) – The first overprint was issued on March 4th, 1919. Various issues of stamps of the Ottoman Empire were handstamped “CILICIE”. Two sizes sizes issued. The large overprint measures 18mm in length. A total of 27 stamps and 4 postage dues which were issued with the large overprint
Overprint #1 (small) – On Mar 14, 1919, ten days after the first overprint, a second set of handstamped stamps were issued with a smaller “CILICIE” measuring 16mm instead of 18mm in length. Eleven stamps (plus some perf varieties) and 4 postage dues which were issued with the 16mm handstamp.
Overprint #2 – On April 1, 1919, the French issued another handstamped overprint with “Cilicie” printed in a cursive font. Also, the new overprint was applied to various stamps of the Ottoman Empire. A total of 19 stamps and 4 postage dues which were issued with overprint #2
Overprint #3 – On May 1, 1919, the the last of the Ottoman Overprints to be handstamped was issued. The handstamp added the initials “T.E.O.” above the cursive “Cicilia” overprint. T.E.O. stands for Territoires Ennemis Occupes, (or Occupied Enemy Territory in English). Only one stamp was issued with this overprint.
Overprint #4 – On May 1, 1919, the French issued another overprint, this time it was probably overprinted on the stamp by lithograph. The overprint: “T.E.O // Cilicie” was applied lithographically in black, blue or red. Multiple alignments and variations in typeset have been observed. A total of 21 different stamps were issued.
Overprint/Surcharge #5 – The last of the Ottoman overprints, were also surcharges on two stamps issued in Feb, 1920. As Ottoman postage stamp supply was running low, the French took available stocks of fiscal stamps used to seal cigarette boxes and overprinted them in blue around the four sides of the stamp with “OCCUPATION // MILITAIRE // FRANCAISE // CILICIE”, and then applied one of two surcharges in the middle. Various misspellings, print sizes, double and triple surcharges, alignments have been recorded.
FRENCH SURCHARGES (Mar 1920 – Jan 1922)
Having exhausted up all of the Ottoman Stamps in the local post offices, Multiple Configurations were suthe French began surcharging Stamps of France for use in the Occupied Territory.
Surcharge #6 – The first French surcharge was a single issue on a Stamp from the French offices of the Levant. Issued in Feb 1920, the stamp was overprinted “T.E.O. // 20 // PARAS”. This is the first stamp issued that didn’t contain the word “Cilicie”.
In March, 1920, the French began to use the designation O.M.F. standing for Occupation Militaire Francaise. Three different configurations of were printed.
Surcharge #7 – The 3 line configuration was surcharged reading “O.M.F. // Cilicie // (plus the surcharge)” Nine stamps were surcharged with this configuration.
Surcharge #8 – The 4 line SAND EST configuration was surcharged reading “O.M.F. // Cilicie // SAND. EST. // (plus the surcharge)” “SAND EST” stands for Sandjak de l’Est (Eastern County). Seven stamps were surcharged with this configuration.
Surcharge #9– The 4 line configuration was surcharged reading “O.M.F. // Cilicie // (surcharge number) // (surcharge currency)”. Nine regular issue stamps and four postage dues were issued. There were two different runs of this configuration, on with a 1mm gap between the number and the currency, and one with a 2mm gap.
Surcharge #10 – Issued July 15, 1920, two very rare French Air Post stamps were overprinted “POSTE / PAR / AVION” within a box for Air Mail.
French Occupation stamps were used until the withdrawal of French forces in Jan, 1922."

STAMP ALBUM PAGES (This collection is still incomplete and will be updated when more progress is made. It is included for the sake of chronological completion, in the historical context of the area). There are 8 album pages, but page 7 is not shown here, as it has no stamps on it. It is for the 2 air mail stamps.

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End of Part 3, Cilicia.
Part 4 will be on the ALOUITES.

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"E. Rutherford: All science is either physics or stamp collecting."
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24 Jul 2016
re: Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 3: CILICIA

Ralph, I am following your posts with great interest. Thanks for sharing the research you do. Just a question about the scans of the album pages: they seem to be a bit fuzzy, can you maybe improve on the quality of the scans? Your collections are great by the way!

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APS #213005
24 Jul 2016
re: Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 3: CILICIA

Fascinating, Ralphy;

please continue!

I am not a WW collector, but this is wonderfully interesting info!

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Retired Ap. Book Mod, Pres Golden Gate Stamp Club, Hi Tech Consultant
24 Jul 2016

re: Stamps of the French Mandate Area for Syria and Lebanon, Part 3: CILICIA

Gerben...my scanner is in need of an upgrade. Even when I sharpen the image, lousy optics cannot be remediated!
Thanks Musicman for your comments.
Part 4: ALOUITES will be ready on Sunday.

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"E. Rutherford: All science is either physics or stamp collecting."
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