Long Island: The Little Stamp that Survived
A Brief History of Long Island
Turkey forms a bridge between Europe and Asia, with the short and narrow Dardanelles Strait being only fifty miles (80 kilometres) long and twelve miles (19 kilometres) wide. Turkey is unique because it has land on both continents. Long Island controlled the entrance to Smyrna (now Izmir) because of its strategic situation in the gulf, and Turkey guards the passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. After a thousand years in the hub of the Byzantine Empire, Turkey spent the next five hundred years at the centre of the Ottoman Empire. It was hardly surprising that Turkey was a pivotal point in the First World War. For a short while at the beginning of the First World War Turkey was occupied by the British Navy in support of the Greek invasion, long enough for stamp history to be made.
The Gallipoli Campaign lasted eight months and after a great many casualties on both sides. Had the British succeeded it would have given them a huge strategic advantage to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and in so doing link up with Russia.
Typewriter Stamps of Long Island
Four months after the end of the Gallipoli Campaign, still under British occupation, the Civil Administrator on the Island of Keustan, Lieutenant-Commander, H. Pirie-Gordon (1863-1969) created the first typewriter stamps for the postal inauguration on 7 May 1916. These are the only typewriter stamps ever made and were not created for civilian use. An estimated two hundred and twenty stamps were printed, of which only a handful are unused and recorded to have survived. This postal service on Long Island could not have lasted for very long as around this time the British Navy were evacuating to Egypt.
Although this was an Ottoman victory the struggle formed the basis of the Turkish struggle for independence. The Turks claimed back their territory in 1922 but unfortunately the city was destroyed by a fire that blazed for eleven days leaving little but ash. Today Long Island remains a restricted Turkish naval base.
This humble little Long Island typewriter stamp had to survive war, evacuation and a devastating fire. It is a miracle that any survive at all.
Find all of Filat AG’s Long Island items here.