The Post Office in Algiers, known as La Grande Poste d’Alger, is a stunning building.
The post office was built in 1910 and was designed by a pair of French architects who blended Moorish, Algerian, and Andalusian styles.
If you went into this post office to buy stamps when it first opened, you would have purchased French stamps, which were used for postage in Algeria starting in 1849.
The first cancels applied were the classic French grill pattern. Then, starting in 1852, a lozenge dot pattern was used and each post office was assigned its own number.
Fourteen years after La Grande Poste d’Alger opened, Algeria issued its own stamps. These were overprints applied to the France 1900-29 series of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, the Rights of Man, and Liberty and Peace.
In 1926, a series of Algerian stamps was released which depicted the Mosque of Sidi Abd-er-Rahman in the Casbah of Algiers, La Pecherie Mosque, built in 1660, and the Marabout of Sidi Yacoub.
Through the 1930s and 1940s, Algeria’s stamps reflected the typical French colonial style. A 31-issue set was released in 1936. In 1937, a set was issued to commemorate the Paris International Exposition which did not mirror the standard design, but showcased the Algerian pavilion.
Following World War Two, Algeria’s stamps maintained this colonial character. Particularly handsome was the airmail set of 1949-53.
Algeria’s thirst for independence from France had a profound impact on its stamps. In the 1950s, as tensions between France and Algeria escalated into warfare, the subject matter of certain stamps often seemed an attempt to reinforce the perception of French military strength. Stamps were released honoring French soldiers such as Marshals d’Esperey and Leclerc.
When Algeria won its independence in 1962, postal officials hand stamped existing supplies of French stamps before releasing their own stamps. To mark the new nation, the first hand stamped overprints used the letters “EA” for “Etat Algerien.”
As the first stamps of newly independent Algeria were released, hundreds of thousands of Europeans in the country fled. Most went to France.
Starting in 1962, while most Algerian stamps depicted art, culture, and economic development, occasional propaganda was mixed in. This practice continued for decades. As late as 2011, a rather provocative stamp was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of the deaths of Algerian protesters in Paris, depicting bodies lying alongside the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Over the years Algeria has released some fascinating oddities, including a triple overprint on the 1/2c newspaper stamp of 1924, a number of double surcharges, including one on the 50c semi-postal of 1927, and double impressions on at least two issues of the 1944-45 series.
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