Afghanistan - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Afghanistan, a landlocked country in Central Asia bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China has a total land area of 251,772 square miles and a population of over 28.4 million. About 75% of the citizens of Afghanistan are engaged in agricultural production and almost a third of the GDP sprouts from illicit drugs. The mountainous country with plains in the North and Southwest is famous for grapes and other fruits.

Travel Resources:

April through September is considered tourist friendly but each area has its own the best months to visit the place. Kabul is the most populous city with proximity to Babur’s Garden. Other main attractions are the beautiful shrines and mosques including the Shrines of Baba Wali and Hazrat Ali, Blue Mosque, and the Zarnagar Mosque.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
The Places In Between by Rory Stewart0156031566$6The book is an account of the author’s walk across Afghanistan in 2002. The conversational style of writing along with an intriguing storyline that involves ‘guards’ from the government and a dog offered to him makes it hard to put down. The hospitality of the people of Afghanistan along with the experiencing the local lifestyle are major takeaways. There is a Kindle version for $11.
Afghanistan: A Companion and Guide by Bijan Omrani and Matthew Leeming978-9622178168$25The book proclaims ‘published to appeal to the armchair traveller’ and the content fully justifies that claim: 700-odd pages of information and photographs form a comprehensive guide to Afghanistan including history and culture. One of the best books to know about history and sites of Afghanistan.
Afghan Food & Cookery by Noshe Djan978-0781808071$13Not just a recipe book although it has over 100 recipes. It also provides an introduction to Afghan culture along with related history.
Rethink Afghanistan DVDB002LFPBJM$15Over eight segments of insights and opinions from experts in the field aimed to provide a dose of reality to the average American. It can be ordered through Video On Demand (VOD) for $3.
International Travel Ground Adapter PlugB001ISR9B6$4
Afghanistan Nelles Map978-3865742001$11



Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps from Afghanistan are circular in shape (imperforate, not cut-to-shape) with the design of a tiger’s head surrounded by Arabic script. The design symbolizes the ruler of the Kingdom of Kabul, Sher Ali Khan (“sher” is Arabic for tiger) at that time. Engraving was done individually resulting in several variations of these issues. The same theme in various colors (one color for each of the main post offices) continued until 1881. The defeat of Sher Ali Khan by the British and his eventual death following political asylum in Russia accounted for the change in the central design – the tiger head was replaced by inscriptions and that theme continued until 1891. Tiger head issues of Afghanistan vary widely in catalogue value – for example Scott #79 1sh gray of 1878 catalog for about $5 for a MNH copy while Scott #8 and #9 on toned woven paper catalog in the neighborhood of $1000 and $1500 respectively. Even so, for a few dollars a collector can acquire a “tiger head” through eBay. Twenty years of exclusive tiger head issues has resulted in their survival in large numbers among collectors and dealers and explains their affordable pricing.

Following independence from the United Kingdom in 1919, a set of stamps depicting the royal star of King Amanullah was issued on August 24, 1920. The set consists of three stamps (Scott #214-216) commanding a catalog value in the $250 range for MNH and a little less for Used. Reissues of the same design in 1921 in different dimension (22x28.5mm in place of 39x47mm) have a catalog value in the $10 range for the set (Scott #217-219) for MNH and Used catalog for around $5.

Most of the issues between 1921 and 1951 are relatively common as they were issued in large volume during independence anniversaries with the designs predominantly portraying mosques, government buildings, and other architectural structures. Hence it is reasonably easy to acquire a complete set of stamps for this period. Exceptions include the 1941 15p gray green (Scott #334) depicting the independence monument, which catalog for $35 MNH. Certain varieties, Imperf pairs, and Tete Beche pairs also catalog for higher values.

The monotonous architecture theme gave way to national or global themes from 1951 onwards with the Pashtunistan flag issue (Scott #388 and #389). This issue is significant and serves a great historical context. At the time, the Afghan government supported the ‘Free Pashtunistan’ movement the aim of which was to form a new country for the Pashtun people combining the Pashtun occupied areas in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Islamic fundamentalist regime of Afghanistan has roots in this complex issue as the adjacent Pakistan government needed to encourage such a regime for their own national security. The US and Soviet interests further complicated the core issues. National, Global, or Architectural themes continued till 1960.

Afghanistan started issuing stamps for the philatelic market in 1961. Many of these issues were categorized so as they were lower denominated stamps (less than 25p) and did not represent a postal need. Needless to say, these stamps have nominal catalogue value and are not collectible. Nevertheless, the design improved with varied themes and colors. Some of the higher denominated stamps have good catalogue value, excellent designs, and themes and are collectible. The set of four stamps that promote tourism released in 1989 is one such issue (Scott #1380 to #1383) and depicts mosque, minaret, etc. in excellent colors. Unfortunately, this was the last issue before a gap of 13 years through 2002 when no stamps were issued due to internal political issues and war. However this created a field-day for con-artists who produced illegal issues in various sets during this period. Some catalogues do a disservice to the philatelic community by listing stamps during this period. These have minimal value, if any and are not collectible. The UPU’s WNS numbering system show a few stamps each for the period from 2002 thru 2007. It should be fairly easy to acquire a complete set of these stamps as they are few in number and do not command premium catalogue value yet.

Numismatic Profile:

Ancient Coins of the area covering present-day Afghanistan dates back to 500 BCE (Persian era) with inscriptions referring to Dadarshish, the Satrap of Balkh (Bactria) province. Other ancient coins from the area include Silver coins of the Euthydemus I (235 BCE) and Demetrius I (200 BCE) eras, gold coins of the Ghaznavid (1000 CE) and Ghurid Empires (1185 CE), etc. Afghan tribes were united by Ahmad Shah who was crowned the first Afghan sovereign in 1747. Hammered anonymous copper coins from that period is very affordable and start around $2 for copies in Good condition. The first Milled Coinage was minted in Kabul in 1891 (KM#800 - 24mm Bronze). This coin is also remarkably affordable at around $20 for Good condition.

Other numismatic items of Afghanistan include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Ancient Coins$10 and upIndividual pieces in About Good condition from Celestial Cow Hoards (9th to 11th century) start around $10. Coins from around the 5th century AD (The White Huns) are in the market starting at around $50 for VF condition. Kabal Shahan Copper Coins from the 9th century and Ghaznavid Gold Coins from the 11th Century start into the 100s.
Gold Coins$100 and upThe first gold coins of Afghanistan were from the Ahmed Shah era starting around 1735 with designs showing inscriptions. The most common ones are the Republic issues from 1978 in the 10,000 Afghanis denomination (32.5mm, 0.97 troy ounces) in the Conservation theme that depicts National Arms in Obverse and Marco Polo Sheep in Reverse. The UNC coin catalogs in the $650 range while the Proof variety goes over $1000.
Other Coins$3 and upUncirculated (UNC) Afghani coins from the 60s start around $3. Snow Leopard Silver Proofs from the 70s and World Soccer Silver Proofs from 2001, uncirculated sets from the 1990s and 2000s, etc start around $10. Earlier World Cup Silver Proofs go into the 50s. PCGS, NGC, etc certified and slabbed silver coins from the 19th century in VF30 or better condition start into the 100s.
Paper Money$2 and upRecent pieces of common Afghanis start around $2. Individual UNC bank notes from the 60s and 70s up to the 500 Afghani range start around $10. Recent 100-piece UNC bundles and Specimens start around $50. Rarer notes from the 60s in UNC condition showing King Zahar along with older (before 1930) bank notes and specimens go into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Items from Afghanistan known for quality include rugs and semi-precious jewelry derived from the vast mineral resources of Afghanistan, recently estimated to be worth over $1 trillion. War memorabilia is also a popular collectible from Afghanistan.
ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Rugs$100 onwardsThey are a hand-woven textile of medium size made in different areas of Afghanistan. The most exotic and popular ones include Shindand and Baluchi prayer rugs respectively. They can be expensive but are very durable.
LapisVariesLapis Lazuli is an intense blue semi-precious stone mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for centuries. Beads and jewelry are priced according to polish, color, design, and associated history from a few dollars to 1000s of dollars.
CrystalsVariesMany type of crystal jewelry from Afghanistan are in the mark. Chief among them are Indicolite and Verderite (blue and green tourmaline respectively) from the Kunar province renowned for their quality.
War MemorabiliaVariesService medals along with weapons and similar items starting with the Indian Wars (1866) are available on the market. Items are valued from a few dollars to a few 100 dollars depending primarily on rarity.



Last Updated: 12/2015.
 

1 comment :

Evan Islam said...

Hi,

Please contribute your stamp collection to stamps book

http://www.stampsbook.org/Stamps-From-Afghanistan-0.html

Collecting Afghanistan stamps and more...

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