Indian stamps issued by the Indian postal service sub-office in Manama starting in 1884 were the first stamps used in Bahrain. The first issues considered as Bahrain stamps were a set of fourteen Indian stamps from 1926-32 with a ‘BAHRAIN’ overprint in black issued August 10, 1933. The set (Scott #1 to #14) catalogs for around $300 MNH and around $350 Used. Two other smaller sets followed in 1934 and 1935-37. The period from 1938 to 1944 saw the 1937-40 KGV and Mail Transport and the 1941-43 KGV sets of India being reissued with the ‘BAHRAIN’ overprint in two large sets. The first set of sixteen stamps (Scott #20 to #37) is very valuable at over $800 for MNH and around half that for Used. The second set of thirteen stamps (Scott #38 to #51) catalogs for around $100 either MNH or Used.
After India’s Independence, the British Postal Service started handling the postal services of Bahrain. Their issues were “Bahrain” overprints of British stamps with the denomination also overprinted with Indian currency. The first issue consisted of overprints of eleven stamps in five different British KGVI designs (1937-42) issued 1948-49. The lower denominations of this set (Scott #52 to #61A) are very affordable and catalogs for less than a dollar. The higher denominations that have the classic KGVI and Royal Arms design and the KGVI in an ornate frame design command a premium. The highest denomination (10r on 10sh) is especially valuable at around $60. Bahrain overprints on British stamps were used until 1960. Many popular themes such as the Silver Wedding Anniversary, the Olympic issue, and the UPU issue were used for the Bahrain overprints – these issues are fairly common and trade for between less than a dollar and a few dollars largely based on denomination. In between, Bahrain issued a set of six stamps for local use only – they are significant in that they are the first original designs and show Sheik Sulman bin Hamad Al Kalifah – issued 1953-57, they catalog for around $20 MNH. A similar set was also issued for local use only in 1961 and that catalogs for around $10.
The first original design for regular use was issued on July 1, 1960 and shows the Sheik Sulman bin Hamad Al Kalifah portrait. These stamps were denominated in Gulf Rupee which replaced the Indian Rupee as Bahrain’s currency in 1959. The set (Scott #119 to #129) consisted of eleven stamps with denominations that ranged from 5np to Rs 10. It catalogs for around $30 MNH and less than half that for Used. Other significant issues of Bahrain include:
- A set of 12 stamps seven different local themes (Bahrain International Airport, Pearl Divers, Pier at Mina Sulman Harbor, Falcon & Horse Race, Hospitality, and mosque & emblem – all with a portrait of the Sheik in the foreground) issued on January 1, 1966. The mosque, sheik, and emblem design used in the higher denominations is especially colorful. The issue was significant in that it is the first issue after Bahrain replaced the Gulf Rupee with their own currency (Dinar & Fils) in 1965. The set (Scott #141 to #152) catalogs for around $60 MNH and less than one-third that for Used. Pearl related design is a fairly popular theme that appears frequently in Bahrain stamp designs and marks the country’s rich tradition of diving for natural pearls on its coast.
- A set of four stamps issued October 2nd 1971 with the Independence theme following the declaration of Bahrain Independence on August 15th 1971. The set (Scott #182 to #185) consists of two designs – “Freedom” with dove, torch, & globe and Coat of Arms. The set catalogs for around $35 MNH and around $20 Used.
- A miniature sheet of eight stamps depicting Arabian Stallions released on September 1, 1975. The beautiful sheet (Scott #224) catalogs for around $60 MNH and half that for used. The designs were Brown head, White Mare, Mare and Stallion, and Bedouins on horseback.
- A miniature sheet of eight stamps depicting Saluki Dogs released July, 1977. The sheet (Scott #256) catalogs for around $35 MNH or used. The designs were Dog and Camels, Dog and Gazelles, Dog and Ruler’s Palace, Dog’s Head, Heads of two dogs, Dog in Dunes, and Playing Dogs. The issue is significant in that Muslims (originated Bedouin tribe “Kiss of Allah” belief) regard Salukis with a patch of white in the the forehead to be blessed.
- A set of eight stamps released on July 16, 1979 in the “Dhows of the Arabian Gulf” theme. The set (Scott #263 to #270) catalogs for around $80 MNH or used in a block of eights. Individual stamps can be had for a slight discount. The Dhows depicted were Ghanja, Zarook, Shu’ai, Jaliboot, Baghla, Sambuk, Boom, and Kotia.
- A miniature sheet of sixteen stamps released on March 21, 1992 in the “Indigenous Birds of Bahrain” theme. The sheet (Scott #382) catalogs for around $25 MNH or used. Individual stamps can be had for around a dollar.
- A miniature sheet of twenty one stamps released on April 23, 1997 in the “Pure Strains of Arabian Horses” theme. The sheet (Scott #492) catalogs for around $40 MNH or used.
- A set of three stamps released on February 1, 2002 in the “Day of the Arab Woman” theme. The set (Scott #559 to #561) catalogs for around $5 MNH or used. The designs were Emblem, Emblem & Rings, and Women. Woman’s right to vote was granted for the first time in the 2002 election and this issue signify that important political step.
Last Updated: 07/2011.