Iraq - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

Iraq, a country in Western Asia bordered by Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf has a total land area of 169,234 square miles and a population of around 31.23 million. Iraq previously known as Mesopotamia (cradle of civilization) is the birthplace of writing and the wheel. It has two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, which provides Iraq with arable land. The country has the second most proven oil reserves of the world after Saudi Arabia. The major industries of Iraq are petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, food processing, and fertilizers.

Travel Resources: 

The best time to visit Iraq is during spring and winter. The various ruins and architecture from bygone era, the World Heritage Sites and the Baghdad zoo are well worth a visit. The most popular dish among the Iraqis is Maklouba and is a testimony to their love for rich food.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Iraq: Then and Now – Bradt Travel Guide978-1841622439$20A good historical introduction to travelers.
Iraq Adapter Plug B, D, and GB001FD5AQA$16


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Iraq were a set of thirteen stamps released between 1923 and 1925. The set (Scott #1 to #13) catalogs for around $170 mint and around $45 used. The designs show Sunni Mosque, Gufas on the Tigris, Allegory of the Assyrian Winged Bull, Ctesiphon Arch, Motif of Assyrian Origin, Colors of the Dulaim Camel Corps (desert police), Golden Shiah Mosque of Kadhimain, and an Allegory of the Tree of Life. Iraq (Mesopotamia) is considered the cradle of civilization as the home of Sumerian Civilization - the earliest know civilization on Earth (4th millennium BC). Gufas are small circular shaped boats built of wicker used as a mode of transportation on the river Tigris.  Ctesiphon was the largest city in the world in the sixth century. The Arch depicted in this set is part of the ruins of the city. The first set was issued when the country was under British Mandate. Another set depicting King Faisal I was issued just before Iraq gained independence. That set (Scott #15 to #27) is sought after and catalogs for around $750 mint and around $870 used.

Other issues of Iraq enjoying good philatelic interest include:
  1. A set of twenty three stamps released between 1941 and 1942 showing historical sites. The set (Scott #79 to #101) catalogs for around $115 MNH and $23 used. The designs show Sitt Zubaidah Mosque, Mausoleum of King Faisal I, Lion of Babylon, Malwiye of Samarra, Oil Wells, and the Mosque of the Golden Dome in Samarra. United Kingdom invaded Iraq in 1941 following a coup that overthrew the government of Abd al-llah. The occupation continued through World War II. The Hashemite monarchy was reestablished with King Faisal II. He was murdered along with a number of his relatives on July 14, 1958. His death during the “14 July Revolution” marked the end of the Hashemite monarchy and Iraq became a republic.
  2. A set of sixteen stamps released on February 16, 1963 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #317 to #332) catalogs for around $60 MNH and $10 used. The designs show Gufas on the Tigris, Spiral Tower in Samarra, Shepherd and Sheep, Ram’s Head Harp, Map and Republic Emblem, Lion of Babylon, Baghdad University, Kadhimain Mosque, and Winged Bull of Khosabad. Iraq witnessed another coup that month when Brigadier General Abdul Karim Qassim who took power following the revolution was overthrown by Colonel Abdul Salam Arif.
  3. A set of five stamps released on July 28, 1986 to mark the 55th anniversary of the Iraqi Air Force. The set (Scott #1240 to #1244) catalogs for around $15 MNH and $9 used. The designs show President Saddam Hussein along with Fighter Plane, Pilot’s Wings, Medal, and National Flag. Saddam Hussein came to power after ousting the leader of his party Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakr. The Islamic Revolution followed by establishment of a Shiite Muslim theocratic state in neighboring Iran  was seen as dangerous for Iraq which followed a non-religious ideology. The Iran-Iraq war that ensued lasted till 1988 leaving between 500,000 and 1.5 million people dead. His reign was notorious for human rights violations against the Kurdish minority, Shiah, and the use of chemical weapons.
  4. A stamp released in 2002 in the Palestinian Unity theme. The stamp (Scott #1662) catalogs for around $30 MNH or used. Following the invasion of Kuwait, one tactic that Saddam adopted was to try to link the Palestinian problem with occupation of Kuwait. He offered to withdraw his forces from Kuwait if Israel withdraws from the occupied territories in the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and the Gaza Strip. It helped split the Arab world but ultimately, a US led coalition ejected Saddam’s army from Kuwait. Iraq also tried to lead Israel into war thereby provoking other Arab states by firing missiles, but that plan failed as Israel chose to refrain from retaliating. Saddam’s last letter before his execution in 2006 has a reference to Palestine – “Long live Palestine”.
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins of Iraq in the modern era were Bronze Fils issued in 1931 with a Head Portrait in Obverse and Denomination and Date with inscriptions in Reverse. The issue has high mintage (4M) and catalogs for around $25 UNC. Prior to this hammered coinage from the Ottoman Empire period were prevalent. Iraq has issued gold proofs from the 1970s.

Numismatic items of Iraq include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$1 and upCommon UNCs starts around $1. FAO Issues from the 1970s in UNC, Palm Tree Issues of the 1980s in UNC, etc starts around $10. UNC Nickels from the 1930s and VF Silver Coins from the same period starts around $30. Year sets, Commemorative Silver Proofs in UNC etc starts around $50. Gold Proofs and other scarce coins go well into the 100s and 1000s.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNC banknotes starts around $1. High Value UNCs from the 1990s onward starts around $5. Saddam Era Sets start around $10. Bundles, Rare Specimens, etc go well into the 100s.


Collectible Memorabilia:


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Militaria$10 and upUS-Iraq War Pins, Patches etc start around $10. US Army Desert Coats for Iraq start around $30. Saddam Hussein era medals and badges start in the 50s. Iraqi checkpoint, deadly use of force signs, etc start in the 100s.
Art$10 and upIraq war related posters start around $10. 19th century local scenes art prints start around $20. Original royalty photos from the 50s go in the 100s. Original works by Ahmed Dali, Anthony Falbo, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s.
Antiques$10 and upMaps and Saddam Bank notes etc start around $10. 18th century and older maps, agate jewelry, Saddam Palace curios, etc go well into the 100s.



Last Updated: 12/2015.

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