Israel is a developed country with one of the highest life expectancies of the world. Though Jerusalem serves as its capital, the political capital is Tel Aviv. Israel is a very resource conscious nation. Water-saving drip irrigation was first developed in Israel and almost every house uses solar energy for water heating. Israel has a variety of geographic features – deserts, mountains, lakes, seas, valleys, plains etc. In spite of its small size and limited natural resources, Israel is an exporter of fruits and vegetables. Other exports include software, military technology, and chemicals.
Israel is a primary pilgrim destination for people from different faiths and religious tourism is an important industry. Many of its sites are revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Jerusalem is packed with believers during the Holy Week. The Holocaust Museum and the Dead Sea mud soak known for its therapeutic effect, and stunning beaches are other major attractions. Israeli cuisine uses olives, wheat, chickpeas, dairy products, fish, meat and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables are cooked and served in many ways. The various religious festivals call for specific foods and outdoor grilling is enjoyed very much.
|Resource||ISBN or ASIN||Best Price||Description|
|Jerusalem, Israel, Petra and Sinai – Eyewitness Travel Guide||978-0756662028||$17||Excellent Travel Companion although light on hotel and restaurant listings and reviews.|
|Israel Insight Fleximap||978-9812585776||$9||Laminated. 1:540,000 Scale.|
|Streetwise Jerusalem Map||978-1886705234||$8||Laminated City Center Map. Main Jerusalem Map at 1:17,000 and Old City Map at 1:7,000 Scale.|
|Israel Grounded Adapter Plug – GUL||B004DRU196||$8|
The first stamps of Israel were a set of six stamps released on May 16, 1948 in the Ancient Judean Coins theme. The set (Scott #1 to #6) catalogs for around $110 MNH and $2 used. Stamps of Israel are printed with labels attached to the side of one row or column. Stamps with labels intact are generally valued around twice or thrice MNH. The earliest coin date back to the 5th century BC – Yehud Coins which do not bear any mint mark. Another set in the same theme and a few other varieties were released in the same year. Israel released a set of stamps on September 26, 1948 to launch the festival series (Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah). Israel continues to release a set of stamps in the same series every year and that is a pretty good collectible theme. The set (Scott #10 to #14) catalogs for around $15 mint and around $5 used. The set with labels are valued as high as $240. The design shows what was then termed the “Flying Scroll” – it was a misinterpretation of the winged light or sun.
Other issues of Israel enjoying good philatelic interest include:
- A stamp released on July 21, 1954 showing Theodor Zeev Herzl. The stamp (Scott #86) catalogs for around a dollar MNH and a few cents for used. Herzl is considered the father of modern political Zionism and the State of Israel. His most famous work is Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) outlines the reasons why Jews should return to their historic homeland, Palestine.
- A set of three stamps released on August 16, 1967 to mark the victory of the Israeli forces in the Six-Day War. The set (Scott #345 to #347) is inexpensive and catalogs for around a dollar MNH or used. The war ended with Israel achieving a decisive victory and the capture of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in 1979 following the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty.
- A set of twenty two stamps released between 1971 and 1975 showing Landscapes. The set (Scott #461 to #474) catalogs for around $8 MNH and $4 used. The designs show Judean Desert, Gan Ha-Shelosha, Negev, Kinneret, Tel Dan, Fisherman of Yafo, Arava, En Avedat, Brekhat Ram in Golan Heights, Grazing Sheet in Mount Hermon, Rosh Pinna, Beach and Park at Netanya, Plain of Zebulun, Shore at Engedi, Beach at Elat, Boats in Akko Harbor, Hamifratz Hane’elam, Aqueduct near Akko, Zefat, Upper Nazareth, Coral Island, and Haifa. Despite the relatively small size, the country is geographically very diverse. The Negev desert in South Israel portrayed in this set has the largest makhtest in the world called the Ramon Crater. Makhteshim’s are geological landforms unique to Israel and the Sinai Peninsula.
- A set of four stamps released on March 12, 1989 in the National Tourism theme. The set (Scott #1007 to #1010) catalogs for around $4 MNH and $3 used. The designs show Red Sea, Dead Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Sea of Galilee. Sea of Galilee at 209 meters below sea level is the lowest freshwater lake in the World. Many of Jesus’s miracles are said to have occurred on the shores of Galilee. Dead Sea which is a saltwater lake is the lowest lake in the World.
- A set of ten stamps released between 1992 and 1998 in the Birds theme. The set (Scott #1133 to #1146) catalogs for around $5 MNH and $4 used. The designs show wallcreeper, Tristram’s grackle, white wagtail, Palestine sunbird, Sinai rosefinch, swallow, trumpeter finch, graceful warbler, black-eared wheatear, and common bulbul. Israel is home to 534 species of birds of which 140 are rare or accidental and 14 are globally threatened.
- A set of three stamps released on February 13, 2001 to mark the centenary of Settlements. The set (Scott #1429 to #1431) catalogs for around $7 MNH or used. The designs show Yavne’el, Menahamia, and Kfar Tavor. Kfar Tavor was founded during the First Aliyah (immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel) in 1901. The Jewish National Fund was also founded in 1901 with the aim of buying and developing land in Palestine for Jewish settlement.
The first coins of Israel were Aluminum Mils introduced in 1948 (Hebrew Dating – JE5708) showing Grape Cluster in Obverse and Denomination within Wreath in Reverse. The issue has relatively low mintage (less than 50,000) and catalogs for around $1K in BU. Reform Era Coinage (1000 Pruta = 1 Lira) was introduced the following year. The first gold coins were issued in 1960. Following coinage reform in 1980, new coins were introduced denominated in Sheqalims (Shekels).
Numismatic items of Israel include:
|Coins||$1 and up||Common UNCs start around $1. Lots of Common Agoras in VF, Proof like Government issued sets from the 60s, etc start around $5. Official mint sets with COA start around $10. Piefort Mint sets from the 1980s, Silver UNCs from the late 1940s, First Coin Varieties in VF, etc start around $20. Silver Proofs from the 1980s onward start around $50. Rare First Coin Varieties in XF, Gold Coins, Gold and Silver Sets, etc go well into the 100s.|
|Paper Money||$3 and up||Common UNCs starts around $3. Early UNCs from the 50s start around $10. Fancy Numbers and Rare Dates start around $40. Bundles, Rare Notes from the 40s etc go well into the 100s.|
Visitors tend to shop for religious artifacts, art in mosaic, dried fruits, wood work, salts and mineral extracts from the Dead Sea.
|Religion and Spirituality||$5 and up||Hamsa chains and bracelets start around $5. Ornate Kipahs, Mezuzah cases, etc start around $10. Vintage bronze candlesticks, goblets, etc start around $50. Artistic Hanukah lamps, Silver Plated Kudu Shofars, and original oil Jewish Judaica paintings, etc start well into the 100s.|
|Militaria||$5 and up||Recent military patches start around $5. Fighter Aircraft Squadron pins, Army baseball caps, etc start around $10. Army shirts, jackets etc start around $30. Plane and Missile models, rare brigade badges, etc start around $100.|
|Antiques||$10 and up||19th century maps, oil lamps, etc start around $10. Vintage ceramic bowls and jugs start around $50. Authentic 2nd century bronze bangles, silver figurines, and Candelabra go well into the 100s.|
|Art||$15 and up||19th century original local scenes prints start around $10. Original fauna hand signed etchings start and biomorphic figurines start around $50. Original works by Dimitri Polak, George Chemeche, and certain Art Posters start around $70. Original works by Albert Goldman, Catriel Efrony, Roth Dudu, Patricia Govezensky, Ruth Thomas, Salvador Dali, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s.|
Last Updated: 12/2015.