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BANGLADESH Postal stamps 1971

Postal stamps 1971

During the war of liberation, the mujibnagar government established field post offices, took control over existing post offices in the liberated areas, and put the postal department under the Ministry of Transport and Communication. John Stonehouse, a member of the British Parliament introduced a Bengali stamp designer Biman Mullick to Dr. Enamul Haque, who was the president of the Peoples' Cultural Society of wartime Bangladesh and maintained liaison with the Mujibnagar Government regarding many important matters, including issuance of stamps. Biman Mullick designed eight stamps and these were sent to Mujibnagar government through Dr. Haque in June 1971. Mr. Stonehouse contacted a British agency for issuing the stamps at their cost. The agency was to print, distribute and sell the stamps and also to collect sale proceeds and give accounts to the Mujibnagar government, while Mr. Stonehouse himself took the responsibility of popularising the stamps in Europe.


The stamps were printed in lithographic process on white-coated un-watermarked security paper, having 100 stamps per sheet arranged in 10 columns and 10 rows. The perforations on the sides of the stamps were 14 x 14.5 (in 2 cm length). The mint sets of stamps were sold from Bangladesh Mission of Calcutta for Rs 21.80 per set of eight stamps and the First Day Cover (FDC) with the stamps affixed for Rs 22. In England the stamps were sold at 1.09 pound sterling per mint set plus 20p as handling charge. The opening day sales of Bangladesh stamps in England were more than US$23,000. The FDC printed in London on this occasion was of deep green colour and its design depicted the words 'First Stamps of Bangladesh' across the lower end of the cover, 'First Day Cover'in smaller type on the right hand corner, and 'Bangladesh' in large type on the left, lying vertically from bottom to the top. The cover was coloured bright orange-vermilion.


After completion of all formalities, the date of issue of these stamps was set for 29 July 1971. Ambassador Hossain Ali announced the news at a press conference at Calcutta on 26 July. Simultaneously, a press conference was held in the House of Commons, British Parliament. An inaugural ceremony was held on the same day in the Hercourt Room of the House of Commons. The ceremony was attended by John Stonehouse MP, Peter Shore MP and other distinguished guests, who formally expressed their solidarity with the struggle for independence of Bangladesh. Thanks to the ceremony and the role of the international press, the tiny eight pieces of coloured papers shook almost the whole world and contributed significantly to create public opinion in support of the War of Liberation of Bangladesh. These first eight postage stamps Bangladesh issued on 29 July1971 were: Map of Bangladesh (10p, p stands for paisa, a hundredth of a rupee), Massacre at Dacca University (20p), 75 million People (50p), Flag of Independence (rupee 1), Breaking the Chains (Rs 2), the 1970 Polls and the Results (Rs. 3), sheikh mujibur rahman (Rs 5), and Support Bangladesh (Rs 10).


Just before the War of Liberation broke out, a senior officer of the Pakistan Post Office Mr. A M Ahsanullah, then DDG (S & E) was on a visit at Dhaka. He could not go back to his duty and was kept under detention. He was released after the independence of Bangladesh and the new government of the country appointed him the Director General of Bangladesh Post Office. He assumed his duties on 19 December 1971. Same day some senior officials of Bangladesh government and Mr. John Stonehouse MP came to Dhaka in a special Army helicopter. Mr. Stonehouse brought with him a few hundred copies of the first eight-value stamps of Bangladesh, issued on 29 July 1971. He also brought with him three more stamps of value 10p, Rs 5, and Rs 10 overprinted 'Bangladesh Liberated' in both Bangla and English in very small types. All the eleven stamps were put on sale at Dhaka GPO on 20 December 1971.

The inaugural stamps splitted the name BANGLADESH into BANGLA DESH both in Bangla and English.

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Taken on December 5, 2010