Egypt stuns the world in Monaco

Ex-King Ahmed Fouad, centre, his daughter Fawzia Latifa and Egypt philatelists at the exhibition opening

Those members of the Egypt Study Circle and the Philatelic Society of Egypt lucky enough to be able to spend four days in Monte Carlo in November are still trying to catch their breath after attending what has undoubtedly been the most comprehensive exhibition of Egyptian philately ever produced. As a crucial part of its regular celebration, the Club de

Monaco’s Post Office produced a miniature sheet featuring the Great Pyramid

Monte-Carlo used Monacophil 2019 to present in 209 frames pretty well every philatelic treasure Egypt has produced. .

The non-competitive exhibition, Treasures of Egypt, was graced by the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco and by the presence of ex-King Ahmed Fouad of Egypt, son of King Farouk, who showed enormous interest in examining many of the most significant exhibits from his native land.

The Egypt exhibition, which ran alongside a similar display of Maritime material, was a personal triumph for Hany Salam of the PSE (ESC 580), who as a member of the Club de Monte-Carlo has lobbied

Hany Salam, right, explains a point to Prince Albert, left, and ex-King Ahmed Fouad

for years for an Egypt presentation that would place before the eyes of the world the relevance and importance of Egyptian philately. As a double string to his bow, he was also able to launch his new publication, The Egyptian Maritime Postal History, 1845-1889, which was received with delight.

In all, 24 members of the Circle – 18 of them from Egypt itself - showed 138 frames detailing virtually every highlight of Egyptian philately, as well as significant literature. They were joined in exhibiting by 12 internationally acclaimed philatelists who have long recognised the very special appeal in Egypt and its stamps.

• We are indebted to Sami Sadek and Jon Aitchison for the following insight into the spectacle, and for many of the illustrations.

Monacophil is a biannual non-competitive philatelic event hosted by the Club de Monte-Carlo. The 2019 event had two main themes, in addition to a young philatelist exhibition: one was the Treasures of Egypt and the second was Maritime postal history.

These were held on the Terrasses de Fontvieille, the venue that hosts Prince Albert’s personal and extensive antique motor vehicle collection, which includes a 1903 De Dion Bouton. Just opposite was the Musée de Timbres et des Monnaies, where the Club set up an overwhelming special exhibition of the 100 world’s most

Ex-King Ahmed Fouad spent a considerable time examining the postal history books of Sami Fereig, left, with Dr Sherif Samra

significant stamps and documents. Among the exhibitors was Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Albert himself, and Hany Salam. What an honour! Hany, the main driver behind the special Egyptian presentation, with the strong support of Patrick Maselis, president of the Club de Monte-Carlo, and Sherif Samra, was rightly praised for his organisational skills.

The Egypt exhibition reflected the outstanding contribution of Egypt to international philately and provided a superb historical background to its wealth and complexity. Hany Salam acted as host and guide to Prince Albert and ex-King Ahmed Fouad on an extended tour of the frames, and the former king, accompanied by his daughter, Princess Fawzia Latifa, graciously agreed afterwards to meet the Egyptian exhibitors, many of whom gave him personal philatelic gifts.

The Princess returned on the final day for another look back at Egypt’s history in stamps. Both were very friendly and approachable, involved for at least two hours talking to our members and posing for photographs.

The exhibition involved many of the giants of Egyptian philately, with so many rare and stunning presentations that it would be impossible to discuss them all. So a few highlights will be mentioned to provide an idea of the outstanding quality of exhibits.

Joe Chalhoub presented Treasures from the Royal Collection, with the 1948 Farouk Military issue 50 piastres displayed both as an imperforate blue frame colour trial and full imperforate sheet. In addition, he showed a stunning complete seven sheets of proofs of the First Issue.

Greg Todd presented his unsurpassed collection of the First Issue including the renowned block of 53 of the 1pi. Yasser Omar showed a detailed Fouad First Portrait exhibit including proofs and the largest imperforate block of 21 of the 200 mills. Atef Sarian presented an incredible collection of the King Farouk Military issue including many rarities.

Sami Fereig and Sherif Samra were granted a private meeting with ex-King Ahmed Fouad, and presented him with a copy of Professor Fereig’s three-volume tour de force of the Postal History of Egypt. The former monarch spent a significant amount of time and interest in examining the books.

The former monarch of Egypt was thoroughly immersed in looking at exhibits as visitors thronged the hall

Guests at the Gala Dinner were astonished to find the dining salon embellished with decorations reflecting Ancient Egypt.
At left are Fouad Hanna, Jon Aitchison, Atef Sarian and Greg Todd

The event was also a wonderful opportunity to socialise. Without doubt the highlight was the Gala Dinner in the Imperial Salon of the Hotel de Paris. To our surprise as we entered we saw that the room had taken a step back in history, with a sarcophagus, Tutankhamun effigy and the walls of the sumptuous dining room completely covered with huge screens designed to echo Ancient Egyptian tomb themes.

Among the other social and philatelic events was the presentation by David Feldman of the series of books based on Joe Chalhoub’s specialised collection. The Monaco Post Office produced a stamp and an Egypt-themed miniature sheet on which one stamp depicts the Great Pyramid at Giza.

The main exhibition was held in the imposing Museum of Stamps and Coins; centre, Princess Fawzia Latifa with Sherif Samra and Jeanne Fikry; right, Hany Salam guides ex-King Ahmed Fouad to yet another treasure

Among the other social and philatelic events was the presentation by David Feldman of the series of books based on Joe Chalhoub’s specialised collection. The Monaco Post Office produced a stamp and an Egypt-themed miniature sheet on which one stamp depicts the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Away from the exhibition itself, the Egypt Study Circle group had a delightful lunch attended by most of the members present. Throughout the exhibition many a drink and meal together were enjoyed. Such gatherings at international shows are both fun and an opportunity for members all over the world to get together. We have been blessed in 2019 with excellent gatherings at Stockholmia in Sweden and PSE90 in Cairo, as well as Monacophil. More such events will be planned for members to enjoy.

Study Circle members enjoyed a meal in the environs of the exhibition. From left: Ashraf Nabil, Sherif Samra, Lena and Sami Sadek, Lada and Hany Salam, Ahmed Nabil, Adel Hanna, Bill Hedley, FEPA president, Joe Chalhoub, Lucien Toutounji, Jon Aitchison, Greg Todd, Atef Sarian.

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