Persia was a wounded country with a young incompetent King and Britain exploiting the resourses and Russia a short march from the capital. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
I should like this stamp. A pompous ruler, pretending to be King, wearing an elaborate uniform with a sash. He even sports a silly mustache. What is not to like? Just that Persia was once a great country and a string of rulers like Reza Kahn, er ah Reza Shah Pahlavi, have left this country a backward…. well I won’t say shithole, but the President would.
Todays stamp is issue A42, a 6 Centimes stamp issued by the Kingdom of Persia in 1929. It was part of a sixteen stamp issue in various denominations and showed Reza Shah Pahlavi. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents.
The Qajar Dynasty had ruled Persia since the late 18th century. By the early 20th Century. the dynasty was about played out. Ahmad Shah had taken the thrown at age 11 in 1909 after his father was forced to abdicate. At first there was a regency, but the boy took power in 1914 at age 16. Persia had a deal that provided oil to the Royal Navy at a low rate and the northern Capital at Tehran was a short march from Russia. When the Czarist Russian army marched to the capital, the Shah’s Army did not put up a fight but mountain warlords did pushing out the Russians. The discredited the boy Shah if he ever had any credibility.
After World War I, the province nearest Russia declared itself the Persian Soviet Socialist Republic. The signaled their intent to march to Tehran with the support of the Red Army. Knowing Ahmad Shah was incapable of meeting this challenge the Persian Army rebelled under an officer named Reza Kahn. Kahn had been made an officer earlier by being the only person in his unit that could figure out how to use and keep functional a Russian made machine gun. The Shah was stripped first of his power and sent on an extended European tour that amounted to exile. The British then suggested that the national assembly name Kahn the new Shah which they did in 1925. The new Shah kept the oil deal with the British and signed a treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union. Everyone was happy, well perhaps not the people. He did request in 1935 that other countries refer to Persia as Iran as it is known in the native language. His wife Queen Taj got wearing the veil banned in 1936.
World War II saw Reza Shah Pahlavi try to stay neutral and keep out all foreign troops. This was not acceptable to the British nor the Soviets and both invaded from north and south in 1941. The Army again refused to fight. Even after the Shah beat his General with his walking stick and put him in prison. Britain considered putting the son of the last Qajar Shah on the throne but he was a British national who did not speak Persian. So similar to 1909, Reza Shah’s son was put on the throne and the current Reza Shah Pahlavi abdicated and went into exile in South Africa. Queen Taj did not join him. Eventually his remains were returned to Iran in 1950 and placed in a mausoleum. During the 1979 revolution, the mausoleum was ransacked but the former Shah’s remains were not found. Recently what were believed to be his remains were found nearby the mausoleum and reburied. His third of five wives, Queen Now Mother Taj, fled Iran before the Shah and attempted to stay at a family owned mansion in Beverly Hills. Two days after her arrival, Iranian students in the USA attacked the house and attempted to burn it. She had to flee again and spent her last days in Acapulco, Mexico.
Well my drink is empty and I am left wondering if Iran will ever have a decent government. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.