Turkey's first sport stamps (1940-1960)


by Kaya DORSAN




Turkey is hosting two major sport organisations in August: the Universiade, taking place in Izmir between August 10 and 21, and the first Turkish Formula 1 Grand Prix in Istanbul on August 21. Both events are being commemorated on a large scale with stamps, post cards and special seals issued by the Turkish Post Office (PTT).


These are not, of course, Turkey’s first sports stamps. The first stamps to be issued with a sports theme came out in 1940 on the occasion of the 11th Balkans Games. The series consisted of four stamps of which 75,000 copies were printed.


Turkey’s second series of sports stamps was issued for the 5th European Wrestling Championship held in Istanbul in 1949. This series also consisted of four stamps, printed in Switzerland, as a series, in 250,000 copies.


In 1955, football was in the headlines. The International Military Football Championship was held in Turkey that year, and the Turkish Army team won the championship. To celebrate this victory, a series of three stamps went on sale, printed in Ankara in 100,000 copies.


Olympic gold


1956 was the year of the Melbourne Olympics. Having achieved significant successes in wrestling at the London (1948) and Helsinki (1952) Olympics, Turkey was expecting to win more gold medals in this discipline, and wrestling figures were depicted on both of the stamps that made up the series. In the event, wrestling was indeed the only activity in which Turkish sportsmen won gold medals.


It was basketball’s turn next. The 11th European and Mediterranean Countries Basketball Championship took place in Istanbul in 1959, and a commemorative stamp was issued. One million copies were printed. The championship lasted 10 days and a different postmark was used for each day.


For the 1960 Rome Olympics, the Turkish Post Office (PTT) published an innovatory series consisting of five stamps in miniature sheets formed of 25 stamps, or five series, each. These stamps too were printed in Switzerland. Each stamp featured a different sporting figure. 


The number of sports stamps went on increasing in subsequent years, and so did the number of thematic collectors collecting only stamps with sports themes. These philatelists are having the pleasure of adding new stamps to their collections this month.




(DIPLOMAT  -  August 2005  -  Ankara)