LOCATION: Oman Peninsula, Arabia, on Persian Gulf
AREA: 100 sq. mi. (260 sq. km)
Population: 4,400 (est. 1970)
GOVERNMENT: Sheikdom under British protection
FIRST STAMPS ISSUED: 20 June 1964
LAST STAMPS ISSUED: 1972 [those issued after 18 December 1965 are unlisted in Scott]
100 Naiye Paise = 1 Rupee (1964-1966); 100 Fils = 1 Dinar (1966-1972)
Ajman is the smallest of seven emirates, centrally located on the western coast of the present-day United Arab Emirates in eastern Arabia. It is the smallest of the emirates by area and had an estimated population of 4,400 in 1970. Today, the population is more than 360,000. Ajman City is the capital and the port is situated down a short creek. The emirate is bordered by Sharjah and is only 10km away from Dubai in the south and Umm al Quwain in the north.
British influence in the region increased in the early nineteenth century. Following the capture of Ras al Khaimah by a British force, the sultan of Sharjah sighed the General Maritime Treaty with Great Britain on 8 January 1820, surrendering the towers, guns and vessels of Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain and their dependencies. Ajman initially refused the primacy of the sultan of Sharjah but capitulated in 1823. A British maritime survey in 1822 had noted that Ajman had one of the best backwaters on the coast and was a small town with a single fortified building, the ruler’s house.
Ajman town and its date groves were attacked by the Bani Yas tribe in 1831. Forces from Ajman subsequently attacked Sohar and Muscat which prompted a British naval force being sent to curb the raids in 1832. Ending conflicts between Sharjah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Ajman, a Maritime Treaty was signed in 1835. Forces from Al Heera invaded Ajman in 1840 which prompted further reprisals and another Maritime Treaty between the Trucial sheiks and the British in 1843. A “Perpetual Treaty of Peace” was entered into by the coastal sheiks on 4 May 1853; a further treaty bound the Trucial States to Britain in 1892.
In 1948, the British Postal Agencies in Eastern Arabia were set up to provide postal services to countries in the region with mail processed in Dubai using stamps issued for the Trucial States. The first post office in Ajman was opened on 29 November 1963 by the Agencies. The first stamps inscribed with the individual emirate name of Ajman were issued on 20 June 1964. The sheikdom released 64 stamps – 46 general issue, nine airmail, four airmail official, and five official stamps – in 1964 and 1965.
On 5 July 1966, Ajman opened a post office in its small dependency of Manama. The first Manama issue appeared soon afterwards and the two postal agencies released thousands of stamps designed solely with the worldwide collector in mind. As these had little to no postal validity, the Scott catalogue does not list any Ajman stamps released after December 1965, nor any of the Manama issues. To identify these unlisted stamps, the Oh My Gosh website is useful. I believe that the Michel and Stanley Gibbons catalogues list some of these disputed issues, but I don’t have the pertinent volumes available to check.
Ajman agreed to join the independent United Arab Emirates on 2 December 1971 and the UAE took over postal operations on 1 August 1972. Ajman stamps were allowed to be used for postage until the following April. Numerous Ajman-inscribed stamps continued to be released throughout 1972 and beyond but these weren’t recognized as valid by the government. In addition to the sixty-four listed in Scott, it has been estimated that an additional six to seven thousand different Ajman stamps came onto the philatelic market between 1964 and 1972. It’s been reported that the Ajman postmaster, without consulting the government, sold “exclusive” stamp-printing contracts to at least two separate agencies during this time.
The majority of the Scott-listed stamps are valued at less than US $1 with the most expensive being Scott #18, priced at US $4.30 in my 2009 edition of the catalogue. Most of the postally-disputed unlisted stamps are considered to be practically worthless but can offer nice additions to certain topical collections. It is probably impossible to aim for completeness, however…
I currently have twenty-nine stamps from Ajman in my general worldwide collection, one of which will be earmarked for my A Stamp From Everywhere album. I own all nine of the Scott-listed airmail stamps, C1-C9. The first six values were released on 15 November 1965 and the remaining three high-value stamps appeared on 18 December 1965, about two weeks after my birth. I also have twenty tiny unlisted airmail stamps picturing various countries’ military uniforms and carrying the date 1972, along with the inscription “Ajman State and its Dependencies.”