Philatelic Contribution to UNESCO Campaign on 'Save the Nubian Monuments' by MOHAMMAD ABU AL HASAN, Bangladesh, HCSM Program, BTU

The very 1st International collaborative initiative on protecting our heritage, the world has observed was the UNESCO’s ‘Save the Nubian Monuments’ Campaign. This was the very 1st heritage project of UNESCO after its establishment in 1946 in saving heritage and also till-to-date the biggest heritage safeguarding project. This project created the ground for creating an international community/forum to save the significant heritage of mankind which later shaped as a ‘UNESCO Convention concerning the protection of the World cultural and Natural Heritage’, commonly known as World Heritage Convention.

Back in 1954, the initiative of constructing a dam on Nile in Aswan threatened the vast archaeological heritage of Nubia in Egypt and Sudan to be submerged under water. After receiving an appeal from the Egyptian and Sudanese government for international co-operation for protecting the archaeological heritage of Nubia, UNESCO launched the international campaign on Save the Nubian Monuments in 1960. The campaign brought huge response and a USD80 million fund was collected. A multinational expert team started working on the project. Transferring the Abu Simbel Temple to the higher ground was one of the most challenging tasks in the project.

During the ‘Save the Nubian Monuments’ project from 1960-1980, a philatelic campaign was launched by the postal authorities of 50 countries to support the campaign on ‘Save the Nubian Monuments’. The worldwide philatelic campaign not only raised funds but also was successful to gain public attention around the globe.

Exhibit Synopsis

Preface: I am collecting and studying postage stamps and postal documents for last 20 years from the childhood. I collect and have a special interest on Philatelic materials and postal history related to heritage promotion, political propaganda, British India, Arab Trucial States, German Empire and Aero philately of Berlin. I have started collecting and studying on UNESCO Campaign on Save the Nubian Monuments while I was doing my bachelor in Archaeology. Over the last 10 Years, I have gathered numerous philatelic materials in my collection from various auction houses, security printing authorities, philatelic exchange clubs, philatelic dealers and philatelists from all over the world. The exhibit is not my complete collection on the topic rather a part of my larger collection on UNESCO Campaign mainly to illustrate the Philatelic Contribution to the project. Have an interest in Philately and/or want to share your feedback! Feel free to write me at hasan1182001(at), alhasmo1(at)

Scope: The Existence of wide varieties of philatelic and postal documents left the scope to take a story telling attempt about the campaign and also to show how philately can impact in the modern world.

Importance: During the circulation of the 1st stamp of the world ‘Penny Black’ from the British Empire in 1940, it was acted simply as a tiny piece of paper for postage cost. Over the time, postage stamps have become an important symbol of nationalism, sovereignty and a representative to a country/territory to the rest of the world. It also acts as a medium to express international solidarity and unity.

The beginning of UNESCO Campaign on Save the Nubian Monuments created such an impact that the government postal authorities around the world launched a different campaign was launched by the postal authorities around the world which has remains unnoticed among the heritage professionals. Nearly 50 countries launched Philatelic campaign to support the UNESCO campaign on ‘Save the Nubian Monuments’ to get the attention of the mass people regarding the ongoing effort of saving the Nubian monuments and also to generate funds for the project. Under this philatelic campaign, 50 countries in five continents issued postage stamps and First Day Cover along with special cancel on Save the Nubian Monuments. Some countries provided a percentage of the amount earned from selling stamps for postage cost and to collectors and FDCs and some countries even donated their issued stamps and FDCs to UNESCO to sell them from UNESCO Philatelic Bureau in Paris to generate fund for the trust. Besides, the use of those postal materials for sending letters from the respecting issuing countries helped to spread the message of the campaign and the international co-operation among the mass people around the world.  The 20-years long philatelic campaign raised $65,690.64 for the project and most importantly through postage stamps; the importance of the project got much public attention around the globe.

From Philatelic perspective the materials and the exhibit is important from three standpoints. Firstly, it is an excellent example to show how philately can act as a tool for contributing on financial aspects in local, regional and international level. Secondly, it brings the scope to promote the safeguarding the heritage among the mass population. Finally, the Postal campaign has set an example that how philately can bring international cooperation.   

Exhibit Plan: The exhibit has been divided into five parts to illustrate every aspect of the campaign as well as the philatelic contribution in the project. Different kinds of philatelic materials like postage stamps, First Day Cover, Commemorative Postal Cancel, Postal cover used with the Save the Nubian Monuments Stamps that helped to raise funds and to promote the campaign as well as different Govt. Postal archival documents like Proof, Deluxe Card, and unissued imperforated postal material from my collection have been used for this exhibit. Rare and important items have been boxed in Red color.  

Exhibit Plan

Philatelic Glossary used in this Exhibit

Philately: Philately is the study of postage stamps and postal history. It also refers to the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other philatelic products.

MNH: Mint Never Hinged, the stamp which has not been used yet for postage and all the feature of the stamps including the gum are intact.

First Day Cover: A cover with postage stamp franked on the first day the issue is authorized for usewithin the country or territory of the stamp-issuing authority. Sometimes the issue is made from a temporary or permanent foreign or overseas office. First Day cover can be a Postal Authorities official cover or a privately made cover.

First Day Cancel: First day of issue postmark or Cancel, frequently a pictorial cancellation, indicating the city and date where the item was first issued, and "first day of issue" is often used to refer to this postmark. Postal authorities may hold a first day ceremony to generate publicity for the new issue, with postal officials revealing the stamp, and with connected persons in attendance, such as descendants of the person being honored by the stamp.

Proof: In philately a Die Proof is a printed image pulled directly from the master die for an engraved stamp. As a stamp is engraved it is necessary to check progress and a series of proofs are printed or 'pulled' from the die. These are known as progressive or contemporary die proofs.

Souvenir Sheet: A souvenir sheet or miniature sheet is a small group of postage stamps still attached to the sheet on which they were printed. They may be either regular issues that just happen to be printed in small groups (typical of many early stamps), or special issues often commemorating some event, such as a national anniversary, philatelic exhibition, or government program.

Cancellation: A cancellation is a postal marking applied on a postage stamp or postal stationery to deface the stamp and to prevent its reuse.

Deluxe Proof: Also known as Posthumous die Proof. Any pulls from the master die after the stamp has been printed are known as posthumous die proofs and are normally produced for presentation purposes, as samples of the printer's work or to satisfy philatelic demand (demand for the item amongst collectors of stamps).

Registered Mail: Registered mail is a mail service offered by postal services in many countries, which allows the sender proof of mailing via a mailing receipt and, upon request, electronic verification that an article was delivered or that a delivery attempt was made. Depending on the country, additional services may also be available.