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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lawrence of Arabia stamp design to appear at exhibition

The stamps, designed for a short-lived kingdom, were found in the Queen's collection:- Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence needs little introduction as his life has been well covered in books and film. Later known as Lawrence of Arabia, was particularly known for his role during the Arab revolt against German allies the Ottoman Empire during the First World War.

Whilst Lawrence was famed for his close involvement in the Middle East, one aspect of this is not well known. A set of stamps designed by the British officer has been re-discovered in the Royal collection of stamps.

The sheet of 50 blue stamps was intended for the short-lived Kingdom of Hijaz, and was discovered with a note by Lawrence explaining this. Hijaz was in the eastern region of modern Saudi Arabia, alongside the Red Sea, and lasted from 1916-1924.

Lawrence would have been a natural choice to design stamps for the new kingdomn given his unparalleled understanding of the region. The stamps are straightforwardly patterned, as strict Muslims discourage the use of images of people or other animals for these purposes.

The stamp sheet, originally part of the collection of George V, will form part of the Empire Mail: George V and the GPO exhibition, which Jennifer Flippance talked about in her interview with us. The exhibition takes place at Guildhall Art Gallery from May 7 to July 27.