STOCKHOLMIA 2019 Private Treaty Sale

Lot 72

France, 1915-23, Army of the Orient (Armée d'orient). These 48 exhibit pages, well-designed and fully annotated, present the history of the French forces sent to face not the Germans, but the Turks, in WWI. The Balkan Front has received much less attention—both historically and philatelically—than the Western Front. But its range, variety and importance are no less, as the covers and cards in this collection—over 100 of them—show.

The majority of covers are stampless, as military personnel received free franking privileges from 1914 through the time peace treaties took effect. Various unit cachets are present, along with Trésor et Postes datestamps bearing postal-sector numbers analogous to FPO and APO markings of the British and Americans. Of those covers that are franked, we note stamps of Egypt, France, Greece and Turkey (the latter a civilian letter bearing both Turkish and French adhesives)—along with a Russian military card used at Salonica.

Born of a single French corps—sent to support the British in their ill-conceived Gallipolis campaign, and later withdrawn to "neutral" Greece—the French Armée d'orient (AO) was tasked with supporting the Serbian and Greek armies against mainly Bulgar forces. The war would see them in Italy and Greece, the Balkans, and Turkey itself.

The collection covers the original Expeditionary Corps of 1915, the Occupation of Castellorizo (1915-20), supply line bases, plus the AO's campaigns in Greek Macedonia, Corfu (French-franked cover with Serbian Censor handstamp), Suez and Palestine, Syria, Greece Albania, and Bulgaria. Post from the Légion d'orient (Armenian volunteers raised in Port Said to fight against the Turks) is present as well, as are covers from aviation squadrons, artillery units, automobile convoys, medical units, and naval forces. Post-war occupations of Rouad, Epirus, Bulgaria (the Armée du Danube), Hungary, Constantinople, Cilicia and Smyrna are all illustrated as well.

We note Registered and Airmail usages, with destinations of France, the US, Egypt and Switzerland. One card bears the blue cachet of the AO's Bacteriology Laboratory (!), a mail wagon fire cover (the result of a German airplane raid), a picture post card sent via submarine (!!), plus a ribboned bronze medal of the AO soldiery.

Uncommon material from a lesser-known theater of the Great War.

Price: $5,000; £3,925; €4,250; 50,000 SEK; HK$39,000.

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