Does anyone here collect Moroccan local stamps from the period before 1912 when the French Protectorate was established?
In the 1890s, several European entrepreneurs set up local postal routes complete with stamps for specific routes. The Sultan attempted to compete with a postal service of his own. Instead of stamps, he used cachets that were directly stamped on the covers in colorful inks made from cobalt, or saffron, or poppies, etc. Nobody has yet figured out what the colors meant, but a complete collection would require each color from each city of origin.
Those that were octagonal were for private mail, while circular ones were for official mail. The Arabic calligraphy provides the name of the city of origin along with a statement that the mail is protected by Allah. Few Europeans used the Sultan's postal service and
They are known as Maghzan cachets: Maghzan (or makhzen, transliteration varies considerably) refers to the part of Morocco controlled by the Sultan, as opposed to the areas run by tribes (or bandits, depending on your bias).
Here is an octagonal marking from Rabat:
The Arabic script on the cover specifies that it is meant for an addressee in Marrakesh.
Given that Europeans tended to avoid the Sultan's mail services, as the competitors provided such services as registered mail as an alternative to protection by Allah, I was surprised to find a cover with an inscription in English.
You see "By Moorish Courier", in the place where one normally expects "par avion", or "par ballon montee", etc. The mail was carried by a a man who managed to run 100 km each day in what must have been 100F heat. I wonder if I should doubt the authenticity of covers that were not damaged by sweat.
I googled the addressee. Kaid is an Arabic term for a cheiftain. But Maclean is not exactly an Arab name. Harry Aubrey de Vere Maclean was a Scotsman who the Sultan hired to run his army. His strategy was to use him to fend off the French and Germans who were coveting Morocco.
His plan B, by the way, was to hire alchemists in Fez to figure out how to turn all Christians into fish. Neither worked, which is why there is a whole chapter in Scott about French Morocco.
Maclean brought his bagpipes, that somehow melded with traditional Moroccan instruments. He mixed his traditional tartan with berber gear. I acquired the cover just before Halloween, and considered dressing as Maclean, but nobody would get it.
In any case, it is an interesting cover. If you have any stamps from that period before the Protectorate, please post them here.