The Alexander Museum of Postal History & Philately tells the postal history of the Land of Israel within the context of historical, social, and political changes in the region.
The Museum opened its doors on May 19, 1998, as part of Israel’s Jubilee Celebrations.
The displays includes elements that relate to the postal services in general and to the postal services in Israel in particular.
In biblical sources there is evidence of letters and epistles, and ‘doar,’ the Hebrew word for post, in the sense of sending letters, can be found in the Talmud. The word ‘post’ was used as early as Ancient Rome.
The exhibits display postal history in general, and local postal history in particular, begin with a chronicle of the post in the Land of Israel from the mid-19th century though the establishment of the State of Israel.
The story is told through envelopes and letters, photographs and posters, mailboxes and telephones, and a 1949 mail mail truck from the early days of the country.
One of the exhibits includes a large-scale stamp album, where a chronological selection of Israeli stamps illustrates the changes in design and subject over the years.
Communications and postal services
There are three identical stamps, in different shades, exhibited in the lobby, depicting the development of communications.
They range from ancient times when pottery and papyrus served for writing letters, through today’s electronic mail.
The “Red Ford” in the center of the exhibit, bearing the Israel Post’s emblem of the running stag, is a Ford F1 dating from 1949, the kind of vehicle that served the Israel Post in its early days.
A special corner is devoted to special temporary exhibits related to the history of philately and postal services in Israel.
The Historical Gallery
The history of the postal services in Israel
The exhibit is a historical gallery, beginning with the Ottoman Period and ending with Doar Ivri – Hebrew Post.
It is divided into windows that describe the post offices that operated in the country.
In Eretz Israel, which was part of the Ottoman Empire, the first stamps were used in the1860s.
From this time on, in addition to the Turkish postal services, independent post offices of European countries such as Austria, France and Germany also provided service.
They operated under concessions granted by the Empire to manage and organize the civil life of citizens of these countries in matters concerning economy, law, and religion.
This enhanced transportation and postal services were provided, among them the distribution of mail by postmen and the installation of street mailboxes.
However, with the outbreak of World War I in 1914 these post offices closed down.
At the beginning of the twentieth century themoshavot mail also operated.
It served the new Jewish Yishuv (the Jewish settlement), and the first Hebrew stamp was issued – the stamp of the “Mother of the Moshavot”, Petach Tikva.
Postal services improved during the British Mandate.
Impressive and innovative post offices opened in Jaffa and Jerusalem, and a stamp series that showed the landscapes and sites of the country was introduced into service.
Towards the end of the Mandate all postal services were terminated.
Minhelet Ha’am (the provisional government), that led the Yishuv, re-operated them in most parts of the country, laying the foundations for the Israel Post.
The first stamps of the State of Israel were printed clandestinely, before the name of the new state was known.
They were issued on May 16, 1948, two days after the declaration of independence, and bore the words Doar Ivri.
These stamps showed motifs taken from Hebrew coins from the days of the Second Temple and Bar Kochkva.
The choice of ancient motifs manifested the link between the history of the Jewish People and its rebirth in the country in modern times.
Current postal services
A computerized system situated in the center of the halls demonstrates the postal services today.
Visitors can use different information menus related to the activities of the Postal Company and up-to-date postal services, and learn about their immediacy and complexity.
Morse code machines, teleprinters, and field telephones, which can be viewed on this level, demonstrate the use made of technological innovations for transmitting messages.
Electrical signals transmitted via cables were transformed into signs by the Morse code machine, into print by teleprinters, and sounds by the field telephone.
Two interactive computerized stations offer the visitor a comprehensive collection of Israel’s stamps.
Shifting the “magnifying glass” over the screen makes it possible to choose a series of screens that deal with the stamp itself and other stamps on the same topic.
The Stamp Album and the Printing Machine
“The Stamp Album” exhibits a selection of stamps in chronological order, through which visitors can learn about the design style and the different topics in Israeli stamps that changed over the years.
The Doar Ivri stamps were printed clandestinely on the adjacent printing machine, which was used to print the Haaretz newspaper in Sarona, Tel Aviv.
On the adjacent screen visitors can watch a film describing the process of stamp production today.
In this space there are also temporary exhibitions devoted to diverse historical topics.
The Lower Floor
The Alexander Collection
Stamp collector Zvi Alexander assembled this important collection over 50 years, which is devoted to the Holy Land postal history.
The collection is composed of unique philatelic items and covers 600 years of the history of Eretz Israel.
It represents important chapters dealing with geo-political and socio-economic aspects.
This includes the pre-philatelist era, the Turkish post, foreign post offices, World War I, the development of Zionism and themoshavotin Eretz Israel, the British Mandate, the War of Independence, and the establishment of the State of Israel.
Special emphasis is placed on the connection between world Jewry and Eretz Israel and the Zionist enterprise.
The items in the Alexander Collection are exhibited in the Philately Wing, which comprises historical collections and all the stamps of Israel.
In this section visitors have access to a library, a lecture hall, a room for creative activities.
In the Jaglom Library a collection of philatelic items devoted to towns and sites in Eretz Israel is on show.
It covers some 150 years, from the Ottoman Empire until the present day.
The Alfred Goldschmidt Collection
The collection, including dozens of albums containing thousands of envelopes, traces the history of air mail delivery to and from Eretz-Israel, and is known to be the largest of its kind.
The earliest item in the collection is an envelope dated March 1919, which was delivered on a British Air Force flight.
It is the first physical evidence we have of a letter reaching Eretz Israel by air.
The collection ends with covers dating from the 1970s.
The envelopes, cachets, and stamps found in the collection also document the history of aviation in Eretz Israel.
It depicts, among others, the entry of foreign airlines operating in the country during the 1920s, flights carried out during the 1930s and World War II, the activities of the young Israel Air Force during the War of Independence (1948/9), and the broad range of flights to and from the State of Israel.
The Alexander Museum of Postal History & Philately is located on the Eretz Israel museum grounds.
For information on visiting hours and ticket prices see the museum website.