28 October 2010

Phnom Penh CPO Postmarks (Part 1)

After the Khmer Rouge lost to the Vietnamese in Janurary 1979, the new Phnom Penh administration encouraged people to take up their former work again so to set things back on track as soon as possible. Unfortunately the Phnom Penh Central Post Office found only 1/4 of its former staff back to work (See ICP #41 "Cambodia").

Postal service resumed but initially only for official use, later it was made available to public. A lack of information leaves the type of postmarks
unconfirmed, if any were used in 1979. A reasonable guess is, the Lon Nol era (1970-1975) postmarks were the resort before a brand new "la République Populaire du Kampuchéa" (RPK) postmark appeared in 1980.

This "Phnom Penh CPO Postmarks" series is aimed to give a quick review on Phnom Penh Central Post Office postmarks on letters from 1980 to 2010.

Philatelist Graham Shaw has also written a series of articles on Phnom Penh postmarks. Please click here for his website.


The first RPK postmark appeared on the FDC of a 4v set issued on 10th April 1980. It is single ring edged, inscription reads "PHNOM PENH RP. KAMPUCHEA" in French on the lower half of the postmark inner edge. "RP" is the acronym of "Recette Principale", the main post office of a city or an area, in here refers to the Phnom Penh Central Post Office. In Khmer there is only the post office name on the upper half of the postmark inner edge.

This postmark type ruled from 1980 to 1994. It comes in a very big variety of sizes and fonts, in here I am not going into details.

Some postmarks are numbered. The most distinctive one is number 3 which was the first to put in service, and it has 2 versions. The first version has the number 3 in both Arabic and Khmer numerals (Khmer numeral after the Khmer words "Phnom Penh", Arabic numeral between the French words "PHNOM PENH" and "KAMPUCHEA), and the French acronym "RP" right after "Phnom Penh" in Khmer is left out. The other version is with the number 3 only in Arabic, "Phnom Penh Post Office" in Khmer appears under the upper ring edge of the postmark.

The number 3 Khmer numeral version first came in service in early 1980s, it is from the mail handling centre co-operated with the postal training centre. The one only in Arabic numeral, together with others such as 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, joined the family in around 1987 or later. It should be noted that the numbers are not in connective sequence.

The following illustrates "Phnom Penh 3" (top right) of 1982, and three other numbers (1, 6, 9) from late 1980s to first half of 1990s:

Here is number 3 - Arabic numeral only version, the wide Arabic numeral "3" after the Khmer words "Phnom Penh" is faint but eligible to read:

Lon Nol era postmarks were used alongside with the generation 1 postmarks until mid 1990s. Below shows a 1980 and a 1989 usage:

(to be continued)

Please click here for Phnom Penh CPO Postmark (Part 2)
Please click here for Phnom Penh CPO Postmark (Part 3)

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