When the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, one of the first actions of the new government was to issue a new set of postage stamps, which had been prepared in secret using the services of local private printers. For the next several years, Israel had to outsource their production of postage stamps and postal stationery because they had no internal capability to meet the production requirements.
In 1951, the Israel Ministry of Posts ordered a photogravure printing press from Chambon, Ltd., in London, England. They approached the United Nations, and requested assistance in establishing their own internal printing capability. The United Nations Technical Assistance Administration then arranged for Otto M. Lilien, an internationally known photogravure expert working in England, to provide that assistances.
During the following three years, Lilien worked with the Israel Ministry of Post staff to evaluate the new printing press, first in England and later in Israel, and to determine the criteria for using the new capability to print both postage stamps and stationery. Much of this work in Israel involved evaluating locally produced materials (papers and inks) for the production of these stamps and stationery. During his assignment, Lilien maintained detailed records of these experiements, and retained examples of his work at each step of the printing trials. Many of the materials presented in this exhibit are from his personal files, which appeared on the philatelic market in the late 1970s.
Lilien wrote about his experiences on this assignment in an article published in the Holy Land & Middle East Philatelic magazine in 1957, which can be read here. View PDF
His final report to the United Nations, Photogravure Printing in Israel can be seen here. View PDF
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