Posta Europea

September 29, 2023

The Posta Europea, a privately owned postal service in Lower Egypt, was founded by an Italian printer called Carlo Meratti. He arrived in Egypt about 1820 and initially acted as a forwarding agent in Alexandria for mail from and to Europe.

At that time, the only existing postal service in Egypt was the State Courier Post established by Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt. It primarily served various government officials but also offered an inefficient service to the general public. Carlo Meratti realised the need of the merchant community for an efficient and reliable postal service between Alexandria and Cairo and in the late 1820’s established a successful regular postal service between those two most important Egyptian towns with its head office in Alexandria, which was later called ‘La Posta Europea’. This name implied to its customers a similar standard of postal service as in Italy and the connection with Europe it offered.

After the death of Carlo Meratti in 1843, his nephew Tito Chini took over the running of Posta Europea, later joined by another Italians, Giacomo Muzzi (in 1848) and Vittorio Chioffi (in 1862). The enterprise was so successful that it gradually connected all major towns in Lower Egypt. Posta Europea took advantage of the development of the railway system and in 1856 gained a monopoly for transport of mail by rail. Its competition with the government post was so successful that Posta Europea received an official postal monopoly for the period of 10 years in 1862 and the government wound down its own postal service in the Lower Egypt.

Shortly after Chini’s death in 1864, Muzzi and Chioffi proposed establishing a uniform postage for any destination in Egypt and the issuing of postage stamps. The Viceroy, Ismail Pasha, was so impressed with the proposal that he decided to re-purchase the postal monopoly. The deal was signed in 1864 and the ownership of the Posta Europa officially passed to the State Administration on 2 January 1865. The Posta Europea ceased to exist and the Viceroyal Post (Poste Vice-reali Egiziane) was born with Muzzi being appointed as the first Postmaster General of Egypt. This also explains the usage of Italian on early Egyptian stamps and cancellations.

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