Cambodia's 50th Anniversary of Independence from France

November 2003 was a busy month for the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPTC) of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia culminating in the November 9 issue to commemorate Cambodia's 50th anniversary of its independence from France.

The issue comprises a set of seven (7) stamps and two (2) associated First Day Covers (FDC's) together with a special commemorative postmark.

Various collectible postage stamps from the early 1950's through to the present day are depicted in the set, of which two are horizontal and five are vertical, but all of which include images of the now King-Father, Norodom Sihanouk, over the past 50 years of Cambodian history, a period in which the now King-Father has gone from being the King to a Prince to exile to being a King again and now to being the King-Father.

According to the official one-page English and Cambodian language note issued by the MPTC to accompany this issue, the stamps were printed in Vietnam and became available for purchase by the public approximately one week prior to the official first day of issue (November 9, 2003).

In addition to the set of seven stamps, two (2) First Day Covers (FDC's) were issued that include a special commemorative cachet in dark blue and gold as well as a unique postmark only used on the FDC's.

The special cachet shown at the bottom-left of the First-Day Covers includes a depiction of the Independence Monument - located in central Phnom Penh - with the number '50' in the Khmer language written underneath.

In addition to the special cachet, the FDC's also include a unique postmark to celebrate this historic anniversary. The postmark is in both Khmer and French languages and, as with the special cachet, depicts the Independence Monument in the centre of the postmark.

What also marks Cambodia's 50th Anniversary of Independence from their French colonial masters is the appearance of a spacial commemorate handstamp in addition to that used on the FDC's. The special handstamp - mainly seen in red but occassionally also in blue - was added to all incoming and outgoing international mail for several weeks either side of the November 9, 2003, commemoration, usually appearing on the rear of envelopes.

The special commemorative set of stamps and the two FDC's were issued to the public on November 4, 2003, a clear five (5) days prior to the formal date of issue. Therefore, it is possible that collectors will be able to get examples of this set with a postmark before the formal date of issue; this is the case as can be seen from the special 'all-in-one' FDC that incorporates all 7 stamps but lacks the special cachet in blue and gold as seen on the official FDC's.