Castellorizo: An Island with a History and Beautiful Stamps
My grandfather left Castellorizo, an island in the Mediterranean to escape the forced conscription into the Turkish military. In 1910 at only sixteen, he came to the United States with his younger brother, knowing no one and speaking no English. However, he soon found the Greek community and made his way south to New Orleans and eventually Mobile, Alabama, where he married, established a tailor shop, and had eleven children.
Castellorizo has been occupied by many different countries, and today it is part of Greece. Turkey is the closest geographically and may have occupied the island more than any country other than Greece. Stamps have been issued by only two occupiers, France and Italy, although Britain and Albania have also occupied the tiny island.
There are a number of Greek stamps that highlight the beauty of the island, as Greece has issued a number of beautiful stamps showing off the gorgeous Greek islands. The stamps from France and Italy comprise a little more than one hundred and although I do not yet own all of them, I do hope to someday.
The history of the island, the family history of my grandfather's trip from there to America, and my interest in stamps made this a natural for my first area of specialization. Each show I attend finds me in the bourse at some point asking every dealer if he/she has any stamps from Castellorizo. Most of the dealers haven't even heard of the place, so I have many opportunities to tell them my grandfather's story and hence my interest in the island's stamps.