Everest debut, 1953

The peak made its official philatelic debut when India released the first Everest stamps in 1953
Everest debut, 1953
Everest debut, 1953

Peak XV in the Himalaya was declared to be the highest peak in the world in 1856 and its height was estimated to be 29,002 feet. It was renamed as Everest in 1865. It took almost another century for the peak to make its official philatelic debut.

The peak did make an unofficial appearance as a label affixed on the mail from the 1924 Everest expedition. The white and indigo blue label showed a view of the Base Camp at Rongbuk glacier with Mt Everest in the background and had the names of the three countries through which the expedition would travel, namely, Tibet, Sikkim and Nepal, inscribed on it. Capt Noel, the official photographer of the expedition, dispatched 40,000 covers with these labels.

It is noteworthy that India released the first official Everest stamps in 1953. New Zealand acknowledged the feat of its citizen in an oblique way. It released two stamps on the theme of &lsquoHealth&rsquo in 1954. The stamps show a young mountaineer, map in hand, gazing at a snow-capped Mt Aspiring.  Everest is shown in a balloon in the background, above Aspiring.

It would be decades before New Zealand and Britain paid philatelic tribute to the event. The first Nepali stamp featuring the mountain and Khumbu icefall was only released in 1959.

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