Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cancellations of Lit.SSR - 08 Šiauliai

Registered mail - Šiauliai to Chicago, IL 1956

arrival cancellation of Roseland Station, Chicago IL 

Domestic mail - Šiauliai to Vilnius 1958

arrival cancellation - Vilnius 15 on the back

2 covers sent from Šiauliai, the first one is a registered cover to Chicago, Illinois, and has a nice arrival cancellation of Roseland Station post office on the back. This sounds like a nice post office but looking on the internet, I found several articles about being one of the most notorious post office in the US. In one of the blogs, it goes as far as "The description of the incompetence is beyond this blogs ability to display." Wow.. beats me..
The 2nd one is an inland mail to Vilnius, nice and simple. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tracking mails coming from Lithuania

I had few people asking about registered letters coming from Lithuania. Many people think international registered mails from Lithuania are untrackable unlike EMS. That is not entirely true. They are some countries where you can actually track registered mails on Lithuanian Post's official website. However, not every country has an agreement of mutual online information exchange (except EMS) which makes some country impossible to track once it goes out of Lithuania.

This is a tracking result of a registered letter sent from the post office - postal code 78014 (Šiauliai) on 15/10/2012 to Tokyo, Japan. You can see that on the 17/10, it is leaving from the international forwarding post office in Vilnius and then... just disappear. According to the Lithuanian Post office website mail tracking system, this mail has never been delivered. Lithuanian Post does not have agreement of sharing information with Japanese post so no matter how long you will wait, it will never appear. I guess this is what happened to lot of people and started to wonder if it got lost or something. Well, have you ever notice that until 4, 5 years ago, registration labels had the post office name and number on it? Now it has been all replaced by barcodes. Those barcodes are actually revolutional, because it allowed to digitally record the registration number of the country of origin. What does it mean? It means that you can just go to the website of the Post of the destination country and enter the Lithuanian registered number you have enter in Lithuanian Post website!

Going to the Japanese Post website... and Voilà! Now you have the missing part after 17/10, I happily got the mail on 20/10, exactly 5 days after it has been posted in Šiauliai. You will be surprised in how many countries this would work. They are some countries like Germany where they hand out part of the mails to some private delivering companies. I have discovered that in such case, you can't track the mails unfortunately.

Friday, December 21, 2012

French stamps used in Memel - 1 "Type Semeuse"

The first 6 overprinted French "Type Semeuse" stamps

Color and overprint variations 

Postal stationery

Many people think that the first Memel (now Klaipėda region, Lithuania) stamps are the Germania overprints because the catalog numbering shows so. Chronologically speaking, it is wrong, those French stamps were the first to be issued for Memel on 7 July 1920 (Germania overprints were issued on 1st August!). There was no definitive issue for Memel during the French administration and used 2 types of French stamp to overprint: "Type Semeuse" which means Sower as you can see on the posted pictures and "Type Merson" named after the designer of that stamp which I will talk about in my future post. Type Semeuse can be divided in 2 kinds, Type Semeuse lignée (ligned) and camée (cameo). They can be easily recognized, lignée (ligned) has a horizon line on the background, and the other is without a line. Most of Memel stamps uses the camée. Memel type Semeuse don't have such high catalog values and can be found pretty easily except the 2 postal stationery. It has a large varieties of colors and overprints which makes the collectors very enjoyable. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Vilnius 1941

This is a postal stationery sent on 3 January 1941 from Vilnius C. (Centrinis Paštas/Central post office) to Istanbul, Turkey. Vilnius has been re-occupied by the Soviets on June 1940 and annexed within the Soviet Union itself on 3 August as Lietuvos Tarybų Socialistinė Respublika (Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic), which you can see on sender's address written underneath the picture of Palanga "Vilnius L.T.S.R.". The stamps and postal stationery from the previous Republic was still postally valid with the rate of 1 Litas = 90 Soviet Kopecks (1 Litas is 100 Centas, 1 Soviet Ruble is 100 Kopecks).

Vilnius 1939

Relating to my yesterday's post, I just wanted to post this postcard (unfortunately postally unused). It's a postcard probably published either on 1939 or 1940, with a picture of the Lithuanian Army entering Vilnius on 28 October 1939. Technically, Vilnius was under Lithuanian sovereignty from 10 October but the Soviet Army handed out the city only on 28 October. I would assume that the postal service between 10 and 28 October would have been processed by the Soviet but I do not have any source confirming it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vilnius 1939

Postal stationery - Kaunas 

Postal stationery - Šaukėnai 

These are postal stationery cards cancelled in 1939 at Vilnius Geležinkelio Stotis/Railway Station post office. Both sent to the same address in New York but written by different people. The first card with the picture of Kaunas has been cancelled on November 13th 1939 and the second one on the 16th of the same month. Finding Lithuanian postal stationery used in 1939 is definitely not the easiest thing, given the fact that Vilnius was handed out back to the Lithuanians by the Russians only on 28 October 1939 after the Mutual Assistance Treaty that has been signed on 10 October. It was part of Stalin's "theatrical" friendly act to hide the real intention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact which was already signed on August 1939 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. According to the autobiography of Juozas Urbšys, the Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time who signed the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty (Lietuvos-Sovietų Sąjungos savitarpio pagalbos sutartis in Lithuanian), even this so-called "friendly" act was done under lots of pressure, he was called several times to meet Stalin in the middle of the night during his stay in Moscow. He has been told over and over what will happen if Lithuania would not sign the treaty. I guess this was the communist technique to intimidate someone in order to make that person do what they want. If you read the autobiography of Alexander Dubček, the former First Secretary of Czechoslovakia, you will almost feel like a Déjà vu of Urbšys when he talks about how was his stay in Moscow, after his Spring of Prague in 1964 was put down by the Warsaw Pact army.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cancellations of Lit.SSR - 07 Šiauliai District

Pakapė/Пакапе 1967

Šakyna/Шакина 1971

Here is a couple of covers sent from the villages in Šiaulių rajono savivaldybė/Šiauliai district municipality. The first one is a registered mail sent 1967 from Pakapė and the second one is sent in 1971 from Šakyna with a nice arrival cancellation of Vilnius on the back. Šakyna has one of my favorite church in Lithuania, clearly a gothic architecture in origin, few hundred years older than what Wikipedia claims to be (Here is the link). This type of church is rather unusual in Lithuania, much more popular in Latvia or Estonia, where the Baltic Germans built numerous architectures of this type.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kaunas 1928

This is a registered mail sent in 1928 from Kaunas to Dresdner Bank in Nürnberg, Germany. The cover design of the Lietuvos Bankas (Bank of Lithuania) is very nice! Like the First air post issue of the Lietuvos Vaikas, it features the territory of Lithuania including the Vilnius region under occupation. On the back, an arrival cancellation of Nürnberg and a nice seal of Lietuvos Bankas can be seen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fourth Lietuvos Vaikas issue - Air post 1933

And of course, the last Lietuvos Vaikas issue comes with the air post stamps too! Maironis, Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas, Vincas Kudirka and Julija Žemaitė, all 4 people depicted on the stamps are poets and writers. I personally like the last 2 Žemaitė stamps the best. The name "Žemaitė" reminds me of Zemaitis Guitars, a British guitar-manufacturing company based in Tokyo, Japan founded by a Lithuanian named Antanas (Tony) Kazimeras Žemaitis who was a legendary luthier (someone who makes lutes of string instruments).

Fourth Lietuvos Vaikas issue 1933

This is the fourth and the last issue of Lietuvos Vaikas that came out on the 16th of September 1933. We finally get to see some "Lietuvos Vaikas" (Lithuanian children) on the stamps, which were never depicted in the previous issues. On the 15 ct. and 25 ct. stamps, we see a child reading a book, and we can assume that the previous issues were about stories the children have been reading or told from their parents.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Joniškis 1920

This is a cover sent in 1920 from Joniškis, Lithuania to Worcester, Massachusetts USA. It is correctly franked with 80 skatikų according to the postal rate at that time. Worcester has a population over 180,000 and it is the 2nd largest city in New England after Boston.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Šiauliai 1975

This is a Soviet postal stationery of Шяуляй/Šiauliai issued on 8 July 1975. It depicts the Pergalės square (now Prisikėlimo square) in the center of the city. You can see the cathedral of SS Peter & Paul on the background but the Diocese of Šiauliai was established only in 1997, so technically it wasn't a "Cathedral" at the time when this postal stationery has been issued.

Šiauliai 1988

This is a Soviet postal stationery commemorating the philatelic exhibition "Прибалтюнфил 88" (Pribaltyunfil) held in Шяуляй/Šiauliai in 1988 with a commemorative cancel of it. This philatelic exhibition  took place in 2 consecutive years 1987 and 1988.  Прибалтюнфил/Pribaltyunfil 87 was held in Narva, Estonian SSR.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Polish stamps 1920 - 1939 - 3

1923 Wilno 1 on inflation stamp 

Wilno 2  including the overprint "Challenge 1934"

not so common 1939 Wilno 11 

1933 Druskieniki (now Druskininkai, Lithuania)

One of the things I really enjoy about collecting stamps, is to go through a pile of stamps and spend hours looking for interesting ones. Most of pre-war Polish stamps are cheap and easy to get in large quantities which makes it an ideal subject for hours of treasure hunt. In my case, "interesting ones" are postmarks cancelled in Lithuania as you might have noticed. The moment when I find it is really exciting but sometime it ends up to be my fantasy also: "OMG! oh... it's Kolno, not Wilno.." (Kolno is a town in northeastern Poland). I do not collect the cancellations of other ex-Polish territories but after spending so much time doing this, I ended up knowing ex-Polish Belarussian & Ukrainian towns pretty well. Anyway, above stamps are some of my latest acquisitions.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Klaipėda 1943

It is a German military field post card (Feldpost) sent in 1943 from Memel (now Klaipėda, Lithuania). There is a lovely picture of a moose dipping the whole feet in the seawater. I didn't know that a moose would be willing to go to such deep in the sea but picture shows it so it must be true. Moose is also called Eurasian elk especially the one in Europe, living not only in Lithuania but in the Baltic republics, Scandinavia, Russia and other areas. It is called Briedis in Lithuanian and Elch in German as you see in the description of the postcard. I have seen it myself in the woods between Nida and Juodkrantė, I just love their goofy face, it's so cute!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Beržiškiai 1916

This is a German military field post card (Feldpost) sent in 1916 from Berzischken (now Beržiškiai, Lithuania). The cancellation of Berzischken is rarely seen on a cover or postcard, this is the only one I have and have seen in my life so far. According to Michel (Memel section of Michel Deutschland Spezial), this Berzischken postmark ceases to exist on the 28th of February 1923, a month after the takeover of Memelgebiet by the Lithuanians and from an information of another source, on 1924, the post office itself ceases to exist.

Panemunė 1933

Since I talked about Tilsit (Tilžė in Lithuanian) in my last post, I have decided to post today something relevant to that. This is a postcard of the Queen Louise Bridge sent in 1933 from Panemunė to Chemnitz, Germany. Panemunė was called Übermemel when it was still part of Memelgebiet. The bridge connects Tilsit (now Советск/Sovetsk, Russia) and Panemunė and served as the border between Lithuania and Germany (and of course now the border between Lithuania and Russia). You can see the panorama of village of Panemunė in the picture on the background of the bridge.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Užuguostis 1935

This is a cover sent in 1935 from Užuguostis to Kaišiadorys.  Užuguostis is a village with a population of little less than 300, not so far from the destination of the letter Kaišiadorys. Thanks to the postmark, it mentions the name of the district (in this case Trakų apskritis/Trakai district) so it was easy to locate this village. But.. isn't Trakai (Troki in Polish at that time) occupied by Poles in 1935? Yes, and it is the same as it has been done to Vilnius. Vilnius was the official capital of Lithuania in 1935 but the function of the capital city was transferred to Kaunas as "temporary capital". The same thing happened here, the administrative function of Trakų apskritis/Trakai district was "temporarily" moved to Kaišiadorys, therefore it carried the name of Trakai even though Trakai itself was in Polish hands. What was different, is that part of Trakai district remained in Lithuanian hands so the district was divided in 2 parts both named Trakai district (Powiat Trocki in Polish). In that respect, we can say that it was more similar to Kreis Tilsit than Vilnius. When Memelgebiet was detached from the rest of Germany as the result of WWI,  Kreis Tilsit/Tilsit district was divided in 2 parts by the border but both sides remained as "Tilsit district" until 1922. Some postmarks such as the post office of Kamščiai /Kampspowilken for example, had the inscription "Kreis Tilsit" even though the city of Tilsit itself was on the other side of the border.
It is amazing that a simple postmark can be a witness of such complicated history. 2 different "Trakai district" existed simultaneously... It reminds me a bit of a TV show I'm watching now called "Fringe" with 2 alternate universes but it is so irrelevant to philately so I'd better finish this post...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Third Lietuvos Vaikas issue - Air post 1933

This third issue of Lietuvos Vaikas consists only of air post stamps unlike the other issues from an unknown reason (at least to me). It is written 1932 on all the stamps but these have been issued on May 6th 1933. According to Michel 2010, this issue has the highest catalog value of 50 Euro total for both perforated and imperforated stamps set.