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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The quality of the Lietuvos paštas

If I'm counting right, today I've got the 300th mail posted from Lithuania. The 300th mail was a stampless prepaid regular priority letter from Druskininkai posted on 12 November 2012 to Tokyo, Japan. It is just 3 days ago. From my experience, the Lietuvos paštas/Lithuanian Post is fast, reliable and efficient. I have received it mainly in Czech Republic and Japan over the last 10 years but so far the number of missing mail is ZERO. The speed of delivery is also impressive, all of the last 10 priority mails I have received in Tokyo, took just 3 working days according to the postmarks. Registered mails are a bit slower but also never failed to reach the destination within 6 working days. Most of my correspondences are between European countries and I had some bad experiences with Italy and Great Britain, not just once. The US can be terribly slow depending on where you are corresponding. Many people believe that western countries offer better postal services but as far as I know, Lithuanian postal services are better than most of the western countries. From my opinion, the European countries that offer very fast and reliable postal service are: Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Croatia and (surprisingly) Spain. I imagine Noway or Iceland could be as good as those countries but I had never a chance to get anything from there. Switzerland? Not as fast as it should be..

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Adutiškis 1916

A German field postcard (Feldpost) of Goduzischki (now Adutiškis, Lithuania) sent from the field post station No. 284 in 1916. The name Goduzischki probably comes from the Russian  Годутишки/Godutishki. It was a strategic town during WWI, located on the top of a hill near the river Kamaja and having a railway station. Adutiškis went through a complicated geopolitical history, became part of Central Lithuania (Hoduciszki in Polish) then annexed to Poland and later incorporated to Soviet Belarus (Гадуцішкі/Gadutzishki in Belarusian) before Lithuanian regained the town in 1940.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Second Lietuvos Vaikas issue - Air post 1932

These are air post stamps of the second Lietuvos Vaikas issue. As I have mentioned in the thread of the first issue, this second issue has also both perforated and imperforated stamps. According to my Michel catalog 2010, the first 8 stamps of the second issue have a catalog value of 30 Euro total (imperforated ones have the exact same value) and the 8 air post stamps I have just posted are for 45 Euro.

Second Lietuvos Vaikas issue 1932

This is the second Lietuvos Vaikas issue of 1932. It has been issued on December 1st. The 50 and 60 centai stamps depict the battle of Žalgiris that took place in 1410. The Germans call it the battle of Tannenberg, the Poles call it Grunwald. It is interesting that the description in the stamp itself calls it "Grunwald" just like how the Poles call.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cancellations of Lit.SSR - 06 Soviet Military Field post

Вильнюс/Vilnius 1961 

back side with the Soviet military cachet and the arrival postmark of Leningrad

Каунас/Kaunas 1969

Those triangular military cachets are just hard to miss! These are stampless Soviet Military Field post, both sent to Ленинград/Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg, Russia). The first one is sent in 1961 from the post office Вильнюс/Vilnius 18 which was located near the military base at that time, and the second one sent in 1969 from the post office Каунас/Kaunas 17 which was located inside the military base itself. You will hardly see any civilian correspondences out of Kaunas 17.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Jašiūnai 1931

Helvetia... Yes, I'm not mistaken and you are reading Lithuanian Philately blog now! All Swiss stamps has this inscription "Helvetia", my guess is that Switzerland has so many national languages that they didn't use any of it to be fair. This is a detached prepaid answer part of a Swiss double stationery directed to Zürich, Suisse (French name for Switzerland) in 1931 from Jaszuny (now Jašiūnai, Lithuania) during the Polish occupation period. The text is written in French. "... et son fils est à Jaszuny mais il étudie à L'université de Vilno", sounds like whoever's son is living in Jaszuny/Jašiūnai but is studying at the university of Vilno/Vilnius. This made me wonder how is he commuting everyday between Jašiūnai and Vilnius? It didn't take me long to find out the most probable answer by looking at the map. Jaszuny/Jašiūnai was actually located along the railway line Wilno/Vilnius - Soleczniki/Šalčininkai - Lyda (now Ліда/Lida, Belarus), so he must have been commuting everyday by train! Life in 1931 is much more modern than I'm imagining I guess... I wonder how much is the catalog value of this stationery. If someone can help me with this, I would appreciate it!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Eišiškės 1991

Эйшишкес/Eišiškės postmark with the Lithuanian name taken off

Here is an interesting cover I would like to show you today. It is a cover sent in 1991 from Eišiškės to Warsaw, Poland. The fact that the sender writes her address "Eiszyski" (the proper Polish spelling is Ejszyszki) is already bizarre but that's not what I want to point out. Please look at the above postmark. It's a provisional postmark made out of the Soviet one. A typical Lithuanian provisional postmark usually takes out all Soviet elements written in Cyrillic and leaves the Lithuanian spelling of the name of the post office.
Typical provisional postmark
But this postmark of Eišiškės does exactly the opposite and leaves only the Soviet elements. There is an explanation for that. Eišiškės is a town in Šalčininkai district and the percentage of Polish speaking population of this district exceed 80%. At the time when Lithuania declared the restoration of independence, they feared that an ethnic discrimination would follow. Šalčininkai district local council took a leading part for the formation of self-declared autonomous region "Polish National-Territorial Region" (Polski Kraj Narodowo-Terytorialny in Polish) which neither the Lithuanian government nor the Polish government ever recognized. This movement lost support when the 1991 august coup in Soviet Union failed. Lithuanian local postmasters at that time were given the authority to decide the their own local provisional postmark and this lead to the creation of this bizarre postmark as an expression of their political view.

Šiauliai 1991

This is a philatelic cover with a postmark cancelled in 1991 commemorating the bicentennial of the recognition of Šiauliai's city right in 1791. The Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Stanislovas Augustas Poniatovskis (known as Stanisław August Poniatowski in Polish) has reconfirmed Šiauliai's city right originally given in 1589 and granted a coat of arms shown in the postmark. It depicts the bear of Žemaitija (Samogitia in English, the region which Šiauliai is the capital), Eye of the Providence and the bull which is also the coat of arms of the House of Poniatovskis/Poniatowski.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Klaipėda 1939

This is a postcard sent in 1939 from Memel (now Klaipėda, Lithuania) to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Klaipėda has been re-annexed by the Third Reich on march 22nd 1939, so it means this postmark is approximately a month later the event.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The first Lietuvos Vaikas issue - Air post 1932

Those are the air post stamps of the first Lietuvos Vaikas issue set of 1932. Each issue comes with regular stamps and air post stamps. The first 2 stamps are interesting, it has a map of Lithuania in 1932 and shows you the Polish occupied Vilnius region.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vilnius 1915

This is a field postcard (Feldpost) of Wilna (now Vilnius, Lithuania) - Ostra Bramastrasse  (now Aušros Vartų gatvė) sent in 1915 to Berlin. The name of this street comes from the gate you see at the end of the street in the picture. This gate was part of the city defensive structure built in early 16th century known as the Gate of the Dawn (Aušros Vartai in Lithuanian, Ostra Brama in Polish). What is unique about this gate is that it has a chapel inside with an icon of the Virgin Mary and counted as one of the most important pilgrimage site among the Poles. They are numerous streets named Ostrobramska in today's Poland including Warsaw, Kołobrzeg, Szczeczin, Opoczno and other cities.

here is another card with local people praying at the gate

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cancellations of Lit.SSR - 05

Алитус/Alytus 1955 

 from Паукштакяй/Paukštakiai (Plungė district) to Kulautuva 1962

arrival cancellation of Kulautuva on the back and very rare Paukštakiai postmark in dark blue ink

Салос/Salos, a village in  Rokiškis district municipality 1962

Скуодас/Skuodas 1963 

registered mail from Литовское БКП/BKP Lithuania in Vilnius for official use 1976
It is interesting that the inscrisption "Заказное" (registered mail) and the registration label on the top left corner are hand written. Литовское БКП is probably the abbreviation of  Бюро контроля переводов (Lietuvos perlaidų kontrolės biuras / Lithuanian Remittance Control Office). Thank you Audrius for the info.