A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzabar

A is for Aden and Z is for Zanzibar... Now what is between? For the world wide classical era philatelist and stamp collector, a country specific philatelic survey is offered with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. Interested? So into the Blues...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Greece- Air Post, Postage Due, Postal Tax, Balkan Wars

1912 Scott N154 5 l green "Cross of Constantine"
1912 Campaign
Quick History
This post will review the "back of the book" issues of Greece: namely  Air Post, the Postage Dues, the frequently used Postal Tax category, and the many stamps issued for "New Greece", the territory acquired during the Balkan Wars.

In 1912, the Balkan League (Greece, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Serbia) attacked Turkey as much of their respective ethnic populations remained under Ottoman dominance.

The source of the Balkan wars conflict 
Different ethnic groups  wanting their own autonomy
Seven months later, Turkey had lost all of its holdings in the Balkans with the signing of the Treaty of London. But Bulgaria was not happy with their apportionment, and the second Balkan war ensued. With Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Romania, and Turkey all aligned against it, Bulgaria lost most of the territories gained during the first Balkan war.
Territorial acquisitions after the first and second Balkan war
A highly successful result from the Greek perspective added territory from the Aegean islands, Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia and Thrace. Consequently, overprinted/surcharged  Greek stamps were used in the territory, called 'New Greece", until the lands could be fully absorbed into Greece.

1933 Scott C6 100d deep blue "Zeppelin over Acropolis"
Into the Deep Blue
The 2011 Scott Classic catalogue has 47 Air post, 88 Postage dues, 65 Postal tax, and 272 occupation and annexation major stamp descriptions. Of those, 22 (47%) Air post, 52 (59%) Postage dues, 49 (75%) Postal tax, and 116 (43%) Occupation and Annexation stamps are CV <$1-$4.

What is interesting about the Greek "back-of-the-book" categories is the frequent use of Postal tax stamps, and the large number of occupation/annexation stamps because of the Balkan wars.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1926 Scott C4 10d multicolored 
"Flying Boat seen through Colonnade"
Air Post initially was provided by the "Italy-Greece-Turkey-Rhodes" route, a service provided by "Aerospresso Italiana", as a contract with the Greek government. There were four "Patakonia" stamps issued  with CV between $1+-$20+. Quite a striking "Mediterranean" design. ;-)

1933 Scott C7 120d dark brown "Zeppelin over Acropolis"
A three stamp "Graf Zeppelin" issue was produced in 1933. The stamps were issued by the firm "Aeroespresso Italia" on the occasion of the Graf Zeppelin LZ-127 flying from Germany to Rome to Rio de Janeiro. There was a flight from Athens that brought the mail to the airship via Rome. Of interest, the firm had the rights to put the unsold quantities after the flight onto the philatelic market. They must have done all right, because today the stamps have a CV of $10+-$50+.

1933 Scott C13 20d black & green 
"Head of Hermes and Airplane"
Also, in 1933, another issue was produced by the firm that had seven stamps, CV <$1-$4 for six of them. To my eyes, this is a quite striking issue, as the example above will attest. ;-)

1933 Scott C17 2d violet 
"Airplane over Map of Icarian Sea"
The Greek government General Air Post Service then became operational, and the above example is from the seven stamp issue. CV ranged from<$1-$5+ for five stamps.

1935 Scott C29 50d violet
"Bellerophon and Pegasus"
A nine stamp 1935 (CV $1-$7+) and a five stamp re-engraved 1937-39 (CV<$1-$3+) issue with designs featuring Greek mythology was then produced. The beautiful classic images on this stamp set are just stunning!

1875 Scott J5 20 l green & black
1876 Scott J30 40 l green & black
The early Greek postage dues have these similar designs which can confuse. The second issue 1876 Postage Due has "Lepton" or "Lepta" in larger Greek letters. 

The 1875 issue has different various perforations, and has 24 stamps. Eleven of the stamps have CV of $1+-$7.

The 1876 issue again comes in various perforations, and also has 24 stamps. Ten stamps range from CV $1+-$7.

1902 Scott J52 5 l yellow green wmk 'Crown & E T"
1913-26 Scott J67 10 l carmine engraved unwmk
1930 Scott J80 1d light blue lithography unwmk
Three issues were then produced with the same design. They vary by perforation, watermark, and engraved/lithographed.

The 1902 issue had 14 stamps, all engraved except for the 2d,3d, and 5d values that were lithographed. CV is an inexpensive <$1 for 10 stamps, with three more from $1+-$4. One clear difference is the 1902 issue is the only one watermarked.

 Wmk 129- "Crown and E T"
Found with the 1902 issue postage due
The "Crown and E T" watermark is quite striking, and should not be a problem to identify.

The second production, the 1913-26 Serrate Roulette 13 1/2 stamps, are engraved, and have sixteen stamps in the issue. CV ranges from <$1-$1+ for fourteen stamps. Colors are somewhat different for this issue. Since these stamps are engraved, the "aluminum foil-pencil eraser" test can be done to confirm.

The 1930-(35)  issue, 10 stamps, is lithographed, and is also in different colors. CV is at minimum catalogue value for 9 stamps.

1914 Scott RA1 2 l red 
"The Tragedy of War"
The first "Charity stamp", found in the catalogue under Postal Tax stamps, was intended for helping families of the Balkan war victims. Although  inexpensive (<$1), what a striking- and sobering- design.

What is the difference between Semi-Postals (often used in other countries to raise charity funds), and Postal Tax stamps?   Postal Tax stamps are mandatory for a fixed time period on all postal correspondence.

1917 Scott RA3 1 l on 1 l; RA6 1 l on 3 l: note thinner letters on 3 l
Surcharges on the "Flying Hermes" set
Imposed by the Athens government during the "National Schism"
During the "National Schism" the Athens Royalist government required that all postal correspondence have  surcharged "Flying Hermes" stamps applied. This eleven stamp set has a very modest CV of <$1-$2+ for all save one. Note that some of the surcharge overprints are in thinner script.

1917 Scott RA31 5l on 50 l violet "Victory"
Surcharged on Revenue stamps
Other stamp issues were likewise surcharged during the National Schism. The example above has the surcharge on a Revenue stamp.

1934 Scott RA49 10 l blue green, orange & buff "Health"
1935 Scott RA53 20 l ultra, orange & buff
1939 Scott RA64 50 l brown & buff
The use of these stamps was obligatory in the mail  four weeks each year, including Christmas, New Year, and Easter. These stamps, which were for the benefit of postal workers who had tuberculosis, were also required on Parcel Post at all times.

The above image shows the 1934 set (Three stamps CV <$1), the 1935 set (Three stamps CV <$1), and the 1939 stamp (CV<$1).

1937 Scott RA 55 & RA55a 50 l violet; RA57 with green OP
These are Social Welfare Fund overprints, not Red Cross overprints. And herein lies a story. ;-)

The first stamp (left) was printed in 1937. There then was the discovery that some of the OPs were inverted (Center). To prevent a philatelic bonanza, many more of the inverted OPs were issued. Today the regular OP is worth slightly more (25c) than the inverted OP (20c). 

But the International Red Cross organization protested that their symbol was inappropriately used on these stamps, as these are not "Red Cross" charity stamps. Hence the "green" red cross stamp (right) was issued.

Lemnos 1912 Scott N33 1 l green (Lithographed)
1912 Scott N38 3 l vermilion (Engraved?)
1912 Scott N50 5 l green (Lithographed)
During the Balkan wars, these stamps were intended for use on Lemnos. The fact that there was a specific overprint for Lemnos shows how important and  strategic the Island was considered.

There were overprints in black (20 stamps; CV for14 stamps <$1-$2+) and overprints in red ( 17 stamps; CV for 10 stamps <$1-$4+). The overprints can be found on either engraved or lithographic varieties, or both.

Now Scott does have a cautionary note about plentiful counterfeits. I noticed the 3 l vermilion (illustrated) is only known engraved. Yet my stamp is lithographed. ;-(   !  Quite suspicious.

1912 Mytilene (Lesbos) Scott N58 20pa rose
overprinted on stamps of Turkey
For use on Mytilene (Lesbos), 20 Turkish stamps were overprinted as illustrated. The overprint can be found reading both up and down. CV ranges from $2-$5+ for eight stamps.

Samos 1912 Scott N81 1 l gray "Hermes"
The island of Samos were issued both regular and overprinted stamps (14 stamps) during the Balkan wars, and setting up the provisional government. CV ranges from $1-$7 for eleven stamps.

1912 Scott N109 20 l red lilac
Overprinted "Greek Administration"
For the parts of Turkey newly occupied by Greece (New Greece) that were to be incorporated into Greece, the overprint - "Greek Administration"-was initially used. Here is the overprint on a "Flying Hermes" stamp.

1912 Scott N111 2 l carmine rose (engraved)
Scott N128 10 l carmine (lithographed)
Scott N138 50 l dull violet with red overprint (engraved)
The "Greek Administration" overprinted stamps include both 1911-21 engraved and 1913-23 lithographed series in both black and red varieties (39 total). Twenty two stamps are CV <$1-$3+.

1912 Scott N153 3l orange "Eagle of Zeus"
"Campaign of 1912"
These stamps were only intended for use in New Greece, and included Macedonia, Epirus, and some of the Aegean Islands. The other design is the "Cross of Constantine" which is found at the post header. CV for these 16 stamps ranges from <$1-$4 for 10 stamps.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 40 pages for the "back-of-the-book" categories, and follows the Scott catalogue exactly.

1915 Scott RA2B PT1a (5 l) dark blue & red
"Red Cross, Nurses, Wounded and Bearers"
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on four pages, has 30 spaces for Air post (64%), 14 spaces for Postage due (16%), 24 spaces for Postal tax (37%), and 26 spaces for occupation/annexation stamps (9%).

If one checks the "affordability" index for these categories....

22  Air post, 52  Postage dues, 49  Postal tax, and 116  Occupation and Annexation stamps are CV <$1-$4.

 It appears BB is generous with coverage of Air Post. The other categories? Not so much. ;-)

A) Interestingly, BB includes the three stamp Air Post "Graf Zeppelin" issue.

1933 Scott C5 30d rose red ($10+)
1933 Scott C6 100d deep blue ($52+)
1933 Scott C7 120d dark brown ($52+)

The 120d dark brown was CV $1.50 in my '47 Scott catalogue. According to the U.S. Inflation calculator, http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/ , the cost is equivalent today to $15.43. So indeed the price of the stamp(s) are higher than the inflation rate price.

B) Forced by a (vertical) blank space choice, BB also includes the 1933 (Scott C14) 50d deep brown & deep blue ($50 mint). Contrary to usual form, BB gives the entire set (seven stamps) a space!

C) Besides the above listed stamps, BB also includes six more stamps ($10+-$30) that are rather expensive. All are Air post, save for one postage due. The group is detailed after the checklist.

D) BB is up to its old tricks:  including the 1902-13 postage due issues, but excluding the cheap 1913-26 and 1930 issues. Since there is a very good chance the collector will have some of these stamps, either put them on a separate page, or change Big Blue's dates. ;-)

Simple Checklist

Air post



Next page



Next page

Postage Due
J1 or J13, J2 or J14, J3 or J15, J4 or J16, J5 or J17, (J8),(J21),


Occupation stamps




Next page

Postal Tax stamps




1922 (actually 1918)





A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1926 Scott C2 3d multicolored ($10+)
1926 Scott C4 10d  multicolored ($10+)
1933 Scott C5 30d rose red ($10+)
1933 Scott C6 100d deep blue ($52+)
1933 Scott C7 120d dark brown ($52+)
1933 (Scott C14) 50d deep brown & deep blue ($50 mint)
1933 Scott C20 50d violet ($20)
1933 Scott C21 50d dark brown ($30)
1875-78 (Scott J21) 80 l green & black ($10+)

B) A (  ) around a number is a suggested blank space choice.

C) * 1875-78 Postage due: I elected to include both the D1 and D2 designs as choices, even though the illustration cut is D1. The dates specified by BB includes both D1 and D2 designs.

D) *1902-13 Postage due: BB is quite clear it is asking for the 1902-13 series Postage due. Unfortunately, that excludes the 1913-26 issue and the 1930 issue.

Samos 1912 Scott N83 10 l rose
Out of the Blue
I like Greek issues so much that, if I was not committed to collecting the 1840-1940 world, Greece would be high on my list for specialization. :-)

Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.

Drop me a comment!


  1. Hi Jim, very interesting blog...I have a 1902-1930 1 (light green) and 10 (rose carmine?) unused; a 1937 50 violet unused, no "red cross" marking; a lemnos 1912 1 green unused; a lemnos 1912 greek administration 1 green unused; a 1936 (?) 1 Parthenon stamp, used but in good condition; a scott n128 10 carmine w/out greek adm. mark but used; a hermes holding an infant 1 blue used and a hermes holding an infant 2 rose, both used. Any info you could tell me about these stamps would be very appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Hi Jands

    Glad you like the blog!

    I would suggest finding a Scott catalogue, and doing some investigation. They should be available in libraries. Sorry I can't be more specific. :-)