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 by the blog author, Jim Jackson, with two albums: Big Blue, aka Scott International Part 1 (checklists available), and Deep Blue, aka William Steiner's Stamp Album Web PDF pages. In addition, "Bud" offers commentary and a look at his completely filled Big Blue. Interested? So into the Blues...

Monday, August 3, 2020

The Obscure 1921 Issues of "Western Hungary" (Lajtabansag)

1921 Scott 68 20f green "M.M. Pronay"
Into the Deep Blue
Attached like an afterthought at the end of Scott's Hungary catalogue pages is "Western Hungary" - little known and even less loved.

My previous post below at least showed examples of the occupation issues of Hungary (Arad, Debrecen, Transylvania, Baranya, Temesvar, Banat, Bacska, Szeged).

Hungary - BOB, Occupation

But nary a mention of "Western Hungary". And no spaces in Big Blue for them either.

But truth be told I love obscure "countries". :-)

So let's review a little history of this short-lived "country", and how it came to be in 1921 (with 97 stamps issued)......

After WW I, and under the terms of the 1920 Trianon Treaty, four districts of western Hungary were to be under Austrian administration.

Uprising in west Hungary August 28 - October 13, 1921
Short Lived State of Lajtabansag and Military uprising 
Map shows the present day Province of Burgenland in Austria
Three of the districts were German speaking, and joined Austria, forming Burgenland. But in the fourth district (including the city of Sopron), Hungarian revolutionaries resisted the incorporation. 

The slice (west of red line) that Austria absorbed from Hungary after WW I
But the city of Sopron and surrounding area remained with Hungary after Plebiscite

A plebiscite was held December 14-16, 1921, and although most of the citizens were German speaking, they voted (65%) to remain in Hungary. The happy news is the city of Sopron (by lake at border) and eight surrounding villages were then allowed to remain in Hungary.

Western Hungary 1921 Issues - a closer look
100 Filler = 1 Korona (1900)

During the September - December, 1921 period, local authorities issued stamps, and they were sold in Post Offices controlled by the Hungarian partisans.

1921 Scott 2 20f gray brown "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
On September 4, 1921, ten Hungarian stamps were overprinted as shown.

Overprinted text translates "Rising Hungarians conscious of/ aware of /enthralled by Western Hungary" (Rough translation for meaning). Clearly, the text is encouraging citizens to think of themselves as part of a new (Hungarian) State.

CV is <$1-$75.

1921 Scott 20 10f red violet "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
On October 5, 1921, a thirteen stamp overprinted issue on Hungarian stamps was released. The text states: "Lajtabansag Post". The short lived State of Lajtabansag formally began on October 4, 1921 and ended November 10, 1921. I think Lajtabansag was dissolved as part of the agreement to hold a plebiscite (scheduled for December 14-16). Of course the State of Lajtabansag was only a "temporary State" anyway, until it could re-unite with Mother Hungary.

1921 Scott 25 60f black "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
These overprints were probably in recognition that the State had been declared, and a "Post" was now in operation

1921 Scott 26 1k red brown & claret "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
CV ranges from <$1 to $2, with one stamp (Scott 2.50k on 2f brown orange) @ $50. Of interest, most of the stamps issued for Western Hungary have a similar CV for unused/used.  

1921 Scott 61 50f on 50f yellow green "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
On October 12, 1921, a seven stamp overprinted issue was released.

By the way, all of the Western Hungary overprints can be found with the 3-hole punch. They command a 20%-50% CV premium. 

1921 Scott 63 2k on 40f olive green "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
The top text translates to "Western Hungary District" (Rough translation) in Hungarian, while the lower text states that in German.

1921 Scott 65 5k on 5f brown orange "Harvesting Wheat"
Overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1916-20
CV is <$1 for all stamps in the issue.

1921 Scott 67 10f violet brown "Arms"
On November 11, 1921 an eleven stamp issue for Lajtabansag proper was released. Of interest, the formal State of Lajtabansag was dissolved on November 10, 1921. Apparently the Posts kept going.

Coat of Arms of Banate of Leitha
Any self respecting unrecognized State needs to have a Coat of Arms, and so here it is.

1921 Scott 69 40f red brown "Frakno"
Frakno/Forchenstein Castle had been Hungarian Royal domains (Esterhazy Family)  for centuries. Obviously, this stamp is arguing that it should remain so, and not become (German) Austrian.

Unfortunately (for Hungarians) the Burg Forchenstein became part of Austria. The Esterhazy family still owns it.

1921 Scott 70 50f green "Netmetujvar"
(Burg Gussing Castle)
The Burg Gussing Castle (sorry for the lack of umlauts!) is now in southern Burgenland, Austria. The Castle was established by Bela III of Hungary around 1180. Naturally, the Hungarians would have liked it to remain with Hungary.

1921 Scott 72 1k vermilion "Varosszal"
For the eleven stamp issue, CV is <$1 for every stamp. Clearly, even today, supply outpaces demand. 

1921 Scott 72 1k vermilion "Varosszal"
Color Variation
This color variation is more like "red brown" 

1921 Scott 74 5k dark brown "Netmetujvar"
Muddy color, and a stamp only a philatelist could love. ;-)

1921 Scott 75 10k red violet "M.M. Pronay"
Pal Pronay was the leader of the Rongyos Garda (Tattered/ Scrubby Guard), a rag-tag group of insurgents, and supported secretly by the Hungarian Government. When the territory was supposed to be handed over on August 19, 1921 to Austria, the Rongyos Garda began a guerrilla war against the Austrians.

Pal Pronay
Pronay wrote in his memoirs " "In order to save Western Hungary, I have created an independent Lajtabánság".

1921 Scott J7 500f green & black
Postage Due
Five postage due stamps were released November 11, 1921. CV is <$1 for each stamp. "Used" is valued a bit more than "unused". If these postage due stamps were in use legitimately, that would argue that the postal system run by Western Hungary was indeed a real postal system, and not just some "labels" issued by an  attention seeking unrecognized state.

1921 Scott 71 60f black "Frakno" 
Out of the Blue
I must admit I have developed more respect for the stamps and history of Western Hungary. And in view of the fact that the uprising lead to a successful plebiscite, perhaps this event and history should be better known among philatelists.

Note: The pic (Pronay) and scans (Maps, Coat of Arms) are from open sources on the internet, and are used here for educational purposes.

Comments appreciated!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Martinique - Bud's Big Blue

Madras headgear, Martinique
Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
There’s more to women’s headgear in Martinique than a casual observer might suspect. And, I suspect, the two French colonial stamp engravers who featured Martiniquan Creole headgear in their designs -- L. Colmet-Daage and Ch. Rollet -- were clueless, too.

Scott # 62, brown and red brown
L. Colmet-Daage, designer, 1908

The story goes back to the time immediately following the emancipation of slaves. Freed black women, although no longer laboring on sugarcane, banana and cocoa plantations, were still forbidden to wear hats. Hats were considered symbols of coquetry and propriety; only white women had the right to wear them.  A 1779 ordinance about fashion specifies: “We expressly forbid [the free people of color] to affect through their clothing, hairstyles, dress or apparel, a reprehensible assimilation of the way in which white men or women attire themselves.…”(1) A black woman in a hat, the legislators must have thought, would prove irresistible to a planter-class male.

Although hatless and suffering under other coercive sartorial restraints, Black Creole women did want to appear distinguished and refined. So, they added to their code-specified ensembles brightly colored madras scarves and headpieces. Madras cloth was probably introduced by plantation workers emigrating from India following emancipation, some of whom came from Madras (Chennai). 

The number of spikes or poufs on the headpieces, as highlighted on Colmet-Daage’s and Rollet’s stamps, eventually came to signify the kinds of romantic attention the wearer would accept. 

Scott # 169, imperf proof, brown violet
 Ch. Rollet, designer, 1933

According to Creole tradition, one spike announces "the heart is free for you to win;” two spikes suggest "the heart is already taken, but luck may smile on the bold;" three spikes mean "the heart is linked by marriage, so don’t bother;" and four spikes say "the heart still welcomes all lovers who try.” A postcard from the 1930s (?) illustrates these significations.

The fifth headpiece, upper left, is ceremonial and lacks a romantic hint

Do you suppose Rollet knew what the spikes meant? I don’t know for sure, but suspect not. French colonial stamp designers, Rollet and Colmet-Daage included, usually based their sketches on photographs or postcards. They weren’t ethnologists and they didn’t use live models who might tell them about meanings hidden in what they were drawing. Nor did they live in the colonies whose stamps they contrived; they didn’t even visit there.

While working on her master’s degree, Mylène Florentin discovered a photograph that Rollet probably used for #169 (see below). Her thesis on the stamps of Martinique, well worth reading, identifies symbolic elements represented in stamps and explains the messages they convey. (2) 

Inspiration for Ch Rollet’s 1933 design
Anonymous © ANOM sous réserve des droits réservés aux auteurs et ayants droit

The photograph, which likely predates the stamp by several decades, shows clothing acceptable for free black Creoles -- white blouse, two skirts (one colorful and the other plain muslin), and silver jewelry. The women have rejected the white cotton headpieces that were specified in former times and donned flouncy madras. More recently, madras headpieces have become internationally popular among style-conscious women and political activists. Vendors gladly promote romantic interpretations of the spikes.

 Similar to Colmet-Daage’s 1908 design

Census: 98 in BB spaces, two tip-ins, 91 on supplement pages.

(1) Quoted in Tom Reiss, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. (Crown Publishing Group, 2015), p. 44.

(2) Mylène Florentin. Les représentations du Centre sur ses Ultra-périphéries: Le timbre-poste en Martinique (1859-2013). (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2014), p 73.

Jim's Observations
Bravo Bud!  I very much enjoyed the well researched essay on Madras headgear and Martinique stamp illustrations.

Unlike a certain country that has a predictable key plate design of the current monarch for all of its colonies, the French provide designs specific and appropriate for that possession, at least after the "Navigation and Commerce" issue. Vive la France! But as Bud shows, their stamp designers worked off of photographs and postcards with little true understanding of cultural meaning.

Martinique Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments Appreciated!

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Marienwerder - Bud's Big Blue

Bud's Big Blue
Bud's Observations
The Versailles Treaty, following World War I, provided opportunity for people living in seven disputed territories contiguous to Germany to decide by plebiscite (referendum) whether or not to continue as a part of Germany or to join another nation. BB provides spaces for the stamps that publicized all seven plebiscites: Allenstein, Danzig, Marienwerder, Memel, Saar, Schleswig, and Upper Silesia.

The League of Nation supervised the voting and, because of that, these stamps could legitimately be included as a part the League of Nations album that is being serialized in this blog.  That has not been done, however, except for some of the Saar stamps.

Most plebiscite-promoting stamps are overprints; that’s true for some but not all of Marienwerder’s. The caption Commission Interaliée Marienwerder overprinted on German Empire stamps is French for “Inter-allied Commission Marienwerder,” the League’s agency for plebiscite oversight. Overprints exist in several fonts and colors, making Marienwerder an interesting technical specialization.

 Scott #39, lilac rose

The Commission also issued two Marienwerder series with unique designs and no overprints, both printed in Milan. They feature a female allegory for the Commission standing on a ballot box inscribed populi voluntas, Latin for “the people wish” or “the will of the people.” She is surrounded by the flags of four of the five allied victors in WWI -- Italy, France, Japan, and Great Britain. Missing, of course, is the United States flag -- the ally that rejected membership in the League of Nations, a political humiliation for President Woodrow Wilson who had strongly promoted populi voluntas.

Scott # 5, deep blue, CTO

The two Milan issues differ in noticeable ways. The first, Scott #s 1-14, has Commission Interalliée at the top and Marienwerder at the bottom while the second, Scott #s 40-53, has Plébiscite at the top and Marienwerder Kwidzyn at the bottom, Kwidzyn being the Polish name for Marienwerder. The Commission wanted, I suppose, to appear unbiased, although “Kwidzyn” appears in a smaller font. The actual voting reflected strong pro-German sentiments. Both series became postally invalid on 14/9/1920 but, during the following week, they could be exchanged for German empire stamps.

Scott #51, dark violet

 Marienwerder town cancellations provide an interesting historical specialization, there being some 64 of them, alphabetically from Altfelde to Troop. At the time, the popularity of CTOs resulted in many socked-on-the-nose local post office sets. See: https://www.stampsofgermany.com/germany-specialised-stamps-and-postal-history-for-sale/weimar-1919-1932/plebiscites/marienwerder.htm

Census: twelve in BB spaces, 20 on supplement page.

Jim's Observations
After WW I, some territories, namely Alleinstein in East Prussia, and Marienwerder in West Prussia, because of a vocal German population, and the sympathies of the British Prime Minister Lloyd George, were allowed  to vote whether to join Poland or East Prussia (Germany).

The Plebiscite was scheduled for July 11, 1920. It was sponsored by Inter-Allied Commissions for the League of Nations. British and Italian contingents were on the ground, but civil administration was handled by the Germans.

Naturally, the plebiscite was promoted and publicized through the use of stamp issues.

The result for Marienwerder (Kwidzyn) was a very lopsided 96,000 votes for East Prussia, and 8,000 votes for Poland. Consequently, Marienwerder joined East Prussia and the Weimar Republic.

Marienwerder Blog Post & BB Checklist

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Comments appreciated!