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...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


1919 Scott 33 25c dark blue "Revolution"
Fiume's first non overprinted stamp issue
Quick History
The allied troop occupation of Fiume (November,1918), the takeover by the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio and his legionnaires (1919), and the creation of The Free State of Fiume (1920-24), gave philatelists a stamp issuing entity that, during six years, issued 262 stamps!  Fiume, on the Adriatic Sea, consisted mostly of the city of Fiume.  The city became known as Rijeka after WWII, and today is in Croatia.

Who was in charge during those six years is complicated.  But the reality is the "Free State of Fiume" was recognized internationally in 1920, and lasted until Fiume was annexed by Italy in 1924.

Fiume was  for 140 years nominally part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The city was important, as Fiume was Hungary's only international seaport. And Fiume had a relationship with Hungary where it actually existed as an autonomous entity within the Kingdom.

The city consisted of Croats, Italians and Hungarians during the 19th century. German was also an official language. The population was 45,000 in 1924.

After WWI and the defeat of Austria-Hungary, Fiume was disputed between the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia), and the Kingdom of Italy. With the situation in flux, the ultra-nationalist  Italian Poet Gabriele d'Annunzio led the seizure of the city with 2,000 Italian nationalist irregulars on September 12, 1919.

D'Annunzio and his followers wanted Italy to annex Fiume, but Italy refused. In fact, Italy demanded that the interlopers surrender. Subsequently, the Treaty of Rapallo was signed November 12,1920 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes, which, among other things, set up the Free State of Fiume. This ended the military occupation of d'Annunzio and his troops.

Control of the Free State of Fiume passed internally from group to group. Then Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes signed the Treaty of Rome on January 27,1923, which  annexed Fiume to Italy, while  nearby Susak was absorbed by the Kingdom of Serbs,Croats and Slovenes. This formally took place on March 16, 1924, with Italian stamps used after March 31,1924.

Subsequently, Fiume again was in play after the defeat of Italy in WWII. With the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, Fiume (now called Rijeka) became part of Yugoslovia. Today Rijeka is part of Croatia.

1918 Scott 3 2f brown orange
Hungarian stamps of 1916-18 overprinted
Note: This OP is a Fake
Into the Deep Blue

Affordable collectability
The 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has, from 1918-1924, 262 major stamp descriptions ( 199 regular, 16 semi-postal, 17 special delivery, 26 postage due, and 4 newspaper stamps).

1918-1924: 262 stamps: <$5 - 120 stamps; of those 2 are <$1.
Total "inexpensive" stamps: 120
Affordability Index = 46%.

Of note is, although there are 120 stamps valued <$5, only two of them are <$1! The "minimum" is really $1.75, no 20 cent stamps here. ;-)

The second concern is "most" stamps of Fiume have been expertly counterfeited. If one is buying a higher priced Fiume stamp, one should have it authenticated.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

1918 Scott 16 1k red brown & claret
Hungarian 1916-18 stamps overprinted
Fiume's first stamp issue
Fiume's first issue was a 20 stamp series that overprinted 1916-18 Hungarian stamps. The basic designs are shown in the two above images. The overprint is found both typographed and handstamped.  Scott notes "the overprints have been extensively forged". For the collector, one has to assume one has a forged stamp until "authenticated" otherwise. Cold reality.

1919 Scott 27 Fiume 2c dull blue "Italy"
1919 Scott 47 Posta Fiume 10c rose "Italian Flag on Clock-Tower in Fiume"
1919-20 Scott 60 10c on 45c orange "Revolution" Handstamp Surcharged 
The 2c dull blue is part of the April,1919 17 stamp issue. This was produced in 3 types of paper, which Scott acknowledges with minor numbers. 
In July, an eight stamp issue was redesigned with a "Posta Fiume" inscription.
Then in later 1919, the higher values were given a lower handstamped surcharge.

 1919 60c claret "Sailor raising Italian flag at Fuime"
This design is part of the first non-overprinted April,1919 issue. All the designs are highly allegorical and nationalistic.

The rise and fall of Gabriele d'Annunzio
September 12, 1920 1 lira black (Note: a forgery)
February 2,1921 10c carmine "Governo Provvisorio"
The September 12,1920 fourteen stamp issue, all with a head bust of d'Annunzio, was issued by the Fiume government to honor the one year anniversary of the nationalistic poet and his legionnaires occupying Fiume.
The February 2, 1921 fourteen stamp issue was issued by the new provisional government (overprinted), after d'Annunzio and his followers were removed by Italian troops.

1919-20  60c on 60c rose "Venetian Galley"1919 semi-postal surcharged
1922 1 lira on 1cor dark slate overprinted
The 12 stamp original 1919 semi-postal issue (not illustrated) was to aid Fiume students in Italy. A 13 stamp issue was then surcharged  "Valore globale" for use as regular stamps. With the new provisional government, a 12 stamp issue (not illustrated) for the first constituent assembly of April, 1921 was overprinted "Costituente Fiumana". Finally, the issue was again overprinted with a "1922" added (illustrated) for the 1922 second constituent assembly.

1923 5c blue green "Venetian ship"
1924 20c orange red "roman arch"  overprinted "Regno d'Italia"
1924 60c red "St Vitus" overprinted " Annessione  Allitalia"
A 1923 twelve stamp issue featured "Venetian ship", "Roman arch", "St. Vitus", and "Rostral column" designs. When the Treaty of Rome gave Fiume to Italy, the stamps were twice overprinted in 1924 as above.

1921 postage due 5c on on 25c blue "Dr. Antonio Grossich"
1919 semi-postal with overprint "Valore Globale" surcharged
One has to admit, this is an interesting stamp for a postage due!

1920 newspaper stamp 1c gray green "Steamer"
Not many newspaper stamps are this attractive!

Deep Blue
All of the major numbers in the Scott catalogue have a space in Deep Blue. However, Deep Blue does not give space for 68 bold minor numbers ( as opposed to italic minor numbers, which are more minor ;-) ). The handstamped overprints are given minor numbers, while the typographed overprints have major numbers. Some paper types are given minor numbers. Some overprint width types are given minor numbers.
The solution, if one would like to, as an example, differentiate paper types, is simply print another page of the issue for use in the album. ;-)

1920 2c on 25c indigo with red surcharged
Hands holding Daggers
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on three pages, has 70 stamp spaces. Coverage is 27%. Big Blue begins with the April,1919 issue (Scott 27-43). The Scott 32 20c green "Italian Flag on Clock-Tower in Fiume" stamp @ $95 mint is given a space.

Simple Checklist




Next Page






Next Page

Special Delivery


Postage Due



Newspaper stamps


A) Expensive stamps (Threshold $10):
Scott 32 20c green “Italian Clock Tower in Fiume” $95 mint!

Special Delivery
Scott E2 30c slate blue >$20
Scott E3 50c rose >$20

Scott B4 5c + 5c blue green >$20

B) Big Blue leaves many Fiume stamps out of the album, often @ $1+.

1920 Scott E3 Special  Delivery  50c rose 
Out of the Blue
Very interesting philatelic and "real" history. No doubt, many of these stamps were for "propaganda" purposes as one would expect in this revolutionary environment. Perhaps selling all these issues to stamp collectors helped too. ;-)

Note: Map appears to be in the public domain.

Fiume - Bud's Big Blue

Comments appreciated!

The Free State of Fiume


  1. Fiume, more than most is blessed with many forgeries. They make a interesting study. The referance book "Focus on Forgerys" is a good place to start?

    1. Yes, that book is a good place to start.



  2. Hi Jim,

    just finished working some Fiume stamps for my collection, and decided to reread your excellent notes... If I'm not badly mistaken, your 1920 d'Annunzio 1 lira black is a forgery (compare letter O in words FRANCOBOLLO POSTALE).


    1. Yes, I think you are right. ;-)

      I will leave it as a testament to the gradual and painful education of a WW collector. ;-)