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, April 16, 2013

Jugoslavia ( Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) 1918-1920

1919 Slovenia Scott 3L6 25f  blue "Chain Breaker"
Quick History
Well, not so quick when it comes to Yugoslavia. ;-)

Jugoslavia (as it is still spelled in Big Blue), or Yugoslavia (as it is more commonly known), or the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes ( the official name from 1918-1929), was a diverse country of Slavic peoples that existed from 1918-1992. More specifically, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia existed between 1918-1943, the period of interest to this blog.

It was born after WW I when a general movement of pan-Slavic nationalism was on the ascendancy, and with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The Capital was Belgrade, and the population was 12,000,000 in 1921.

 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes 1922-29
Administratively divided into 33 oblasts
The Kingdom was able to come together, because 3/4 of the population spoke an intelligible variant ( to each other) of Serbo-Croatian.

Serbo-Croatian spoken by the majority of speakers
So despite the tremendous cultural and religious differences, people of Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia regions could understand each other. And in Slovenia, many people who spoke the Slavic Slovene, also understood Serbo-Croatian.

So, who exactly joined the new Kingdom?

The Kingdom was formed by the merger of the independent Kingdom of Serbia (the leading actor), the Kingdom of Montenegro (who had just united with Serbia one week prior), and the provisional short lived and internationally unrecognized State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (all carved out of the southernmost portion of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). The State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs consisted of Slovenia, Croatia-Slavonia, Dalmatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This newly named Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was united under the Kingdom of Serbia's Peter I, as a constitutional monarchy.

Let's take a closer look at the constituent territories that make up the colloquial named "Yugoslavia". And this is important to us as classical collectors, because the early stamps of Yugoslavia are actually overprinted or newly printed stamps for these territories. The "General Issues" for Yugoslavia were not printed until 1921. Therefore this post will be focusing on the stamp productions of the constituent territories up to the general issues.

 Serbia 1918
As one can tell by the map, the Kingdom of Serbia had gained considerable territory by November, 1918. Banat, Backa, Baranja, Syrmia, and Montenegro had all been added.

Serbia, as an intact independent Kingdom with a fully functioning government and army, was the leading actor in the development of nascent Yugoslavia. The Serbian King Peter I was proclaimed the first King of Yugoslavia, and his son Alexander was Prince Regent, and then King beginning in 1921. Belgrade was the Capital of Yugoslavia.

The Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet, and, by tradition, follow Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Serbia had been part of the Ottoman Empire for five centuries, and hence had a considerably different cultural background than the Croats and Slovenes, who had a European heritage.

Slovenia, tucked up next to Austria, was much more industrialized than southern Yugoslavia. And its villages and landscape, resembling Austrian ones, meant that Slovenes had more in common with Vienna than Belgrade. In fact, the "Carinthia Plebisite" demonstrated that Carinthia, a small piece of Slovenia, was much more interested in joining Austria than Yugoslavia.

Celebration in Ljubljana on joining Yugoslavia
Nevertheless, Slovenia did join willingly, as the above photo attests. They did not speak Serbo-Croatian, but learned it. As a population minority, they mostly stayed out of the cultural conflict between the Croats and Serbians.

The Slovenes use the Latin alphabet, and are Roman Catholic by heritage.

Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, circa 1885 
An autonomous Kingdom within the Austro-Hungarian Empire
Croatia-Slavonia has had a long history of semi-independence, as evidenced by the map above. At times the territory also included Dalmatia. Slavonia resides in the eastern portion of the territory.

Northern Croatia, around Zagreb, was also more industrialized than southern Yugoslavia.

Croatia follows the Latin alphabet, and is about 75% Roman Catholic, and 25% Serbian Orthodox. The Croatian dialect of Serbo-Croatian is spoken.

Although they shared a language, albeit with different dialects, the Croats and Serbians did not share much else. And hence the conflicts that would explode later.

Carved up Yugoslavia in WW II
By WW II, most of Yugoslavia was carved up into puppet states (Croatia), or annexed by other countries (Germany, Italy, Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria).

Although The "Independent State of Croatia", with stamp production beginning in 1941, just misses the classical era, there is a point to be made about ethnic hatred.The Croatian Nazi government massacred hundreds of thousands of Serbians during WW II. And, naturally, there were reprisals later against the Croats. And so it continued....

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Number 18 on the map
Part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire: occupied 1879; annexed 1908
Bosnia and Herzegovina were part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years (1463-1878). A native Slavic speaking Muslim population developed.

But at the Congress of Berlin in 1878, the Austro-Hungarian Empire obtained the right to occupy the lands. Then, in 1908, Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed by the Empire despite international protestation.

The conflict lead to the assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 by a Serbian nationalist of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and set off WW I.

After WW I, Bosnia and Herzegovina  joined Yugoslavia.

The religious affiliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina consists of about 45% Muslims, 35% Serbian orthodox, and 15% Roman catholic. 

During WW II, all of Bosnia and Herzegovina became part of the Nazi puppet "Independent State of Croatia".

Now let's look at the overall ethnic map of Yugoslavia....

Map of ethnic constituencies in Yugoslavia
The map reflects the various ethnic populations in Yugoslavia.

So what happened to Yugoslavian lands when it was broken up during the 1990's?

Former Yugoslavia Today
The countries reformed according to old traditions and boundaries, and along ethnic lines.

Surprised? ;-)
1918 Croatia-Slavonia Scott 2L17 75f bright blue & pale blue
Stamps of Hungary overprinted in Blue
Into the Deep Blue
As mentioned, for this post, I will focus on the early 1918-20 years of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. During this period, each major territory had their own stamp production for their area.

For the following territories, the 2011 Scott Classic Specialized catalogue has....

Bosnia and Herzegovina 1918-1920
There are 45 regular issues, 7 semi-postals, 2 special delivery, and 26 postage dues.
67 of the 80 stamps, or 84%, are CV <$1-$1+.

Croatia-Slavonia 1918-1919
There are 41 regular, 3 semi-postal, 1 special delivery, 9 postage dues, and 2 newspaper.
46 of the 56 stamps, or 82%, are CV <$1-$1+.

Slovenia 1919-1920
There are 48 regular, 32 postage dues, 23 newspaper, and 6 Carinthia Plebiscite major number stamps.
98 of the 109 stamps, or 90%, are CV <$1-$1+.

Serbia 1918-20
Note: The Serbian issues are NOT under Yugoslavia, but are listed as the last issues for the Kingdom of Serbia. Considering that the Serbian King (King Peter) was also the King of Yugoslavia, and these stamps were intended for the Serbian territory, I suppose it makes sense.

But for the purposes of taking a look at the issues during this era, I will include them here.

There are 15 regular issues and 6 postage dues.
21 of the 21, or 100%, are CV <$1-$1+.

Clearly, early Yugoslavia is quite inexpensive for the WW classical collector.

Most of the used CV for early Yugoslavia is for the same value as mint, although there are some stamps that have a higher CV used. Of interest, I have many more mint then used in the collection, and I suspect that used condition is much rarer. Many collectors prefer mint specimens in their collections, so perhaps that is why the CV is approximately the same.  If one wanted to have fun without spending much, accumulating an early used collection of Yugoslavia would be a challenge, I suspect.

A closer look at the stamps and issues

Bosnia and Herzegovina
100 Heller = 1 Krone
1918 Scott 1L10 60h on 50h dull violet "Postal car"
Stamps of Bosnia and Herzegovina, overprinted or surcharged
If the Bosnia and Herzegovina stamps seem "Austrian" in design, remember that the country became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by fiat in 1908, and had been occupied (and with stamp production) since 1879.

This 1918 overprinted, and occasionally surcharged issue (as shown), consists of 16 stamps from the 1910 Bosnia & Herzegovina issue.

This beautifully engraved set was a knock-out in 1910, and is equally so here.

"DRZAVA" means "Country or State" in Serbo-Croatian. One will also find the Cyrillic equivalent spelling on many of the stamps of this issue- which I cannot reproduce on this keyboard. ;-).

"S.H.S." means "Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca", or "Serbs, Croats and Slovenes" in Croatian.
"C.X.C." is the Cyrillic equivalent.

1918 Scott 1L19 10h rose "Bosnian Girl"
1918 Scott 1L21 3h on 2h ultramarine 
The imperforate 1913 "Bosnian Girl" Newspaper stamps are a "Bosnia and Herzegovina" issue, while the perforated 11 1/2  1918 "Bosnian Girl" are regular issue early Yugoslavian stamps. ;-) This was a four stamp issue with 2h, 6h, 10h, and 20h denominations. CV is <$1.

But the 1918 2 stamp surcharged imperforate issue ( 3h on 2h, and the 5h on 6h) is a regular issue of early Yugoslavia. Got it?

But there is more....
1918 Yugoslavia Scott 1L20 20h green "Bosnian Girl", Typographed, 11 1/2 Perf
1913 Bosnia & Herzegovina Newspaper Scott P4 , Lithographed, Forgery!

The 1913 Bosnia & Herzegovina Newspaper imperforate "Bosnian Girl" was extensively forged. It is lithographed, and is quite blurry, compared to the very clear typographed genuine stamp. The forged specimens are estimated to outnumber genuine ones 5:1 in collections! Check for yourself.

What does this have to do with Yugoslavia? Well, many of these forgeries were perforated 11 1/2, and fobbed off as the Yugoslavia 1918 regular issue.

There is also a dash mark to check for in the forgeries. The red arrow in the image above points to a dash mark found in the white border frame line surrounding the vignette portrait with the forgeries. Enlarge if necessary to view.

1919 Scott 1L34  50h on 72h dark blue, red surcharge
Stamps of Bosnia & Herzegovia. 1906-17, overprinted or surcharged
The Emperor Franz Josef  B&H issues were overprinted or surcharged in this early Yugoslavia 18 stamp set. Most are inexpensive, but I notice the 50h slate blue issue is CV $20.

"Kraljevstvo" means "Kingdom" in Serbo-Croatian. The equivalent Cyrillic spelling is also found on many of the stamps.

1918 Postage Due Scott 1LJ7 20h red
Postage Due stamps of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1916
Overprinted in Cyrillic script
The early Yugoslavia for the Bosnia and Herzegovina had 26 postage due stamps. ! One reason is because the stamp had to be overprinted in either Latin or Cyrillic script, which doubles the output.

This 11 stamp 1918 postage due issue was printed in either Latin and Cyrillic script. This Cyrillic script here I believe means "Kingdom of S.H.S., Bosnia & Herzegovina".

The "Xenepa" in Cyrillic translates to "Helera" in Latin script.

1 Kuna = 100 Helera
1919 postage due Scott 1lJ18 20h on 5h green
Stamps of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1900-04, surcharged
This 9 stamp 1919 postage due set can be found overprinted in either Latin of Cyrillic script. CV is <$1.

1919 postage due Scott 1LJ26 4k on 7h black, red, and yellow
Postage Due stamps of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1904, surcharged
Four higher postage due values in 1919 had this surcharged design. Again, the overprint is either Latin or Cyrillic script. CV is <$1-$2+.


100 Filler = 1 Krone
1918 Scott 2L9 6f greenish blue
On Hungary, stamps of 1916-18
Interestingly, even though Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia-Slavonia were both former members of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Bosnia and Herzegovina overprinted stamps look "Austrian", while many Croatia-Slavonia issues are overprinted stamps from Hungary.

Here is an example of the eight overprinted Hungarian stamps issued in 1918. 

"Hrvatska" means "Croatia", while "S H S" means "Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca", or "Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes".

1918 Scott 2L21 32k dark violet & Indigo
This 8 stamp overprinted issue was produced in 1918.  "Krune" means "Crown", and probably is a variant of
     1918 Scott 2L27 40f olive green
Stamps of Hungary overprinted- here in blue
Four Hungarian stamps with royalty were also overprinted in 1918. They can be found with red, black or blue overprints.

1918 Scott 2L24 10f scarlet with blue overprint
Second example with rough overprint in black-Forgery?
Even though the CV for the early Yugoslavian stamps is often minimal, there can be overprint forgeries. This dodgy overprint in black on the right stamp, not a color found for the genuine, is probably an example.

1919 Scott 2L33 3f violet "Allegory of Freedom"
In 1919, an issue was produced specifically for Croatia-Slavonia. The "Allegory of Freedom" design is found on the three lower denomination stamps.

"Drzavna Posta" means "Staatspost" or "State or Government Post".

1919 Scott 2L35a 10f red "Youth with Standard", Perf 12 1/2
The four middle denominations had the above design. I picked out this stamp to show that the major number stamps have perforation 12 1/2, but, in addition, five stamps can also be found with perforation 11 1/2, a minor number.

Finally, there is a "Falcon, Symbol of Liberty" design found on the three higher denomination stamps of the issue. The design is shown heading the "Out of the Blue" section of this post.

1918 Semi-Postal Scott 2LB2 15f + 2f dull violet "Solders Fighting"
There were three semi-postals issued in 1918. Scott gives no information on the reason. 'Vijece" means "Council". Can any reader help with this?

1919 Newspaper Scott 2LP2 2f yellow orange 
Finally, this rather drab newspaper stamp was issued in 1919. I wonder how many collectors would be able to recognize this stamp as an early Croatia-Slavonia region stamp for Yugoslavia? ;-)

1919 Scott 3L1 3f violet "Chain Breaker", Perf 11 1/2
Lithographed at Ljubljana, Fine Impression
1919-20 Scott 3L9 3f violet, Perf 11 1/2
Typographed at Ljubljana and Vienna, Coarse Impression
Slovenia did not use overprinted stamps from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but rather printed their own stamps at the outset. 

The first design in 1919 is the very fine "Chain Breaker". The initial issue had 8 stamps, four in the smaller format as seen above. Note the finer impression.

The next issue, printed in 1919-20, has a much coarser impression. Again, the first four denominations had this smaller format, and both issues are perforation 11 1/2. Both issues are given major numbers in Scott.

1919 Scott 3L8 40f bister  "Chain Breaker", Perf 11 1/2
Lithographed at Ljubljana, Fine Impression
1919-20 Scott 3L17 40f orange, Perf 11 1/2
Typographed at Ljubljana and Vienna, Coarse Impression
The same fine/coarse impression designs are found for the larger format "Chain Breaker" for the 1919 and 1919-20 issues respectively. Both are perforation 11 1/2.

1919-20 Scott 3L18 50f green "Allegories of Freedom"
Perforation 11 1/2
The 1919-20 coarse issue also has other designs. The 50f and 60f denominations are as above, perforated 11 1/2.

1919-20 Scott 3L21 2k blue "Allegories of freedom", Perf 11 1/2
1919-20 Scott 3L31 1k vermilion, Serrate Roulette 13 1/2
The 1919-20 issue has also another "Allegories of Freedom" design in perforation 11 1/2. Why all the insistence of listing the perforations?

Because there is, in addition, a 1919-20 nine stamp issue with all the designs illustrated here, that is Serrate Roulette 13 1/2! These too are given major numbers in Scott.

1919-20 Scott 3L22 5k "King Peter I"
Two color examples
The higher denominations of the 1919-20 issue features King Peter I, the first King of the new country, who was also the King of Serbia

Note the different colors? Scott lists brown lake, lake, and dull red as choices. Or is the left stamp simply a chemical changeling? ;-)

1920 Scott 3L42 5p olive green "Chain Breaker"
1920 Scott 3L47 40p dark violet "Freedom"
110 Paras = 1 Dinar

In 1920, a new 14 stamp issue was produced in three designs. Shown above are two designs, nicely done.

Note the script is both in Latin and Cyrillic, as have been the preceding Slovenian stamps.

1920 Scott 3L51 1d dark brown "King Peter I" 
1920 Scott 3L55 10d brown red
The higher denominations had King Peter I on the stamps. There are two sizes for this design.

1919 Postage Due Scott 3LJ1 5f carmine, Ljubljana print
1920 Scott 3LJ8 5f red, Vienna print
In 1919 and 1920, a 7 stamp, and then another 7 stamp postage due issue was released respectively. The 1919  issue was produced in Ljubljana, while the 1920 issue came from Vienna. They are easy to distinguish as they have different size numerals. See Scott for details.

1920 Postage Due Scott 3LJ16 10p on 15f blue
Surcharged in Red
As the denomination changed from Filler/Krone to Paras/Dinar in 1920, the previous regular issue stamps were surcharged as above for postage due functions. Rather attractive, yes?

1919 Newspaper Scott 3LP2 4f gray "Eros", Ljubljana print
1920 Scott 3LP11 4f blue, Vienna print
Newspaper issues likewise are found with printings from Ljubljana and Vienna with 5 stamps and 8 stamps respectively. Note different colors and numeral shapes.

1920 Newspaper Scott 3LP21 6p on 2f blue
Surcharged newspaper stamps were issued in 1920 because of the denomination change. Examples of the Ljubljana and Vienna prints can be found, Scott gives each major numbers.

Semi-Postal issue for the Carinthia Plebiscite
1920 Scott 4LB2 15p on 4f gray Newspaper stamp
Finally, remember the Carinthia Plebiscite?

Big Blue's post is at:

Carinthia was a small piece of Slovenia that decided in 1920 if it would join Austria or Slovenia/Yugoslavia.

Both Austria and Slovenia put out overprinted Semi-Postals for the hotly contested election.

 Four Slovenian semi-postals, each with a different surcharge design in dark red, were issued. "K.G.C.H." signifies  "Carinthian Government Commission Zone A".

What happened?  60% voted to join Austria.

What about Serbia during 1918-20? Weren't they part of Yugoslavia- indeed the leading actor? There are 21 stamps issued by Serbia during this period.

Of interest, the issues are listed under Serbia for this time period in Scott. I won't show them here, but will illustrate them as an introduction to the general Yugoslavian issues in the next post.

Deep Blue
Deep Blue's page for Bosnia and Herzegovina overprinted for Yugoslavia
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 21 pages for the territorial early issues of Yugoslavia. The format follows the Scott catalogue, and naturally all major numbers have a space. Presently, I have stamps on 19 pages.

1919 Bosnia & Herzegovina Scott 1L38 2k gray green
Stamps of Bosnia & Herzegovina 1906-17, overprinted
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, for 1918-20, on 3 pages, has spaces for 35 Bosnia and Herzegovina, 34 Croatia- Slavonia, and 30 spaces for Slovenia Carniola.  Historically, Carniola comprises part of what is now called Slovenia.

Total coverage in Big Blue for the three territories is 44%, 61%, and 28% respectively.

Remember that the issues for Serbia during this time period are found under Serbia: both in BB, and in the Scott catalogue.

Recall also that the country is spelled "Jugoslavia" in all editions of Big Blue.

• For Bosnia and Herzegovina, the regular and postage due spaces could be expanded.
• For Slovenia, the 1919 and 1919-20 "Chain Breaker" type issues, which have fine and course printings,and different perforations- all with major numbers- are given one space per denomination in Big Blue.
• The Slovenia 1919 postage due issue (Ljubljana) is given spaces, but not the 1920 Vienna print issue.
• For Slovenia, no newspaper issues are included.
• The 1940's editions have the Carinthia plebiscite issues with a separate entry. This entry was lost in the '69 and '97 edition, although the Austrian plebiscite stamps were then given a space under Austria, But the Slovenian/Yugoslavian stamps for the plebiscite lost their spaces.

So if one is interested, one could expand the spaces, perhaps with a quadrilled page.


Bosnia and Herzegovina




Next Page

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Postage Due




Special Delivery



Next Page

Slovenia Carniola
3L1 or 3L9, 3L2 or 3L10, 3L3, 3L4 or 3L12,
3L5 or 3L13, 3L6 or 3L14, 3L7, 3L8,3L18 or 3L29, 3L19 or 3L30,
3L20 or 3L31, 3L21 or 3L32, 3L22, 3L23, 3L42,3L43,3L44,

Postage Due

End of Page

A) Expensive stamps ($10 theshold): none
B) (  ) around a number indicates a blank space choice
C) Further comments can be found in the observation section prior to the checklist.
1919 Croatia-Slavonia Scott 2L39 1k carmine rose 
"Falcon, Symbol of Liberty"
Out of the Blue
I found the Yugoslavian attempt to alloy all the disparate cultures together fascinating. As we know, it ultimately didn't work. Rather, ethnic hatred and "cleansing" increased in the Nazi era and in the 1990's. 

Note: Maps, photo appear to be in the public domain.

Jugoslavia - Bud's Big Blue



  1. "Of interest, I have many more mint then used in the collection, and I suspect that used condition is much rarer. "

    I agree with this one.

  2. Yet the CV is the same or only a small premium for used. ;-)

  3. ad acta) 1918 Semi-Postal Scott 2LB2 15f + 2f dull violet "Solders Fighting"
    There were three semi-postals issued in 1918. Scott gives no information on the reason. 'Vijece" means "Council". Can any reader help with this?

    Za Narodno Vijeće means For National (Peopoles) Council

  4. Thanks for the helpful translation Josip.

  5. Excellent site, thank you! Suggest, however, that you delete the gratuitous political commentary, as by your own statement falls outside the scope of what you are writing about: "Although The "Independent State of Croatia", with stamp production beginning in 1941, just misses the classical era, there is a point to be made about ethnic hatred.The Croatian Nazi government massacred hundreds of thousands of Serbians during WW II. And, naturally, there were reprisals later against the Croats. And so it continued...." Thank you.

    1. It is not gratuitous, and I absolutely make no apology. it is history.

      "The Ustasha – Croatian Revolutionary Movement (Croatian: Ustaša – Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret), commonly known as Ustashe (pronounced [ûstaʃe], Croatian: Ustaše), was a Croatian fascist, racist,[2] ultranationalist and terrorist organization,[3] active, in its original form, between 1929 and 1945. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews,[4] Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II.[5][6][7]"


      That is within the larger context that, sorrowfully, what man does to man is part of the study of history -philatelic and otherwise.

  6. Really helpful maps, I have not seen better and I have been looking. Glad to see them here.
    Roy Gelder

  7. Dear Jim,
    I have acquired some interesting proof stamps from Jugoslavia during 1920. I have tried with on-line searching and so far most helpful were Your blogs mentioning Carinthian Governmental Commission Zone A. Is there any chance I could contact You for more help with this period? Thank You in advance ! my email is vetus.oppidum@yahoo.com

    1. Hello Alex,

      Glad you found this post useful. Alas, my knowledge base in a mile wide and an inch deep as a WW collector. ;-) I don't think I can help you more other than what is already in the blog post. Good luck!