1920 Scott 87 60sk red & orange
"Grand Duke Vytautas"Quick History
Lithuania ,a Baltic state along with Latvia and Estonia, is situated on the Baltic Sea. The population was 2,800,000 in 1940, and the Capital was and is Vilnius-although during the period covered by this post, Kaunas was the (temporary) Capital. Lithuanian, along with Latvian, are part of the Baltic Language branch.
Map of Lithuania
The Imperial Russian Empire controlled Lithuania from 1795-1918, although Germany occupied the land during WW I. The Council of Lithuania declared an Act of Independence on February 16, 1918. The Lithuanian State was established.
1932 Scott C47 5c vermilion & olive green
The sad state of affairs from 1920-39 where Poland
Occupied SE Lithuania- including VilniusBut there was continued conflict with Poland and Germany between the world wars. Poland actually occupied (and annexed) the Capital Vilnius in 1920. Kaunas became the capital of Lithuania for the next 19 years.
Memel (Klaipeda) was acquired by Lithuania in 1923
The Klaipeda Region (Memel Territory), acquired in 1923, was ceded back to Germany in 1939 under direct threat.
The authoritarian President Antanas Smetona and the Lithuanian National Union ruled Lithuania after 1926.
Lithuanian independence came crashing down with the occupation of the Soviets in 1940. Then the Nazis occupied Lithuania from 1941-44, with the murder of 190,000 Lithuanian Jews. The Soviets re-annexed Lithuania in 1944. The Baltic port Memel (Klaipeda) and Memelland was returned to the now Lithuanian SSR in 1945.
Lithuania's Independence was again declared in 1990. Today, Lithuania is a full member of NATO and the European Union.
The 2011 Scott Classic catalogue has, for Lithuania for the years 1918-1940, 323 regular, 54 semi-postal, 91 air post and air post semi-postal, and 27 major descriptions for the German occupation and Russian occupation and local stamps (South Lithuania). Total = 495. Of those, 315 are CV <$1-$1+, or 64%. Clearly, Lithuania for the WW classical collector is delightfully affordable.
A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Skatiku = 1 Auksinas
100 Centai = 1 Litas (1922)
1919 Scott 31 15sk violet "The White Knight Vytus"
On gray granite paper-note colored threads, wmk 144
The Lithuanian issues actually began in 1918-19 with 26 very plain typeset stamps that look like labels. Some are expensive, others are not. They are quite possibly the plainest ugliest stamps I've seen. ;-) But I don't have any at the moment.
In 1919, a 10 stamp issue was introduced with the design as illustrated found on the five lower denominations. This issue is characterized by the gray granite paper, which is obvious on visual inspection. CV is <$1.
1919 Scott 45 50sk green "The White Knight Vytus"
On thick white paper, wmk 145
There were two more issues similar to the first issue, but on white paper: thick or thin. Scott gives all these stamps their own major number.
The 1919 second issue on thick white paper has 10 stamps, and the two middle denomination stamp design is shown above. This issue has watermark 145. CV is <$1.
1919 Scott 60 5auk blue green & red
On thin white paper, wmk 145
The 11 stamp third issue of 1919 is on thin white paper, and the three highest stamp denomination design is shown. CV is <$1.
How to tell the difference between the papers? The first issue with the gray granite paper and colored threads is obvious. But the white paper issues are more problematic. The "thick white paper", to me, is yes, usually thicker, and not as transparent from the back. The "thin white paper" seems more transparent from the back and yes, thinner. But it is a bit of an inexact science.
Fortunately the 1 auk, 3 auk, and 5 auk designs differ in the "auksinas" script. The "thin white paper" has the script capitalized compared to the "thick white paper" issue. Now that one has known (paper) samples, compare the other candidates, and separate them out into "thick" and 'thin". ;-)
True, Scott does list (slightly) different colors for the thick and thin issues, but I find color generally not very reliable. But, it might be of some help here.
What about watermark?
Left- wmk 144- Network; Right- wmk 145-Wavy Lines
Watermark 144 is "Network", which looks like bubbles. It is actually rather difficult to see on the gray granite paper. But a moot point, anyway, as the paper gives away the issue Watermark 145 is "Wavy Lines", which appear as thick undulating black/white lines, and is usually easily seen. The wmk 145, though, will not separate out the thick and thin paper issues.
What is remarkable is how inexpensive all these 31 stamps are for the general collector. Nice.
1920 Scott 79 3auk brown & red "White Knight"
In 1920, an 11 stamp issue was released celebrating the 1st anniversary of independence. These stamps were only on sale for three days in Kaunas, and, although offered in other cities afterwards, difficult to obtain. This is reflected in the CV of $2+.
What about all the "White Knight" symbolism on Lithuanian stamps?
Coat of Arms of Lithuania
The White Knight is Vytus, "the Chaser", and has been associated with Lithuania since the 14th century.
1920 Scott 88 80sk black, drab & red
"Grand Duke Gediminas"
In 1920, with the opening of the National Assembly, an 11 stamp issue was released. Again, these stamps were only available for three days.
The Grand Duke Gediminas of Lithuania ruled from 1315, and was responsible for developing Lithuania as a political force, spanning the Baltic to the Black Sea.
Grand Duchy of Lithuania 1386-1434
Pretty impressive, No? :-)
1920 Scott 89 1auk orange & black
"Sacred Oak and Altar"
Another design for the issue is shown above. The CV ranges from <$1-$2.
1922 Scott 108 4auk yellow & dark blue "Sower"
Between 1921-22, a 17 stamp definitive issue was produced, with the "Sower" design on five of them. CV is <$1-$1+.
1922 Scott 118B 5auk black brown & deep rose
In celebration of the League of Nations recognition of Lithuania, a lovely bi-colored 12 stamp portrait set in enlarged format was released. This set was only sold for one day- on October 1, 1922. CV, though, is a very modest <$1.
1922 Scott 133 3c on 3auk brown & red
Scott 146 5c on 50sk; Scott 157 30c on 8auk
In 1922, a change in denomination occurred from Skatiku/Auksinas to Centai/Litas. Therefore some 38 previously issued stamps can be found surcharged. Examples are illustrated. Some 22 stamps are CV <$1-$1+, but others are scarce, and are in the $20-$100+ CV range.
1923 Scott 167 20c olive brown , wmk 109
1923 Scott 193 25c blue, unwmk
1923 Scott 204 36c orange brown, wmk 147
Needing stamps with the new denominations, a nine stamp issue with watermark 109, a four stamp unwatermarked issue, a five stamp issue with watermark 147, and a three stamp issue with watermark 198 was released in 1923-25. All of these stamps shared three designs, although some were in different colors and denominations.
Get out the watermarking tray. :-)
Watermark 109-Webbing; Watermark 147- Parquetry
Above are two of the watermarks found with these issues. Watermark 198 will be shown presently.
1923 Scott 173 5 l brown & blue , wmk 109
"Seminary Church, Kaunas"
This design is found on three stamps for the initial 1923 issue. The design was used again in 1927 for three stamps, also on wmk 109, but in different color combinations.
1927 Scott 211 3c deep brown "Double-barred Cross", wmk 198
1929-31 Scott 234 5c green, wmk 109; 1933-34 Scott 278 2c orange, wmk 238
A new issue with the above design was first produced in 1927. There were 17 stamps total with this design issued. The "Double-barred Cross" can be found in wmk 198, wmk 109, wmk 238, and wmk 147.
Upper left: watermark 198- Intersecting Diamonds
Upper right: wmk 109- Webbing; Lower: wmk 238-Multiple Letters
Above are two additional watermarks not illustrated before. All of the watermarks are fairly easy to determine. One should be able to identify now all the varieties of definitive issues.
1927 Scott 223 1 l blue green & gray "National Arms"
In 1927, a three stamp set was produced with the "National Arms" design. CV is <$1-$1+.
1928 Scott 228 15c orange & brown
"Pres. Antanas Smetona"
For the 10th anniversary of Independence, a 7 stamp issue was released. Included is a portrait of President Antanas Smetona. He was installed after a coup by the military in 1926. He and his Lithuanian Nationalist Union party ruled with an iron hand until 1940.
1928 Scott 231 60c carmine & black
"Decade of Independence"
Another stamp in the 1928 10th anniv. of Independence issue is illustrated. Striking design. The CV for the 7 stamp set is <$1.
1930 Scott 250 60c dark blue & rose
"Grand Duke Vytautas"
For the 5th century anniversary of the death of the Grand Duke Vytautas, a 14 stamp set was released. The Grand Duke is considered a national hero, and "Vytautas" is a popular male name in Lithuania. He ruled the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between 1392-1430. A map of the Grand Duchy is illustrated elsewhere in the post. CV for the issue is <$1-$2+ for 12 stamps.
1932 Scott 262 5c violet blue & ocher
"Kaunas, Railroad Station"
During 1932-33, some eight regular and air post sets were released in both perforate and imperforate form. Scott ignores the difference, and gives the two perforate types the same catalogue number.
This 1932 pictorial set, some 8 stamps, is therefore found both perforate and imperforate. An example is shown. CV is <$1-$6+.
1932 Scott 268 50c deep green & bister brown
"Battle of Tannenberg (1410)"
Issued both perforate and imperforate, this 1932 eight stamp set celebrates the 15th year anniversary of Independence. The historical pictorial vignettes reach back to the glory days of Vytautas. CV is <$1-$4.
1933 Scott 277 60c orange brown & chestnut
"Dr. John Sliupas"; Issued both perforate/imperforate
For the 50th anniversary of the Lithuanian newspaper "Ausra", an 8 stamp set was released in 1933. This patriot of Lithuanian culture and language, John Siupas, lived a purposeful life. He spoke five languages and was the editor of AUSRA ("Dawn"). Pursued by authorities, he fled to America with his family. He became an American medical doctor (In order to support his family), while agitating for Lithuanian cultural identity for those Lithuanians in America. He was the only Lithuanian-American who helped form the 1918 Declaration of Independence. He was involved with a diplomatic mission to London, the Paris Peace Conference, and was appointed by Lithuania as first ambassador to Latvia and Estonia.
1933 Scott 277E 15c olive green & plum
"Boy Reading", Issued perforate/imperforate
For the benefit of orphans, this 1933 eight stamp issued set has a CV of <$1-$3+.
1937 Scott 296 2c orange ; 1934-35 Scott 287 5c blue green & green
In 1934-35, a 10 stamp set with various motifs was released. CV is <$1. Of interest, the 2c and 5c denomination designs were released again in 1936-37, this time in a smaller format.
1934-35 Scott 289 25c dark brown & emerald
"Girl with Wheat"
Among the stamps released for the 1934-35 issue, this design "Girl with Wheat" was included. Stunning.
1937-39 Scott 302 25c magenta "Arms"
Note the gray network
Five stamps all with the illustrated design were produced between 1937-39. CV is <$1.
1939 Scott 310 15c dark red
"Jonas Basanavicius Reading Act of Independence"
Overprinted in blue for Recovery of Vilnius
In 1939, a three stamp issue was produced in honor of the 20th anniversary of Independence. Then these stamps were overprinted upon the return of the heart and soul (and capital) of Lithuania- Vilnius.
Good news, right?
The Red Army invaded Poland on September 19,1939. In exchange for "allowing" 20,000 Soviet troops within Lithuania, Vilnius was returned to Lithuania. On June 14,1940, the Soviets demanded the formation of a pro-soviet government. 150,000 additional troops crossed over into Lithuania, and Lithuania lost its independence.
1940 Scott 315 30 dark green & light green
Putting a happy face on the return of Vilnius, a three stamp issue was released in 1940. CV is <$1-$1.
A Peoples Government was formed that was a complete puppet of the Soviet Union.
1940 Scott 317 5c brown carmine "White Knight"
The last regular issue in 1940 consists of 6 stamps, and here shows a stylized version of the "White Knight"
CV is <$1.
With the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany, the Nazis occupied Lithuania on June 24, 1941. Policy decisions were made by high ranking Germans, but much of the lower government was in the hands of Lithuanians, as the Germans did not have enough manpower to staff everything. The Holocaust in Lithuania was efficient and brutal. Between June, 1941- July 1944, 91% of the Lithuanian Jews (191,000) were
The USSR re-occupied Lithuania in July,1944, and the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was
It is estimated that Lithuania lost 780,000 people during WW II.
It is estimated that Lithuania lost 780,000 people during WW II.
1938 Semi-postal Scott B44 15 + 5c orange & red orange
Semi-postals were part of the stamp output of Lithuania since 1924, although perhaps not as much as other European countries.
The illustrated stamp is part of a four stamp set released in 1938 for the National Olympiad. CV is $5+-$10+.
1939 Scott B53 30c + 15c myrtle green & green
Many Lithuanians are tall, and the national sport is basketball. For the 3rd European basketball championship held at Kaunas, a three stamp set was released. CV is $5+-$10+.
1921 Scott C7 5auk slate & yellow
"Plane over Gediminas Castle"
The first Air Post issue was released in 1921, and consists of seven stamps. CV is <$1-$1+.
1921 Scott C10 40sk violet blue & olive green
"Allegory of Flight"
For the formal opening of airmail service, this all same design seven stamp set was released on November 6, 1921. CV is $1+.
1922 Scott C15 1auk olive brown & red
"Plane over Kaunas"
This three stamp triangular set was supposed to be the initial air post set for the founding of airmail, but the set got delayed. Consequently, it was released with the overprint "ZENKLAS" (stamp) placed over "ISTEIGMAS" (founding). CV is $2+-$4.
1930 Scott C43 20c dark brown, orange & dull red
"Vytautas and Airplane over Kaunas"
This seven stamp set, as the regular set of 1930, marks the 5th century anniversary of the death of Grand Duke Vytautas. Quite interesting design,as the Duke appears to be watching modern Lithuania with an airplane aloft. CV is <$1-$1+.
1932 Scott C57 15c rose violet & bister brown
"Coronation of Mindaugas (1253); Perforate/imperforate
An eight stamp issue was released in 1932 for the 15th anniversary of Independence. CV is <$1-$7+.
Of interest, this stamp is known to have been forged. The cross on the top of the crown should look like a cross (genuine) as opposed to a single vertical line (forgery).
1933 Scott C71 5c crimson & deep blue
"Joseph Maironis"; Perforate/imperforate
A eight stamp set was released in 1933 for the benefit of orphans. CV is <$1-$5+. Joseph Maironis (1862-1932) was a poet whose poems reflect the desire for national liberation.
1934 Scott C84 5 l dark brown & blue
"Lituanica and White Knight"
Two Captains of the crashed plane "Lituanica" on the New York- Kaunas transatlantic flight of 1933 were honored with a six stamp set in 1934. CV is <$1-$3+. The beautiful imagery on this stamp shows the plane in the sky carried upwards by the White Knight. The cause of the crash, only 400 miles from its destination of Kaunas, is not known.
1916-17 Occupation Scott 1N1 2 1/2pf gray
Stamps of Germany, overprinted
Parts of Lithuania was occupied by the Germans during WW I, and there is a 12 stamp set issued with the above design and overprint. CV is <$1-$3+.
Deep Blue (Steiner) has 48 pages for the Lithuanian issues, and follows the Scott catalogue. The 1932-33 regular and air post issues are issued both perforated and imperforate. Scott only gives one major number for both varieties, but it can be a bit messy visually combining both perforate and imperforate types on an album page. The Steiner, though, provides double spaces: one for the perforate variety, and one for the imperforate variety. Thank you Steiner. :-)
1926 Scott C39 60c blue & black "Swallow"Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on six pages, has 104 regular, 39 air post, 12 semi-postal, and 8 German occupation stamp spaces. Total = 163 spaces. Coverage is 33%.
• Lithuania is inexpensive to collect, with only two stamp crossing the $10 CV mark.
• The 1922 large portrait issue (12 stamps), and the 1922 surcharged issues (some 24 stamps) are not given a space, despite a CV of <$1-$1+.
• There is a severe contraction of space in BB for the 1919, 1923-24, and 1926 issues. That is because there are different papers (1919) and different watermarks (1923-24, 1926) for these issues. See the Comment section for details. One may need to provide extra space for these issues if one wants to break out the varieties.
30 or 40 or 50, 31 or 41 or 51, 32 or 42 or 52, 33 or 43 or 53, 34 or 44 or 54,
35 or 45 or 55, 56, 36 or 46 or 57,
37 or 47 or 58, 38 or 48 or 59, 39 or 49 or 60,
189 or 198, 165 or 190 or 199, 166 or 191, 167, 168 or 193 or 202 or 207, 169 or 208, 170 or 209,
210 or 233, 211, 212 or 216 or 234, 213 or 235, 214 or 237 or 240, 215 or 239,
286 or 296, 287,288,290,292,
1926 (Regular 1923 issue with various surcharges)
(Eight blank spaces- suggest choices B1,B2,B3,B7,B16,B17,B18,B19,B30,B31,B32)
A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1938 Scott B45 30c + 10c blue & dark blue ($10+)
1938 Scott B46 60c + 15c tan & brown ($10+)
B) * 1919- BB's spaces consist of the 1919 issue, which can be found on gray granite paper (10 stamps), thick white paper (10 stamps), and thin white paper (11 stamps) respectively. Scott gives all the paper varieties major numbers. In a number of instances, the stamps were issued in (slightly) different colors also. Although BB specifies a certain color, I have ignored the requirement in this case, and given all three major varieties an opportunity to vie for BB's one denomination space. ;-)
C) *1923-24- BB combines an unwatermarked and 3 different watermarked issues into one space. There are between 1-4 choices for each space. And I did not give the 1933-34 issue (with Scott 281-82) admission into the spaces, because of the late date.
D) *1926-BB combines 3 different watermarked issues into one space. There were a few instances of (slight) color differences between issues which I ignored. And I did not give the 1933-34 issue (with Scott 279-80) admission into spaces, because of the late date.
E) ( ) around number(s) indicates blank space(s) choice(s)
1933 Scott C67 40c light ultramarine & lilac
"Hermit Birute"Out of the Blue
I find the classic Lithuanian stamps very attractive indeed. And Lithuanian pride and tumultuous history adds dimension.
Note: Maps appear to be in the public domain.
Bud's Big Blue - Lithuania