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, February 14, 2017

Western Ukraine

1919 Scott 14 15sh on 15h  dull red (on Austria Scott 168)
Austrian Stamps of 1916-18 Surcharged in Shaviv Currency
First Stanyslaviv Issue - With Asterisks
Quick History

[ Today is a sad day. Please pause a moment and honor a great philatelic web site author Gerben van Gelder of Stamp World History. ]

Western Ukraine was a short lived nationalistic inspired Ukrainian (Old term: Ruthenian) independent state (1918-19) that tenuously existed after the WW I collapse of  Austria-Hungary, until the area eventually was incorporated into Poland in 1923 (League of Nations decision).

Stamps were issued (mainly overprinted/surcharged Austrian stamps) from November 20, 1918 through May, 1919.

Land Claims of the West Ukrainian People"s Republic (pink + border)
The lands of  Eastern Galicia, (A province of Austria, but taken from Poland in 1772), were an ethnic mix of 60% Ukrainians (rural -peasants), 25% Poles (urban -leading social class), and 12% Jews (urban). The population of the area was approximately 5 million in 1910, and the largest city was Lviv, an important Polish dominated cultural capital of the region.

The West Ukrainian People's Republic declared independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire on November 1, 1918, and Lviv was declared the capital. This surprised the majority Polish residents of Lviv, who did not want to be part of a non Polish state.

I should say here that the West Ukrainian People's Republic was definitely Austrian in culture ( Legal, Social, Political), and was appalled by the disorderly uncouth socialist revolutionaries. Although there was an agreement to "unite" Western Ukraine with the rest of Ukraine in December 1, 1918, relations with the Kiev based socialist Ukrainian People's Republic were strained at best.

"The Eaglets -the defense of the cemetery" Kossak (1926)
Polish Youth uprising in Lviv against the West Ukrainian People's Republic
There was a popular Polish uprising in Lviv, and so the Polish-Ukrainian War of 1918-19 began between the Second Polish Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic.

March, 1919 - West Ukrainian People's Republic (blue)
Note the Polish corridor and Polish control of Lviv (Polish: Lwow)
By the end of November, 1918, Polish forces, (well equipped by the French in hopes they could stem the Bolsheviks), were in control of Lviv, as well as the railroad corridor linking Lviv with Poland.

The West Ukrainian government evacuated to the city of Ternopil, then to Stanyslaviv by December, 1918. (There are four major stamp issues released from Stanyslaviv from March 18- May, 1919.)

The West Ukrainian army managed to hold off the Poles for nine months, but by July, 1919, the Polish forces had taken over most of the territory.

There was a government-in exile- set up in Kamianets-Podilskyi, and then in Vienna.

Diplomatic maneuvers by the West Ukrainians eventually proved fruitless, and Poland absorbed the territory formally on March 14, 1923.

Casualties, mostly soldiers, would number 10,000 Poles and 15,000 Ukrainians.

The important eastern Galician oil fields essentially came under the control of the French, rather than Poland.

At the start of WW II, the area was annexed by the Soviet Union into Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union.

The lands now form the western part of now independent Ukraine.

1919 Scott 83 25h blue
Austrian Stamps of 1916-18 Overprinted
Third Stanyslaviv Issue
Into the Deep Blue
The 2014 Scott Classic Specialized 1840-1940 catalogue has, for Western Ukraine 1918-1919, 119 major number descriptions.

They all are surcharged on Austria stamps, unless otherwise noted.

They consist of the 1918 Lviv issue (5 stamps), the 1918 Kolomyia issue (4 stamps), the 1919 First Stanyslaviv issue (20 stamps), the 1919 Second Stanyslaviv issue (47 stamps - on Postage Due stamps of Bosnia, on Austrian Military semipostal and regular stamps, on Austrian stamps), the 1919 Third Stanyslaviv issue (19 stamps), 1918-19 Registration stamps- Kolomyia issue ( 2 stamps), and the the 1919 Romanian Occupation stamps of Pokutia (which includes Kolomyia) on Austrian stamps (13 stamps). In addition Scott mentions two Definitive issues (12 stamps and 5 stamps respectively) for May, 1919 that were not issued.

And most stamps are expensive to quite expensive ($tens to $hundreds to $thousands), save for the Third Stanyslaviv issue, where 17 of the 19 stamps in the set are CV <$1-$2+.

And Scott has a note: "Forgeries of almost all Western Ukraine stamps are plentiful". !!!!!!

Clearly, Western Ukraine is for the (well-off) specialist. And even then, apparently most of the issues were produced because of demand from Vienna stamp dealers than true need. The WW collector should tread lightly, and save for the Third Stanyslaviv issue (which is ubiquitous and inexpensive), probably move on. ;-)

A closer look at the stamps and issues
100 Shahiv (Sotykiv) = 1 Hryvnia
100 Heller = 1 Krone
1919 Scott 9 3sh on 3h bright violet
Austrian Stamps of 1916-18 Surcharged in Shaviv or Hryvnia Currency
First Stanyslaviv Issue - With Asterisks
The stamp production for Western Ukraine reflect the fortunes of the war with Poland in terms of where and when the issue was released.

The first stamp issue of November 20 from Lviv was only in circulation for two days before the Poles captured the city on November 22.. It consists of five handstamped overprinted Austrian stamps. The government than evacuated to Tenopil. (CV $30+-$200+)

There was also a four stamp issue from Kolomyia in the Pokutia region of southwest Ukraine on December 12, 1918. The four stamp issue consists of Austrian stamps that were surcharged. (CV $90-$1,600)

By the end of December, 1918, the government had moved to Stanyslaviv (Now called Ivano-Frankivsk). On March 18, 1919, 20 surcharged Austrian stamps of 1916-18 were released. This was the first Stanyslaviv issue (See above example). (CV $10+-$30+ for 13 stamps.)

1919 Scott 14 15sh on 15h  dull red (on Austria Scott 168)
Austrian Stamps of 1916-18 Surcharged in Shaviv or Hryvnia Currency
First Stanyslaviv Issue - With Asterisks
Another example (also shown for the blog header) from the first Stanslaviv Issue is shown here. Note the first Stanslaviv issue has asterisks.

The second Stanyslaviv issue, similar to the surcharge of the first issue, but without asterisks, consists of four sets and 47 stamps. Utilized were the postage due stamps of Bosnia, 1904 (first set), 1918 Austrian Military semipostal stamps (second set), 1917 Austrian Military stamps (third set), and 1916-18 Austrian stamps, but with two upper bars (fourth set). The CV is quite high for most of these stamps, but 9 stamps are  CV $10+ $20+..

1919 Scott 81 15h dull red
Austrian Stamps of 1916-18 Overprinted
Third Stanyslaviv Issue
The third Stanislaviv issue of May, 1919 is the one most likely to be encountered by the WW collector, as the 19 stamp set has a CV of <$1-$10+. This provisional issue consists of 1916-18 Austria stamps that was overprinted in Vienna.

Note the Ukrainian trident-in-shield arms, and the letters "3. y. H. P." in the four corners for (Z.U.N.R. = "Zakhidno-Ukrainska Narodna Republyka" = "Western Ukrainian National Republic" ).

Apparently, almost all of the specimens only exist unused, as the issue actually received little postal use, and forged cancellations are not uncommon.

In the meantime, the Austrian State Printing Office in Vienna was preparing two definitive lithographic issues for Western Ukraine. The May, 1919 first definitive set (5 in set CV $5), and second definitive set (12 in set CV $350) were never actually issued. They are given no numbers in the catalogue by Scott, although they are pictured and set valued.

There is also a fourth Stanyslaviv issue (overprinted locally) of May, 1919 (nine stamps) that consist of 1917-18 Austrian Military stamps surcharged in black. The issue was produced while waiting for part of the  third Stanyslaviv issue to arrive from Vienna. CV is $10+ for three stamps.

June 14, 1919 Scott N9 40h on 5h rose red
Austrian Stamps Surcharged in Dark Violet Blue
On Austrian Postage Due Stamps of 1910-1917
Romanian Occupation of Pokuttia
A piece of history I didn't discuss was the November, 1918 occupation of the Duchy of Bukovina by Romanian troops, even though it was "incorporated" by local Ukrainians into the West Ukrainian People's Republic. (Refer to the first map of the post, which shows Bokovina in orange.) The occupation ended on August 20, 1919. The territory was absorbed into the Kingdom of Romania.

North of Bukovina is Pokuttia (Pokutia), and this area was occupied by Romanian and Polish troops in May 24, 1919. The chief city is Kolomyia. In August, 1919, Romania handed over eastern Pokuttia to Poland. Pokuttia eventually became part of Poland in 1923.

And for stamp collectors, there is a tangible legacy from the Pokuttia (Pokutia) occupation by Romania.

Thirteen Romanian occupation stamps of Pokuttia (Pokutia) were  released June 14, 1919 by surcharging Austrian stamps in dark violet blue- See the above example. They can be found on Austrian stamps of 1916-18 (eight stamps), and Austrian postage due stamps of 1910-17 (five stamps). CV is $2+-$20+ for nine stamps.

Deep Blue
1919 Third Stanyslaviv Issue in Deep Blue
Deep Blue (Steiner) has seven pages for the stamps of 1918-19 Western Ukraine. As usual, Deep Blue follows the Scott catalogue for spaces. Plenty of the spaces will remain empty ($!!!) unless one has a particular fascination with Western Ukraine. My classic Steiner pages do not have all the spaces for stamps in the current Scott catalogue available (Part of First Stanyslaviv issue, Lviv issue, and first and second Definitive issues (never issued)). Not that it really makes that much difference for me. ;-) I printed out some supplementary pages if I ever need them -probably doubtful. 

Western Ukraine in Big Blue
Big Blue
Big Blue '69, on two-thirds of a page, (shared with South Russia for the '69 edition; shared with White Russia for the 40s editions) has 19 spaces for the entire 1919 Third Stanyslaviv issue. 

Coverage by Big Blue is 16%, but entirely reasonable, as the other issues are usually expensive and/or fraught with forgeries.

The two highest denominations of the Third Stanyslaviv issue are CV $10+




A) Expensive stamps ($10 threshold):
1919 Scott 93 4k yellow green ($10+)
1919 Scott 94 10k deep violet ($10+)

1919 Scott 84 30h dull violet
Austrian Stamps of 1916-18 Overprinted
Third Stanyslaviv Issue
Out of the Blue
One has to admit this is somewhat fascinating and unknown history. Ukrainians and Poles might be aware of the conflict, because their families were involved (now, a long time ago).

Stamp collectors, of course, can collect tangible evidence following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Note: Maps and Kossak painting image appear to be in the public domain.

Comments appreciated!


  1. Another one of those fascinating regions whose modern history is full of tragedy and conflict, culminating in the major territorial and population transfers (and liquidations, this is an area where the Holocaust was particularly brutal) that came to an end only in the wake of the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. And all of this reflected in the philatelic history of the region, such as Western Ukraine, Central Lithuania and several other ephemeral postal entities that came and went during the era of Big Blue.

    Even today the regions that composed Western Ukraine in 1919-20 are consistently the most Ukrainian nationalistic and have provided much of the leadership to oppose the current Russian attempts to overturn the border agreements that were signed between Russia and Ukraine in wake of the collapse of the USSR in 1991. History is never far below the surface in this part of the world.

    1. Gene- thanks for the historical perspective.

      Yes, brutal.

  2. Very interesting article once again Jim. I had no idea of the history of this region.

    Glad to see Big Blue was reasonable with the allocation for this area! :)


    1. BB should get credit where credit is due.

      After all, we are quick to point out BB's shortcomings. ;-)

  3. Jim, I enjoyed reading a true historical lesson, about a part of my country's past! All I want to say is that today live many Romanians in that region ('Pocuția' in Romanian). I think the stamps of Western Ukraine are very rare, and I never seen one of them before. Thanks! Catalin

    1. So there still is a legacy from that era today with Romanians in the Pocutia region - interesting Catalin!

    2. Received a stamp lot of Hungary, occupation stamps. In it were Western Ukrainian issues. All very cousin until I looked at big blue.your blog has become my main source for odd philatelic information. Thank you. D L Creson

    3. I don't mind being a repository of the alleys and byways of philatelic countries. Thanks David!

  4. Thank you so much adding so much historical color to this fascinating region. I just love the photos and maps that you include.

    In the 90's, I purchased Western Ukrainian stamps from a dealer who was still staunchly a Western Ukrainian Nationalist. He sold stamps through Tryzub Stamp Company. The Tryzub is the Western Ukrainian trident that appears on some of the overprinted stamps for this country. I was pleased to have acquired a type example for each of the main issues as well as the Romanian Occupation stamps.

    In 2014, we did an epic European trek through 38 countries that included the Ukraine (in the Danube Delta), Romania, Poland, Moldova, Bulgaria, Greece, etc. In fact, I was cognizant of the fact that I were traversing lands that were formerly known as Eastern Rumelia, Thrace, Epirus, and the Ottoman Empire