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Category:   1918-1940 Postals   Group:    Sun Design    Type:  A


The first Issue 1918 (Examples)



     Historical background of the first Latvian postage stamp was determined by the general political-military situation at that time but in addition to that the entire stamp issue was overshadowed by mysterious circumstances as will be shown below.

    The independence of the Republic of Latvia was declared on 18 November 1918, and the issue of the first postage stamp, besides being a necessity, was a matter of prestige and a symbol of sovereignty.  The German Army at that time was withdrawing from the territory north of the Daugava River, followed immediately by the Soviet Latvian forces coming from Russia.

    "On 9 September 1918 the recently organized Latvian Postal Administration ordered from the private printing works of Schnakenburg in Riga 3 million stamps at 5 Kapeiki denomination, as described above (Issue A).  Because surplus German Army military maps were available they were used for printing stamps due to the lack of more suitable paper.  Based on the size of the maps the stamps were printed in 12 horizontal rows of 19 stamps each, hence 228 stamps.

    Copies of the delivery notes of the Schnakenburg printing firm to the Postal Administration are still available, but not the actual order to Schnakenburg of the Postal Administration.  There is no documentary evidence that the Postal Administration had indeed ordered specifically perforated as well as imperforate stamps.  The printing order was very urgent, and it is more likely that the plant delivered less than half of the order perforated due to shortage of time.

    There are publications in which the author states that imperforate stamps came into being because the perforation machine broke down at the printing works.  This, unfortunately is a product of the author's fantasy, as evidenced by available documentation covering the deliveries of stamps by the Schnakenburg printing works to the Riga Main Post Office before the 3rd January 1919, when the Soviet Army occupied Riga.    

    Mr. Sturestep was until 1924 the technical director of the Postal Administration of Latvia.  The "gummed" sheets are obviously imperforate.  It is known that among the total issue of the stamps there was an unknown quantity without gum. 

    Summary of the four deliveries is presented:

Date sheets were delivered # of Imperforated # of Perforated
17 December 1918 700,000 300,000
19 December 1918 476,000 24,000
28 December 1918 1,500,000 700,000
2 January 1919 200,000 850,000

Total sheets (228 stamp per sheet) delivered:

2,867,000 1,874,000


    The previous information was copied from The Postal and Monetary History of Latvia 1918-1945 by N. Jakimovs, V. Marcilger.

    For more information on the Map stamps please visit Bill Apsit web page at http://www.apsit.com.