Category: 1918-1940 Postals
The Zemitans Issue 1919
Besides the Smiltene issue, a more effective attempt to alleviate the shortage of postage stamps in northern Vidzeme was undertaken by Lt. Col. Zemitans by ordering the printing of the first regional stamps issue of Latvia at the printing shop of K. Dunis in the town of VALMIERA (Wolmar) on July 3rd, 1919.
The designer of the stamps was the artist-painter E. Brencens. It is remarkable that despite any cooperation with the author of the Cirulis of the first Latvian stamps, known as the "sun design", two symbolic elements of Latvia have been incorporated in the design of these stamps:
The stamps were printed by rather primitive letterpress on pelure paper of various thickness and shades of white and light blue. First on half of the sheet was printed and then turned 180 degrees, and subsequently the other half was printed. This way a gutter from 6 to 27mm wide remained between the stamp panes.
No wonder that by this method the stamp rows of the two panes do not line up. Most stamps remained ungummed. The quantity printed was 900,000 imperforated and 90,000 perforated. The printed sheets were cut along the gutter , thus obtaining two counter sheets of 10 x 10 stamps.
Needless to say, looking retrospectively, the amount printed was far too great. From available sources it appears that these stamps reached only a few post office counters in Northern Latvia, and not earlier than toward the end of July 1919. Thus no exact date can be ascertained, but at any rate the date cannot be July 3rd as listed in catalogues.
Genuinely mailed covers are extremely rare, and those dispatched from Valmiera were cancelled with a typical Estonian style mark, of which two varieties are known. In both stamps Valmiera is spelled in old style VALMEERA. The main difference is in the two ornaments.
Shortly after these stamps had been introduced, regular communication with the capital Riga was established as a result of the liberation from Soviet rule. As soon as the post offices of Northern Vidzeme were supplied by the Postal Administration in Riga with the regular sun design stamps, the unused Zemitan issue stamps were collected and forwarded to the postal authorities in Riga. They were then sold to customers, mainly collectors and dealers, at the Main Post Office of Riga.
By official order of Zemitans stamps were valid for postage until April 30th, 19322 throughout Latvia, However, due to inflation, postage for a regular domestic letter had already risen to 500 Kapeiki. Hence, for purely practical reasons 10 Kap. stamps by late 1919 were in very limited demand.
Zemitans stamps cancelled with the RIGA. a LATVIJA postmarks are usually cancelled to order. Unused stamps are plentiful and of little market value.