Whether you enjoy taking a holiday indoors or outdoors in the summer or winter, alone in solitary reflection or with family and friends, we here at Hungaria Stamp Exchange are sure you will delight in enjoying the colorful engaging stamps of the Coastal Countries of Eastern Europe as we embark on our Philatelic Holiday.
Which are the Coastal Countries of Eastern Europe?
While some of us may associate Eastern Europe with landlocked countries, the majority of countries in Eastern Europe have a coastal border. In the north, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as the Russian city of Kaliningrad have a border on the coast of the Baltic Sea. In the West, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Albania each have a coastal border on the Adriatic Sea. In the South, Greece has a coast on and many islands in the Aegean Sea while Turkey has a coast on the Aegean Sea as well as on the Black Sea. On the East, in addition to Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia have coasts on the Black Sea.
It sounds like we have lots of Eastern Europe Coastal countries for enjoying our philatelic holiday! Now we can decide on our holiday venue, whether the mountains and streams of a national park, the splendor of a world heritage site, or beaches.
Some of these delightful stamps we have selected for our Coastal Eastern European Philatelic holiday are Europastamp issuances. Europa are special stamp issues offered by European Postal administrations to promote cooperation across postal domains and philately. These stamps help build awareness of common culture, roots and history of Europe. Each year Europa stamps are issued by European postal administrations and enterprises and bear the official EUROPA logo, Europe being the central theme with a specific topic selected annually.
The Romania set includes a Crane in Danube Delta and Castle and mountains while the Ukraine offering is a mini-souvenir sheet and the Lithuania issuance is a delightful Tete-Beche depicting hills, trees and rivers and buildings.
Of course now we need to decide whether to fish, hike, sunbathe, take in the magnificent species of the marine life of the sea, or just enjoy the gastronomic experience of these amazing countries.
The dramatic Romania sheet features a Seahorse, Dolphin, Loggerhead Turtle and Tub Gunard. The colorful Albania souvenir sheet issuance features a Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Dolphin, Blue shark, Torpedo fish and Octopus.
The Black Sea Marine Life Joint stamp issues of Bulgaria and Ukraine depict dolphins and barnacles while the souvenir sheet of Ukraine Black Sea Marine life features sea horse, dolphins and birds.
For the outdoor enthusiast, who can resist hiking in Greece represented by stamps Greece – 2012 Nature Tourismstamp set orhiking in the Carpathian Garden of Romania depicted in the Romania set – Carpathian Garden, unless it is to kayak in Slovenia in the Mine Beneath Mount Peca.
Naturally, there can not be a complete holiday unless it includes a gastronomic experience and the stamp issuances of the Coastal Eastern Europe countries certainly will not disappoint.
TraditionalGastronomy in the Mediterranean, set issued by Greece includes Spanakopita (Spinach pie) Octopus, Lamb, and Moussaka. Croatia issuance Protected Foods set includes Croatia issued Traditional Mediterranean Gastronomy, The Rab Cake is so much more than a dessert made of meticulously chosen local ingredients: almonds, aromatic lemons, and tart cherry liqueur, with a touch of the sun. It tells the history of the town and the island where every stone house remembers dozens of generations. Of course we should complete our Slovenia Philatelic Gastronomy experience with this 2005 Europa Issuance of a glass of wine!
Who can possibly resist the the delightful Bulgaria stamp issuance which includes Man Diving Through Flaming Heart, Baby Emerging From Chalice, Grapevine, bird, wine coming from vat, Waiter carrying tray with glass and bottle of wine.
Our philatelic holiday is filled with many opportunities for Tourism in the Coastal Countries of Albania, Montenegro and Croatia.
Croatia presided over the European Union in 2020 and designated the European Capital of Culture as Rijeka! Nested within northern coastal Croatia’s stunning landscapes, Rijeka is a place beaming with life and a bastion of free-spirited, peaceful coexistence and progressive thinking. Having developed under no less than seven different countries within the last hundred years, Rijeka and its residents offer a plethora of cultural and historical heritage sites. This joint issuances with Ireland celebrating their coastal city of Galway is truly a spirit of coastal cooperation.
Deciding how to get to our holiday location gives us many Eastern European philatelic choices whether it be planes or trains, boats and ships or car. Eastern European Coastal Countries give us a wide variety of boat and ship choices: from a fishing dinghy to sailing ships to Viking ships, but we should definitely avoid the war ships. How exciting would a trip on the Orient Express be?
How exciting would a trip on the Orient Express be?
Carnivals and Festivals
Let’s not forget those of us that might be traveling with children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews, who can resist carnivals, festivals and the circus or even stamp collecting with the next generation!
We hope you enjoyed “Going On a Philatelic Holiday through the Coastal Countries of Eastern Europe” with us here at HSE and will spend some time browsing through these many exciting stamp offerings in our online store.
Europaare special stamp issues offered by European Postal administrations to promote cooperation across postal domains and philately. These stamps help build awareness of common culture, roots and history of Europe. Each year Europa stamps issued by European postal administrations and enterprises currently bear the official EUROPA logo. Europe is the central theme with a specific topic selected annually.
The first Europa stamps were issued in 1956 by the founding six member countries of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg and the Netherlands under coordination of the European Communities. This first stamp issued had both a common theme and a common design “Rebuilding Europe”: a tower made up of the letters of the word “EUROPA” and surrounded by construction scaffolding. By 1957 the common theme of “Uniting Europe” was supported by a unique stamp designed issued by the member countries.
Europa themes over the decades cover a broad range of themes and venues.
HSE is pleased to offer this philatelic cornucopia ofEuropa: Stamps of Eastern Europe .
Art & Music
stamp issuances include Contemporary Art, Paintings and Poster Art.
Europa Musical Instruments
Many types of ethnic folk instruments are represented in Europa : Musical Instruments stamps of Eastern Europe, ranging from stringed instruments such as the zither to bagpipes. The Ukraine Europa issuance depicts the Cossack Mamai playing the kobza and symbolizes the singing soul of the Ukrainian people while the Czech Republic issuance depicts Bagpipes which are an ancient folk musical instrument. The kokle (or kuōkle) is a Latvian plucked string musical instrument (chordophone) of the zither family. It is similar in construction and origin to the Lithuanian kanklės, Russian gusli, and Estonian kannel.
Europastamp offerings with the theme of The Post range from Letter Writing, Postmen, Postal Vans, Post Offices, to Ancient Postal Routes.
Europa 2020 celebrates the Ancient Postal Routes which were the primary way in ancient times of connecting together the peoples of differing cultures and geographies.
Nature and Conservation
The Europastamp offerings of Nature and Conservation include themes of Wildlife and Forests, Nature Preserves and National Parks, Water and Scouting
Europa : Famous Women
issuances of Eastern Europe range from poets Elisavet of Bulgaria and Marie Under of Estonia to Cvijeta Zuzoric and Ivan Mazuranic writers of Croatia to Queen Gisela of Hungary to Madame Curie and Mother Teresa.
Europa: Festivals, Celebrations and Gastronomy
Festivals and National Celebrations, Souvenir Sheet issuance of Moldova represents the Martisor Music Festival while the stamp of Slovenia depicts Jurjevanje (Green George’s Festival). Moldova Europa: Festivals and National Celebrations features Eugene Ionesco biennial Theater Festival and Lurceni ceramics, Nisporeni with Croatia pair issuance highlighting Varazdin Baroque Evenings musical notes and Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
Hungary Europa Gastronomy stamp depicts a traditional plate of chicken paprika and dumplings while the Bosnia (Croat) pair depicts wine, garlic, ham, cheese and bread, grapes and nuts. The colorful stamp pair from Estonia shows of the food of the rainbow and a vegetable wrap made of tomato, carrots, egg yolk, parsley, fish, onion, beet.
Europa stamp issuances about children include Children’s Books and Old Toys.
Who can resist the Circus? Certainly philatelists of all ages cannot! We hope you enjoy these delightful Europa: Circus offerings from Countries “A to Y” as much as we do including the final classic souvenir sheet issued from the former Slavic Union of Yugoslavia.
Europa 1995: Peace and Freedom
The Greece stamp pair designs depicts the 50th Anniversary of the Liberation of Concentration Camps and Peace doves dove flying above a broken barbed wire fence.
In anticipation of the Europa theme of Peace for 2023 : please join us in supporting the people of Ukraine and the Eastern European postal authorities currently issuing stamps in their support.
Here is the statement published by Post of Croatia in support of the stamp issuance.
“On 24 February 2022, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation launched an unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. The Republic of Croatia strongly condemned and reaffirmed its support for Ukraine’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders, which is a fundamental determinant in the relations and cooperation between the Republic of Croatia and Ukraine.
On 25 February 2022, the Croatian Parliament adopted the Declaration on Ukraine, which expresses Croatia’s full solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people who are fighting to defend their country and calls for an end to Russia’s military aggression against the Ukrainian people and infrastructure and for the establishment of peace.”
“Stories and Myths”
This year’s Europa theme is “Stories and Myths” Here is a preview of a few of the 2022 issues.
The tale of the white horse is one of the myths and legends about how the land of Hungary was acquired dating from the time the Magyar tribes settled in the Carpathian Basin. The motif of the Croatia stamp is the mythological Tree of the World – an ancient Croatian myth about the structure of the universe. The Bosnia Herzegovina stamp depicts the Bogeyman, a creature from the mythology of the South Slavs who scares and kidnaps naughty children and takes them to her lair.
We hope you enjoyed our “cornucopia” of Europa stamp offerings and take a look at our full collection in our online store.
All of us at HSE wish you goodhealth and a peaceful summer.
All of us at HSE wish you a good start to the New Year as we turn the page on 2021 which for many reasons seemed to be a year of ups, downs and arounds. With all of that taking place, we were so glad to hear from many of you about philatelic events and happenings as well as your renewed or continued interest in stamp collecting.
We do thank each of you for your continued support and interest in the offerings from the Hungaria Stamp Exchange and look forward to working with you in the New Year.
Looking forward on the philatelic horizon it is now time for us to share highlights of HSE’s eclectic new issues of Eastern European philately for 2021 with a strong focus on protecting the environment and other offerings which we are sure will delight both topical and country collectors.
Always seem to be popular stamp issuances. We found the following hard to resist. Whether Czech Republic Young Animals: Puppies Booklet or Romania Man’s Best Friend is a heartwarming set of 4 stamps of service dogs helping people and dogs with children.
Croatia Children’s World: Cats III is a set of colorful captivating stamps of cats from four parts of the world: Bengal cat, Bombay cat, Egyptian Mau and the Norwegian forest cat.
Children’s Stories & Fairytales
Did you ever wonder where the story of Puss in Boots originated? In Czechoslovakia! And, now there is a wonderful issuance celebrating the famous 1935 work of writer and illustrator Josef Lada which was dedicated to his daughters. Nico in boots and jacket setting out on a journey depicted from the original book about the small black pussy cat in boots called Mikeš (the name was translated into English as Nico) and 38 other languages.
Cartoon & Fairytale Characters
Hungary continues its series of cartoon and fairytale characters with a delightful miniature stamp sheet celebrating Kukori and Korkoda.
Protection of the Resources of Eastern Europe
Many of the new issues of 2021 focused on the protection and restoration of Eastern Europe’s natural resources and landmarks, preservation of endangered species (Europa 2021) and natural resource management.
Europa: Endangered Species
Europaare special stamps issued by European postal administrations which focus on Europe as the central theme. HSE is pleased to continue its offerings of Europa stamps from several Eastern Europe countries. The theme for Europa 2021 is Endangered National Wildlife and the range of wildlife covered in this collection is amazing. One of the stamp offerings from Poland, the Eurasian Lynx, was voted most beautiful Europa stamp in 2021!
Preservation of Natural Resources
These stamp issuances are beautiful in their own right but even more amazing are the actual natural resources of Eastern Europe that they represent.
The Czech Rare Rock Formation Divic Kameny stamp depicts unique rock formations formed during the Ice age, while the Czech Milovice Nature Preserve is the first in the world to include and cohabitate three species: bison, wild horses and aurochs(an extinct wild ox of Eastern Europe). The Czech Ramsar Convention issue celebrates the 50th Anniversary to protect wetlands, while Slovakia issuance celebrates the Demanovska Cave of Liberty.
Hungary One With Nature Exhibition is set of 8 stamps or sovenir sheet spotlighting the One With Nature Exhibition where hunting, forestry, fishing themes combine with sustainability of nature. The 8 stamp set represents the animals and the souvenir sheet has portraits of Zsigmond Szechenyi (Hungarian hunter), Kalmon Kettenberger (Hungarian Africa researcher) and Józef Attila (prize winning writer)
Other stamp issuances highlighting the natural resources of Eastern Europe include Hungary Pollinating Insects, Romanian birds and desert fauna (yes, Romania has a desert) and Croatian fauna. The Croatian issuance includes Bottlenose Dolphin, Devil Ray and Loggerhead Sea Turtle.
A truly special issuance is the one from the Ukraine, “Look Into the Future”, which commemorates the 35th Anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Czech Republic EXPO Dubai 2020. This issuance celebrates the first EXPO of its kind held in the Middle East and will house international exhibits of participating countries.Czech Republic EXPO Dubai 2020 was originally scheduled in 2020 later moved to October 2021-March 2022. The Czech Republic presentation is a unique oasis project developed by the scientists from the University Center for Energy at the Czech Technical University in Prague. Using Solar power only, the system is designed to convert air to water overnight.
Planet Budapest issuance highlights the Sustainability Summit held in Budapest. The summit is the joint effort of the Visegrad countries dealing with sustainable development. The purpose is to draw attention to adverse environmental, social and economic processes and to show these negative changes can still be reversed. The Visegrad countries (V4) include Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.
Joint Issues in 2021
include the Visegrad Group (V4) 30th Anniversary, Croatia/Kyrgyzstan Protected Bird White Winged Woodpecker, Croatia/PolandSton Saltworks and Bochnia Salt Mine.
Visegrad Group (V4) includes the countries of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia. The Visegrad Group was created with the aim of moving away from Communism and implementing the reforms required for full membership into the Euro-Atlantic Institutions. The 1991 Visegrad Declaration is part of the tradition of cooperation between neighboring countries with a common destiny. This joint issue celebrates 30 years of close political, economic and social relations.
Croatia-Kyrgyzstan Protected Bird Series : White Winged Woodpecker. The white-winged woodpecker is a relatively little-known species of Central Asian woodpecker. It extends from the western shores of the Aral Sea to the east along northern Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakhstan to western China, south to the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
Bochnia Salt Mine & Ston Saltworks issuance is a beautiful depiction of The Saltworks which are the oldest in Europe with a tradition over many centuries starting with the Romans. Salt provided the means for the Romans to overpower the indigenous Illyrian population starting in 36 BC. The quality of the salt is exceptional and is now a historical treasure to be protected.The Bochnia Salt mine’s greatest treasure is it’s unique microclimate providing it with unique therapeutic properties and as such in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Trains & Cars (Vintage and otherwise)
Eastern Europe new stamp issues of 2021 find trains in the most unusual places from the Czech Republic stamp of the Negrelli Viaduct, to Armenia locomotive to the Classic Rock music stamp from Hungary featuring the band Locomotiv GT.
Czech Alois Negrell Railway pioneer is celebrated on the issuance of the Negrelli Viaduct train bridge stamp. Since the completion of construction in 1849 it continues to be the longest railway bridge in Central Europe and the first constructed of granite.
Car issuances range from the Czech Wikow sports roadster to another Czech issuance honoring stamp designer Vaclav Zapadlik. This is complemented by the absolute opposite with the Croatia Crypto stamp withRimac Nevera, a fully electric hypercar able to achieve a top speed over 400 kilometers per hour and able to provide anunprecedented level of performance. It is completely designed, developed and manufactured at the company Rimac Automobili in Croatia.
Eastern European stamp issuances continue to cover a wide range of musical offerings from the stamp celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Slovakia teachers choir, to the Croatia issuance offering of the 150th Anniversary of the Zagreb philharmonic orchestra, to the Hungary stamp celebrating the 50th Anniversary of rock band Locomotiv GT. The Czech Republic stamp honors Jazz Musician Gustav Brom who narrowly escaped arrest by the Gestapo at 18 years old to become the greatest Czech musician and longest lasting Eastern European big band leader of all time.
Works of Art on Stamps
Art on stamps as well as the recognition of Eastern European Artists are well represented in the new issues of 2021. Czech Republic issuances include celebrations of the works of sculptor Theodor Pistek, artist Frantisek Ronovsky and sculptor Bohumil Zemanek. Romania stamp celebrates the 190th Anniversary of the birth of Theodor Aman, Hungary celebrates the 550 anniversary of the birth of Albrecht Durer, while Bosnia (Serb) issuance is a depiction of “Luncheon on the Grass” by Sava Sumanovic.
Sports & Olympics
What an interesting year 2021 was for sports and stamp issuances! The 2020 Summer Olympics were held in 2021 with stamp issuances having dates of 2020 and 2021. And now we are awaiting the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics! We hope you will watch for additional stamp issuances coming in the next few weeks.
Other sports issuances include HU Driving European Championship for Four In Hand celebrates the event staged at the “One with Nature” World of Hunting and Nature 50th Exhibition.
Summer Olympics many of which were issued in 2020 but run in 2021 include issuances from Slovenia, Estonia, Moldova, Romania and Azerbaijan.
Cultural Stamps of Eastern Europe: Folk Festivals, Costumes, Jewelry & Gastronomy
Continue to provide some of the most entertaining and colorful stamp issuances of Eastern Europe. Here are some highlights of just a few of our favorites with many more to offer in the online store.
Czech Kyjov Folk Festival depicts highlights of the annual folk festival in Kyjov, capital of Moravian Slovakia region while there is also a stamp issue celebrating the Festival of Carnivals. Armenia stamp is a Traditional Cuisine offering featuring Ghapama (stuffed pumpkin).
Stamp issuances from Croatia include Procession of Za Krizen (Following the Cross) on the island of Hvarand Euro Med: Jewelry of the Mediterranean. One of the most luxurious forms of Dubrovnik traditional jewellery are gold earrings. These are the earrings worn by women from Konavle. They are called fjočice, and women from Konavle wear them as the traditional festive way of dressing on their wedding day and in the first year of marriage.
Croatia Annual Spring Procession of Queens (Ljelje from Gorjani). On Pentecost Sunday this ritual is celebrated in Slavonia, Baranja and Srjem and is known as Kings and Queens. There is a ritual procession by young girls through the village in colorful silk clothes. At the head of the procession are the Kings flowed by Queens. They are accompanied by musicians. The procession stops to perform at individual houses and there they are treated to food and drinks. Both of these Croatia Procession stamp offerings are included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage series.
Castles, Landmarks & Tourism
Eastern European stamp offerings are filled with beautiful castles and landmarks and many other interesting locations for tourism. Croatia series on Tourism features Nin, a Liburnian site and first capital of the Croats while also having stamp issuances on bridges, viaducts and castles. An ancient Fortress is depicted on the stamp from Armenia. Beautiful Stamps of Castles continue to be issued by Croatia, Czech Republic and Hungary.
Regions and Towns series also continue to celebrate amazing locations in Hungary. Perhaps one of the most unusual landmark buildings celebrated on stamps is the Czech issuance featuring The Dancing House, a contemporary art gallery.
Religion & Holidays
Stamp issuances present a wide range of lovely presentations from many Eastern European countries including Christmas and Easter Faience (glazed ceramic ware) from Slovakia; Easter and Christmas stamp issuances from Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia. Special religious issues include the Founding of the Dominican Order in Hungary, the 52nd Eucharist Congress in Hungary and Armenia Printing House of the Holy Etchmiadzin 250th Anniversary.
Croatia has continued its devotional series of the Marian shrines and Slovakia celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Consecration of the first Slovak Bishops.
And of course there is the fun celebration of Valentines Day of Bosnia (Croat) and Greetings of Love of All Kinds from Slovenia.
Celebration of Space Exploration is an important focus this issue year with the 60th Anniversary of the first manned space flight of Yuri Gagarin and the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 14 with John Glenn. Special stamps celebrating the triumph of Gagarin were issued by Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia. Kyrgyzstan also issued a stamp of the orbital space station.
Bulgaria issued the celebration of the Apollo14 with John Glenn. And, who can resist the Bosnia issuance celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright ?
Science & Health
With a world wide pandemic still taking its sad toll around the globe for a second year, many Eastern European countries have issued stamps honoring the medical professionals who have fought tirelessly against the Covid-19 Virus.
Other Science issuances include the 150th Anniversary of the Hurbanovo Observatory from Slovakia, Macedonia’s issuance to honor the 100th Anniversary Discovery of Insulin, Croatia stamp offering to celebrate the 100th Anniversary Création Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Hungary has issued a stamp to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the birth of French writer, Jean De La Fontaine, with a Miniature Sheet.
On a different note, Croatia stamp issuance highlights UNICEF work in Croatia with a celebration of the 75th Anniversary with “A Smile for Every Child”.
Lunar New Year of the Ox
Is celebrated with stamp issuances from Bulgaria, Hungary, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Slovenia.
Philately & Postal History
Continue to be popular topics for both topical and country collectors alike. Czech Republic has issued a stamp to honor the tradition of stamp design (Vintage Car) while Slovakia has a Stamp Day issuance to honor Mikulas Klimcak. Hungary stamp issuances include celebration of 150 years of stamp production, honors to eminent philatelists, 94th Stamp Day and a continuation of postal history series which started in 2017.
Hungaria Stamp Exchange is pleased to preview an exciting event scheduled for Spring 2022. Hunfilex 2022 is the first International philatelic exhibit of this magnitude in 50 years that Hungary is hosting. In 2022 Budapest will again be the venue for the World Stamp Championship.
One host of the event,the National Association of Hungarian Stamp Collectors (MABÉOSZ) will be celebrating the 100th year anniversary of its founding. This prestigious event will be co-hosted by the Organization of European Philatelic Associations (FEPA) welcoming stamp collectors from all over the world to Budapest. During the celebration several special issuances will be released. HSE will be sharing more information closer to the event.
We look forward to hearing from you in 2022 with tales of your stamp adventures.All good wishes for the New Year,
It’s finally 2021 and time for Hungaria Stamp Exchange to share our philatelic celebration of the potpourri of new issues from Eastern Europe. We at HSE hope our philatelic friends both Country and Topical collectors alike will delight in some of the exciting new issues of 2020.
Our Country collectors will find full 2020 Year Sets available for Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Belarus with a special HSE welcome this year to Armenia.
Topical collectors can find Cats (including “The Terror”), music (from Beethoven to Rock), Covid-19 and first responder philatelic issuances. Not to mention that many of us are delighted to find the continuation of some of our favorite series such as Europa with Ancient Postal Routes, Gastronomy and Viticulture, Saints and Blesseds and Social Action: Climate Change and Children’s World Stop Bullying.
An extremely important offering we can all enjoy this year is the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations from Slovakia. While the adventurer inside all of us can enjoy newly issued Crypto stamps from Croatia, the humorist will enjoy the cartoon stamp from Armenia.
Dear Friends and Philatelists, Summertime is a traditional time for taking a family holiday or perhaps visiting another country or city. The summer of 2020 finds many of us not currently able to do this given these challenging times. It is, however, an opportune time to reconnect with our stamp collections and continue our philatelic travels, perhaps to new countries or with new topics or themes. And of course, we can continue to connect with family and friends, if even at a distance. Now is certainly time to pay tribute to our many brave front-line workers.
Monarchs, Saints, Performers, & Scientists and Social Activists
Eastern European Stamps of Women span a wide range of topics, from monarchs to saints and scientists, artists and performers, to social activists and heroines. The Hungaria Stamp Exchange hopes you enjoy reading our blog post and viewing some of the stamps in our on-line store.
Two of the most influential female Eastern European monarchs whose combined reigns lasted almost 75 years were Catherine the Great of Russia and Maria Teresa, ruling the Hapsburg Empire. Both of these extraordinary rulers are depicted on Eastern European stamps.
Catherine the Great (born Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst; May 1729 –November 1796) was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796 and the country’s longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d’état that she organized, resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. During her reign Russia was revitalized; it grew larger and stronger and was recognized as one of the great powers of Europe and Asia.
In her accession to power and her rule of the empire, Catherine often relied on her noble favorites, most notably count Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by highly successful generals such as Alexander Suvorov and admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding rapidly by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate was crushed following victories over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo-Turkish wars. Russia colonized the territories of Novorossiya along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas. In the west, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine’s former lover, King Stanisław August Poniatowski, was eventually partitioned with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started to colonize Alaska, establishing Russian America.
An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernize Russia along Western European lines. The economy and military conscription continued to depend on serfdom; increasing demands of the state and of private landowners intensified the exploitation of serf labor. This was one of the chief reasons inciting several rebellions including the large scale Pugachev Rebellion of Cossacks and peasants. Cossacks were a group of Russian military warriors who established free self-governing communities in exchange for their military service. When their privileges were threatened they revolted, with the most famous being Pugachev.