States and Peoples of the Balkans Through Philately

Who is In, Who is out, Who is about?

Looking at the Balkan area geographically, with a peninsula being a “piece of land almost entirely surrounded by water but connected to the mainland on one side”, let’s see what happens if we apply this definition to the Balkan States. Lands bordering the Balkan States in the North, Northwest and Northeast are Hungary, Italy and Moldova. Seas surrounding the Balkan States are the Adriatic in the West, Aegean in the South, Ionian in the Southwest and the Black Sea in the East. If we agree on the definition of the peninsula, then let’s look at who the current countries are on that peninsula and then their unique philatelic issuances. The former part appears to have an audience with varying opinions.

Our premise here at HSE is to include the following countries into the Balkans: Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Montenegro, Kosovo, (Republic of North) Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Greece and Turkey.  

While some people may choose to exclude Greece and Turkey from the Balkans because only part of these countries actually sit on the peninsula, with only half of these two countries residing on the peninsula, both have played major roles in the development of the Balkan States. Besides, who could possibly deny Turkey being a Balkan country when the name Balkan is Turkish for mountain?

The Balkan States or The Balkans have been described by some people historically, culturally or along ethnic lines. The rugged terrain of the mountains, the containment of the four seas combined with the ethnic and cultural diversity of the people of the Balkan peninsula create an eclectic presentation in the amazing stamps of Eastern Europe.

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Summer 2021: Olympics, Sports & Music

What do Olympics, Sports and Music have in common?

Each requires practice, patience and striving for perfection and ….

They are all depicted on the stamps of Eastern Europe!

Dear Friends & Philatelic collectors,

As we launch into the beginning of summer, we here at Hungaria Stamp Exchange hope you are enjoying your continuing philatelic journey. We extend our appreciation for your support of the many magnificent topical and country stamps of Eastern Europe as part of your stamp collection process. With that in mind we are pleased to offer this newsletter on the Olympics, Sports and Music stamps of Eastern Europe.

Modern Era Olympics are well celebrated on the stamps of Eastern Europe and what could be more fitting than a review of these offerings in light of the most unusual circumstances for the 2020 Summer Olympics. First being scheduled during a global pandemic and now finally being played in 2021. We wish for success for each and every athlete at the Summer Games this year.

Philately and the modern day Olympics have a symbiotic relationship starting with the first modern day Games held in Athens in 1896 when Greece issued a series of stamps to mark the occasion. These stamps actually contributed to the financial success of the event which had been impacted by the financial and political crisis of the times.

Demetrios Sakorafos, the founder of the Greek philatelic association, had the idea of issuing a set of commemorative stamps with a nominal value higher than that of common postage stamps, with the proceeds going toward the fund for holding the Olympic Games. The stamps, with designs featuring ancient Greek athletic competitions, earned a considerable sum of money and the Greek Post became the first sponsor of the Modern Day Olympic Games. Initially only the Olympic host countries issued stamps to commemorate the Olympics. This tradition later ended when other countries alongside France issued stamps for the 1924 Paris Olympics. As the Olympic movement gained in popularity, interest in commemorative stamps grew among philatelic collectors. More stamps were published featuring specific athletes and sports. For more philatelic information on the Modern Day Olympics please refer to an earlier HSE Newsletter on Philately and The Modern Era Olympics.

Soviet stamps issued for the 1980 Moscow Olympics featured various sports and Olympic venues: the Krylatskoye Rowing Canal, the cycling track, and the sailing center, as well as Red Square and the 1980 Olympics mascot, Mishka the Bear. When more than 50 countries boycotted the games, these countries also cancelled their planned postage stamp issues or destroyed the issues printed. (As a trivia question, who can remember why countries including the United States boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics is Moscow?)

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Eastern European Stamps of Women

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.

Monarchs

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.

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Postal Heroes – HSE Spring 2020 Newsletter

Dear Philatelic Friends and Collectors,

Here at the Hungaria Stamp Exchange we hope you are staying safely at home able to enjoy family and friends (even if only remotely) and spend time enjoying your stamp collection which may offer interesting views of far off cultures and geographies.

During these extremely challenging times when many of us may be homebound or not engaging in many journeys, we hope you will enjoy reading about the many connections near and far made by the post in various locations, countries, and geographies around the world. Also please join us in honoring and celebrating the many front line heroes helping us everyday: the medical providers and first responders, food producers and the postal workers.

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April 2020

Dear Philatelic Friends and Colleagues,

As the world around us turns inward to protect itself during this pandemic, our thoughts here at the Hungaria Stamp Exchange are with you and your families. Our thoughts and wishes are for your good health and safety. 

We are here by phone and email to answer any philatelic questions you may have during this time, although our traditional mail response may take longer than usual as we all slow down our travel to and from the postal authorities.

Sincerely,

The Bauer Family 

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