Refresher Course

Starting a new collection: Hungarian overprints and occupation stamps

It is possible to acquire tens of thousands of postage stamps at nominal expense by buying inexpensive collections.

Figure 1. An overprinted Hungarian 5-filler green Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 156).
 
Figure 2. An overprinted 2f brown-orange Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 203).
 
Figure 3. A Hungarian Soviet 20f rose and brown Karl Marx stamp (Scott 198).
 
Figure 4. A Hungarian overprinted 6f Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 315).
 
Figure 5. A Hungarian 100-korona olive-bistre and yellow-brown Madonna and Child stamp (Scott 379).
 
Figure 6. Two Lajtabansag local stamps, a 2.50k blue Crest stamp and 1,000f green and black postage due stamp.
 
Figure 7. Overprinted Hungarian 35f claret Throwing Lariat occupation stamp (Scott 3N11) of the Second Debrecen issue.

Furthermore, the stamps you acquire in this way have fascinating histories, if you take the time to investigate.

Recently I purchased a small collection of Hungarian stamps from another collector at my local stamp club. The collection was on old, deteriorating album pages, and the stamps were among the most unlovely assemblages I had ever seen. The $1 price was right, however, so I brought the album home with me.

Most of the stamps were issued in the aftermath of World War I, with many overprints and many occupation issues. The stamps reflected rather dramatically the state of flux Hungary experienced during those troubled and confused times.

Prior to WWI, Hungary was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a dual monarchy. The emperor of Austria was also the king of Hungary. The Hungarian postal administration became separate from that of Austria on May 1, 1867, and began issuing separate stamps for the parts of the empire governed by Hungary in 1871. The Hungarian stamps are inscribed "Magyar Kir. Posta" (Kingdom of Hungary Post).

Austro-Hungary stayed out of the First and Second Balkan wars (1912-13), but growing nationalism in the Balkans eventually led to the outbreak of WWI.

Austria's annexation of Bosnia in 1908 angered the Kingdom of Serbia. In 1914, a Bosnian Serb assassinated the heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, during a visit to Sarajevo. This brought war to Austro-Hungary and eventually to most of the rest of the world.

In late 1918 with the war lost, Hungary formed a national council with Count Mihaly Karolyi as president of a liberal democratic postwar government. Karolyi hoped to negotiate a favorable armistice.

During Karolyi's regime, Hungarian stamps were overprinted "Koztarsasag" (Republic). An overprinted Hungarian 5-filler green Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 156) is shown in Figure 1.

On Nov. 8, 1918, Hungarian troops evacuated southern Hungary and Transylvania. Serbian troops began an occupation there, while eastern Hungary was occupied by Romanian troops. Czech troops occupied northern Hungary.

Political unrest persisted, and a period of revolution and counterrevolution began characterized by economic and financial disorganization that later led to inflation.

Karolyi was replaced by communist leader Bela Kun, who proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic on March 21,1919.

Hungarian stamps were overprinted in red "Magyar Tanacskoztarsagsag" (Hungarian Soviet Republic). An overprinted 2f brown-orange Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 203) is shown in Figure 2.

A Hungarian Soviet 20f rose and brown Karl Marx stamp (Scott 198) is shown in Figure 3.

By printing more and more money, Kun's government brought on high inflation. The inflation was considered desirable because it wiped out accumulated wealth. All private property was nationalized. Gangs of armed thugs known as "Lenin Boys" were sent into the countryside to seize food. The secret police instituted a Red Terror, executing at least 590 people and imprisoning many more.

The Hungarian Red army had great success against the Czechoslovakians, but it was unable to defeat the Romanians. In August 1919, the Romanians took Budapest and forced Kun and his government to flee.

In exile, Kun became a leading figure in the Comintern, fomenting communist revolution in other countries. Although he was a fanatical Stalinist, he was arrested during the Great Purge in 1937 and was secretly executed in the Gulag sometime in 1938 or 1939.

The Romanians withdrew in November 1919, and the ultraconservative Adm. Miklos Horthy de Nagybanya, Duke of Szeged and Otranto, seized power. The monarchy was restored, but the throne remained empty.

Hungarian stamps bearing the Soviet overprint were overprinted in black with sheaves or ears of wheat and the date "1919" to blot out the communist inscription. An overprinted Hungarian 6f Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 315) is shown in Figure 4.

Because there was no king, Horthy was elected regent in March 1920. He remained in power through most of World War II.

The reestablishment of the monarchy meant that new Hungarian stamps were once again inscribed "Magyar Kir. Posta." A Hungarian 100-korona olive-bistre and yellow-brown Madonna and Child stamp (Scott 379) is shown in Figure 5.

Conflict continued over Lajtabansag, a contested area in western Hungary that was only 15 miles from Vienna and had a mostly German population. Austria asserted that this rich agricultural area should be Austrian territory.

The Treaty of Trianon signed June 4, 1920, formally ended the war between Hungary and the Allies. It also affirmed that Austria would receive the Lajtabansag region.

Hungarian revolutionaries in Lajtabansag established a revolutionary state there, which existed only from Oct. 4 to Nov. 5, 1921. The revolutionaries overprinted Hungarian stamps and issued new stamps of their own design.

Two Lajtabansag local stamps, a 2.50k blue Crest stamp and 1,000f green and black postage due stamp, are shown in Figure 6.

The Lajtabansag local stamps are not listed in the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940, but they are listed under Western Hungary in the German-language Michel Europe Catalog Vol. 1, Middle Europe.

With all the confusion and disorder that was going on in Hungary during the postwar period, you would think that issuing stamps would be the last thing on people's minds. Stamps, however, are important. They symbolize nationhood. In occupied nations, new stamps issued by the occupiers remind all citizens that there is a new regime.

Occupation stamps are listed at the back of the book in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. Their catalog numbers are normally prefixed with the letter "N."

The Scott standard catalog has 11 different headings of occupation stamps for Hungary: Arad Issue; First Debrecen Issue; Second Debrecen Issue; Temesvar Issue Under Romanian Occupation; First Transylvania Issue; Second Transylvania Issue; First Baranya Issue; Second Baranya Issue; Temesvar Issue Under Serbian Occupation; Banat, Bacska Issue; and Szeged Issue.

Most of these occupation issues were produced by overprinting Hungarian stamps, but the Second Debrecen stamps comprise new designs and issued stamps overprinted with a Romanian inscription and symbol.

An overprinted Hungarian Second Debrecen 35f claret Throwing Lariat occupation stamp (Scott 3N11) is shown in Figure 7.

The occupation section of the Hungary listings in the Scott standard catalog is riddled with footnotes warning collectors that the stamps have been extensively forged. To collect these stamps, the next step is to track down good reference works to learn more about them and to try to find out if the stamps that you have are genuine.

The American Philatelic Research Library has a very long list of philatelic reference works for Hungary. Among the more promising is Philatelia Hungarica, the English version of the Hungarian Magyar Filatelia Vallalat.

My Hungarian is nonexistent, so a catalog in English is a must.

Write to the APRL at 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823 or visit the web site at www.stamplibrary.org.

Armed with knowledge about these stamps, you can weed out the obvious forgeries. The pricier stamps that you think might be genuine should be sent to a recognized expertization service for an opinion. For stamps such as these, where fakes and forgeries are known to vastly exceed the genuine stamps available, an expertization certificate is absolutely necessary before buying or selling.

For more information on collecting Hungary, contact the Society for Hungarian Philately, 1920 Fawn Lane, Hellertown, PA 18055-2117. By Janet Klug

It is possible to acquire tens of thousands of postage stamps at nominal expense by buying inexpensive collections.

Furthermore, the stamps you acquire in this way have fascinating histories, if you take the time to investigate.

Recently I purchased a small collection of Hungarian stamps from another collector at my local stamp club. The collection was on old, deteriorating album pages, and the stamps were among the most unlovely assemblages I had ever seen. The $1 price was right, however, so I brought the album home with me.

Most of the stamps were issued in the aftermath of World War I, with many overprints and many occupation issues. The stamps reflected rather dramatically the state of flux Hungary experienced during those troubled and confused times.

Prior to WWI, Hungary was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a dual monarchy. The emperor of Austria was also the king of Hungary. The Hungarian postal administration became separate from that of Austria on May 1, 1867, and began issuing separate stamps for the parts of the empire governed by Hungary in 1871. The Hungarian stamps are inscribed "Magyar Kir. Posta" (Kingdom of Hungary Post).

Austro-Hungary stayed out of the First and Second Balkan wars (1912-13), but growing nationalism in the Balkans eventually led to the outbreak of WWI.

Austria's annexation of Bosnia in 1908 angered the Kingdom of Serbia. In 1914, a Bosnian Serb assassinated the heir to the thrones of Austria and Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, during a visit to Sarajevo. This brought war to Austro-Hungary and eventually to most of the rest of the world.

In late 1918 with the war lost, Hungary formed a national council with Count Mihaly Karolyi as president of a liberal democratic postwar government. Karolyi hoped to negotiate a favorable armistice.

During Karolyi's regime, Hungarian stamps were overprinted "Koztarsasag" (Republic). An overprinted Hungarian 5-filler green Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 156) is shown in Figure 1.

On Nov. 8, 1918, Hungarian troops evacuated southern Hungary and Transylvania. Serbian troops began an occupation there, while eastern Hungary was occupied by Romanian troops. Czech troops occupied northern Hungary.

Political unrest persisted, and a period of revolution and counterrevolution began characterized by economic and financial disorganization that later led to inflation.

Karolyi was replaced by communist leader Bela Kun, who proclaimed the Hungarian Soviet Republic on March 21,1919.

Hungarian stamps were overprinted in red "Magyar Tanacskoztarsagsag" (Hungarian Soviet Republic). An overprinted 2f brown-orange Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 203) is shown in Figure 2.

A Hungarian Soviet 20f rose and brown Karl Marx stamp (Scott 198) is shown in Figure 3.

By printing more and more money, Kun's government brought on high inflation. The inflation was considered desirable because it wiped out accumulated wealth. All private property was nationalized. Gangs of armed thugs known as "Lenin Boys" were sent into the countryside to seize food. The secret police instituted a Red Terror, executing at least 590 people and imprisoning many more.

The Hungarian Red army had great success against the Czechoslovakians, but it was unable to defeat the Romanians. In August 1919, the Romanians took Budapest and forced Kun and his government to flee.

In exile, Kun became a leading figure in the Comintern, fomenting communist revolution in other countries. Although he was a fanatical Stalinist, he was arrested during the Great Purge in 1937 and was secretly executed in the Gulag sometime in 1938 or 1939.

The Romanians withdrew in November 1919, and the ultraconservative Adm. Miklos Horthy de Nagybanya, Duke of Szeged and Otranto, seized power. The monarchy was restored, but the throne remained empty.

Hungarian stamps bearing the Soviet overprint were overprinted in black with sheaves or ears of wheat and the date "1919" to blot out the communist inscription. An overprinted Hungarian 6f Harvesting Wheat stamp (Scott 315) is shown in Figure 4.

Because there was no king, Horthy was elected regent in March 1920. He remained in power through most of World War II.

The reestablishment of the monarchy meant that new Hungarian stamps were once again inscribed "Magyar Kir. Posta." A Hungarian 100-korona olive-bistre and yellow-brown Madonna and Child stamp (Scott 379) is shown in Figure 5.

Conflict continued over Lajtabansag, a contested area in western Hungary that was only 15 miles from Vienna and had a mostly German population. Austria asserted that this rich agricultural area should be Austrian territory.

The Treaty of Trianon signed June 4, 1920, formally ended the war between Hungary and the Allies. It also affirmed that Austria would receive the Lajtabansag region.

Hungarian revolutionaries in Lajtabansag established a revolutionary state there, which existed only from Oct. 4 to Nov. 5, 1921. The revolutionaries overprinted Hungarian stamps and issued new stamps of their own design.

Two Lajtabansag local stamps, a 2.50k blue Crest stamp and 1,000f green and black postage due stamp, are shown in Figure 6.

The Lajtabansag local stamps are not listed in the Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940, but they are listed under Western Hungary in the German-language Michel Europe Catalog Vol. 1, Middle Europe.

With all the confusion and disorder that was going on in Hungary during the postwar period, you would think that issuing stamps would be the last thing on people's minds. Stamps, however, are important. They symbolize nationhood. In occupied nations, new stamps issued by the occupiers remind all citizens that there is a new regime.

Occupation stamps are listed at the back of the book in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue. Their catalog numbers are normally prefixed with the letter "N."

The Scott standard catalog has 11 different headings of occupation stamps for Hungary: Arad Issue; First Debrecen Issue; Second Debrecen Issue; Temesvar Issue Under Romanian Occupation; First Transylvania Issue; Second Transylvania Issue; First Baranya Issue; Second Baranya Issue; Temesvar Issue Under Serbian Occupation; Banat, Bacska Issue; and Szeged Issue.

Most of these occupation issues were produced by overprinting Hungarian stamps, but the Second Debrecen stamps comprise new designs and issued stamps overprinted with a Romanian inscription and symbol.

An overprinted Hungarian Second Debrecen 35f claret Throwing Lariat occupation stamp (Scott 3N11) is shown in Figure 7.

The occupation section of the Hungary listings in the Scott standard catalog is riddled with footnotes warning collectors that the stamps have been extensively forged. To collect these stamps, the next step is to track down good reference works to learn more about them and to try to find out if the stamps that you have are genuine.

The American Philatelic Research Library has a very long list of philatelic reference works for Hungary. Among the more promising is Philatelia Hungarica, the English version of the Hungarian Magyar Filatelia Vallalat.

My Hungarian is nonexistent, so a catalog in English is a must.

Write to the APRL at 100 Match Factory Place, Bellefonte, PA 16823 or visit the web site at www.stamplibrary.org.

Armed with knowledge about these stamps, you can weed out the obvious forgeries. The pricier stamps that you think might be genuine should be sent to a recognized expertization service for an opinion. For stamps such as these, where fakes and forgeries are known to vastly exceed the genuine stamps available, an expertization certificate is absolutely necessary before buying or selling.

For more information on collecting Hungary, contact the Society for Hungarian Philately, 1920 Fawn Lane, Hellertown, PA 18055-2117.