World Stamps

Marienwerder 1920 plebiscite stamps filled with symbolism

Jun 26, 2024, 8 AM
The first set of stamps issued for Marienwerder (Scott 1-14) is of interest to collectors of Germany and Poland.

Stamp Market Tips by Henry Gitner and Rick Miller

One of the unenviable jobs of the victorious Allies at the end of World War I was redrawing the map of Europe. Attempts to include people of common nationality within the same borders were hampered by the mixed nature of European populations.

Many of the victorious Allied nations had territorial ambitions at the expense of the defeated Central Powers, which often conflicted with the national or ethnic makeup of the territories in question.

Marienwerder was a region in the province of West Prussia from 1815 to 1920. Its capital and largest city was Marienwerder (Kwidzyn in Polish), immediately south of Danzig. In 1910, the population of the region was about 59 percent German and 41 percent Polish and Kashubian.

After the war, the region was administered by the Allies from 1920 to 1922, at which time western Marienwerder was awarded to Poland as part of the Polish Corridor, giving Poland access to the Baltic Sea.

A plebiscite held in eastern Marienwerder voted to remain part of Germany, and Marienwerder was added to the province of East Prussia. Since 1945, the entire region has been a part of Poland.

In 1920, the Allied commission for Marienwerder issued a set of 14 Symbolical of Allied Supervision of the Plebiscite stamps (Scott 1-14).

The design of the stamps features a female allegorical figure flanked by the flags of the British Empire, Japan, Italy and France. The figure stands atop a pedestal, her left hand resting atop a Roman fasces (not yet the fascist symbol).

A tablet at the top of the stamp design is inscribed “Commission Interalliee.” The bottom of the design is inscribed “Marienwerder.”

This set is of interest to collectors of Germany and Poland.

The Scott Classic Specialized Catalogue of Stamps and Covers 1840-1940 values the set of 14 stamps at $45.25 in very fine grade and unused, hinged condition. Most of the value is in the three high-denomination stamps (Scott 12-14).

A set in mint, never-hinged condition is valued at $130. The set is a good buy in very fine grade and unused, hinged condition at around $30. Avoid heavily hinged sets with hinge remnants.

Pay special attention to the condition and grade of the 5-mark stamp (14), which is valued at $27.50 in unused, hinged condition.

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