Sunday, July 25, 2010

Collecting postal history of my hometown, Otepää

I've been interested in my hometown postal history since I got interested in philately. I guess main reason is my general interest in history and history of my hometown.
I live in small town, Otepää. First post office opened here in 1895 but prephilatelic covers exist. At old times before it became town it was called Nuustaku and Nustago.

Those of you who collect German Occupation issues have probably heard of Otepää stamps, scarce and expensive mostly, printed in small quantities and used very briefly.

Besides seeking and studying material I have also started to actively research deeper background of local post. During the World War 2 most of the town was destroyed, burned down. Where were post office buildings before and shortly after war? What did they look like? These are questions not easily answered as it turned out. But it's fun to hunt for information and do a little detective work.

It turns out there are many ways to collect postal history. You can just collect items, you can study and research them deeper. But you can also try to find out about where post office has been in the past (if it's not public knowledge, written in the books readily available), who were working there, when and why postmarks changed etc.

For example in 1992 when Estonian Post did no longer accept stamps of Soviet Union and there was not enough of new Estonian stamps interesting things started to happen. Even large post offices encountered periodical problems. Smaller offices had bigger problems more often. Because of this and for the lack of various provisional issues, such as lack of stationery with machine surcharges, payment in cash markings were used (written by hand). It appears during first four months Otepää post office had several occasions where they lacked any other type of payment notifications. Sometimes they received some provisionals, sometimes they had to mark payment by hand. Such covers commercially used are (and I dare use the word!) rare. I own one and have seen five more and know atleast 2-3 collectors have them in their collection but other than that noone seems to have any for sale or trade or in collection. Several other smaller post offices had to choose the same route.

More of this in the future, with some examples from my collection.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Modern stamps depicting Hitler on auction


I've just noticed a modern personalized stamps depicting Adolf Hitler, printed by official Estonian Postmark printing house, are being offered on auction. There are two stamps with Hitler's image, on one he's toddler and on other he is in schoolboy years. I'm sure most of you have seen such photos so you can imagine.

Obviously just like with the Rudolf Hess (Hitler's deputy until parachuting away) stamp in Germany those who ordered this set managed to slip past notice of printers. It's also said same kind of individuals were behind ordering it here (like-minded souls).

I'm not sure if it's Ok or even neccessary to post auction link here, it's a local auction anyway.
Seller claims only 180 were printed (of both or total as a set of 2? no idea).

Newspaper ran an article on this last year. Estonian Post commented that they do not bear any responsibility on what's on personalized stamps.
Rate for stamps is 5.50 in Estonian currency krooni, rate for inland regular letter and 4.40, older rate.

What's your take on that? A possible modern rarity or something else?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

19th Estonian Philatelic Exhibition in Tartu

I wanted to share experiences from Philatelic Exhibition which took place in Estonia, pn 9th and 10th of July.
I had never visited one as I started with philately a bit less than three years ago and other exhibitions seemed too far from where I live, considering I do not own a car. Still, Tartu was a busride away so I visited exhibition on second day as there was also collectors fair.
Exhibition was nice, although I'm sure it was smaller than in the past and can't be compared to big countries and big shows.

There were various proofs and essays, exhibitied by Estonian Postal Museum, Estonian stamps ofcourse. Some very nice and unique, large size. I had not seen many of proofs either until now.
A friend of mine exhibited his collection of certains essays plus Estonian shipmail (he even managed to lure me to collect it not long time ago!).
Also interesting was censorship in Estonia 1914-21 by Mr.Roots from Norway. German Occupation in Estonia 1918 by Mr.Lindeblad, Postal cancellations of Finland 1889-1901 by Mr.Saarinen and several other collections were all nice to look and examine.

At collectors fair I was asked to join International Estonian Philatelic Society which I agreed. They are situated in capital Tallinn while I'm on the oposite side of the country but I really must start visiting their fairs and meetings so maybe joining them will give me this needed push.
I was able to purchase several numbers of annual Estonian Philatelist, journal full with wealth of knowledge.
I think room was too small as it was hard to sit down and enjoy discussing philatelic aspects, gossip or to browse stamp albums. I did manage to snatch some deals for old and new themes of collecting such as Estonia 1991-93 period covers and postage due markings, also some British Commonwealth.

But my main goal was just a enjoy a day away from routine and meet some new stamp enthusiasts. I did manage to shake a hand with a few but for me the show ended too soon. I guess considering I was probably the youngest there (I'm 27) older collectors had other idea.
To sum this up it was a nice experience and I wish there were more exhibitions like this.