Latvian non-postal exile stamps by Zichmanis

Few exile stamps catalogs must have such an honest name as this one: Latvian non-postal exile stamps is exactly what it shows. The Romanian and especially the Croatian exile communities tried to establish some sort of legality by producing stamps which were supposed to be somehow official. The stamps shown in this catalog are propaganda labels and although they look like stamps, they were definitely never postally used (except for usage next to real stamps on envelopes).

Frontpage of booklet
Frontpage of booklet

Of course the more specialized stamp collector knows this already, but when you start to collect stamps you very soon run into stamps which are difficult to categorize. They don’t show up in any standard catalog and so they pretty soon end up in the back of a stamp album. That is a shame, because quite often these stamps tell a by far more interesting story than “regular” stamps.

In 1979 the Latvian Philatelic Society produced a booklet, Xeroxed at A5 without color, which showed most of the propaganda labels produced by Latvians living outside of the Eastern Bloc nations. The catalog shows the diaspora quite nicely: the catalog lists most stamps by country in which they were produced. So, there are listings for nations like the UK, Germany and Sweden, and of course Canada and the US.

Example of Latvian exile stamp
Example of Latvian exile stamp

Besides showing the stamps themselves a lot of information is given about who produced the stamps, in what quantities they were produced (giving an indication of their relative scarcity) and what they show.

Unfortunately this catalog has exactly the same problem as the Croatian exile stamp catalog: it is not just propaganda, it is propaganda of a political specter people generally don’t want to be seen with. (Let me state that I am politically not involved in any of these groups!) That means that the communist takeover of the Baltic states is portrayed as a plague coming over those states (which is of course true, the communist takeover was a major humanitarian disaster), but at the same time nothing is being mentioned about the thousands of people killed by the Baltic states armies (aided by the Nazi’s) during the Second World War. Atrocities were committed on all sides, but you will only hear about the atrocities committed by the communists. That is understandable in 1979 (or maybe not actually), but it is very definitely not understandable in 2005 when a stamp was produced showing Kurland as being a last defense against communism in 19944/45, like the defenders where angels or something like that. Let there be no misunderstanding about this: they were not just patriots, they were also collaborators of the Nazi’s!

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Korea in the 50s: the full set

For a map aficionado having complete sets of cartographical data is fantastic, especially when you can have them for free! So, in the spirit of sharing here is what Korea (north and south) looked according to the knowledge of the US Army map service in the 1950s.

The full set can be found at the website of the University of Texas (Austin) in the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, which can be found here online. However, these maps are full sized JPEG which are not always easy to navigate when you are looking for something specific, in my case looking for (former) railways.

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Jeju in 1961: not exactly overcrowded

With my specific interest in cartography the first thing I always do whenever I am somewhere is asking for a proper map. A proper map is a map which is, in my opinion, not the same as a streetmap or a thematical map with all sorts of funny symbols on them. A proper map is a topographical map. Preferably one with a scale like 1:50.000 or so.

Unfortunately, in large parts of the world you will not be able to get one, or will only be able to get a very old topographical map, quite often one from the US Army or the former Soviet Army.  Because of the fall of the Soviet Union it is now relatively easy to get proper maps of Africa, if you don’t mind the fact that these maps are 30 years old. Previously they were guarded by the Soviets like they were nuclear secrets, but now they are freely available, for instance as scans for sale on DVD’s through Ebay.

The last time I was on Jeju I tried to locate a proper set of maps, topographical maps that is, but I couldn’t find one. Of course there is a tourist map, which is freely available, but I want a map on which I can navigate if necessary. In the English language bookstore in Sin-Jeju I found a somewhat more topographical like map, but still not really what I wanted. Continue reading Jeju in 1961: not exactly overcrowded