Exile governments, stamps and catalogs

July 28, 2009 by
Filed under: Stamps 

The layout of the listings is very clear and very professionally done. The same font, symbols and layout are used throughout the catalog giving a very good reading experience making the catalog very easy to use. What is interesting to note is the listing of prices.

Example page from Oparic: the Bleiburg stamps

Example page from Oparic: the Bleiburg stamps

The prices are completely made up, in the sense that it is technically impossible to actually assess the worth of these stamps, given that there is not much trade in them. I noticed on Ebay that the stamps are being bought at prices which are either way below the prices in the Oparic catalog or, when there are several buyers interested, somewhat above the prices listed. The prices should therefore not be regarded as final. But then again, I noticed on Ebay that basically all price listings in catalogs (including respected catalogs like Scott) are highly overvalued. Especially the more expensive stamps quite often are being sold at just 10% to 15% of the catalog prices. Which is good news: starting a collection now is very affordable and so are these exile stamps, making them a very interesting addition to certain collections. Besides being a very good catalog when it comes to listing the actual stamps the catalog does have two major drawbacks. First of all there is a rather complete lack of background information. The several pages on the history of Croatia are not really useful, since these stamps were produced after 1945 while the history on pages XIII to XVIII is on the situation until 1945. And take for instance the UPU documentation: the 1941-1945 NDH was accepted by the UPU, but this ended in 1945 and all the stamps listed in the catalog were produced after 1945. The same number of pages on the history of the exile movement would have been by far more useful and interesting. The same goes for all the stamps in general: how were they produced, when and why? What was the general idea behind these stamps? Here one can see the difference with the Traian Popescu and Flor Strejnicu catalog of the Romanian exile stamps. That catalog has several pages on the stamps in general and then several pages per stamp or series of stamps, giving a lot of interesting and useful background information. The Oparic’ catalog seriously lacks in such information. If you want to use this catalog as a support while collecting the exile stamps, then this is definitely for you (as it is for me). But when it comes to understanding the situation in which these stamps were produced, then this is, to be honest, a pretty worthless book.

OP32: 1992 UPU 50 Years remembrance, overprint on OP1

OP32: 1992 UPU 50 Years remembrance, overprint on OP1

And there is the second problem I have with this catalog: its political affiliation is pretty obvious and way to close to its subject. Of course, it’s anyone’s proper right to have a political opinion (and any people should have its own nation), but this is a hobby and not a political party. Therefore, such a catalog should be less inclined towards the political ideas behind its subject and be more objective on the matter. Especially given the track record of the NDH and Pavelic when it comes to human rights abuses (like Jasenovac) the author should perhaps have given more consideration of this. There is a (good) reason why the current state of Croatia even in its constitution states that there is no connection between Croatia now and the NDH of 1941-1945. (To avoid a noisy discussion: yes, I know about Bleiburg and Klagenfurt. But the simple fact that Croatian and other civilians suffered at the hands of Tito’s partisans doesn’t absolve the NDH politicans of its own crimes!) As a newcomer to the hobby of collecting “weird” stamps, like the exile group stamps (or my other collection: stamps from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which are basically also a type of cinderellas) I really have a need for information. When it comes to the stamps this is a very good en overly complete catalog. However, since I am not from the Croatian diaspora certain (politically motivated) ideas do not appeal to me and should probably be left out of a book like this.

1953: FDC to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of creaton of the NDH

1953: FDC to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of creaton of the NDH

Conclusion: a very very beautifully printed book, I really can’t stretch this point enough! Best of bread when it comes to exile stamp catalogs, and at a very reasonable price. Sadly the catalog lacks in background information, but it does list all stamps and sheets plus a range of covers and therefore is the best reference out there on these stamps to date. Be aware however of a strong political bias, which may not be very appealing to people from outside the Croatian diaspora. I was very happy to actually have bought it and would recommend it to anyone interested in these series of stamps. And the price should not be the problem, especially giving the technically superior look and feel of the book.

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