Latvian non-postal exile stamps by Zichmanis

August 24, 2012 by
Filed under: Stamps 

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!

Example of Latvian exile stamp

Example of Latvian exile stamp

Having said that, these stamps are themselves not guilty of committing an atrocity and given the fact that the organizations behind them have seized to exist buying them as a collector doesn’t aide these rightwing groups any longer. So, if you do happen to run into these stamps, don’t get rid of them as weird cinderellas but try to discover what they try to tell. The Baltic states have an interesting exile history to tell and these stamps show this history quite well.

Also, if you are interested in scouting on stamps, which is a thematic collection worth a try, then these exile stamps are interesting, since some of them were created by the exile scouting groups in North America. I never understood why the scouting groups produced stamps, must be something of a time gone now, but they did and the result is in this catalog.

The catalog has no color but the stamps are shown clearly, there is no doubt in recognizing them with the help of this catalog. They layout is basic but useful and the number of pages is, including the supplement of 2006, 55 pages. My copy is the second edition, which shows stamps produced since 2000 by mr. Pupurs, some of which are shown here (and have the reference to Kurland).

I bought my copy through a seller on Ebay, which I can’t locate any longer now (a few years later), but I can remember paying 25 dollars for it. Since that is quite a hefty price for a few Xeroxed pages at that time I struck a bargain and asked if some of the stamps listed in the catalog could be included. I got a lot more stamps than I had expected, which made the deal seem a lot more interesting!

Scouting stamp example

Scouting stamp example

So, this is not the quality product the Croatian catalog is, but it is much better produced than the Romanian exile catalog, since these pages are all very clear and the stamps are shown quite well. Perhaps 25 dollars is too much, but if you can get a few dozen stamps with them then it is worthwhile.

The details of the catalog are: “Latvian non-postal exile stamps” by M. Zichmanis, 2nd edition 2006 (Boston, USA). Published originally by the Latvian Philatelic Society (Toronto, Canada) in 1979.

Some more examples below:

Sample page

Sample page

Sample page

Sample page

Another stamp: notice the text about Kurland!

Another stamp: notice the text about Kurland!

Comments

One Comment on Latvian non-postal exile stamps by Zichmanis

  1. Kristaps Rozitis on Tue, 13th Aug 2013 23:21
  2. Thank you for publishing this, I find these stamps very interesting indeed. It’s very sad though to see author’s simplified statements about complex historical issues.

    KR

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