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Wednesday December 18, 1918

- Changes of Administration

Europe 37

Latvia Scott #1
  Latvia #1 #2 back of stamp  

Imperforate, no watermark, lithography.
Printed by A. Schnakenberg in Riga on the back of German military maps.

Description # printed Scott # SG # Mi# Y&T#
5 kopek carmine, imperforate
2,725,968 1 1    
5 kopek carmine, perforated 11½
2 2    

All issue quantities are approximate.

Latvia declared independence on November 18, 1918 and the postal administration began operating in early December 1918. On December 17 the first stamps of the Latvian Republic were delivered from the printer.

The exact distribution between imperforate and perforated stamps is unknown, but imperforate stamps are more common than perforated. Some experts believe they were produced at the same time, some say the perforated stamps were produced first. The reason for the imperforate stamps would then be that the perforation device broke. However, evidence also suggest that perforated and imperforate stamps were delivered simultaneously.

Unfinished German military maps were used as the source of paper for these stamps. These maps were the only good source of high quality paper in Latvia after World War I. There was such an abundance of these maps that they were even used to wrap fish.

The sheets have 228 stamps in 12 rows of 19 stamps. This layout was optimized for the printing sheets, i.e. the maps. The shortage of paper necessitated such optimizations.

Some disagreement exist regarding how many different maps were used in the production of stamps. The Germans had apparently printed around 467 different maps. It is thought that between 65 and 79 different kinds of maps were used in the production of stamps. You'd need to consult the experts for more up to date and accurate information.

You will want to visit Bill Apsit's Latvian Collecting if you want more information.

The monetary situation in Latvia around World War I is very confusing. You can get more information if you read the Monetary History of Latvia [dead link].

Changes of Administration

Europe 37a

German Occupation
Russian Occupation
1919 Sc-1N1 SG
2nd in the set, Sc-1N2
1919 Sc-2N1 SG21

Scott lists German (German stamps handstamped "LIBAU") and Russian (Latvian stamps handstamped with a symbol) occupation stamps during WW1.
Gibbons lists the latter under Russia as Russian Civil War Issues 1918-20 / North West Russia / Western Army.

Soviet Republic
German Occupation
German Occupation,
1940 Sc217 SG307 1941 Sc1N14 SG1 1945 SG1 1991 Sc300 SG320

In October 1939 Russia set up military bases in Latvia, in June 1940 Russian forces seized the country and in July Latvia successfully "requested" admittance to the Soviet Union. See also Lithuania.
During the German occupation of WW2, overprinted Russian stamps specific to Latvia were first were used and later the more general "OSTLAND" German overprints. In October 1944, German troops were cut off in Courlamd (Kurland) giving rise again to specific German overprints. Russia reoccupied Latvia in the period 1944-45 and thereafter Russian stamps were used.
Latvian independence was recognised by the Soviet Union on 6th September 1991.

Link: Breakup of the USSR

Sources: ScS, SGP10.

Images from David Olson, ebay.

FI ref: 482, 742 Page credit: JA/NB

Page created 18 Nov 2015 Page updated 14-Aug-2017