Hungarian Occupation Issues of 1918 – 1920

Hungary before and after Trianon

One of the most complex and interesting eras of philatelic history in Europe is the post World War I period in Hungarian history. The years between 1918 and 1920 are an exciting period of complex events with shifting geographic borders culminating with the Treaty of Trianon in 1920. The philatelic issues of Hungary reflect this changing political and geographic time and are manifested in the overprinting of stamps.The overprinting is evidenced by the issuing of occupation stamps by the political authorities of the occupying countries of Romania and Serbia and the armies of France. Local issues were overprinted by municipal authorities and the Successor State issues were created and overprinted by Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Austria and Fiume (Italy).

Almost two-thirds of Hungary’s population became minorities in the countries that took over Hungary’s land as a result of the terms of the infamous Treaty of Trianon which ceded 70% of Hungary’s territory to the occupiers.  Many people emigrated back to Hungary but most stayed within the borders of their new countries and steadfastly retained their Hungarian heritage and culture. Trianon represents for all Hungarians the most devastating tragedy in their history. Large portions of the country including land inhabited by ethnic Magyars were given to the successor states of Romania (Transylvania), Yugoslavia (Croatia and Slovenia) and Czechoslovakia (northern Hungary). The only Hungarian port city of Fiume went to Italy, Austria received parts of western Hungary (Burgenland) and even Poland received a share.

During the occupation period the current stamps of Hungary were overprinted by the authorities identifying their territory. These stamps were used to fulfill territorial postal needs and became extremely popular with stamp collectors of the time and sold out rapidly. Limited printings and speculation caused the values of the stamps to skyrocket. Demand soon overwhelmed supply which caused the rampant forgeries of stamps to occur.

During this same time period, there were also local stamps that were issued by municipal authorities throughout Hungary. An additional category of stamps were issued by the successor states which were the countries that annexed parts of Hungary .

Occupation stamps: There were 10 series of occupation stamps issued which document this chapter in the history of Hungary. The categories and their occupiers as listed in the Scott catalog are:
1N – France – Arad region occupied by French military forces
2N – Romania – first issue of Debrecen occupied by Romanian military
3N – Romania – second issue of Debrecen occupied by Romanian military
4N – Romania – Temesvar region, which followed the Serbian occupation
5N – Romania  – first Transylvania issued for town of Kolozsvar
6N – Romania – second Transylvania issued for town of Nagyvarad
7N – Serbia – first Baranya occupied by Serb military
8N – Serbia – second Baranya occupied by Serb military
9N – Serbia – Temesvar, this was the first occupation of Temesvar
10N – Serbia – Banat, Bacska, this was actually a locally initiated issue between the Serbian and Romanian occupations of Temesvar.

The Temesvar territory was located in the south of Hungary between Yugoslavia and Romania. It was originally occupied by Serbia (9N), then governed by local forces, while still under control of Serbia (10N) and then occupied by Romania (4N). The Serbians took much of the money and machinery in Temesvar with them upon their retreat so the Romanians paid their forces with occupation stamps.

Szeged: was the location of the Hungarian National Government which opposed the central Soviet government in Budapest. This opposition government issued overprinted stamps with the inscription Hungarian National Government (Magyar Nemzeti Kormany).

Successor states: The successor states took over Hungarian territories and overprinted Hungarian stamps in the local post offices as their first issues. The Czechoslovakian stamps had the additional function of raising money for war relief as a surcharge to the postal rate. That’s why they are considered semi-postal stamps.

Czechoslovakia – Semi-Postal issues with overprints on Hungarian stamps
Yugoslavia – 2L issues for Croatia and Slovenia overprinted on Hungarian stamps.
Fiume – Inter-Allied  control commission overprinted Hungarian stamps for use in Fiume (now Rijeka).

Local Issues: There are many local issues that will be a future topic for the blog. The difference between local issues and occupation issues is that local issues were those that were overprinted by local or municipal authorities for use in that municipality. An occupation issue is that which is overprinted by a foreign or occupying government for use in the territory that was occupied.  Some examples of municipalities that are included in the category of locals issues are: Zombor, Ada, Nagyszeben, Kluj, Pancsova, Perlak, Baranya III, Skalica, Lajtabansag (Western Hungary) and several others. Lajtabansag issued several beautiful series of stamps between 1918 to 1921. These are illustrated in both the Michel and the Scott Classic catalogs. 

Forgeries:  Extensive forgeries abound for the occupation stamps. Several reference books have been published documenting the forgeries and the genuine issues. One of the best of these is “Catalog of Hungarian Occupation Issues” published by Chris Brainard and used as a reference for this article.  Chris illustrates examples of forgeries and also indicates characteristics of geniune overprints. One of the ways to distinguish genuine stamps from forgeries is by expertization marks placed on the back by numerous  expertizers. This however is not a foolproof method because some of the forgers “expertized” their forgeries by putting their own marks on the back. The most famous of these was “PAPE” who was one of the most extensive forgers. If you see that mark on the back of the stamp you can be relatively sure that it’s a forgery. He actually started by expertizing genuine stamps and then realized that there was much more money to be made in creating the forgeries and then “expertizing” them. A very useful site that lists the expertizers and their marks is at the url – http://www.filatelia.fi/experts/areash.html

Reference Material:  There are several excellent references available to further research this time period in philatelic history. The “Magyar Posta- es Illetekbelyeg Katalogus” is published annually by the Hungarian Post in Hungarian and over the last few years has included a much more comprehensive listing than the previous editions for both the occupation and local issues. Chris Brainard’s work mentioned above is a valuable cataloging of both types of stamps and includes some not found in the “Magyar” catalog. I would also like to reference a monograph written by Csaba Kohalmi of the Society for Hungarian Philately in March, 2000, which in my view is one of the most comprehensive works on categorizing occupations and locals issues of Hungary. I sincerely thank Csaba for letting me use his work as a reference.

Stamps of the Occupation period are illustrated below:

1N - French

 

1N is the French Allied forces Occupation of the Arad region in Southeastern Hungary

 

 

 

2N - 1st Debrecen

 

2N is the first Debrecen occupation in southern Hungary

 

 

 

 

3N - 2nd Debrecen

3N is the second Debrecen occupation in southern Hungary. It is the only Occupation issue that has custom designed stamps. All other series were overprinted on Hungarian stamps of 1913-1914

4N - 1st Temesvar

 

4N is the Romanian occupation of Temesvar, which followed the Serbian occupation

 

 

6N - 2nd Transylvania

 

 

6N is the 2nd Transylvanian occupation by Romania

 

 

 

 

 

 

7N - 1st Baranya

 

 

7N is the Serbian Occupation of the southern area of Baranya.

 

 

 

8N - 2nd Baranya

 

8N is the second series of stamps for the Serbian Occupation of the southern area of Baranya.

 

 

9N - 2nd Temesvar

9N is the Serbian occupation of Temesvar, which was jointly occupied by Romania.

 

 

 

 

10N - Banat-Bacsa

 

10N is the Serbian Occupation of the Banat and Bacsa regions, which eventually were ceded to Yugoslavia

 

 

Szeged

 
 
 
Szeged was the seat of the Hungarian National government which opposed the Communist government in Budapest.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Czechoslovakia Occupation

 
 
These stamps were issued by Czechoslovakia for use in northern Hungary
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Fiume Occupation

 
 
These stamps were issued in the port city of Fiume, which was Hungary’s only port on the Adriatic

About Alan

Alan Bauer, President, Hungaria Stamp Exchange. Alan is a first generation American-born of Hungarian parents who emigrated from Hungary just before World War II. He lived his childhood and completed his education in central New York State. Later, he and his wife moved to New England to start their business careers and have been there ever since. They have two children; their son is a senior at Syracuse University and their daughter is a junior in high school, and both of whom are actively involved in the stamp business. Alan can be reached at [email protected].
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9 Responses to Hungarian Occupation Issues of 1918 – 1920

  1. Robin Wilderness says:

    I enjoyed this article very much. It was extremely useful in increasing my knowledge of Hungary and why there were so many overprints during this time in Hungarys’ history.

    I have printed this article and will place it with my Hungary collection.

    Thank YOU for the excellant article

    Robin Wilderness

    Cheyenne, Wyoming

  2. Alan says:

    Dear Robin,

    It is great to hear that the article was helpful for you. It sounds like a future article on the local overprints will also be of interest. It will be interesting to hear what the other readers think.

    Thanks and best regards,

    Alan

  3. Pierce Bullen says:

    Very interesting article, and I also have saved it for reference.

    The book by Brainard gives an excellent depiction of the genuine stamps.

    What is needed now is side-by-side pictures of genuine stamps and fakes (at least the most common ones) with the differences pointed out, and magnified as necessary. The pattern used by Varro Tyler in his book “Focus on Forgeries” would be ideal. He did stamps from many countries, including Hungary # 321 and 325, but did none of the Hungarian occupation issues. He put a genuine and a fake of only one stamp on a page (with background and commentary), so that what would become individual pages in his book could be circulated via publication in Linn’s without waiting for the book to come out. Something similar for the occupation issues would be of inestimable value for collectors of Hungarian stamps, even if initially it only covered a few stamps.

  4. Pavel Švehla says:

    gallery of occupation stamps issued: http://img253.imagevenue.com/galshow.php?gal=gall

  5. Pavel Švehla says:

    FIUME (and issue after II.WW)
    I. typ maschine; II. typ maschine; I. typ handstamp; II. typ handstamp; II. typ hahdstamp maschine print; III. typ handstamp; IV. typ handstamp
    <img src="http://thumbnails72.imagebam.com/18190/695ed2181894011.jpg&quot; alt="imagebam.com">

    After II.WW: Nagyvárád (Oradea – I., II., III. typ) – 13 stamps, Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu) – 1; Muraszombath (Murska Sobota)- 1; Zenta (Senta) – 1 tête-bêche ovp.; Rimaszombath (Rimavská Sobota – I. and II. typ) – 1+1; Rozsnyó (Rožňava) – 1 inverted; Krásnohorské Podhradie – 1; Zakarpatská Ukrajina – 2+1; Zakarpatská Ukrajina + Chust – 1; Abony – 3 stamps; Zilah (Sălaj) – 3; unknown 1+1; Melitopol – 1.

    All genuine mit attest oder geprüft (no unknown + Melitopol).

  6. Pavel Švehla says:

    Témesvár + West Hungary (VI. emission): http://www.imagebam.com/image/f1cf02181899743
    West Hungary (I., II., III., IV. emission + probedruck + fehldruck): http://www.imagebam.com/image/cbf065181899857
    West Hungary (V., VI., VII. emission): http://www.imagebam.com/image/12fd4a181899984
    West Hungary (IX., VIII., III. – typ, VII. emission) + mix: http://www.imagebam.com/image/d90eab181900124
    Debrecen: http://www.imagebam.com/image/59e4e0181900209 , http://www.imagebam.com/image/670671181900270
    All genuine.

  7. Pingback: Serbian Occupation of Temesvár » Dead Country Stamps and Banknotes

  8. Igor Grigorian says:

    Dear Alan! While reading the article I couldn't help but remember my first thoughts when I started my Corona collection – as much overprints as there were on Armenian stamps of the same period. Thank you for an excellent reference material that you presented; it helps a lot in identification of issues.
    Best regards and with philatelic greetings.
    Igor Grigorian
    Glendale, California

  9. Guenter Block says:

    Who can help ?

    I want to buy the 'Catalogue of Hungarian Occupation Issues 1918 – 1921' from Christopher E. Brainard ?
    I need information who sell this catalogue. Many thanks and
    best regards

    Guenter Block

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