Hungarian Philatelic Society

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Collecting Hungary

By Mervyn Benford

The Society was formed 50 years ago and for the next three decades the prize collections – and related research, featured 19th. Century material, much of it very scarce. Still some of the finest collections of Hungarian material show that level of amazing quality but for many of us such pursuits are too difficult- not least because of cost. But the quality standards are as possible with later issues- for example multiple frankings on postal items, mixed frankings between valid issues, items under-paid and needing penalties, registered, airmail, express services affecting postage paid, unusual destinations for mail from Hungary.

Such material, from the 20th. Century , is more abundant and in some ways more interesting because we entered the thematic age when other than the sovereign’s head was allowed on stamps. This adds its own interest as stamps and postal items can be collected to focus on particular subjects in stamp design- sports, space, culture, art, transport and one enterprising member even found Hungarian stamps that reflected UK pub names!

Stamp collecting moved naturally from just the stamps themselves, used and mint, to their use on postal items and documents. So began what we call postal history collecting. It tells its own story not just of postal developments and changes, but often the events of the period- and Hungary is especially interesting.

After World War 1, the Trianon peace treaty was brutal towards Hungary- a relatively innocent party drawn into the war by constitutional ties to Austria. Hungary lost 70% of its former territory and this means things Hungarian suddenly gather the flavour of the successor States- Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania- even Austria was given a slice of Hungary. Borders with Poland, Moravia and Galicia, long-established, were affected. All this change is reflected in stamps and postal history of the countries concerned and Hungary’s. A collection of postmarks from a place such as Kassa would start pre-stamp under Austrian management, move to Hungarian authority and language in 1867, and then suffer the territorial changes brought by 20th. Century politics.  Postmarks themselves are an intriguing and collectible aspect of postal history- types, size- varieties, languages and inks.

Then between 1938 and 1941 parts of the territories lost at Trianon returned and so resumption of Hungarian postal authority is seen but for a very few years as the circumstances again were caught up with war and in 1946, again on the losing side because of political ties related to the returning territory, the Trianon borders were restored- though one area was then given to the Soviet Union rather than back to its Trianon owners. Once again all is faithfully reflected in postal services. Hungary is one of the most fascinating and collectible of countries. Some small, rural post offices in restored parts of Yugoslavia had a mere three years before effectively losing control again and so may be as scarce as anything from the 19th. Century.

Hungary was early into innovative stamp designs. It has had a succession of fine designers- continuing today. The post-1914-18 war saw foreign occupation everywhere and that affected the post- potentially some very scarce used postal items- but during a brief period of Communist government five stamps featuring Communist heroes were issued, plus a graphic set to raise funds for returning prisoners of war. Short-lived stamps during the post-war inflation issues saw cultural icons such as Jokai and Petöfi honoured  and valid mere weeks-while an airmail set was followed in 1926 by the world’s first Sports stamps.

After the next war Hungary endured one of the worst-known periods of inflation for twelve months but eventually under Communist rule joined most countries around the world, even the UK eventually, issued abundant stamps in various causes all with colourful, often attractive, designs- not just designs but production techniques- some highly original. Hungary led with a stamp printed on aluminium foil.

So for anyone interested in collecting stamps and postal history there is no better place to start than Hungary. The Society has good services and membership gains access.

This is a new page on which members may place interesting articles or encouraging statements about collecting Hungary. This is intended to be in addition to magazine articles and NOT  to replace them.

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