Hungarian Philatelic Society

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Along with Hungarian history comes an incredible variety of stamp and postal history collecting themes, made that little bit more challenging by the tricky language that has more in common with Japanese than with other European languages.

The use of Hungarian stamps began in 1850 following the suppression of the War of Independence of 1848/49. As this was a province of the Austrian Empire, the stamps used were those used in Austria. However the first proper Hungarian stamp was designed during this war and now takes pride of place in the Stamp Museum in Budapest. This is a tint drawing designed by Mor Than. It was intended to be put on general release but when the war was lost, this did not happen.

Thus Austrian postage stamps were used in Hungary until 1867, either carrying the eagle blazon or the portrait of the Monarch, Franz Joseph. There were five issues in all, and these stamps can be included in Hungarian collections as long as they show a clear Hungarian postmark.

Although the Hungarian Postal Service became independent on 1 May 1867, it was not allowed to produce purely Hungarian stamps, and so new stamps had to be printed in Austria, and these were used both in Hungary and Austria between 1867 and 1871.

Plans to print and issue Hungary's own stamps had already begun in 1868, but the first Hungarian postal stationery items (postcards and postal money orders) to be valid only in Hungary were issued in 1871. After several attempts, the first stamps were issued on 1 May 1871. These were printed by lithography and replaced the 1867 stamps gradually. However with the arrival of the copperplate machine it became possible to engrave these stamps, which were more attractive.

At the end of 1874, with the permission of the King, stamps showing his portrait were changed to an issue of new design showing an envelope and the inscription 'MAGYAR KIR.POSTA' (HUNGARIAN ROYAL POST) This issue is known as the 'Krajczár Issue with Coloured Numerals', and were used together with the 1871 issue for a while.

From 1881 postage stamps were printed on watermarked paper. In 1888, the letter post, stage-coach, and telegraph posts (for which special telegraph stamps had been issued) were united, necessitating the production of stamps with a much larger variation in face values. These are the 'Krajczár Issue with Black Numerals', printed by typography.

From 1900, owing to change in the monetary system, the 'Forint-Krajczár' stamps were followed by the 'Korona-Filler' issue. The Filler face values depict the mythical 'Turul' bird , while the high values show Franz Joseph's portrait again. Its various watermarks and perforations add a richness to any collection, and the series lasted until the end of World War I.

From 1918 definitive stamps were issued for postal use, and special stamps for collectors, including Air Mail issues.

Newspaper, and newspaper tax stamps had been issued from the start for the transmission of newspapers only, but Postage Due stamps were introduced in 1903.

The inflation that occurred after the two World Wars (First Inflation 1919-1926 and Second Inflation 1945-46) is reflected in the increasing face value of the stamps. Particularly interesting items of postal history were produced in the immediate years after World War II with these stamps.

Stamps issued between 1946 and 1980 are not only interesting because they reflect Hungary's post war history, but also because they are beautiful for their choice of themes. Since 1980 the Hungarian Postal Authorities have curtailed their annual output and now produce some of the best designed and printed stamps in the world.

Imperforate stamps before 1946 are usually printer's waste and were never issued as such. From 1946 to 1991 the Post Office issued a small quantity of all issues in imperforate form. These were sold only to members of the National Stamp Club at five times the face value. They are widely collected and some are in short supply. They were all valid for postage, and still are.

In the period following the First and Second World Wars several local or 'occupation' stamps were issued in the occupied areas of Hungary with overprints on Hungarian stamps.

A growing collecting area is for Revenue Stamps, both National and Municipal.

The reader can see from this short history that there is a wealth of subjects to choose to collect, and many of our members have chosen to concentrate on a specific subject, such as the first Turul issue or Second Inflation covers.

Joining the Society will enable you to find out much more about your chosen topic.

The History of Hungarian Stamps