13th September 2016 Austria Hungary 1918 to 22 – John Harden

Banbury Stamp Society welcomed John Harden from Sutton Coldfield at their first meeting of the new season. John presented his collection of stamps from the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of the First World War. John’s experience as a surveyor was put to good use as he used maps to great effect to explain the complexities of this period. The first set of stamps were overprinted K & K and John explained that the ruler Austria-Hungary, Franz Josef was technically Emperor or Kaiser of Austria and King of Hungary, hence the K & K overprint. Much of the rest of the material consisted of overprints and traced the collapse of Austria-Hungary as an empire and the occupied areas or countries that emerged. For example, Austria-Hungary had territorial aims on parts of Northern Italy and when their army failed to defeat the Italians, the German army was asked to assist and when they succeeded, overprints were required on the Italian stamps. Italy however recovered the territory and a new set of overprints recognised this. As an interesting fact, Rommel was a Lieutenant in the German army.

The Treaty of Versailles which ended WWI dictated terms to the Central Powers, and the creation of the Czechoslovak Republic was part of this. They produced their first stamps in December 1918 but also overprinted the Austria-Hungary stamps which were sold for both postage and for charity funds. One reason for the extensive use of overprints was a shortage of paper as a result of the retreating German army taking stocks with them.

Poland benefited from the treaty too and reasserted control over its southern province. Again, Austria-Hungary stamps were overprinted. In addition to overprints, Poland used an obliterator to deface the Kaisers portrait.

Austria and Hungary emerged from the break-up of the empire as separate countries and Austria issued its first overprint stamps in 1918. Hungary had a much more complex transition and the second half of the evening covered the various occupations of the Hungarian provinces.

As a postscript, Liechtenstein used the Austria-Hungary postal service between 1912 and 1918 and then overprinted the issues for their own postal service in 1920.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday October 4th at 7:30pm at Hanwell Fields Community Centre. John Horsey’s presentation is titled ‘GB – Something Different and the £5 Orange’. The Banbury Stamp Society is on-line at ‘www.banburystampsociety.co.uk’, or contact John Davies on 01295 255831.