Collectors' Stamps from Albania
In many ways, Albania’s complex history reflects that of Europe as a whole. Once a part of the Ottoman Empire, it declared independence in 1912 and established itself as a kingdom shortly thereafter. At various times since, it has existed as an Italian protectorate and, later, a socialist republic.
Albania as it exists today was founded in 1991. Though spared much of the violence of its Balkan neighbors, the country did see a flood of ethnic Albanian refugees immigrate from nearby Kosovo during the NATO bombings of 1999.
Studying the stamps of Albania is one way to put this complex history into perspective. Albania has issued postage stamps since 1913, many of which are highly collectable today.
Albanian Postal History
Albania began using stamps while still part of the Ottoman Empire. Between 1870 and 1913, Turkish issues were in circulation. During this time, Italy also retained a presence in the coastal city of Valona (now Vlorë) and used its own special overprints for postage.
Following independence, the country set up a national postal system and began issuing stamps in 1913. Designs included the country’s double-headed eagle crest, as well as a pictorial issue celebrating national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Many fine examples of these early issues can be found in the Hasluck Collection, now a part of the British Library’s philatelic holdings.
Albania and World War II
The second world war threw Albania’s postal system into chaos, as it did much of Europe. During this time, the country was occupied by Germany, Greece and Italy, all of whom established their own post offices and used their own stamps. Some of these issues (typically overprints) remain highly sought-after by collectors with an interest in European philately during the war years.
Albanian Postal Forgeries
Forgeries of early Albanian collectors’ stamps — as well as outright fantasy issues — are common. Many supposedly historical stamps, such as the Valona Warrior issues, were created whole-cloth by con artists aiming to take advantage of the collectors’ market.
For this reason alone, anyone looking to buy early collectors’ stamps from Albania is advised to work exclusively with a dealer or auction house they can trust.
Buying Albanian Stamps from Apfelbaum, Inc.
Apfelbaum has been selling rare European stamps since 1910, and we can help you buy and sell rare Albanian stamps without risk. We also offer appraisal and authentication services for your existing collection.
From our Buy It Now sales to our online store, our extensive inventory includes high-quality issues from all periods of the country’s history. Looking for something in particular? Get in touch today to see if we can help you track it down.