Azerbaijan Collectors' Stamps
Azerbaijan's tumultuous history mirrors that of other Central Asian nations. Since 1900, it has been part of the Russian Empire, the USSR and Transcaucasia — in addition to existing as an independent state on two separate occasions. As a result, it has a fairly colorful postal history, one that rewards study with a number of unique and attractive issues.
Azerbaijan's Postal History
The first Azerbaijani post office was opened in 1818 in what is now Ganja. Service was overseen by Russian postal authorities, and stamps of the Russian Empire were used exclusively in the region. When the Empire fell after the First World War, the country declared its independence as the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, and began assuming responsibility for its own postal affairs.
The first stamps were issued by the young country in 1919. This set of 10 pictorial designs was printed initially on white paper and then, a year later, on a pale yellow (buff) stock. Today, the early white paper issues are among the more rare Azerbaijan collectors' stamps. Forgeries are not uncommon.
Azerbaijan as a Soviet Republic
The ADR ended up being a short-lived political entity. In 1920, it joined the USSR, rechristening itself the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The following year, it issued its first set of stamps as the ASSR, a pictorial series of 15 designs highlighting local politics and culture, as well as the importance of oil to the region.
In the early years of the ASSR, the country struggled with famine and inflation. During this time, the sinking value of the country's currency required postmasters to overprint stamps with a higher denomination.
Stamps of Transcaucasia
Partly in response to this economic instability, in 1922, Azerbaijan formed an alliance with its neighbors Armenia and Georgia. Transcaucasia, as the alliance was known, printed its own stamps, which were used concurrently with both overprinted Azerbaijan stamps and the centrally printed stamps of the USSR. This lasted until 1936, when the union dissolved and Azerbaijan began to once again issue its own postage.
Azerbaijan left the Soviet Union in 1991 and began issuing stamps under its new name — the Republic of Azerbaijan — the following year. These first issues celebrated the country’s newfound independence. In 1993, Azerbaijan became a member of the Universal Postal Union. To this day, it continues to produce stamps for both the collectors' and domestic markets.
Collecting Rare Azerbaijan Stamps
Anyone interested in the history of the Soviet Union, or in the history of Central Asia in general, can find something to enjoy in collecting Azerbaijan stamps. If you're interested in starting a collection, be sure to check out the rare Azerbaijan stamps for sale in the Apfelbaum, Inc. online store. We frequently have items for sale from all eras of the country’s history, and offer expert advice for avoiding forgeries while growing your collection.
Got a question about buying rare Azerbaijan stamps? Contact our office for assistance.