Collectors' Stamps From Hungary

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Once the seat of one of the largest empires in Europe, Hungary today boasts a strong economy, an excellent healthcare system and a high standard of living. It is also well-known for its contribution to global culture, having been the home of renowned composers like Liszt and Bartok. Its capital, Budapest, is a global city and a major tourist destination in Central Europe.

All of this is to say that modern Hungary has a lot to celebrate. The country’s postal history reflects these accomplishments, while its stamps are attractive collectors’ items in their own right.

Hungary’s Early Postal History

Hungary’s modern postal system was established by the Habsburgs and, until 1871, used the same stamps that were used throughout the Austrian Empire. Austrian Empire stamps from this period were postmarked with the name of the town they were sent from — today, many Hungarian stamp collectors specialize in gathering postmarks from specific parts of the country.

The first stamps issued solely for use in Hungary were released on May 1, 1871, and featured the newly restored national symbol, as well as the face of the Emperor Franz Josef. These were printed in 2 to 25 kreuzer denominations. One of the rarest Hungarian stamps from this period was an 1873 2-kreuzer dark yellow issue, whose poor printing quality prompted an immediate recall.

Around the same time, uses of pre-printed postal cards, which require no additional stamps, became popular. By the turn of the century, an estimated 25 million pieces of mail had been delivered by this method.

Independence and Onwards

The First World War famously precipitated the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and, with the signing of the Treaty of Trianon, reestablished a diminished Hungary’s borders. WWI had left the Hungarian Post — along with most of the country’s institutions — in disarray, while a series of currency changes during the interwar years meant few stamps stayed in circulation for long.

It wasn’t until 1945, with the establishment of the Stalinist Hungarian People’s Republic, that regular mail service resumed. Reforms enacted in the 1960s led to a rising standard of living and laid the groundwork for the transition to capitalism in 1989.

Collecting Hungarian Stamps

Stamps from all eras of Hungary’s postal history reflect equally its cultural achievements and fractious history. For these reasons, the country has a lot to offer collectors with an interest in Hungarian history or European history in general.

If you’re considering starting to collect stamps from Hungary, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. We frequently have rare Hungarian stamps for sale in our online store and Buy It Now sales.

We also offer appraisal services and other consultations for anyone who has inherited or is looking to sell a collection. Contact our office today to speak with one of our knowledgeable representatives.