Lithuanian Postage Stamps
Mail and courier systems have existed in what is now Lithuania since as early as the 16th century, with various messaging systems predating even that. Printed postage was introduced in 1857, when the region was still part of the Russian Empire, and has remained in use steadily since then.
Like its northern neighbor, Latvia, Lithuania experienced varying degrees of autonomy and stability over the course of the 20th century. Between the wars, a tenuous independence was achieved, though political unrest and territorial disputes were commonplace. World War I brought about occupation first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. Both periods were marked by mass arrests, and the near-total elimination of Jewish and Roma populations in the country.
After the war, Soviet forces moved into and eventually annexed Lithuania into the USSR. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a modern nation finally emerged, and today Lithuania enjoys full membership in the EU and NATO, adopting the Euro as its currency in 2015.
Postal History of Lithuania
For many collectors, the most interesting period of Lithuania’s postal history coincides with its brief existence as an independent state between 1918 and 1940. During this time, postal authorities produced 768 different stamps, of which more than 2000 errors and variations are known to exist. This provides fertile ground for anyone interested in collecting rare Lithuanian stamps.
Some of the most compelling early stamps are the initial 1918 Vilnius issues, which boast a simple design in 10 and 15 skatikų denominations. Only 5,000 of each were printed initially, and forgeries of these are common — as they are with many rare Lithuanian stamps. A larger second edition followed weeks later, which included 20, 30, 40 and 50 skatikų denominations as well.
1921 saw the country release its first airmail stamp. Further issues feature more ornate designs as well as some valuable errors. One of the most notable of these is a 1926 60-ct “Swallow” inversion, of which forgeries are common.
Local and Occupation Issues
One of the more dynamic sub-specializations of Lithuanian philately is the country's long history of local and occupation issues. Between 1919 and 1940, many stamps were produced for local use in disputed territories. Following the onset of war, Soviet and German authorities used overprinted stamps within the country.
Collecting Lithuanian Stamps
On paper, Lithuania’s history has a lot in common with other Baltic states. However, for anyone interested in the country and its stamps, there is much to discover and explore. Though forgeries are common, working with an experienced auction house such as Apfelbaum, Inc. can help you avoid risk and make smart additions to your collection.
To explore our current sales, visit our online store. If there’s a specific Lithuanian collectors’ stamp you’re looking for, contact our office directly for assistance.