Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

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Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

The concept of ghost countries hit me as I began to collect Thurn and Taxis. Although catalogs list T&T as a German state, it was instead a postal service that served member states of the German Confederation that did not produce stamps of their own.

As one of my collecting goals is to seek stamps from every country, I realized that I needed to sort out which postmarks corresponded to which state, and to start collecting them.

Here are two examples of T&T Scott 47 from the Southern district. The postmark "218" was for the town of Homburg, capital of the Landgrave of Hesse, or Hesse-Homburg, now a suburb of Frankfurt. "268" was for the town of Wallendorf, in the Duchy of Saxe-Meiningen in Thuringia.

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I could have dismissed them as scrappy duplicates, but in focusing on the postmarks, I have added two entire countries to my collection.

As it turned out, not all stampless German states outsourced their postal service to T&T. The Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg used stamps of Saxony postmarked "11":

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The Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont, as well as the Duchies of Anhalt-Dessau and Anhalt-Bernburg used stamps of Prussia. I am not yet sure what postmarks to look for.

I am wondering what other such ghost countries are out there. The Maury catalog for French Africa has a section for "Rivieres du Sud", or Southern Rivers, a colonial precursor to French Guinea.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

I was thinking of some more candidates for such ghost countries.

On old maps from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Emirate of Bhukhara and the Khanate of Khiva are marked as distinct countries in Central Asia. They became protectorates of Russia between the 1870s and 1920s. Did they produce stamps that I have simply not found in a catalog, did they use Russian stamps, or did they have any recognizable postal services at all?

Indian princely states might be another area to explore. Only a fraction of the 562 states produced stamps of their own. Did they all use the stamps of British India? Did some of them use stamps from nearby states?
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Stewie1980 »

Greaden wrote:I was thinking of some more candidates for such ghost countries.

On old maps from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Emirate of Bhukhara and the Khanate of Khiva are marked as distinct countries in Central Asia. They became protectorates of Russia between the 1870s and 1920s. Did they produce stamps that I have simply not found in a catalog, did they use Russian stamps, or did they have any recognizable postal services at all?
I was thinking about the Emirate of Jabal Shammar, which existed from 1836 till 1921 when it surrendered to Saud and was incorporated into the Sultanate of Nejd (part of present day Saudi Arabia)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emirate_of_Jabal_Shammar

If there was a postal service would they have used stamps? Stamps from the Ottoman Empire maybe?
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by tonymacg »

Greaden wrote: Indian princely states might be another area to explore. Only a fraction of the 562 states produced stamps of their own. Did they all use the stamps of British India? Did some of them use stamps from nearby states?
A very messy subject, but the Indian States never used postage stamps of other States. Of course, many of the State post offices were closed down, or closed to the public, before Indian independence in 1947: you can certainly find examples of the use of (Imperial) Indian stamps used in the former stamp-issuing States. This cover from Dhar State (which did issue stamps) to Balapur (which did not) is an example:

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The closest approximation to the use of the stamps of other States came from Junagadh (variously also inscribed as Soruth, Saurashtra and Sourashtra). It was in the northwest of what is now India, in the Kathiawar Peninsula. It was joined with several other States after independence to form a United States of Saurashtra. Soruth (as it's usually known, and listed in Gibbons), ran out of its own stamps, and had to borrow a supply of revenue stamps from Bhavnagar State (which didn't issue postage stamps:

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(Soruth SG 61)

This issue is a happy hunting ground for the specialist, with a wide range of small and large letters used in the overprint, as well as major errors, like this missing word:

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(Soruth SG 61a)
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

Concerning Jabal Shammar: That is exactly the sort of place where I hoped this thread would lead. It is not on any of my old maps. A place called Hasa is, though, but Wikipedia informs me that it was merely an Ottoman province.

As for Indian states: I take it then that none used neighboring stamps akin to how Saxe-Altenburg used those of Saxony. The quest then is to find postmarks on British Indian stamps.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by tonymacg »

Here is a cover, with British Indian stamps as was required at the time (1942), to Anjar, a village in Barwani State, which was operating a post office open to all

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And a particular favourite of mine:

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From Rajpur, a village in Barwani State, to Barwani Town, sent via the Imperial mail in 1924, when it might have been sent by the Barwani State mail - although it's not clear that the Barwani PO was operating a registered mail service at the time. (It certainly was in 1926, when this letter would only have cost 3½ Annas.)

A couple of States also operated extra-territorial post offices. Las Bela State is a good example. It's now in Pakistan, but the mainstay of its post office was mail to and from Karachi, which was well outside Las Bela territory. Nevertheless, Las Bela maintained a post office in Karachi, which received mail from, and sent mail to, Las Bela:

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(Sent from the extra-territorial Las Bela office at Karachi to the village of (Son)Miani in Las Bela, which was on the postal line from Las Bela to Karachi)
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by kemese1 »

Ghost countries - interesting concept. Just some thoughts:

For the German area, I did some research on states providing postal services for other states. The results are shown in this map: http://www.stampworldhistory.com/maps/country-specific-maps/german-states/

A country that might qualify would be Upper Senegal & Middle Niger. This was the name for French West Africa between 1899 and 1902. Stamps of French Sudan - the predecessor - continued to be used and would have to be recognized by the date. For more info: http://www.stampworldhistory.com/country-profiles-2/africa/french-west-africa/

An area that you might want to look into is Russia during the Civil War. Several parts of Russia were temporarily independent. Some issued stamps, like Armenia, Georgia and so on. Other did not, like Belarus.

The Indian States raise the question whether you would want to include countries that ceded part of their sovereignty to a colonial power - countries within countries as it were. In case you include these, you could also think of the emirates in the Aden protectorate or the kingdoms in Uganda.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by vikingeck »

I don't know if these Qualify as ghosts, but until 1864 war in Schleswig-Holstein Denmark maintained a separate post office in LUBECK and In HAMBURG.

Danish Stamps from 1851-1864 can be found cancelled "2" for Hamburg and "3" for Lubeck
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

kemese1 wrote:Ghost countries - interesting concept. Just some thoughts:

For the German area, I did some research on states providing postal services for other states. The results are shown in this map: http://www.stampworldhistory.com/maps/country-specific-maps/german-states/
This map has been immensely helpful for thinking through how to collect German area postmarks.

One area that confuses me is the blob marked 6: Thuringian states using the Prussian postal service. In the inset, that same blob is broken down into Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and fragments of other small Thuringian states. Did Prussia maintain offices in that region, did they switch from (or to) TnT? Or is that 6 a reference to other Thuringian entities such as Erfurt?
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by kemese1 »

One area that confuses me is the blob marked 6: Thuringian states using the Prussian postal service.
I can see this may be confusing. Blob 6 was serviced by Prussia. The Thuringian states that are in the blob thus were serviced partly by Prussia and partly by T&T. All this until 1867 when T&T, in its entirety, was taken over by Prussia.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by maptrekker »

An historical map of the Thuringian States with some prominent cities noted.

http://www.verfassungen.de/de/preussen/thueringen.jpg
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

kemese1 wrote:
One area that confuses me is the blob marked 6: Thuringian states using the Prussian postal service.
I can see this may be confusing. Blob 6 was serviced by Prussia. The Thuringian states that are in the blob thus were serviced partly by Prussia and partly by T&T. All this until 1867 when T&T, in its entirety, was taken over by Prussia.
Thank you. I see that some of the towns from that area are on the list of Prussian postmarks. Sondershausen, for example, is #1410.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

Here is a Russian stamp on a 1912 postcard from the Emirate of Bukhara:

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Bukhara was a Russian protectorate between 1873 and 1920. Atlases from the time colored it as a distinct country. Here it is in orange, along with neighboring Khiva:

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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

Sikkim might be a candidate. Why did it not produce stamps of its own?

I take it that Indian stamps were used, although sometimes, as with Bhutan, revenue stamps were used for postage.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Joy Daschaudhuri »

Greaden wrote: ... although sometimes, as with Bhutan, revenue stamps were used for postage.
Where did you get this information?
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

Joy Daschaudhuri wrote:
Greaden wrote: ... although sometimes, as with Bhutan, revenue stamps were used for postage.
Where did you get this information?
Scott lists a set of 4 stamps issued in Bhutan in 1955 as follows:
Nos. AR1-AR4 are revenue stamps, authorized for use as postage stamps. After the issue of regular postage stamps in 1962, they served primarily as fiscals, although they appear to have been postally used into 1964.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

The Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont used stamps of Prussia. Its capital, Arolsen, is near Kassel in Hesse. I am curious as to why they used the Prussian postal service instead of that of Thurn and Taxis, like most of its neighbors. Its ruling house had some dynastic links with that of the Netherlands.

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Can anyone read the handwriting? The back of the cover is splattered with red wax seals.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by maptrekker »

On 1 Jan 1868 the financially weak Principality began a 10-year contract with Prussia to take over its administration. I assume that included the postal administration.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

maptrekker wrote:On 1 Jan 1868 the financially weak Principality began a 10-year contract with Prussia to take over its administration. I assume that included the postal administration.
Weren't they all part of the North German Confederation by that point?
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by maptrekker »

If by "they all" you mean the German states -- no. Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden and the southern part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (Starkenburg and Rhenish Hesse)never joined the Confederation.

If you mean Pyrmont-Waldeck and Prussia -- yes. Which means they would be using stamps of the North German Confederation starting 1 Jan 1868.

A little research in the Michel Specialized shows that "Fürstenturn Waldeck-Pyrmont" used the "preußischen Post" rather than "Thurn und Taxis". The list of states using the Prussian Post is not as extensive as those using Thurn and Taxis.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by maptrekker »

Here is another interesting fact. In his book "Germany 1872-1900 A Philatelic & Postal History" Darryl Hinton-Blaker indicated that Pyrmont-Waldeck was served by Thurn and Taxis until 1834. Obviously too early for postmarks on Thurn and Taxis stamps.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

Broken images in this thread now repaired.
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

I posted this stamp in the French and Colonies thread, but it is also relevant here. It is a French general colonies stamp postmarked Cote d'Or et Gabon, which was a string of coastal settlements in what is now Ivory Coast and Gabon, and preceded the divergence of French West Africa from French Equatorial Africa.

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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by Greaden »

Saxe-Meiningen was one of the more obscure German states. They did spawn Adelaide, the Queen consort of William IV of England and Hanover, but her inability to produce an heir led to the result of Victoria landing on the throne, and Hanover breaking off as they did not allow for female rulers.

The Australian city of Adelaide was named for her. Otherwise, its only mark on history was that a late nineteenth century duke hosted Brahms for a while.

Here is my draft of an effort to pull together a page for an eventual exhibit. Arrows point from towns on a map of of the lost country to stamps of Thurn and Taxis postmarked in those towns.
meiningen.jpeg
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Re: Ghost Countries Identifiable through Postmarks

Post by maptrekker »

Excellent page. Really adds life to those numerical postmarks.
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