03 October 2019
The Czechoslovak Philatelic Society of GB were recently treated to a display on ‘Liberation philately’ from Michael Dadds.
As many collectors of Czech stamps will appreciate, the popular relief of WWII coming to an end was reflected in a splurge of new philately being produced, both officially and unofficially, as a new political system was established and the Czech and Slovak parts were reassembled into one state.
What Mike Dadds entertained us with was a Europe-wide philatelic view of 1945, which of course places Czech material into context with all the other nations in Europe breathing once more as the Nazi yoke was lifted. Keeping narrowly to the concept of ‘Liberation’ rather than ‘Victory’, he started with the Channel Islands liberation issueproduced somewhat belatedly by the British Post Office, and moved on to heroism, skulduggery by the Soviets, self-interest by the French, low dealing by a few, territory grabbing by some, and vicious executions by occupying forces.
This was overprint heaven, as stamps of Vichy France, Hitler’s ‘greater’ Germany and its vassal states, and Mussolini’s Socialist Republic continued to be used in a gleeful riot of celebratory overprinting ranging from the inked thumb, through cork or rubber obliterations, the use of national symbols such as the cross of Lorraine or pre-war coats of arms or the ‘Red’ star, to the more formal typeset commemorations of a new state.
Many of these efforts are not in the mainstream catalogues, and some are not catalogued anywhere. Often, reliable information is difficult to find, and sometimes sources disagree. Forgeries abound, since quantities of such issues were generally small, and in some cases it is not evenclear if the issue genuinely happened for postal purposes, or was a Cinderella, or appeared some time later as a machination.
This is history with real philatelic fun, flavoured with a big dose of caveat emptor if one ventures to form a collection such as the one Mike displayed. The scope of this theme is unexpectedly huge.
Mike covered most countries of West and Central Europe, and since most members present focus on collecting Czechoslovakia there was general commenting to the effect of ‘never seen that before’ or ‘didn’t know that happened’. Naturally there was a decent block in the display for Czechoslovakia, but it was interesting to see how that fitted in with similar happenings all over Europe, from Italy to Norway, and from GB to Bulgaria. Many thanks, Mike for a smashing and enlightening afternoon! If you weren’t there you missed a treat.
- Roger Morrell