Republika e Shqipėrisė


Republic of Albania is a Balkan country in Southeastern Europe.  It borders Montenegro to the north, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia in the east, and Greece in the south.  It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the west and a coast on the Ionian Sea to the southwest.  The country has an estimated population of about 3,6 million people (2006), and the capital and largest city is Tirana (around 300.000 inhabitants).  From 1443 to 1468 the national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg led a successful resistance against the invading Ottomans.  After the death of Skanderbeg, resistance continued until 1478, after which Albania became a part of the Ottoman empire.  They would remain a part of the Ottoman Empire until 28th of November 1912 when the country became independent.

I will here present some letters and stamps from Albania.  They are presented in a chronological order (for letters; year of cancellation), and may be more systematised on a later stage.  For now: Just enjoy! 

You find the years 1909 - 1924 under here, and from 1925 here. 

Postal Stationary you find here.


Albania under Turkish sovereignty 1909


The card shows the fortress guarding Skutari (Shkodėr).  It is cancelled 12th August 1909 in Scutari, and addressed to La Haye in Italy.


In the first Balkan war of 1912, much of Albania was conquered by Serbian troops.  Shkoder was occupied by the Montenegrins.  After the defeat of the Ottoman forces by the Balkan Allies (Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia), these countries seemed intent to partition amongst themselves the entire Ottoman territory on the Balkans peninsula west of the Maritsa River. 

The major powers of Europe interfered again by putting pressure on Serbia and Montenegro, and an independent Albania was formed by the Conference of London in December 1912.  Britain made it very clear that a Serbian Albania would not be tolerated, perceived as Russian, or as potentially Italian, in Austrian perspective. 




Turkish stamp overprinted for use in Albania.  "The first issues of Albania have been forged more frequently than almost any other stamps. Probably 95% of the "Double-eagle" overprints on the market are rank forgeries. It is quite possible that many hundreds of forgers have tried their hands at this devil's pastime, since each new forgery that comes to my attention is generally different from the others. It should be considered that the basic Turkish stamps on which the "Double-eagle" handstamp was placed, are in the main fairly cheap, and present no diffculties to one bent-on obtaining a wholesale supply. Few people know what a genuine "Double-eagle" looks like"... (from article by W. J. Eckhardt, A. P. S., in The American Philatelist, Journal of the American Philatelic Association: Forgeries of the Double - Eagle Overprint On The First Issues of Albania).

Franēois Fournier (1846–1917) did not look upon himself as a forger, but described his material as facsimiles.  The idea, according to him, was to provide collectors with stamps they could afford, and to prevent uneducated collectors of being defrauded.  But his facsimiles have nevertheless been known as 'Fournier forgeries' and treated as such.  The example from Albania shows not the stamp, but the overprint used on Turkish stamps.  And it shows a post mark from Berat.  UPU bought the whole stock from the widow of Fournier's successor, Charles Hirschburger, and made albums out of it in 1928, while the balance was burnt.  As long as they remain in the album, there is no problem, but many rogue exemplars have unfortunately been sold to unsuspecting collectors for high prices.


Serbian occupation of Albania 1913


Montenegrine occupation of Albania 1913


Post card showing soldiers from Montenegro, cancelled on the picture side of the card with a Montenegrine stamp in Scutari 28th May 1913. 


In 1913 the Kingdom of Albania was created, but large areas with an Albanian-speaking majority were left out, like Kosovo (allocated to Serbia) and Camria (same as southern Epirus, allocated to Greece).  The new King, prince Wilhelm zu Wied, arrived in March 1914.  He was unfamiliar with the language and customs of the land, and left already in the first weeks of World War I.

Albania 1913

The first regular issues of Albania - Michel 29-34, showing the national hero, Skanderbeg.  Black box registration label Vlonė / Valona, cancelled 11th December 1913 in Vlonė and adressed to München in Germany, received in München 16th December 1913.



Another letter with the first regular issues of Albania - Michel 29-34, showing the national hero, Skanderbeg.  The letter is cancelled in Vlonė 3rd February 1914, in transit "Verona Ferrovia-Racommandate" 5th February, added a Red box registration label in Germany; "Vom Auslande | über Bahnpost | Kufstein - München" and arrived in Dresden 6th February 1914.






Postage Due stamps 1914



Complete set of the first Postage Due stamps (Michel Po 1-5), cancelled 4th March 1914 in Berat and addressed to Fier, received in Fier 7th March 1914.


Complete set of the first Postage Due stamps (Michel Po 1-5), cancelled 6th March 1914 in Vlonė and addressed to Vlonė.




Post card with 5 Para on 2 Q (Michel 41), issued 2nd April 1914.  The card is cancelled 24th June 1914 in Dürres.


Essad Post  1914 - 1916


Essad-Post, Michel 6, on a letter addressed to Valona. It is cancelled Durazzo 4th September 1914, while the stamps according to Michel were issued 9th January 1915...



Essad-Post, 40 para blue on a letter addressed to Richard Borek in Braunschweig (the one with the Borek catalogues?), cancelled Durazzo 12th april 1915.  It arrived in Braunshweig 19th April 1915.




Essad-Post, complete set cancelled Durazzo 11th November 1915. 




This is not exactly a letter, but Essad-Post on a sheet from the Prince of Albania, cancelled 1st March 1915.  The stamps on the sheet are 10th February 1915 surcharges on non-issued Tarabosch issues of 1913 (tall ones), 5, 10, 40, 100 para and 5 Piastres - Mi 11-12 and 14-16, and same surcharge on another issue (small ones), 20 and 50 para and 3 and 6 Piastres - Mi 18-21.  

I don't really know when this letter head was issued, but it is the official letter seal for the Prince of Albania, seen in the upper left corner of the sheet to the left.





Cuts from letters, Essad-Post, Mi 18-19 cancelled 5th and 20th March 1915 in addition to the remaining values in the series, Mi 17 and 20-21 unused.




Letter, Essad-Post, Mi 13, 20 para, cancelled with no date "Zyra-Postes Mollas" and sent to Elbasan,  cancelled on arrival Elbasan 10th January 1916. 


1915 Skutari


Skanderbeg surcharges (Michel 41-46) on registered letter to Rome, Italy.  Special cancellation 8th March 1915 in Shkodėr.  Note that all the surcharges are out of place!  The 25q also has the surcharge upside down.



Skanderbeg surcharge (Michel 41) on letter to Shkodėr, added Postage Due stamp from Skutari (Michel Skutari Postage Due 2).  Cancelled Shėngjin 22nd April 1915, and received in Shkodėr 24th April 1915 with special cancellation. 


1915-1919 Occupation by foreign powers

After Albania's neutrality had been violated by Serbia, the Central Powers invaded Albania, occupying the country's north.  The Greeks occupied the south, which they called Northern Epirus, and received support of the local Greek minority.  Central Albania was occupied by Italian forces (1915-1916), but the Italians were soon pushed back by the Central Powers.  After fighting ended in October / November 1918, the occupation of Albania continued, though.  Albania's independence was restored in 1919, although Greece still occupied southern Albania (Northern Epirus) until 1923.  A curiosity, though: The small island of Saseno, only a few kilometres off the Albanian coast (hitherto Greek) was allocated not to Albania, but funny enough to Italy in 1920.

Michael Mössenböck had a pork (?) farm in Mairhof in Eggerding in Germany.  He was enrolled in the army, manning the canon in an infantry regiment.  Then he got sick with malaria, and died 22nd October 1916 in a field hospital in Tyrena in Albania after having been given the holy death sacrament by a Catholic priest.  He was 34 years old.  The poems main point is that we will meet again. 


Italian occupation of Albania 1916


Stampless military card from a soldier in Albania to Aderno in Italy, sent 27th December 1916, with arrival cancellation Aderno 1st January 1917. 


Austrian occupation of Albania 1917


Registered letter to Hannover, Germany cancelled "K.u.K. Ettappenpostamt DZURI" 28th August 1917.  The stamps are Austrian Fieldpost Michel 22 x 2, 23 x 2 and 37.  The letter was received in Hannover 9th September 1917.  The letter also has a red Austrian censor stamp.



The card shows a Mosque, the main road in Skutari (Shkodėr) and a Franciscan monastery church.  It is cancelled 7th September 1917 - K.u.K. Etappenposta mt Scutari" with a red line stamped "K.u.K. Etappenstationskommando in Skutari".  It is received in Maissau, Austria 14th October 1917 - 5 weeks after it was sent.



Stampless postcard sent from Albania 26th December 1917 to Böhmen in Germany.  The front has a spectacular view of Skhodre. 



Quite a special post card as it is hand painted!  It is probably sent by a soldier to Wien, and cancelled Tirana 1st May 1918.  Stampless postcard sent from Albania 26th December 1917 to Böhmen in Germany.  The front has a spectacular view of Skhodre. 


Koritza 1917



Complete set on Greek postal form cancelled Korytza 14th September 1917.





Front of letter with with complete set of Mi 47-52, type II control surcharge, issued 16th January 1919.  The letter is inter-city registered Skhodėr, and cancelled 14th February 1919.  Note that both the types of 25 Q are included.  The type I "thin" eagle is much rarer than type II (the 2 Q only has one surcharge type present; the lesser value red surcharge in stead of blue).



Complete set of Mi 53-59, but lacking the expensive type II eagles of 15 Q and 1 Frank.  The stamps were issued 5th June 1919, and this letter is cancelled 22nd July 1919 in Elbasan with a "Zyra e Telegrafevet" cancellation (Elbasan is quite accurately in the very middle of Albania).  It was obviously never ment to be sent, since an addressee is absent.  It was most probably a stamp collector's way of getting the complete, cancelled set...



Letter to Scutari cancelled Durres 28th October 1919.  Stamps are Michel 54 I and 55-56, control surcharge number IV.  



1920 Skutari






Letter to Augsburg in Germany, cancelled Shkodėr 5th March 1921.  Stamps are Michel 76 x 7 and 77-79 (1920).




Black box registered letter from the French Legation in Albania to Paris, France, cancelled Shkoder 1st April 1923, transit cancellations Bari Ferrovia 3rd April and Genova - Marseille 4th April 1923.  The back side also has a seal.




Card with Michel 95, cancelled Zyra Postate Shkodėr 21st September 1924 and addressed to Paris, France. .

Letter with complete set of the opening of the national assembly (Michel 90-94), cancelled Tirane 21st January 1924.



Registered letter with complete set of the opening of the national assembly (Michel 90-94), cancelled Shkodėr 31st January 1924 and adressed to Shkodėr.



For Postal Stationary, see here!


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