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Greece



CURRENCY

1861, 100 lepta = 1 drachma.

1944, 100 old drachma = 1 new drachma.



Before 1850

Site of the first major European civilization. After the decline of Greek power in the 4th century BC, conquered first by the Macedonians and then by the Romans in 146 BC. Following invasion by the Crusaders in 1204, divided into small governments and then captured by the Turks in 1456, immediately after the fall of Constantinople. Greece remained a Turkish province until the War of Independence (1821-8), during which Greece held the Turks at bay, though in danger of being subdued, until the Allied fleet defeated the Turks at Navarino in 1827. The Turks evacuated Morea, the province of southern Greece, in October 1828, and independence was acknowledged by the Treaty of Adrianople in September 1829.


There was no public postal service under Turkish control, but by 1850 a limited civil post existed. Letters for overseas were carried by the captains of visiting ships.


1850-71


FIRST STAMPS ISSED 1 October 1861.



Greek territory was limited by the first treaty with Turkey and although this had been accepted when the kingdom was proclaimed, the boundaries paid no attention to similarities of race and language. As a result, many minor uprisings took place in Thessaly and Epirus.


First stamp issue was printed in Paris, but the plates were subsequently transferred to Athens, where printings were produced from November 1861.


Parts of present-day Greece, which were still under Turkish rule, used Turkish stamps until transferred.


1871-1914

Greece was not happy with the outcome of the Treaty of San Stefano, although it obtained southern Epirus. As a result of a further uprising the Turkish sultan proposed a rectification of the frontiers in July 1878. Eventually a convention was signed by Turkey and Greece at Constantinople in July 1881 and Thessaly was ceded to Greece. Greece supported the national uprising in Crete (q.v.) in the 1890s. Also supported the other Christian countries in the Balkans during the first Balkan War. As a result, Greece gained territory in Macedonia and western Thrace. In the second Balkan War, Greece occupied southern Albania and Thrace and issued overprinted stamps for these areas.


Macedonia (before 1914)

The town of Kavalla was occupied by the Greeks in 1913 and stamps of Bulgaria were released overprinted in Greek on 1 July 1913. This area reverted to Greece in 1914 and Greek stamps were used.


Western Thrace (before 1914)

Area on the northern edge of the Aegean Sea and west of the Maritsa river which had been administered by Turkey until the first Balkan War. It was occupied by Bulgarian troops and awarded to Bulgaria after the Treaty of London. However, in the second Balkan War the Greeks invaded the province and occupied Dedeagatz (now Alexandropoulos) and Gumultsina (now Komotini). In the former, Bulgarian stamps were issued overprinted, and in the latter, Turkish stamps. Overprints, in Greek, were issued in both places in July-August 1913 but were withdrawn when Greek troops withdrew at the end of September.


In October the Muslim inhabitants of western Thrace formed an autonomous republic and issued their own stamps. However, the area was awarded to Bulgaria by the Treaty of Bucharest, and Bulgarian stamps were used until 1918.


1914-18

Following the British repulse at Gallipoli in 1915, Allied forces were landed at Salonica and in August 1916 the line was stabilized on the Greek frontier. Although Allied forces were actually fighting on Greek soil. Greece entered the war on 30 June 1917 and assisted in the break-out from the Salonica front in 1918. During this period military posts of France and Britain operated in Salonica but the British P0 in Salonica had been closed in 1914.


Overprinted stamps were in new colours and were replaced by Gibraltar's own adhesives in December 1886.


1918-39

After the defeat of Bulgaria, western Thrace was occupied by Allied troops and overprinted stamps were issued in January 1920. Under the terms of the Treaty of Sevres in August 1920, Greece obtained western Thrace from Bulgaria and was given a mandate for the Turkish part of eastern Thrace except for Constantinople itself. This region was later incorporated into Greece. Overprinted stamps were issued in July 1920 and for the occupation of Adrianople (Edirne) in August.


The Greek-Turkish War broke out in May 1919 when the Allies landed a Greek Army at Smyrna (see Turkey). The Greek Army remained in Asia Minor until defeated by the Turkish Nationalists under Kemal Ataturk in September 1922. As a result of the Treaty of Lausanne, eastern Thrace was returned to Turkey.


1934-45

Greece remained neutral until invaded by Italy from Albania on 29 October 1940. The Greeks counter-attacked and occupied part of southern Albania including Koritza, until the German invasion in April 1941. Overprinted stamps were issued for this area on 10 December 1940.


British troops were sent to Greece to support the assault on the Italians in February 1941 and they brought their Field POs with them. More British forces arrived in March. The German assault came from Bulgaria on 6 April 1941 and quickly overran Greece. The last British troops were evacuated to Crete on 2 May, which was itself invaded by German paratroops on 20 May. The last Allied ships left southern Crete on 31 May when Greece fell under Axis control.


Greek stamps continued to be used throughout the territory until independence was regained in October 1944. First stamps with the new currency were issued on 11 November 1944. However, the transition to peace was difficult and Communist guerrilla leaders paid scant attention to the new government. Although Russian nonintervention had been agreed, once the last German troops left on 1 November 1944 internal disorder threatened and various partisan groups refused to hand over their weapons. The British troops quickly defeated the Communists once they were withdrawn from Athens and a truce was agreed on 11 January 1945. British Field POs were again used in Greece during this period.


1945 to date

By plebiscite, the Greek people voted for a return of the Greek monarchy in September 1946. However, King Constantine was deposed in June 1973 and the second republic was formed. Since that date there have been many changes of government control, but the postal service has remained intact and stamps have not reflected these changes.


Greece became a member of NATO in 1952 and of the European Union in January 1983.


Mount Athos

An ecclesiastical centre on the most easterly promontory of the Khalkidhiki peninsula in Macedonia.


In 1915-16, the Allies were considering the occupation of this area to protect the eastern flank of the Salonica position, and, in anticipation, prepared a series of stamps intended for issue on 25 January. These were produced on board a naval vessel and are interesting in that they bear the language and currency of three different alphabets: English, Greek and Russian.


Ionian Islands


CURRENCY

1859, sterling.

1941, Italian.

1943, 1000 centesimi = 1 lira = 8 drachma.



1660-1793

Group of seven islands in the Ionian Sea off the west coast of Greece the largest of which is Corfu. For several centuries was under the rule of Venice and on the main trading route from Venice to the Levant. Under Venetian administration it was known as Cephalonia and at least one handstamp of 1714 is known.


1793-1815

In 1797 under the Treaty of Campo Formio islands were ceded to France.After a blockade by the Russo-Turkish fleet, the islands were seized. Group was returned to France in 1807 and remained under its control until 1814. The French postal service had a number of handstamps in use.


In 1809 the British attacked and gradually occupied the islands until finally Corfu fell in 1814. The group was handed over to Britain in 1815 by the Treaty of Paris.


1815-50

Britain gave the islands a new constitution and they were created a Protectorate. They were entitled 'The United States of Ionia'. During this period the area also included the seaport and district of Parga on the Epirus coast, which was handed back to Greece in 1819. A British packet service ran from Malta and the British introduced a number of handstamps including the crowned circle types 'Paid at Zante', 'Paid at Cephalonia' and 'Paid at Corfu' from 1844 onwards. A British garrison was maintained in the group and soldiers' letters are known from this period.


1850-1919


FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 15 May 1859



Protection of the islands by Britain had been accepted for many years because of their strategic importance. However in the 1850s a more determined movement for union with Greece began. All the islands which had been Italian-speaking began to use Greek lettering. When stamps were issued these had lettering in Greek. The stamps became invalid when the islands were returned to Greece on 28 May 1864, as a gesture of respect the new King of Greece, George I, who landed on Corfu on his way to Athens. During the transition period there were no Greek adhesives available, stamps of Austrian Italy and Austrian Levant were freely used and Austrian Lloyd steamers were used for the transport of mail. Greek stamps have been used since that time except for two short periods in 1921 and 1941.


1919-36

Following World War I, Italy occupied Corfu and Italian stamps were overprinted during a temporary dispute with Greece.


1939 to date

Italian forces invaded in 1941 and stocks of Greek stamps in the islands, mainly of 1937 issue, were over-printed. These were then replaced by Italian stamps overprinted ISOLE JONIE which were used until 1943. In that year the Italian regime collapsed and occupation was taken over by the Germans. They reissued some of the Italian overprints with the additional marking ELLAS [Greece] and 2-x-43 [the date of occupation]. These were used in Zante only. Since the recapture of the islands, Greek stamps have been used.


Crete
1817-1914


FIRST STAMPS Turkey up to 1899.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Joint occupying powers 1899.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Crete March 1900.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 15 May 1859.


CURRENCY

1900, as Greece.



Island in the Mediterranean about 60 miles south-east of Greece. It has a long and troubled history. Population is Greek but there is a Muslim minority. Under Venetian rule in the Middle Ages and up to 1669, when it fell to the Turks. Remained under direct control of Turkey until 1830, when it was ceded to Egypt, but was restored to Turkey in 1840. This was followed by a long period of civil war.


In 1898 an international occupation by British, French, Italian and Russian forces took place. The island was declared an autonomous republic in 1899 and was united with Greece in 1913. This was confirmed by the Treaty of London in the same year.


Before the arrival of joint occupying forces in 1898, there was a rudimentary postal service between Crete and the mainland. Turkish stamps were used. Before the issue of Cretan stamps in 1900, each of the occupying powers issued stamps for the use of their troops and the civilian population in their area of control. Britain and Russia issued stamps inscribed in Greek, but France and Italy used stamps overprinted with the name of the island. Austria also had specially overprinted stamps for use in its POs on the island. These stamps were used concurrently with Cretan issues, had a limited usage, and the British, in particular, may only have had local validity. The Austrian P0 was not closed until 15 December 1914. Forces were withdrawn in 1909.


In 1908 stamps of Crete which had been issued in 1900 were overprinted HELLAS [Greece] when the local parliament declared union with Greece, but these were suppressed in 1909. In 1912 Greek stamps began to be used in Crete and have been ever since.


Dodecanese Islands
1871-1914


FIRST STAMPS Turkish up to 1912.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Italy overprinted 1912.


CURRENCY

Up to 1912, as Turkey.

1912, as Italy.



Group of twelve islands in the eastern Aegean. Historically important group which formed part of the base for Venetian merchants in the area. Held by the Knights Hospitaller from 1309 to 1522, when the islands became part of the Ottoman Empire. Seized by Italy in 1912 and remained under its control until 1943.


Before seizure by the Italians, islands had had a limited postal service under Turkish control. The first stamps issued were Italian stamps overprinted 'Egeo' and these were followed by a further series of overprints with the name of each of the islands. These were CALIMNO, CASO, COS, KARKI, LEROS, LIPSO, NISIROS, PATMOS, PISCOPI, RODI, SCARPANTO, SIMI and STAMPALIA.


1914-39

Continued as an Italian base during World War I. First stamps without overprints were issued in 1916. Turkey ceded the group to Italy in 1920.


1939-45

When Italy surrendered in September 1943, the Dodecanese Islands proclaimed union with Greece. Some of the islands were liberated by the Allied forces but they were quickly reoccupied by the Germans and were not finally freed until 1945.


1945 to date

Stamps of Britain overprinted MEF were used in the group from liberation in 1945 until 1947, when the islands were transferred to Greece. For a short period Greek stamps overprinted SDD [Dodecanese Military Occupation] were used but normal Greek stamps have been used since the summer of 1947.



Dodecanese 1912
Click map for larger view

Aegean Islands


CURRENCY

1912, as Italy.



Before 1914

All dates relate to the Julian Calendar; the Gregorian Calendar was 13 days ahead] During the first Balkan War, Greece occupied a number of islands which had previously been held by the Turks.


Overprinted stamps were issued as follows:


Khios (Chios) - occupied 11 November 1912, overprinted stamps issued in May 1913.
Nesvos (Lesbos) - occupied 8 November 1912, overprinted stamps issued in November 1912.
Limnos (Lemnos) - occupied 7 October 1912, overprinted stamps issued in 1912-13.


Additionally, Ikaria (Icaria) declared its independence from Turkey as a free state at the end of July 1912, and stamps were issued on 8 October 1912. Island was occupied by Greece in support of the new state on 4 November 1912 and overprinted Greek stamps were issued in 1913. United with Greece in June 1913 and Greek stamps were used thereafter.


Samos was an independent principality under Turkish control with British, French and Russian protection. There was a French P0 on the island from 1893 to 1914. Following a revolt in September 1912, the Turkish garrison was withdrawn and a provisional government was declared which sought union with Greece. Stamps were issued on 14 November 1912. Samos was united with Greece by the Treaty of London on 30 May 1913 and earlier stamps of Samos were overprinted 'Greece' in Greek letters. Although a later overprinted issue appeared on 17 January 1915, Greek stamps were generally used in Samos from 1914 onwards.


1914 to date

All the Aegean Islands except Castelrosso and the Dodecanese were unified with Greece following the second Balkan War. However, Castelrosso (Kastellorizo) was occupied by the French Navy on 27 December 1915. Initially it used stamps for the French Pos in the Levant, which are recognizable by the postmarks. Special overprinted stamps were issued by the French administration on 19 June 1920. These remained in use until 21 August 1920 when French forces were withdrawn.


In accordance with the Treaty of Sevres on 10 August 1920 Castelrosso was awarded to Italy. After a short transfer to Italian naval administration on 1 March 1921, it came under the rule of the governor of the Dodecanese in July 1922. Italian stamps overprinted for use in Castelrosso were issued on 11 July 1922. The island was transferred to Greece with the Dodecanese Islands by the Treaty of Paris in September 1947.


Long Island


FIRST STAMPS ISSUED



Small island, in the Gulf of Smyrna. Normally under Turkish rule, it was occupied by the British Navy in May 1916.


Local stamps were issued between 7 and 26 May 1916. They were typewritten and inscribed GRI LONG ISLAND. Turkish fiscal stamps were also overprinted GRI POSTAGE plus a new value in sterling. The status of these stamps is questionable as the British force would have had free postage.




Greece 1830-1922
Click map for larger view


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