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How to use the Stamp Atlas

The maps in this Atlas have been designed to illustrate and augment the text. In the main, they are based on political developments particularly with regard to changes in frontiers stemming from imperialism and conquest on the one hand, and independance movements on the other. Facts drawn from postal history are superimposed on this political background.

Where dates and comments have been used for general historical purposes, they are set within parentheses. Postal history information- as distinct from philatelic information- generally appears without parentheses.

Stamp (philatelic) information is symbolized thus:

Alternative Text Here

Shows dates when stamps on the maps were FIRST USED i.e. when a province or state began using stamps issued by another territory, usually an imperial or occupying power.

Alternative Text Here

Shows dates when stamps were FIRST ISSUED specifically for a province or state and, in some cases, towns.

Alternative Text Here

Shows dates when stamps were SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUED or re-issued for a particular territory, after a 'natural break' (for example, after a coup d'état). These dates tend to reflect particularly important events in the history of the country concerned.

Alternative Text Here

Shows when a Post Office or Postal Agency opened.

Other pertinent information is given in keys for each map.

All stamp information which appears on the maps is duplicated in the text for ease of reference.

The maps have been designed to demonstrate clearly the geographical and historical aspects of each region, with a main map in colour providing an overall outline at the opening of each continental section. Maps for individual countries or areas follow, and these incorporate the chronology of stamp isssues.

The European section differs slightly in style in that it incorporates a set of ten 'time-band' maps specially designed to show the ebb and flow of Empires and occupying powers from 1650 onwards as well as, after 1840, information on stamp issues. These are divided at major moments in history though there are, naturally, substantial compromises within the broader time spans.

Where possible place names using the Latin alphabet are given their indigenous form- e.g. København (indigenous) rather than Copenhagen (in English)- to emphasize the transitory nature of governments and occupying powers during the century and a half throughout which stamps have been issued, and during which the inscriptions appearing on stamps have reflected political changes.

All seas and other water names are shown in light italic type. Maps are orientated throughout with North to the top. The exceptions to this rule bear a North point.


For nearly all territories currency tables are included in the text which show the primary denomination and currency changes since stamps were first issued there. Such denominations often appear on the stamps themselves, hence their inclusion here.

Map Abbreviations

Austr. Australia
Auton. Autonomous
Belg. Belgium
Br. or Brit. British
BSA British South Africa
Bulg. Bulgaria
Cap. Capitol
Cr. Crown
Col. Colony
CPR Canadian Pacific Railway
Czech. Czechoslovakia
Comms. Communists
Dem. Rep. Democratic Republic
Den. Denmark
Domin. Dominion
Equat. Equatorial
Fr. French
GB Great Britain
Grk. Greek
Ger. Germany
Hung. Hungary
Ind. Independent
Ital. Italy
Jap. Japanese
King. Kingdom
Lith. Lithuania
Lux. Luxembourg
Mand. Mandate
Milit. Military
Nats. Nationalists
NSW New South Wales
NW North West
NZ New Zealand
Occ. Occupied
OFS Orange Free State
Ott. Emp. Ottoman Empire
Pen. Col. Penal Colony
Pol. Poland
Port. Portugal
PO Post Office
Prot. Protectorate
Rly. Railway
Rep. Republic
Sep. Col. Seperate Colony
Sard. Sardinia
Self. Govt. Self Government
SA South Africa
Terr. Territory
TPO Travelling Post Office
Unit. Neth. United Netherland
UK United Kingdom
UN United Nations
US United States

Apart from Europe, the treatment of the continents follows a similar pattern and deals with each country in turn. The sequence within each continent varies as appropriate. The American continent, including the Caribbean islands, is dealt with from north to south. Australia and New Zealand are followed by the Pacific Islands. Asia is covered from the Middle East eastwards to Japan. Africa is treated in a clockwise direction, commencing with North Africa. Finally, the territories in the South Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Antarctica round off the Atlas.

Europe, which opens the Atlas, is more complex. The wars of the 17th and succeeding centuries have given rise to massive and complicated boundary changes. The text for European countries, therefore, has been broken down into a series of ten time bands.

These bands have been selected so that the main changes in the principal countries can if necessary be considered together. The bands used are up to 1660, 1660-1793, 1793-1815, 1815-50, 1850-71, 1871-1914, 1914-18, 1918-39, 1939-45 and since 1945.

The story of each territory is narrated chronologically, but it can be cross-referenced to any other country by using similar time bands in other territories. At the beginning of the European section, there are 10 time band maps which graphically illustrate the changes which have occurred to that continent and reference to these from the text is desirable.

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