A Republic between Sweden and Russia, which had been under the control of one or other of its more powerful neighbours until the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917. Stamps of the country are inscribed 'Suomi' meaning 'The land of fens and lakes'. A public postal service in Finland was introduced two years after the Swedish service, in 1638. Eventually, the Finnish postal service was extended to all the ports round the Gulf of Bothnia.
After the formation of the Grand Duchy under Russia, foreign mail to and from Finland was routed through St Petersburg. In 1812 Finland's postal service was reorganized on Russian lines and the first hand-struck postal markings were introduced. Stamped stationery was issued by Finland in 1845 and showed the coat-of-arms of the duchy on the back flap. The first stamps were issued on 3rd March 1856, the currency was Russian but they pre-dated the first Russian stamps by two years. These imperforate stamps were the same designs as those impressed on the 1850–58 postal stationery envelopes and care should be taken not to confuse them with cut-out examples from these envelopes. The first major design change came with the famous 1860–67 “Serpentine Roulette” stamps, so-named due to their uniquely large perforation teeth created by cutting, rather than punching the paper.
During World War I Finland supported Russia until the Bolshevik Revolution. On 20th July 1917 Finland declared its independence from Russia. The first stamps for the independent country appeared on 1st October 1917. Finnish Communists or 'Red Guards' seized Helsinki on 23rd January 1918 and a civil war broke out. The Communists were defeated following German intervention in April. Finnish independence was finally gained on 14th October 1920. After WW2 Finland has remained an independent republic and continues to print beautiful stamps. We recommend the excellent stamp listings in the Stanley Gibbons Part 11 “Scandinavia” catalogue and the FACIT “Frimarkskatalog Special” which is specialised and bilingual, including English.