One of the most important areas of classic philately with many of the greatest names in stamp collecting having formed important collections.
The first Greek stamps were printed in Paris and issued on 1 October 1861 but the plates were subsequently transferred to Athens, where printings were produced from November 1861. These imperforate classical stamps are known by philatelists as the “Large Hermes Heads”.
In 1886 a smaller, less impressive design was issued called (you guessed it) the “Small Hermes Heads” series, initially printed in Belgium production moved to Athens and perforations in various gauges are known as well as imperforates. The first pictorial issue was for the 1896 First International Olympics, its classical Greek designs highly regarding amongst philatelists.
Perhaps the rarest stamp of Greece is from the Large Hermes Heads series, the 1870-71 40L ‘Solferino’ is an unusual lilac- rose colour apparently matching a shade created by the mixture of blood and tunic seen in the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino.
A turbulent history with many local uprisings saw the Turkish sultan propose a rectification of the frontiers in July 1878 and in the many conflicts that followed, the Balkan Wars, WWI and conflicts with Turkey we see many wonderful & unusual stamps issued!
WWII saw invasion by Italy and Germany but Greek stamps continued to be used throughout the territory until independence was regained in October 1944.
We recommend the stamp listings in the Stanley Gibbons Part 3 Balkans catalogue, also the Michel Volume 4 Sudost – Europa catalogue and the excellent Karamitsos Hellas catalogues of stamps and postal history Vols I – III.