The Kingdom of Serbia


For the issue of 1880-1890 go to the page of the Principality of Serbia.

The Second Definitive Issue of the King Alexander Stamps

Constant varieties
CONSTANT VARIETIES
I Serbia 1898 postage stamp plate error White spot below the first letter A in ПАРА (the 1898 issue on plain white paper).
PERFORATIONS
I Perforation shift 1 para, brick red:
Combined perforation: 13: 13 ½

 

The King Alexander Issue of 1901-1903

Printed in Belgrade State Printers (Državna štamparija) in letterpress. Paper regular, perforation line 11½.

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
1 Color spill. Serbia postage stamp error color spill

 

25 June 1903. Definitive issue (provisional), effigy of King Alexander Obrenović overprinted with coat of arms.

In the coup of 1903 King Alexander and Queen Draga were assassinated by a group of officers. At that time the new stamps, designed by E. Mouchon were already printed in Paris. Provisional Government demonetized all stamps bearing portrait of the unpopular king. As soon as the stamps arrived from Paris they were overprinted in Belgrade by the Royal Coat of Arms in two types of overprints:

  1. the 12 mm wide and 15 mm high overprint was used for para values, and
  2. the 10 mm wide and 14 mm high overprint for dinar values.

Overprinting was first done in lithography but that method was abandoned as the sheets stated to curl and glue together. The remaining stamps were then overprinted in letterpress. The entire stock of 1 and 20 para stamps were overprinted in lithography, other para values in both lithography and letterpress and dinar values in letterpress only.

TYPES OF OVERPRINTS
Serbia 1903 postage stamp lithography
1 and 20 para stamps were overprinted in lithography only

Serbia 1903 postage stamp typography
Cross appears as a circle

Serbia 1903 postage stamp letterpress back
Back: visible outlines of overprint: back

Serbia 1903 postage stamp letterpress front
Front

It is impossible to reliably distinguish between overprints made in lithography and in letterpress. Nothing on this matter has been found in available literature.

Some specialists, however, state that one of the indicators that might distinguish between the methods is the form of the cross on top of the Royal Coat of Arms. Allegedly, in lithography, the cross tends to be thin and neatly defined and in letterpress more circular in form and in some “extreme” cases, in form of a circle.

Sometimes the pressure applied in letterpress overprinting was such that it deformed the paper and a pattern in form of the overprint could be observed at the back of the stamp. The pattern is visible only on unused stamps with original gum but not in all cases of letterpress overprints.

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
1 5 din, yellow brown
Missing perforation to the right
Missing perforation

 

The Coronation Issue

A special set of stamps commemorating the crowning of King Peter I Karađorđević and the centenary of the first Serbian uprising under Đorđe Petrović – Karađorđe (the King’s grandfather) was issued on the day of the coronation, 8 September 1904.

Serbia 1904 death mask postage stamp
“The death mask of Aleksandar”,
the hidden design.

Stamps were printed by Belgrade State Printers (Državna štamparija) in letterpress on thin, smooth, transparent paper. Perforation line 11½. The sheets consisted of 100 stamps, divided by a vertical and horizontal gutter, dividing the sheet in 4 panes of 25 stamps each. Gutters between denominations were of different height, for this reason sheets are of different sizes.

Contemporary philatelists noticed that when the stamps with portraits are turned upside down a ghostly face may be seen in the space where the two heads overlap. Many stmap collectors believe that this is the death mask of Aleksandar I Obrenović, the assassinated king, the coincidence has been attributed to macabre humor of Jovanović, the designer.

FORGERIES
I Serbia Kingdom 1904 postage stamp forgery
Original on top, forgery below.
5 para
10 para
25 para
50 para
1 dinar
Forgeries:

  • print crude, fine lines and outlines uneven, image blurry,
  • minor color spills.

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
1 Partly imperforate. Serbia 1904 postage stamp perforation error
Serbia 1904 postage stamp

 

Definitive Issue “King Peter Bareheaded”

Stamps were printed by Belgrade State Printers (Državna štamparija) in letterpress in two operations: the frames in different colors were done first then the medallion in black. Stamps were printed in sheets of 100 which were separated by a horizontal gutter to forms 2 panes of 50 stamps.

During the almost 7 years these stamps were in use, they were reprinted several times. Printings can be differed by types of papers, perforations and widths of horizontal gutters. It has to be mentioned that a small quantity of 5 para stamp of the first printing was comb perforated 12 x 11½ and a small quantity of 1 para and 1 dinar stamp of the second printing line perforated 11½.

PRINTINGS 1st
Jan.1905
2nd
Oct.1905
3rd
1905
4th
1908
5th
1910
6th
1911
Paper: thin thick wove, pre gummed soft porous thick, horizontally laid smooth, slightly transparent, medium thick thick, vertically laid
Perforation: line 11½ comb 12 x 11½
Appearance: dark colors design blurred
Denomination Quantity printed
1 para 7.160.300 x x x x x
5 para 28.404.200 x x x x x
10 para 26.147.800 x x x x x
15 para 2.409.100 x x x x x
20 para 2.968.000 x x x x x
25 para 4.721.800 x x x x x
30 para 2.463.000 x x x x x
50 para 3.244.800 x x x x x
1 din 857.600 x x
3 din 117.400 x x
5 din 146.200 x x

 

FORGERIES
I Serbia King Peter postage stamp forgery
Original to the left, forgery to the right.
1 para
5 para
10 para
15 para
20 para
25 para
30 para
50 para
1 dinar
3 dinara
Forgeries:

  • printed in lithography,
  • regular paper with net structure,
  • perforation crude, pinholes smaller,
  • overall larger in format,
  • numerals thinner, as if made by hand.

 

King Peter with Cap Issues.

The stamps were designed by Miodrag Marković, modeled after a photograph of King Peter of Serbia. Stamps were printed by Belgrade State Printers in typography on medium thick chalk surfaced paper in sheets of 100, divided in two panes having 50 stamps each (5X10). The panes were divided by horizontal gutter in height of a stamp. Perforation comb 12 x 11½.

The 5, 10 and 25 para stamps were issued on 11 June 1911, the 1 para in August, the 2 para in September, the 15 para in October, the 20 para in November, the 30 and 50 para and dinar values were issued on 26 December 1911.

Due to reports of allegedly forged 20 para stamp at the end of 1913 the Minister in charge ordered demonetization of the 1911 issue as of 28 January 1914 and printing of a new issue in all values from the 5 para up, using the old cliches and new colors. The same paper as before was used, the same layout of the sheet, the same perforation. Due to the outbreak of World War I, the issue of 1914 was never achieved, especially the 3 dinara stamp of which only 7.000 copies were completed.

During the war original cliches were stolen and still exist somewhere in private hands. Using these cliches excellent forgeries of all values were produced, perforated and imperforate, also in different colors. Forgeries were most probably produced in many runs over the years.

FORGERIES
Serbia postage stamp forgery King Peter issue
The original stamp and perforated and imperforate forgeries.Serbia, postage stamp forgery detail
Detail: precision of printing (original on the left side).
Examples
(the first stamp from the left is original):1911:
1 para
2 pare
10 para
15 para
25 para
30 para
1 dinar
3 dinara1914:
5 para
10 para
15 para
20 para
25 para
30 para
50 para
1 dinar
5 dinara
The forgeries, produced from original cliches are in every way similar to original stamps. They have similar appearance, they are printed in the same technique on similar chalky paper and having the same perforation as the originals. They are very dangerous, especially when mixed up with original stamps. There are, however, several indices that make forgeries stand out:

  • Quality of manufacturing: On original stamps lines in the background are even and straight, boxes on top with denominations have straight lines and corners with right angles. Most (but not all) of the forgeries have uneven, fuzzy background lines, boxes on top have uneven rounded angles. In most (but not all) cases the outer frame of the stamp is thin whereas on the original stamp the outer frame is always thicker than the inner frame.
  • Paper: most of the forgeries have slightly thicker paper than originals.
  • Gum: in some cases, the paper of forged stamps absorbed the gum, making the paper appear yellowish, the gum is matt, the back of the stamp is brownish. The most of the forgeries, however, have very similar gum as the originals. The gum of the originals is white and glossy, sometimes uneven and sometimes cracked.
  • Colors: many times the forgeries have different color shades than the originals, forgeries were also printed in different colors.

Forgeries can also be distinguished by minor flaws in plates (numeral 5 on 5 dinar forgery is damaged, enclosed boxes with inscription ПАРА, damaged upper right frame on 1 dinar stamps, etc).

 

POSSIBLE TYPES
1 Dark spot on King’s cheek, observed only on 15 para stamps of both issues. Serbia postage stamp type King PeterSerbia postage stamp type King Peter

 

POSSIBLE CONSTANT VARIETIES
Issues of 1911: 5 para
1 Lower frame broken. Serbia 1911 postage stamp error broken frame
Issues of 1914: 15 para
1 Colored line between vertical pairs. Kingdom of Serbia, postage stamp error Colored line between vertical pairs
2 Lower frame broken. Kingdom of Serbia, postage stamp error Lower frame broken
3-4 Dots in field. Kingdom of Serbia, postage stamp error Dots in field
Issues of 1911: 30 para
1 The upper right corner sags to the right, lower right corner damaged. Serbia 1911 postage stamp 30 para error

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
The 1911 issue
1 Stamps from the first vertical row are often double perforated. Kingdom of Serbia, postage stamp error double perforation

 

NON-POSTAL USAGE
A Used as emergency money after WWI in the city of Osijek. Overprinted values in Austro-Hungarian currency: 10, 20, 40 and 50 filler denominations exist. Kingdom of Serbia, postage stamp as emergency money

 

The Newspaper Stamps of 1911

The stamps were originally issued as labels with purpose of fund raising for the Union of Serbian Journalists. They were sold on Whit Sunday fair (Trojički sabor) between 30. May and 3 June 1908. Values from 1 to 25 para were sold at the price of 5 para each, the 30 para to 5 dinara values at 20 para each. The post office canceled them with a special round postmark that contained the date and inscription Тројички сабор-Београд Ада. Very few labels were sold as collectors showed little interest in them.

The design depicts a seated woman (allegory of Serbia) with a shield with letters CHY (Србско Новинарско Удружење – Union of Serbian Journalists) inscribed on it. Labels were printed for the Union by Belgrade State Printers in typography, perforation 11½. Due to misunderstanding the sheets contained 50 stamps instead of 100 and a second printing was prepared at the insistence of the Union, hence the differences in color. The cliches consisted of 2-3 parts:

  1. the main cliche depicting the allegory of Serbia was used to print all values,
  2. the lower cliche to imprint the denominations,
  3. the upper cliche to imprint inscription ТРОЈ. САБОР on top of the half of the stamps in the first row (fields 6-10).

As the sales at Whit Sunday fair were disappointing the Union leaders attempted to salvage their work by gaining philatelic recognition. By intervention of the Minister of Construction the stamps were made legal for use to frank newspapers at the option of the public. The unsold stock was overprinted with state coat of arms in black color and issued on the 1 December 1911. Only stamps of 1 to 25 para were sold at the main post office and Postal Depot while the entire quantity of 30 para to 5 dinar were kept by the Union. In order to legalize the 30 para to 5 dinar stamps, 25 copies of each were placed in the Postal Depot where they were put on sale. These are the only Serbian stamps not issued for postal use.

The stamps were demonetized on 16 November 1912.

VII. regular stamp with overprint, traces of inscription ТРОЈ. САБОР on top (fileds 6-10)

TYPES
Serbia, Trojički sabor stamp types
Types I., IV., V
Serbia, Trojički sabor Trojički sabor poštanska marka
Types VI, VII
Types:
I. regular stamp without overprint
II. regular stamp without overprint, inscription ТРОЈ. САБОР on top (fileds 6-10)
III. regular stamp without overprint, blank space on top (fileds 1-5)
IV. regular stamp with overprint
V. regular stamp with overprint, inscription ТРОЈ. САБОР on top (fileds 6-10)
VI. regular stamp without overprint, traces of inscription ТРОЈ. САБОР on top (fileds 6-10)
VII. regular stamp with overprint, traces of inscription ТРОЈ. САБОР on top (fileds 6-10)

 

POSSIBLE CONSTANT VARIETIES (not mentioned in literature)
5 para
1 Colored spot next to the left border. Srbija, Trojički sabor marka
30 para
1 Damaged denomination box. Serbia, 30 para newspaper stamp
1 dinar
1 White triangular spot between letters Н and А in ДИНАР. Serbia 1911 newspaper stamp error 1 dinar

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES APPEARING ON ALL VALUES
1 Inverted overprint (appears on all values). Serbia 1911 newspaper stamp inverted overprint

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
5 para
1 Perforation error. Serbia 1911 Trojicki sabor stamp perforation error
10 para
1 Horizontally imperforate. Trojički sabor, 10 para, imperforate
20 para
1 Wrong cliche inserted in a sheet: 50 para instead of 20 para (stamp in the center), field 27. Serbia 1911 newspaper stamp wrong cliche 50 para instead of 20 para

 

Commemorative Issue “King Peter in the Battlefield”

The stamps of this issue commemorate a decisive Serbian victory at the Kolubara river against the invading armies of Austria-Hungary in World War I.

Stamps were designed after a photograph of King Peter observing the battle of Garevica by war photographer V. Černov. The King is sitting on a stone behind trenches, behind him stand Crown Prince Aleksandar, holding a map, Stepan “Stepa” Stepanović, Commander of the Army, holding binoculars and king’s Aide-de-Camp, Lieutenant Colonel Knežević.

Stamps were printed in letterpress by State Printers (Državna štamparija) in Niš, which was then the seat of government. Stamps were printed in sheets of 100 (10×10) on medium thick chalky paper and were line perforated 11½.

Many post offices never received this issue because of the raging war. Only the 5 and 10 para stamps were used, those postmarked “Obrenovac” were canceled for philatelic purposes. Other denominations were used by the local population for small change, which was very scarce. During the war the cliches and unfinished sheets fell into enemy hands, which is how the proofs on medium thick paper came to be prepared in Germany.

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
1 Perforation error. Serbia 1915 5 para perforation shift 1
2 Horizontally shifted perforation. Serbia 1915 5 para perforation shift 1 Serbia 1915 King Peter on Battlefield stamp perforation error
3 Double perforation to the left. Serbia 1915 postage stamp perforation error

 

POSSIBLE CONSTANT VARIETIES
1 Colored spot below letter С in СРБИЈА. Serbia 1915 postage stamp error

 

The Corfu Issue

During the World War I, the Serbian government moved to Greek island of Corfu where a post office was formed. For private mail French stamps with Serbian postmarks and with occasional POSTES SERBES cancellation were used.

The Paris Print of the Corfu issue

Anticipating the liberation of country the authorities at Corfu ordered a new issue of stamps to be printed in France. The so called “Paris Print of the Corfu issue” appeared in September 1918, while the Serbian government was still on Corfu. Stamps were designed and engraved by Nikola Jeremić with the assistance by Paré, the French engraver and printed in letterpress by State Printing Works in Paris. The stamps were issued on 1 October 1918 but were not sold to the public until June 1919.

THE PARIS PRINT OF THE CORFU ISSUE
Appearance clear and clean
Paper white, medium mesh paper with net structure
Perforation line 11
Gum grayish
Denomination Color Quantity printed
1 para black 736.000
2 pare olive brown 1.469.000
5 para green 4.048.000
10 para red 4.195.000
15 para dark brown 287.000
20 para red brown 293.000
25 para blue 724.000
30 para olive 731.000
50 para violet 733.000
1 dinar chocolate 44.000
3 dinara bluish green 45.000
5 dinara red brown 43.000

 

CONSTANT VARIETIES Field number
I Serbia 1918 50 para perforation shifts Missing letter И in ДИН to the left. ?

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
2 para
1 Partially imperforate. Serbia 1918 2 para partially imperforate
10 para
1 Partially imperforate. Serbia 1918 10 para partially imperforate
2 Double perforation. Serbia 1918 10 para double perforation
50 para
1 Shifted perforation. Serbia 1918 50 para perforation shifts
2 Horizontally imperforate. Serbia 1918 50 para partially imperforate
1 dinar
1 Double perforation horizontally. Serbia 1918 1 dinar horizontal double perforation
2 Imperforate at the bottom. Serbia Corfu issue perforation error stamp

 

SPECIAL POSTAL USAGE
1 Halved stamp, postmark Obrenovac 21.3.1919.
Halved stamp, postmark Obrenovac 26.6.1919.
Serbia 1918 10 para halved on fragment Serbia 1918 20 para halved on fragment

 

The First Belgrade Printing of the Corfu Issue

The so called “First Belgrade Printing of the Corfu Issue” was carried out with the original cliches received from Paris, when the supply of 1, 15, 20 para and 1 dinar stamps ran short. Stamps were printed by Belgrade State Printers (Državna štamparija) in letterpress between 30 September 1919 and 4 January 1920. As there were difficulties with supply of ink the stamps were printed in changed colors. There were 50 stamps in a sheet (10×5), they had a horizontal and a vertical gutter. The stamps with para denominations had horizontal control lines in the upper and the lower margin. The 1 dinar stamp had no control lines.

THE FIRST BELGRADE PRINTING OF THE CORFU ISSUE
Appearance blurry, finer details lost
Paper white, thicker
Perforation line 11½, very rough
Gum white
Denomination Color Quantity printed
1 para gray 60.000
15 para dull brown 53.000
20 para violet 117.000
1 dinar yellow brown 65.000

 

CONSTANT VARIETIES
1 para Field number
I Serbia 1920 1 para hook error White hook 15

 

The Second Belgrade Printing of the Corfu issue

The stamps of the “Second Belgrade Printing of the Corfu issue” was printed several times in 1920. The perforation 11½ is ether rough or clean and sharp. Stamps of the Corfu Issue were in use in Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia from 1 October 1918 to 15 April 1921. On Corfu they were valid until March 1919.

THE SECOND BELGRADE PRINTING OF THE CORFU ISSUE
Appearance blurry, finer details lost
Perforation line 11½, either rough or clean and sharp (and combinations)
Denomination Color Quantity printed Paper Control lines
1 para black 736.000 very thin pelure 1st printing: 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
2nd printing: two 2 mm thick lines on the left and 12 lines 4mm wide on the right
2 pare yellow brown 1.469.000 very thin pelure front back
very thin pelure porous paper which is absorbing the gum and makes it look greasy front back
1st printing: 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
2nd printing: two 2 mm thick lines on the left and 12 lines 4mm wide on the right
5 para green 4.048.000 thick white,
smooth yellowish
early printings: 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
latter printings: 2 lines 1mm thick on the upper part of the left margin, on the lower part and on the right margin 12 thin lines 4 mm wide
10 para red 4.195.000 thick white,
smooth yellowish
2 lines 1mm thick on the upper part of the left margin, on the lower part and on the right margin 12 thin lines 4 mm wide
15 para dark brown 287.000 thick white,
thin porous paper giving oily impression
stamp on thin paper: single lines on both sides 4 mm thick
20 para red brown 293.000 thick white
thin porous giving oily impression
12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
25 para blue 724.000 thick white
thin porous giving oily impression
Printed 4 times with 3 different types of border lines
30 para olive 731.000 normal thick paper 1st printing: 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
50 para violet 733.000 normal thick paper 1st printing: 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
1 dinar chocolate 44.000 normal white,
smooth yellow
12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
3 dinara bluish green 45.000 normal white paper 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins
5 dinara red brown 43.000 smooth yellowish paper left border line: 12 lines 4mm wide on side margins and two 1 mm lines; on the right border one 3½ mm line.

 

POSSIBLE CONSTANT VARIETIES
1 para
1 Triangle to the right side close to the frame. A triangle close to the frame
50 para
1 Letters В and И in КРАЉЕВИНА damaged. Serbia 1920 postage stamp flaw
5 dinara
1 Frame below letter И in КРАЉЕВИНА broken. Serbia 1920 postage stamp broken frame

 

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
5 para
1 Overinking to the left. Serbia postage stamp overinking error
10 para
1 Double perforation horizontally. Serbia, second Belgrade printing of the Corfu issue - overinking error
20 para
1 Vertically imperforate. Serbia 1920 20 para partially imperforate
25 para
1 Double perforation horizontally. Serbia 1920 25 para double perforation

 

Postage Dues


1 April 1895. Postage dues, Royal Coat of Arms.

Printed in letterpress by Belgrade State Printers (Državna štamparija) on granite paper, perforation line 11&frac12, the 5 para stamp also in comb 13 X 13½. Printed in sheets of 100 (10×10) with horizontal and vertical gutters (4 panes of 25 stamps).

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
1 Wrong color: rose instead of red lilac. About 10 sheets of 5 para stamps were printed in color of 50 para stamp. They were not issued, used copies have favor cancels. Serbia 1895 postage due error: wrong color

 

20 August 1898/1904. Postage dues, Royal Coat of Arms.

Printed in letterpress by Belgrade State Printers (Državna štamparija) on ordinary white paper, perforation line 11&frac12. Printed in sheets of 100 (10×10) with horizontal and vertical gutters (4 panes of 25 stamps).

COINCIDENTAL VARIETIES
1 By error an inverted cliche was inserted at the 98th field of 20 para sheet. Serbia 1898 postage due inverted cliche

 

References


Bibliography

  1. Kardosh, Dr. Velizar M., The Principality of Serbia: postal History and Postage Stamps (1830-1882). ISBN 3-9521083-1-6.
  2. Katalog poštanskih maraka jugoslovenskih zemalja (1991), Jugomarka (Belgrade). YU ISSN 0351-4447
  3. Rasic R., Mirko (1979): The Postal History and Postage Stamps of Serbia. The Collectors Club Handbook No. 25, published by The Theodore E. Steinway Memorial Publication Fund. ISBN 0-912574-25-9.

Contributors
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