In the early years of the twentieth century, a favorite country for stamp counterfeiters to play havoc with was Albania.
Born into the chaos that swept across Europe with the outbreak of World War I, Albania released its first stamps in June of 1913. They were crude overprints stamped by hand on a Turkish stamp from 1908.
Through the bedlam of the next six months, Albania would release 40 stamps, and virtually all of them have been counterfeited. Because the early issues were hand stamped, this was not terribly complex.
To make matters more complicated, hand stamps were applied in different colored inks and in different positions.
Every stamp Albania released up until November of 1913 is a rarity, difficult to find today.
Collectors who specialize in this realm take on ample intrigue. Many of the counterfeits were extremely well done. The most sought after stamp from this era is a hand stamp on a Turkish postage due, which was used for regular postage.
The end of the war did not bring an end to the counterfeiting. Albania’s issue of 1924 was widely counterfeited. So were two sets in 1925.
But by the end of the twenties the counterfeiting had died down. By the end of the thirties, Albania was producing stamps in massive quantities. During the forties, both the Italians and the Germans occupied the country, and each issued sets of stamps.
The Italians took the opportunity to depict King Victor Emmanuel II while the Germans, who controlled Albania for just thirteen months, released overprints of the Italian stamps.
The outburst of counterfeiting resumed briefly with at least one set after the end of World War II.
During the 1960s, some of the most sought after stamps by topical collectors who collect space were issued by Albania. At the time, the country was firmly in the Soviet Orbit of influence, and was regularly commemorating the achievements of Russia’s cosmonauts.
In more recent years, Albania has released a set of stamps honoring U.S. President George W. Bush, and curiously, a stamp depicting the late actor John Belushi, who is of Albanian descent.
I try to keep some interesting Albania material in my stock, and invite you to take a look and see if there is something that may be of interest to you.