Memel Stamp Collecting

You may have a tough time identifying this stamp.

Memel Stamp for Stamp Collectors

Don’t feel badly,  because following World War I the Allied Powers had a tough time figuring out what to do with the country it comes from.

The stamp is from Memel, originally part of Prussia but heavily Lithuanian.  Following the First World War, Memel was detached from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles, and was administered by the French.

But this arrangement fell apart in less than three years.  During this time Memel never had stamps of its own but relied on overprints first of German, then French, and finally, Lithuanian stamps.  The stamp you see has a Lithuanian overprint.  Originally an Official, it was never actually released until it took on this overprint.

Memel is one of those “lost nations” where a stamp collector has a reasonable chance of actually assembling a complete collection.  Memel released roughly a hundred regular stamps of its own, along with a few dozen airmails, and another hundred occupation stamps.  There are all sorts of interesting issues, including inverted surcharges, double overprints, and other varieties.

The “Klaipeda” refers to both an alternate name used for Memel and a port city on the Baltic. Largely free of it ice, it has been a strategic harbor for centuries.

Klaipeda was seized by the Nazis in March, 1939.  When the Soviet Army marched into the city in 1945 it was a virtual ghost town.  The Russians invested heavily in the city’s waterfront during the 1950s, building extensive shipyards.

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