Macedonian history as depicted on postage stamps

Not well known by most people is that the Macedonian revolutionary organization known by its symbols IMRO issued seven bi-colored stamps in 1906.  They featured the heraldic lion of Bulgaria with values in the Ottoman currency, pari. We do not know whether they were actually postally used  in one of the “liberated” areas or were printed for publicity purposes.  They are listed in some philatelic catalogs as being genuine.  One thing is certain, they are scarce.  I have never seen one.  A black and white copy of the  20 pari value is shown below.

(Left click on any image to view full size.)

IMRO Stamps 1906

In 1911 Turkey issued 52 postage stamps to commemorate the Sultan’s visit to Macedonia.  These were 13 different values with four overprints.  The Scott catalog lists only 18 (# 165-182).  They were overprinted Turkish newspaper stamps reading “Souvenir of the Sultan’s Journey, 1329” and the name of one of the four cities visited.  These four cities were “Monastir” (Bitola), “Pristina” (Pristina), “Salonique” (Thessalonikki), and “Uskub” (Skopje).  Three of the stamps are shown below with the Salonique, Monastir, and Uskub overprint.

Turkey (Scott 165-182)

In the Balkan wars of 1912-1913, Macedonia played a big part, not necessarily as a participant, but as a prize to the winner.  In 1921 Bulgaria issued a set of 7 stamps (Scott catalog # 153-157) picturing various scenes from Macedonia.  These stamps were intended to be issued in 1915 to commemorate the liberation of Macedonia.  They were not put in use until 1921. The 50 stotinki value is not recognized as being officially issued.

Bulgaria (Scott 153-157)

During the Second World War (September 8, 1944), Bulgaria overprinted 8 stamps to be used in the newly acquired Macedonian territory.  However, this was not to be.  They are listed in the Michel catalog as Macedonia #1-8.  The three high value stamps are inscribed “labor” and “joy”.

Macedonia (Michel 1-8)

To publicize the plight of the children of the civil war, Greece issued three stamps on February 1, 1949.  They are listed as Scott catalog #517-519.  They are starkly different from the normal Greek issues of that period.  The inscription reads “Pedomazoma”, which may be translated as “the gathering of the children”.

Greece (Scott 517-519)

On August 29, 1952, Greece issued four air mail stamps to commemorate the great victories of Grammos and Vitsi during the civil war of 1946-1949.  The Scott catalog lists them as #C67-C70.  Vitsi is the Greek name for the mountain that Chereshnitcheni call Vicho, next to Village Chereshnitsa.  Because of the inflationary period, the stamps have a face value of 1000, 1700, 2700, and 7000 drachmas.

Greece (Scott C67-70)

After the break up of Yugoslavia, The Republic of Macedonia started issuing stamps of its own.  Many of the early ones were meant to publicize health issues such as cancer research, etc.  The 1991 issue shows two zurna musicians, while the 1992 issue shows the new Macedonian flag.  Subsequently, the flag was changed, at the request of Greece, to less resemble the crown of Virgene.

Macedonia 1991 Zurna musicians

Macedonia 1992 flag stamps