The world’s first stamps to depict a synagogue and employ the Yiddish Language with the Hebrew aleph-bet.
In the early part of the twentieth century the city of Luboml (Libivne in Yiddish) was a thriving market and commercial centre approximately 200 miles south-east of Warsaw.
In an era of constantly shifting national borders finding itself then situated in Poland close to the Ukrainian border and at the time under Russian rule. After the outbreak of World War l, in 1915 this territory was occupied by Austria and a basic postal service was provided by the Austrian “Etappenpostampt” (Military stage postal service). Postal deliveries were made to key post offices but not to individual private addresses.
Towards the end of World War One after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the withdrawal of Austrian troops, Poland gradually regained much of its former territory and ultimately on November 7, 1918 a provisional government of the Polish people was declared at Lublin. Germany officially recognised the independence of the portion of their formerly controlled territory including Warsaw and the new Republic of Poland was established at the formal cessation of hostilities on November 11, 1918.
In the months leading up to the end of the War however, many Polish city postal authorities began to run out of stamps. Also with the withdrawal of German and Austrian authorities, they felt unsure as to the validity of their postage stamps for the conveyance of mails. Some authorities began overprinting any remaining postage stamps on hand with the words “Poczta Polska” (Polish Postage) while others decided (in the as yet absence of national Polish postage stamps) to issue unique interim or provisional “city postage” stamps of their own.
As with Warsaw, Lodz and many other significant Polish cities, Luboml took a decision to issue postage stamps of its own. In September 1918 the Luboml administration ordered stamps from the printing company Unia in Prague.
THE STAMPS’ DESIGNS
The population of the City of Luboml in 1918 was what we today would call multicultural. Of the population of over 5,000, the majority were Jews and the remainder Poles, Ukrainians and Germans. Historical records show that at that time, all population groups lived together in relative harmony and in tolerance of one another’s religions, cultural backgrounds and languages. During the Austrian occupation of World War l the city in fact had a Jewish Mayor! The multicultural nature of the population was in turn fairly reflected in the designs of the proposed new stamps. There is no record of the designer of the stamps but presumed to be a local artist familiar with the city’s notable buildings and views.
The designs depicted typical Luboml city scenes and in each of the four sides of the stamp in a border, was printed the name of the issuing authority (City of Luboml) in each of the four major languages of the residents of the city:
POLISH — Pocztamiejska w Lubomlu (Luboml City Postage)
GERMAN— Stadtpost Luboml (City Post Luboml)
YIDDISH— Shtotpost Luboml (City post Luboml in Hebrew alphabet)
UKRAINIAN— Minska Poczta Lubomni (City Post of Luboml in Cyrillic alphabet)
The value numerals were inserted within the border of the stamp either in the corners or in the centre in the case of the 50h value.
5h (halerzy/heller or groszy)
Value: Light Green.
Rate for local postcards
Design: Easterly view of the Great Synagogue of Luboml
10h value. Red
Rate for local letters, or for postcards sent outside the city
Design: View of the market place and stores
20h value. Dark Green
Rate for letters sent outside the city
Design: View of the Town Square
25h value. Dark Blue as well as an Olive green variety.
Rate for packets
Design: View of the Catholic Church
50h value. Grey-Green
Rate for packets sent outside the city, or additional weight packets
Design: Greek Orthodox (Pravoslav) Church
THE STAMPS and THEIR LAYOUT
Each value was printed in a pane of twelve (6×2) stamp spaces with two panes per sheet. The sheet measures 177×150 mm. In each pane, ten stamps were printed normally and one with a variety showing inverted numerals. These appear in all sheets and for all values, which would indicate that these “errors” were contrived for the benefit of stamp collectors. Adjacent to the stamp with the “variety” was a blank stamp space for unknown reason, unless to facilitate the easy removal of the stamp with the “error/variety”.
It would appear that the printing press used was only a small one and each sheet had to be printed half (one pane) at a time, turning the sheet 180° to facilitate the printing of the second half. One therefore finds all values of the stamps tête bêche with a gutter in between.