History of Ukrainian Postage Stamps


The early use of postage stamps on Ukrainian territories goes back to about the 19th. century. Postage stamps began to appear in the areas under Austro-Hungarian rule around 1850; and Russian rule about 1857.

In 1864, the Russian government allowed the issuance of zemstvo or local issues. From 1865 to 1917; a total of 790 zemstvo stamps were issued on Ukrainian territorities from 39 different locations.

After Ukraine proclaimed its independence in January 1918; Postal authorities issued an order to overprint all existing Russian stamps with the national emblem - the trident. To comply with the directive, each Postal District ( Kyiv, Poltava, Katernoslav, Kharkiv, Odessa and Podilia ) prepared several overprinting styles. By July 1918; each District had its own distincti size, colour and form of trident-overprint. Over 60 different varieties are known to exist.

On July 18th, 1918; the first definitive stamps were issued. They were the five-values shahy issue. These stamps were issued imperforate and were widely used for postage until 1920.

With the need to replace the trident overprint provisionals and to supplement the five-values shahy issues, a second definitive issue was printed during the Fall of 1918. When the supply of high-valued trident overprint provisionals nearly exhausted, the Ministry of Post released only the 20-hryvnia value to ease the shortage. Because of the high value of the 20-hryvnia stamp, its use was limited to the prepayment of postal money orders.

In June 1923; the Ukrainian SSR government issued a set of four semi-postal stamps. The surcharge on these stamps was intended for famine victims. These stamps were in circulation for less than a month.

After seceding from the Austro-Hungarian Empire (November 1st, 1918), the Western Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR) issued overprinted Austrian stamps. The first stamp ( an octagonal overprint showing the Halychynan lion emblem and the full name of ZUNR ) appeared in Lviv on November 20th, 1918. Subsequent stamps were produced in Kolomyia and a series of four issues was released in Stanyslaviv (Ivano-Frankivsk).

In 1941, Germany overprinted its 18-stamp definitive set with the single-line black overprint "Ukraine" for use in the Reichskommisariat Ukraine. These overprints were in postal circulation until late 1944, when those Ukrainian territories were recaptured by Soviet troops.

When Carpath-Ukraine declared its independence from Czechoslovakia (March 15th, 1939), it issued an overprint stamp. However, its independence was short-lived and the territory was administerd by Hungary. By the fall of 1944, the eastern-provinces of Carpatho-Ukraine were administered By Czechoslovakia, and in the areas to the west by the Ukrainian National Committee (UNC). Both jurisdictions issued overprinted Hungarian stamps. The UNC also released a series of definitive issues in 1945.

After the dissolutionment of the USSR in 1991; the newly independent Ukraine started issuing provisional stamps for several stamps in 1992. Ukraine's first commemorative stamps were issued in March 1992.