Panayotis D. Cangelaris - Greek Diplomat and Collector
 

"THE WESTERN THRACE AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT "MUHTARIYET" ISSUE (1913)"

 Philatelic Exhibit

 

 This exhibit refers to the seven so called "Muhtariyet" handprinted stamps of whom the first two bear the inscription “Provisional Government” and the rest that of the “Autonomous Government”, all in Arab script.  It is divided in three main parts:

(1)  The "Muhtariyet" Stamps Issue
(2)  The "Muhtariyet" Stamps Safety Mark
(3)  The "Muhtariyet" Pre-Printed Envelopes and Cancels

[An introduction and a sample from the material contained in the exhibit are shown here]

 

Introduction

Following the Hellenic Army’s evacuation from Western Thrace in compliance to the Treaty of Bucharest (August 10, 1913) that awarded the region to Bulgaria, local inhabitants (Greek, Armenian, Jew and Muslim) joined forces and revolted (between August 16 and 19), occupied the cities of Gumuldjina (now Komotini) on August 31 and Isketche (now Xanthi) the following day (September 1) as well as the port of Dedeagatch (now Alexandroupolis) on September 3.  They then declared the short lived (Provisional later Autonomous) Government of Western Thrace, with Gumuldjina as its capital.  The Treaty of Constantinople (September 29), concluded only between Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (who left the local insurgents unprotected), removed the last obstacles and the Bulgarian Army entered the region (October 25-30, 1913), thus leading to the Autonomous Government’s end.

The Provisional Government consisted of the militaries Hadji Selim Samy Bey and Suleiman Askeri Bey, the civilians Reshid Bey, Raif Effendi and Hafous Salih Effendi (later senator of the Hellenic Republic), the Greek vicar general of the Bishopric of Maronia Nicodimos (later metropolitan of Grevena), the Armenian Migirditch Tabakian and the Jew Yaka Cassavi.  Hafous Gali (later member of the Hellenic Parliament) was named Secretary of State, while the Military Command was given to Eshref Bey Kushchubasi.  The latter was the initiator of the issuing of the Autonomous Government’s overprints (on Ottoman, Greek and Bulgarian stamps and stationery), as well as of these stamps.  He was an intelligent and highly educated Circassian military, who later commanded the Ottoman Forces in Libya (1914) assisted by his brother Hadji Selim Samy Bey, Mustafa Kemal Pasha and Emver Pasha.  He subsequently (1916) directed the massacres, deportations and forced marches against Greeks and Armenians (he admitted more than a million “purified” with an estimate of half a million killed) and was sent to the Hejaz, where he was captured during the Arab Revolt (1917).  After the war in Asia Minor (1919-1922) he disagreed with Kemal Atatürk and settled in the Island of Crete (Greece) to finally pass his last years at a very old age in his native Smyrna (now Izmir).

The change of the inscription (from “Provisional Government” to “Autonomous Government”) was due to the fear of eventual confusion and insecurity among the population.  The stamps were died by local engraver Halil Oglou Ali Moullah.  These same values were also printed on envelopes of different sizes and qualities and were sold either mint or pre-franked with negative Post and Telegraph Office cancels of the cities of Gumuldjina, Isketche and Dedeagatch.  They were issued between September 8 and October 6, 1913, in sixteen different printings.

Three types of ungummed and imperforate stamps were printed, some with a red circle (in Gumuldjina) or oval (in Dedeagatch) safety mark (1 piastre equalled 40 paras):

Type I:  1pi blue and 2pi violet with the “Provisional Government” inscription (large size)
Type II:  1pi blue and 2pi violet with the “Autonomous Government” inscription (large size)
Type III:  1pi violet, 10pa red and 20pa blue with the “Autonomous Government” inscription (small size)

 
 The "Muhtariyet" Stamps Issue
 
 
   

 The 1pi (violet), 10pa (red) and 20pa (blue) type III "Muhtariyet" stamps, small size, on plain unwatermarked paper.

 
 2pi (blue instead of violet) and 1pi (grey instead of blue) type II, large size, together with 20pa (red instead of blue) and 10pa (red) type III "Muhtariyet" stamps, small size, on watermarked pane.
 
 The "Muhtariyet" Stamps Safety Mark
 
 

 

 
1pi and 2pi type II "Muhtariyet" gutter pairs on piece, with oval safety marks, tied Dedeagatch.
 

 

 

 

 

 
  1pi pair and a 2pi on piece type II "Muhtariyet" stamps on vertically laid paper, with circle safety marks, tied Gumuldjina.
 
 
 1pi type II "Muhtariyet" stamp with circle safety mark on cover tied Gumuldjina, with transit bilingual meter stamp CONSTANTINOPLE Oct. 19, 1913 (on reverse) and arrival PARIS R.P. ETRANGER Oct. 24, 1913 cds.
 
 1pi and 2pi type II "Muhtariyet" stamps with circle safety mark on cover tied Gumuldjina and arrival SMIRNE (UFFICIO ITALIANO) Oct. 27, 1913 cds (on reverse).
 
 
 The "Muhtariyet" Pre-Printed Envelopes and Cancels
 
 
 1pi type I "Muhtariyet" pre-printed envelope (111X143 mm) with added pair of 20pa Ottoman stamps on transit tied ANDRINOPLE Sept. 24, 1913 bilingual meter mark CONSTANTINOPLE Sept. 26, 1913 and SCUTARI cds of the following day (on reverse).
 
 
 
 1pi type I "Muhtariyet" pre-printed "ELEGANT" envelope (111X143 mm) tied Dedeagatch with arrival SMIRNE (UFFICIO ITALIANO) Oct. 27, 1913 cds (on reverse).
 
 
 
 1pi type I "Muhtariyet" pre-printed "PANAMA" envelope (111X143 mm) tied Gumuldjina addressed to Smyrna
 
 
 
 2pi type II "Muhtariyet" pre-printed "DISCRET" envelope (110X143 mm) tied Dedeagatch with Constantinople arrival cds in Arab script (on reverse).
 
 
 
 1pi and 2pi type II "Muhtariyet" pre-printed envelope (117X180 mm) tied Gumuldjina.
 
 
 
 1pi type I "Muhtariyet" pre-printed envelope (111X143 mm) tied Isketche (red cancel) addressed to Proussa (Bursa) with transit bilingual meter mark CONSTANTINOPLE Oct. 16, 1913, redirected to SCUTARI with new transit bilingual meter mark CONSTANTINOPLE Oct. 19, 1913 (on reverse) and final destination arrival bilingual cds.
 
 
 
 2pi type II "Muhtariyet" pre-printed "DISCRET" envelope (110X145 mm) tied Isketche (black cancel) with arrival bilingual GALATA-ARRIVÉE cds (on reverse).
 
 
 2pi type II "Muhtariyet" pre-printed yellow-brown envelope (128X195 mm) tied Isketche (blue cancel) addressed to Gumuldjina.
 
 

To view the full exhibit online, please click here

To view a related article, please click:

Gumuldjina 1913

 

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