Apsit 

 Latvian
 Map
 Stamps

Latvian map stamps - the German WWI infantry maps used

In November of 1918 the new Latvian government placed an order with the Schnaekenburg printing plant in Riga for 3,000,000 postage stamps, to be printed on the backs of German World War I infantry maps. Although there was a severe wartime shortage of paper, there was a surplus of war maps with excellent paper quality. These maps were from the series Karte des westlichen Rußlands. Janis Ronis[†], who was a boy at the time, remembers seeing these maps used to wrap fish in the Riga market.

The stamps were printed on the unprinted backs of unfinished maps. The backs of finished maps were printed with the map ID and location name, such as “R18. Rakischki.”; the printing on the back also often included text “RUSSLANDS” and “1 : 100 000”. The edgesof finished maps were also trimmed, making them slightly smaller than unfinished maps, and finished maps were folded into sixths, so that the map ID and location name appeared on top.

Printed sheets of map stamps had 12 rows of 19 stamps, for 228 stamps per sheet. This unusual format was to make good use of the total size of map sheets. A total of about 11,000 maps were printed with Latvia's first stamp. Somewhat over half were imperforate. Most perforated maps had ordinary perforation holes, but some had large perforation holes.

Between mid-November and the beginning of January 1919 [when the government of Latvia evacuated to Liepāja when Soviet forces occupied Riga], each delivery of stamp sheets included both “gummed” and “perforated” sheets. Researchers take “gummed” to also mean imperforate.

Some sources state that imperforate sheets were the result of a broken perforating machine. This seems unlikely, since all deliveries up to the beginning of January 1919 included both “gummed” and “perforated” sheets. Some sources believe the sheets with large perforation holes were the earliest perforated sheets.

These maps show much of southern and eastern Latvia and most of Lithuania. Zero longitude on these maps is Ferro [Spanish Hierro], the town at the west of the Canary Islands. In the second century Claudius Ptolemy, who first divided longitudes into minutes and seconds, chose Ferro as the prime meridian because it was the western edge of his known world.

Although Germany and Russia were among the countries agreeing in 1884 on the Greenwich standard, many of their maps used other prime meridians for many years. The table below shows Greenwich longitudes above the Ferro longitudes which appear on the maps.

 

maps used to print Latvia's first stamps

 

[To print this table of maps in its full width try changing the Orientation to Landscape or selecting Shrink To Fit.]

Key

1917 R = date 1917 at lower right of the map
1917 L = date 1917 at lower left of the map
1917 M = date 1917 at lower middle of the map
x2 = map with 2 known varieties [x3 = 3 varieties]
#3 = V. Kent reported 3 copies in Kollekcionārs 14, June 1963ff
Tr = map top usually cut off

This table shows that stamps were printed on about half the maps of Germany's <II West> area and on all maps of <II Ost>. No stamps are known on maps of other areas, despite early reports that included them.

We know of 68 maps from the areas<II Ost> and <II West> used for printing Latvian stamps. Of these, map H14 is known only with doubly-printed imperforate proofs, first reported by Jan Poulie. Most of map H14 has no printing, with unmarked sea area, so many doubly-printed proofs show only unprinted map paper on the reverse.

More than one edition of some maps were printed with stamps. There are editions of most of these maps which are not known with stamps.

N17 - dated 1915; dated 1917.
O16 - dated 1915; dated 1916; dated 1917.
P17 - dated 1915; dated 1917; undated.
R15 - type Ia only; type Ia and Ib
S18 - type IIa and Ia; type Ia only
T15 - language not given; language as Latvian.
T17 - language not given; language as Latvian.
T18 - language not given; language as Latvian.

Adding these 10 editions, we know of 78 different editions of the maps used for printing Latvia's first stamps.

The maps used [Latvian or Lithuanian town name]

H14. Strandhof. {known only double-printed},
       type Ia and III, possibly 1917 M.
H16. Libau (Süd). [Latvian Liepāja],
       type Ia and IV, Polnische,
       {the sea area contains the text OST- in reverse italic
       as well as numerals showing sea depths},
       July 1916 [B.716 in lower right corner].
H17. Dorbiany. [Lithuanian Darbėnai],
       type Ia and IV, Polnische,
       {the sea area contains the text SEE in reverse italic
       as well as numerals showing sea depths},
       July 1916 [B.716 in lower right corner].

J16. Szkudy. [Lith. Skuodas],
       {spelled Schoden on map dated 1918 on left and
       B318 on right, but not used to print stamps},
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
J17. Sałanty. [Lith. Salantai],
       type Ia, Polnische,
       April 1916 [N.416 in lower right corner].

K16. Pikiele. [Lith. Pikeliai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
K17. Siady. [Lith. Seda],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
K18. Telsze. [Lith. Telšiai],
       type Ia and IIb, Polnische, 1914 R,
       September 1911 [911. in lower right].
K19. Retowo. [Lith. Rietavas]
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.

L16. Lajźew. [Lith. Laižuva],
       {spelled Łajźew on map K16.},
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
L17. Wieksznie. [Lith. Viekšniai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
L18. Łukniki. [Lith. Luokė],
       type Ia and IIb, Polnische, 1914 R,
       September 1911 [911. in lower right].
       A forged two-colour L18. map exists with faint red on
       the mapside, and somewhat indistinct forged stamps,
       no plate number and thinner paper.
L19. Worny. [Lith. Varniai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.

M15. Doblen. [Lat. Dobele],
       type Ia, Lettische, 1917 M,
       January 1918 [B.118. in lower right]
M16. Żagory. [Lith. Žagarė],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
M17. Kurszany. [Lith. Kuršėnai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 L.
M18. Szawle. [Lith. Šiauliai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 L.
       January 1917 [B.117 in lower right]
       {previously reported in error as January 1918}.
M19. Kielmy. [Lith. Kelmė],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 L,
       April 1916 [N.416. in lower right].

N13. Raggezem. [Lat. Ragaciems],
       type Ia and III, possibly 1917 M.
N14. Schlok. [Lat. Sloka],
       type Ia, no language given, 1917 M.
N15. Mitau. [Lat. Jelgava],
       type Ia, 1917 M.
N16. Skajzgiry. [Lith. Skaisgirys],
       type Ia, possibly Polnische, possibly 1915 R.
N17. Janiszki. [Lith. Joniškis],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1915 R.
N17. Janiszki. [Lith. Joniškis],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 L,
       January 1917 [B.117 in lower right].
N18. Szadów. [Lith. Šeduva],
       type Ia, Polnische,
       April 1916 [N.416 in lower right].
N19. Beißagoła. [Lith. Baisogala],
       {spelled Beisagoła on map N18.},
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 [via Barefoot].

O13. Dünamünde. [Lat. Daugavgrīva],
       type Ia and III, no language given, 1917 M.
       The sea portion of the mapis unprinted, except for
       the text RIGAER MEERBUSEN in reverse italics.
O14. Riga. [Lat. Riga],
       type Ia, no language given, 1917 M.
O15. Groß Ekkau. [Lat. Iecava],
       type Ia, no language given, 1917 M.
O16. Bausk. [Lat. Bauska], {also used for forged sheets},
       {spelled Bauske on map O15.},
       type Ia, Polnische, 1915 R.
O16. Bausk. [Lat. Bauska],
       type Ia, Polnische?, 1916.
O16. Bausk. [Lat. Bauska], {maybe only used for forgeries},
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 R,
       February 1917 [B.217 in lower right].
O17. Linków. [Lith. Linkuva],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1915 R.
O18. Kławany. [Lith. Klovainiai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1914 R.
O19. Krakinów. [Lith. Krekenava],
       type Ia, Polnische, undated [via Barefoot].

P13. Wangasch. [Lat. Vangaži],
       type Ia, possibly some type III, possibly Lettische,
       possibly 1918 M.
P14. Üxkül. [Lat. Ikšķile],
       {spelled Uexküll on map Q14.},
       type Ia, 1917 M.
P15. Neugut. [Lat. Vecumnieki / Vecmuiža],
       type Ia, possibly 1917 M.
P16. Schönberg. [Lat. Skaistkalne],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 L.
P17. Birże. [Lith. Biržai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1915 R.
P17. Birże. [Lith. Biržai]
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 L.
P17. Birże. [Lith. Biržai],
       type Ia, no language given, no date.
P18. Pompiany. [Lith Pumpėnai],
       type Ia, Polnische, 1915 R.
P19. Ponewiesż. [Lith. Panevėžys],
       type Ia and IIb, Polnische, 1917 L,
       and 1911 bottom-top in lower right map corner,
       {previously reported as 1914 R, but not seen}.

Q14. Sissegal. [Lat., Liepupe], {sheet top and name often
       cutoff; spelled Sissegall on map P14},
       type Ia and Ib, no language given, 1917 M,
       August 1917 [B.817 in lower right].
Q15. Friedrichstadt. [Lat. Jaunjelgava],
       type Ia and Ib, no language given, 1917 M.
Q16. Groß Salwen. [Lat. Lielzalva],
       type Ia, Polnishe, 1917 L,
       January 1917 [B.117 in lower right].
Q17. Ponedele. [Lith. Pandėys]
       type Ia, Polnische, 1917 R,
       January 1917 [B.117 in lower right].
Q18. Kupischki. [Lith. Kupiškis],
       {spelled Kupiszki on maps P18. and Q17.},
       type Ia and IIa, Polnische, 1915 R.
Q19. Onikschty. [Lith. Anykščiai],
       {spelled Onikszty on map P19.},
       type Ia and IIa, Polnische, 1915 R.

R14. Erlaa. [Lat.Ērgļi],
       type Ib, 1917 M.
R15. Kokenhusen. [Lat. Koknese],
       type Ia, Lettische, 1918 M,
       January 1918 [B.118 in lower right].
R15. Kokenhusen. [Lat. Koknese],
       type Ia and Ib [vHofmann], probably before 1917.
R16. Buschhof. [Lat. Birže],
       type Ia, 1917 M,
       August 1917 [B.817 in lower right].
R17. Oknißta.,
       {spelled Oknista on map Q17.},
       type Ia, 1917 M,
       July 1917 [B.717 in lower right].
R18. Rakischki. [Lith. Rokiškis],
       type IIa, 1915 R.
R18. Rakischki. [Lith. Rokiškis], {may be listed in error},
       type I and II [vHofmann].
R19. Uschpol. [Lith. Užpaliai],
       type IIa, 1917 R.

S14. Sesswegen [Lat. Cesvaine],
       type Ib, possibly 1917 M.
S15. Kreuzburg. [Lat. Krustpils],
       type Ia and Ib, Lettische, 1917 M.
S16. Jakobstadt. [Lat. Jēkabpils]
       type Ia and Ib, 1917 M,
       August 1917 [B.817 in lower right].
S17. Szubbat. [Lat. Subbata],
       {spelled Subbat on maps R17. and T17.},
       type I [a or b?], possibly 1914 R or 1915 R.
S18. Illukßt. [Lat. Illukste],
       type Ia and IIa, 1916 L; known with stamps
       printed on map side text <1: 100 000>.
S18. Illukßt. [Lat. Illukste],
       type Ia, 1917 M,
       July 1917 [B.717 in lower right].
S19. Nowo-Alexandrowsk. [Lith. Zarasai],
       type IIa, 1915 R.

T14. Alt Luban. [Lat. Lubāna],
       type Ib, 1917 M.
T15. Warklany. [Lat. Varakļāni],
       type Ib, no language given, 1917 M,
       July 1917 [B.717 in lower right].
T15. Warklany. [Lat. Varakļāni],
       type Ib, Lettische, 1917 M.
T16. Preli. [Lat. Preiļi] {map top often cutoff},
       type Ia and Ib, no language given, 1917 [via Barefoot],
       
{previously reported as ltype Ia and Ib}.       
T17. Wyschki. [Lat. Višķi],
       type Ia and Ib, no language given, 1917 M,
       July 1917 [B.717. in lower right].
T17. Wyschki. [Lat. Višķi],
       type Ia and Ib, Lettische, 1917 M,
       January 1918 [B.118 in lower right].
T18. Dünaberg. [Lat. Daugavpils],
       type Ia and Ib, no language given, 1917 M,
       July 1917 [B.717 in lower right].
T18. Dünaberg. [Lat. Daugavpils],
       type I [a or b?], Lettische, unknown date.
T19. Dryswjaty. [Byelorussian],
       {spelled Driswjaty on map T18. and given as
       Drißwjaty (Dryświaty) on map U19.},
       type Ia and Ib, no language given, 1917 M,
       July 1917 [B.717 in lower right].

U15. Rjeshitza. [Lat. Rēzekne],
       type Ib, no language given, 1917 M.
U16. Antonopol. [Lat. Malta],
       type Ib, no language given, 1917 M.
U17. Puscha. [Lat. Puša],
       {spelled Puschtscha on map U18.},
       type Ib, no language given, 1917 M,
       August 1917 [B.817 in lower right].
U18. Kraßlawka. [Lat. Krāslava],
       type Ib, no language given, 1917 M.
U19. Braßlaw. [Byelorussian]
       type Ib, no language given, 1917 M.

We thank Algis Muzikevicius of Lithuania for providing the Lithuanian place names above. In September of 2001 Algis also explained why German WWI military maps often list Polish as the local spoken language for areas where the actual spoken language was Lithuanian.

This is because before WWI these areas were part of Russia and Russian was the official language in every province [gubernija] in its empire. There could be a second, local, official language, but Russia banned printed Lithuanian from 1863 until 1905, and designated Polish as the second official language in its Wilna and Kowna provinces. The German WWI maps were purportedly based on Russian military maps of about 1890 which showed Polish as the spoken language; we have not seen an example of these Russian military maps.

Algis wonders if the second official language in Livland, which included southern Latvia, was Latvian. If you know, please tell us. Maps of these areas of Latvia often list Polish as the language. If you have Russian military maps of this area from about 1890, we would appreciate seeing copies.

to next page - map types [178K in images]


Return to index.

email bill@apsit.com

Updated Tue, 2014-04-01 .
Copyright ©2000 to 2014, Bill Apsit.