Monday, 15 June 2015

Stamps from Lithuania

When I bought this wrapper online for my stamp collection last year I was primarily interested in the old Lithuanian stamps postmarked at Telšiai, but also intrigued by the package having been sent to a suburb of Hobart in 1924:

The heading 'Spaudiniai' ('Printed matter') suggested that there had been a publication or similar inside the wrapper, and the 12 cents postage suggested that it had been a very light package (less than 50g in weight).  As far as I could tell after a quick internet search the recipient Mrs Elizabeth Lennox was not Lithuanian so I was stumped as to what type of printed matter she would have been receiving.

It was only when I later opened the wrapper that I realised there was a letter written on the inside, and that perhaps there had been little else to this package apart from a clever means of circumventing the Lithuanian postal authorities (the postal rate for an enveloped letter sent overseas at that time started at 60 cents).

The writer W A Riedel was clearly not known to Mrs Lennox but had obtained her address (perhaps she had responded to an advertisement) and was writing to her about his hobby - stamp collecting.  It looks as though stamp collecting may have been her hobby also.  Riedel's letter was not personalised to Mrs Lennox (it starts with "Dear Sir") and looks as though it was a printed reproduction probably used to respond to all enquiries.  In short, he seemed to be offering Russian, Lithuanian and Memel (Klaipėda) stamps to foreign collectors including those in Australia:

So for me it was a double win, not only acquiring the front part of the wrapper but also the unexpected message about a possible Lithuanian-Australian stamp trade inside.  We can only speculate whether Mr Riedel obtained any follow-up business, but it was interesting to see how global the hobby was over 90 years ago.  

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