The History of Moldavian Bulls Classic Stamps


Mar 13, 2014 Europe/London

Moldavia is an independent European territory located in the Balkans, which was given the right to self rule in 1856 thanks to the Treaty of Paris. By 1857, the government officially released its first set of postal stamps. This nation of great tradition and interesting history of political and economic changes did not last long as an independent nation, and was later made a Principality of Romania in 1859.

Elusive Moldavian Bulls Stamps

In philately, there are ordinary stamps and there are classic stamps of substantial value and interest. Examples of classic items that are worthy of investment are the Moldavian Bulls of 1858, often compared and likened to the Mauritius Post Office stamp classics. Some of these items are now properly catalogued in many museums, and some may be found in the hands of fortunate collectors. These items are highly prized on the market, and in fact were used as collateral to the Mexican government in applying for a loan. Some of these stamps have been lost along the way, and a good number were confiscated by the Russian army towards the conclusion of World War II. Others yet were stolen when a number of batches were about to be delivered to stamp auctions in London.

These items were used for a short period of time, specifically from July to November 1858. The interest can be explained by their limited use and the small number of stamps produced. According to records, roughly 11,750 items were printed for all denominations, as well as 12,300 unsold items. It is said that there are only about 800 of these items remaining in the market.

How the Moldavian Bulls Stamps Were Designed

Gummed paper was originally used for the first issue of these stamps. These were hand printed and laid horizontally on colorful paper, and produced in sheets of 32 stamps that contained 4 rows with 8 stamps in each row. The first issue was printed by Atelia Timbruli in Jassy, the same company responsible for the printing of the Moldevian official stationery. The 81 Parale on the other hand was printed using the bluish wove paper. An interesting feature of the paper used is the presence of irregularities. These are natural and should not be seen as damages or defects.  Four (4) values of the Parale were made available- 27, 54, 81 and 108. All dies were engraved personally by Dettmer. Since the dies were hand engraved, one can find variations on the different pieces. The plates used for engraving the dies are now secured in the city of Bucharest at the Romanian Postal Museum.

The resulting design was very unique, featuring a circular frame with ‘Porto Scrisori’ at the top, meaning ‘tariff must be paid by the recipient’. This was actually a wrong choice of words since the right term should be ‘Franco’, meaning ‘tariff should be paid by the sender’. A post horn can be seen where the value of the stamp is shown. There is also the ‘Bulls Head’ or ‘Auroch’, featuring the five-pointed star. The ‘auroch’ is a type of wild cattle that is now believed to be extinct. For those paying great attention to details, the design appears similar to the logo used by Chicago Bulls.

Moldova is now an independent republic and currently maintains friendly relations with Romania. In 1992, a year after its independence, the government decided to offer stamps to celebrate the occasion. The issued stamps featured the Coat of Arms, the ‘Bulls Head’, now the country’s national symbol.