Ukrainian Philately - Tracing the History of the First Independent Ukraine Stamps


Aug 02, 2014 Europe/London

Eastern Ukraine was a former territory of Russia before it gained its independence on January 22, 1918. But before the official declaration of independence, the region had already designed its own set of currency stamps, the five-value set perforated 11 ½, which were used in lieu of the usual coins due to the limited supply of metals required for the making of coins. The currency stamps carried some identifiable designs so that people could recognize what they were holding. The currency stamps were overprinted with a trident and the words ‘circulated in lieu of coins’, meaning these currency stamps were temporary replacement for the coins.

Though these currency stamps were not designed to be used as official stamps for sending mail and documents, three items were to be found in philatelic covers. On July 18, 1918 or roughly three months after the declaration of independence, the independent Ukraine allowed the printing of stamps that were called the Shahiv Issues, carrying the same design elements that were initially used in the currency stamps.

The Shahiv Issues

The stamps designed by Antin Sereda were available in 10 and 20 values, and the subsequent prints were designed by Yuriy Narbut and available in 30, 40 and 50 values. Most of these stamps were available in wide circulation until 1920.
Before the official adoption of the Ukrainian stamps with trident designs overprint, the government ordered the use of Russian stamps. But by August 20, the government officially ordered that the stamps that carried the trident design (or the country’s national symbol) be used as the official stamps.

Cutting Free from Russia

This action of the Ukranian government helped lessen the impact of Russia’s participation in the state’s affairs. And on October 1, 1918, all stamps printed in Russia were declared invalid, thus offically acknowledging the new set of Ukrainian stamps.
Through the years, the interest in these stamps, particularly in the trident design, had increased. In a short time, the study of the trident design was considered the most important aspect of Ukrainian philately, although the widespread availability of forgeries has hindered the field. But these did not stop the government from expanding the availability of stamp values. The new set of stamps feature values greater than 50 shahiv. But when the supply of these high-value stamps diminished, the government decided to release the 20-hryven value stamps. This move by the Ukrainian government was just the first of the many steps meant to give the new independent state with its own share of stamps.