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Albania - Mirdite (Mirdita, Mirdites) Republic - History

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Posted 02/02/2013   12:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add EricBismarck to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
One of my favorite things about stamp collecting, is the history and research.

I have been working on studying the "bogus" issues of the Mirdite Republic of 1921. Even though these stamps were never used, the history of the little rebellion is interesting and nearly led to all out war in the Balkans.

Below is what I wrote up about this. Hope you enjoy as I have not seen a page on the Internet yet that goes into this much detail on the Mirdite Republic.

(Please - if you have any additional info or corrections, let me know!)



Albania - Mirdite Republic

Albania, of today, was roughly born as a result of the First Balkan War in 1912. The war itself was initially sparked by Albanian Revolts against the Turks that occurred between 1908 and 1910.

Albania declared independence in November of 1912 and was officially recognized at the "Conference Of London" in July of 1913.

By WWI however, Albania began to collapse. By 1914 Greece had occupied much of Southern Albania while Serbia and Montenegro occupied much of Northern Albania, which contained a group of Catholic Tribes known as the Mirdites.

A Central Powers offensive eventually pushes out the Serbs and the Greeks and the areas are occupied by the Austria-Hungarians.

In 1915 the "Secret Treaty of London" promises parts of Albania to Italy in echange for entering the War against Austria-Hungary. Greece is promised the south, and Serbia (later part of Yugoslavia) is promised the northern region containing the Mirdites. By the end of the war in 1918, Italy had occupied much of Albania with Serbia occupying the North and Greece a portion of the south.

In January of 1920, at the "Paris Peace Conference", France, Great Britain, and Greece agree to divide Albania among Yugoslavia, Italy and Greece. This was done without Albanian Representation nor with diplomatic assistance from the United States acting as negotiator.

Later in January, the Albanians reject the partition plan and form a government in the city of Tirana. Finally with Diplomatic Assistance from the United States, they are eventually recognized by the League of Nations in December of 1920.

Northern Albania was primarily Catholic, the largest of these tribes was known as the Mirdites. The Mirdite people were unhappy with the new Government in Tirana, seeing them as friends of the Moslem Turks.

In 1920, the hereditary chieftain of the Mirdites, Prenk Bib Doda, was killed in an ambush. With no heirs, his cousin Gjon Marka Gjoni expected that he would succeed Prenk as Chief.

Prenk, however, had made it known that he did not care for Gjoni, as he accused him of "Abandoning the Front" in 1914.

The Tirana government, out of touch with the goings on in the North, offered Gjoni a chance, in April of 1921 to participate in the new administration as a representative of the region. Gjoni rejected this offer, and went to Prizren (A city with a heavy Albanian population, located in Modern Day Kosovo) to seek assistance from the Yugoslav Government.

The Yugoslav's, who did not not like new Government at Tirana, agreed to proclaim Gjoni as the Chief of the Mirdite, in the hopes of extending their influence throughout the region the Serbs had occupied during WWI. The Yugoslavs supported Gjoni financially, and later, with arms.

Gjoni returned to Mirdite and began to seek support among the clansmen. The Tirana Government was seeking to tax the Mirdites, and Gjoni claimed that the Tironi government was Muslim and would seek to restrict the religious liberties of the Catholic Mirdites. He managed to gain support of one tribe (Orash) and with this support, the Yugoslav's in Prizren proclaimed the new "Mirdite Republic" with Gjoni as its leader.

After the Proclamation, the Yogoslav government supplied Gjoni with arms, and Gjoni raised an army of about 2000, composed of a few Mirdites, but primarily of Serbs. His army attacked Tirani Government forces.

Unfortunately, Gjoni received little support from the Mirdite population who did not join him in his revolt. By the middle of November, the Serbian troops taking part in the rebellion had decided to return to Serbia, primarily over issues of pay - which they were not receiving as Gjoni had run out of funds to support his small army.

Shortly after the rebellion had begun, Government troops fought back and quickly captured the Mirdite capital of Orash. Gjoni, on November 20th, issued a proclamation releasing his supporters, and fled to Prizren.

A later League of Nations report did find some interesting facts. Although it derided the rebellion as foolish, it did note that the Serbians were preparing 80,000 troops along the Albanian border in readiness for an all out war with Albania's Tironi government. Because of Gjoni's lack of support among the Mirdites, however, this war would never come to be. It is possible though, that if Gjoni would have received more support from his own Mirdite people, that this could have led to an all out war in the Balkans, just shortly 3 years after the end of WWI.

The Stamp Issues

A series of stamps was printed by the Mirdite Government sometime during 1921 (probably between April and November). These stamps were never actually put into use, and most catalogs note them as Unissued and do not give them catalog numbers (e.g. Scott)

The series of stamps consisted of 6 Face Different stamps in values of 1fr, 5q, 10q, 25q, and 50q. The 1fr stamp exists overprinted "25q" and the 1fr, 5q, 10q, and 25q stamps exist overprinted "Takse". Takse roughly translates to "Tax" (Albanian) or "Fees" (Serbian). This overprint exists on many Albanian regular stamps that were repurposed as Postage Due Stamps. So in this instance, the Takse overprints were likely intended to be used as Postage Dues.

The values "fr and q" were 100q "qint" to 1fr (franc)

Whether or not these stamps actually were intended for use, or were printed as government propaganda is not known. Evidence possibly supports that they were intended for use because of the overprints, but, this is not known.

The original (real) stamps have gum on the back, and the overprints are hand stamped. Later reproductions or forgeries of these stamps have no gum and the overprints are "printed" onto the stamps (not handstamped)

There also exists what appear to be Cancels on some of these stamps, although these are probably more like CTO's and were likely done in the capital of Orash.

Also - Various shades and paper varieties do exist. Most of these are probably due to the reproductions / forgeries.









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Edited by EricBismarck - 02/09/2013 10:27 am

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Posted 02/02/2013   3:01 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Nice write-up and interesting history,thanks .
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Posted 02/02/2013   3:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add nigelc to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
There are a few more facts about the Republic here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Mirdita
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Nigel
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Posted 02/02/2013   10:53 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add BeeSee to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Excellent information here Eric, this is the stuff I love about philately
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BeeSee in BC
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Posted 02/03/2013   01:13 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Jkjblue to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Great stuff Eric. I was curious about those issues.
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Posted 02/03/2013   07:57 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add timbres667 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I found a discussion about this bogus issue on Delcampe forum. It's in french and it tells similar history facts as you. The Serbs wanted the Albanese province of Mirdites to join Kosovo and push for a revolution that never succeed. Putting the cart before the horse they order those bogus stamps to a printer. As they never paid and pick up the suppose to be stamps, the printer sold them to collectors to cover his expense. To sell more he add the overprint. So the aborted revolution left this aborted stamp issue. Thanks for bringing this topic. Daniel
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Edited by timbres667 - 02/03/2013 07:58 am
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Posted 02/03/2013   09:01 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add EricBismarck to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Daniel - That is great additional information. I searched Delcampe and found the post (using the Translate Link) -

I wonder if they were printed in Yugoslavia somewhere?


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Posted 02/03/2013   09:29 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add kirks to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Well done, Eric.

Threads like this make SCF the best site on the web.
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Posted 02/03/2013   09:40 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add timbres667 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Eric
I was not successful at finding who was the printer but I read on another stamp blog that those bogus stamps were printed after the insurrection had already been suppressed. Some call them fantasy issue.
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Posted 02/03/2013   11:03 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add EricBismarck to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Some googling I have found a book about Mirdite Philately

http://www.mirdita.net/mirdita_nevizionin...htm

How I could obtain this book, I'm not sure..

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Posted 02/03/2013   11:39 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
TAKSE ----overprint means it is a postage due stamp
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Posted 02/03/2013   2:13 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Art Strohmeier to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Eric:

Thank you for elaborating on this issue.

I have both the original and overprint versions of this issue, that are printed on a brown-shaded paper. They appear as displayed above. There is gum on the back, but lightly and irregularly applied.

According to the previous posts, fakes are ungummed. Can I assume mine are real? Any idea on value?
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Posted 02/04/2013   08:27 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add floortrader to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
OK -----anyone wants to determine which is the original stamp,which is a reprint and the fake .

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Posted 02/04/2013   08:41 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add EricBismarck to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Floortrader - Do any of them have gum?

Its hard to say - I am not even fully sure on mine... But if I had to guess, I would say, based on color, the one on the far right.

The ones you see in my first scan all have gum. So, using that as a color comparison I would guess your far right one.

Also - if you have any with overprints, check and see if they look handstamped - or, printed on with the design.

Eric
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Posted 02/04/2013   08:42 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add EricBismarck to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
As far as value - I see them selling for anywhere from 0.6 to $1 each, if they are sold individually.
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Posted 02/04/2013   1:34 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Art Strohmeier to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Colorwise, mine look the same as the one on the right, have gum, and the overprints look like the examples.

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