BULLETIN 129  -   December 2003





Exchange Control Cancellations of Greece on Belgian Congo Covers,

Walter Deijnckens

 Four airmail letters from Elisabethville with dates between 1938 and 1939 show very remarkable

Censor cancellations which I could not initially classify. The destination each time was Celje (100km from the Austrian border) in the present republic of Slovenia. The covers have arrival cancellations of Ąthens, Zemun (Belgrado) and Zagreb.

     The four covers were sent as follows:

 EIisabethville 11-6-1938, reverse cancelled by handstamp Athinai poste aerienne 18.VI.38.13, front with exchange control cancellation showing MEN, reverse also cancelled with Zemyh 5,3 Zemun 5 of 20.VI.38-11 and cancellation Zagreb 14.3 of 20.VI.38.20

 ElisabethvilIe 25- 3-1939, reverse with machine cancellation of Athinai poste aerienne 2-IV-39.15 and Zemyh 5,3 Zemun 5-3-VI-39-13 and on the font an exchange control cancellation of Athens showing YEZ

Elisabethville Postes 21-4-39 reverse with machine cancellation of Athinai poste aerienne, front with exchange control cancellation showing MEN, reverse also with cancellations by hand of  zemyh 5,3 Zemun 5, l-V-39-13, Zagreb 14.3 or l-V-39-19, Zagreb 2, 30 of 1-V-39.20 and Zagreb 2, 32 of-l.V-39.21

Elisabethville postes 28-4-39.24, on the reverse a machine cancellation of Athīnai poste aerienne, front with exchange control cancellation showing YEZ and hand cancellation on reverse of Zemyh 5, 3 - 3.939-13, Zemun 5, Zagreb 14,3 -8.V.39.19 and Zagreb 2,-8.V.39.21.

Thanks to Ruud Verberne,  a collector of Greece stamps who provided me with a copy of the publication of the Hellenic philatelic Society of Great Britain on Exchange control in Greece and its repercussions on philately by Ulysses Bellas (1976) I could solve the problem on these Belgian Congo covers.

To protect the national currency in 1936 the Greece government  decided to control all the outgoing and incoming international mail with foreign currency. It was forbidden to send or receive even post stamps without the necessary permission. A post office had the obligation to send all international mail to the nearest exchange control location, which would return this mail the original post office after it was checked. For Athens, it was without any doubt the bank of Greece one University Street which was doing the central. After all it seems that only 5% of all international mail was checked.

Two distinct periods can be recognized, a first one between the years 1936 to 1941 and a second period between the years 1945 and 1951.

All four Belgian Congo covers shown, fall  in the first period. In total 7 different control cancellations were used, four of them showing MEN and three of them showing YEZ. Men stands for national currency protection and YEZ stands for national exchange service.


Type MEN

Type YES