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Austrian Empire

Offices in Crete

The Austrian Empire maintained postal agencies in Crete during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1903, they began issuing postage stamps denominated in French Francs for their postal agencies in Chania, Heraklion and Rethymno.

These stamps, valued in French currency, were largely unnecessary though. Stamps denominated in Lombardy-Venetian Soldi, French Francs, and Turkish Piasters were all valid for postage in Crete, and stamps denominated in French Francs were valid for postage throughout the Turkish Empire.

An example is shown in the image above. The Austria Offices in the Turkish Empire stamp on the left was used in Canea, Crete, and the Austria Offices in Crete stamp on the right was actually used in Jerusalem, Palestine.

As a result, very few of these stamps were actually used for mail from Crete. Mint examples are common, whereas authenticated used examples are very scarce. These stamps, in used condition, are frequently found with forged postmarks. The most common usage for these, oddly enough, was on mail from the Austrian post office in Jerusalem, which normally used the Austrian Offices in the Turkish Empire postage stamps.

Between 1903 and 1904, the seven stamps shown above were issued for use in Crete, utilizing the Austrian Empire definitive postage stamp issues of 1899 to 1901. As with the Austrian stamp issues, the lower denominations were printed on paper having diagonal varnish bars, to prevent their reuse. The lower denominations had black bars, obliterating the Austrian currency names, and all of the stamps were overprinted with either CENTIMES or FRANCS.

These stamps were produced with two different perforation gauges, 13 x 13 1/2 and 13 x 12 1/2. The stamps that are perforated 13 x 12 1/2 are the scarcer of the two gauges.

In 1905, the 5 Centime and 10 Centime denominations of the types shown above were re-printed on paper that did not have diagonal varnish bars. These are much scarcer than the varieties with the varnish bars.

In November 1904, the four stamps shown at the top of the image above were issued, utilizing the newly re-designed Austrian definitive postage stamp issues. These were also printed on paper containing diagonal bars of varnish. As with the previous issue, two perforation gauges were used, with the later one being the scarcest.

During 1905, the three stamps shown at the bottom of the image above were issued. The 5 C. and 10 C. have the denomination numerals printed in color on a white background, and the 15 C. has the denomination printed in black on a white background. These stamps were all printed on paper without the vertical bars of varnish.

In July 1908, a new set of definitive postage stamps, shown above was denominated in French currency. These new stamps were issued to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Josef I. Though similar in appearance and style to the 60th Anniversary stamps issued for the Austrian Empire, these stamps for the Austrian post offices in Crete are VERY DIFFERENT.

The 5 C. through the 25 C. denominations were typographed on surface-colored paper, and all of them feature the left-facing profile of Franz Josef. The 50 C. and the 1 Fr. denominations were engraved on surface-colored paper, and all of them feature a portrait of Franz Josef in royal robes.

In 1914, the 10 C. on Rose and the 25 C. on Blue denominations were re-issued on paper that was colored all the way through. They are shown directly above. For an image explaining the different paper colorings, refer to their description in the Offices in the Turkish Empire - Part 2 section.

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Offices in Crete