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The first stamps

Serbian 19th century postage stamps

Initially, stamps were produced with three themes only: themes of sovereigns, coats of arms, or national symbols and stylized numbers that marked the denomination of the stamp. The first postage stamp in the world was produced in England in the year 1840, its theme was the image of Queen Victoria, on the first postage stamp produced outside of England, in the Zurich canton territory, there were numbers, whereas, the Geneva canton stamp had the coat of arms of the city on it. These stamps are known as regular issues because they were produced for the post office exclusively. Philatelists were few then, and there were significant anniversary issues, unless it was a personal jubilee of the sovereign.

The same goes for the postage stamps in The Principality and later on The Kingdom of Serbia in the 19th century. All the stamps had the images Prince Mihailo, Prince and later on King Milan and King Aleksandar Obrenovic as their themes, except for the first two newspaper stamps whose theme was the coat of arms of the Principality of Serbia and postage due stamps with the theme of the state coat of arms of Serbia. This practice was carried on with in the age of the Karadjordjevic dynasty, when they started printing commemorative stamps. Today, far more commemorative than regular stamps are issued.

The image of Prince Mihailo Obrenovic in profile was portrayed on the first regular postage stamp series in The Principality of Serbia, issued in June 1866. The series contained three stamps with an identical outline, except they were printed in different colors and with different denominations. The first stamps in The Principality of Serbia were printed in The Royal State Print Shop in Vienna. The denominations were 10, 20 and 40 paras, and they were printed in yellow, pink and blue.

The issuing pattern of keeping the stamps identical except for different colors and denominations lasted around here almost all the way until the end of the last century, just that, after World War II, regular series with the image Josip Broz Tito were printed.

As Prince Mihailo lived no longer than two years after the production of the first Serbian stamps, only six more regular stamps with his image were issued. During the reign of Prince and later on King Milan, from 1869 to 1880 all the stamps had images of him on them, and 29 came out in total. They were printed in The State Print Shop in Belgrade. Due to relatively poor printing, quality errors are abundant in these issues and they are very interesting for philatelist research. Errors on regular stamps, due to their huge circulation numbers occurred much later as well, when the process of printing was significantly improved.

Stamps with the image of King Aleksandar Obrenovic started getting produced in 1890, and they were printed in The State Print Shop in Belgrade. By the end of the 19th century 19 regular stamps were produced in three series. Two stamps with the image King Aleksandar Obrenovic were overstruck on November 1st 1900. 20 para and 1 dinar stamps had much higher circulation numbers than it was necessary. Whereas 10 and 15 para stamps were lacking, so 20 para and 1 dinar stamps were overstruck marking their new 10 and 15 paras denominations. This practice of overstriking the stamps with new denominations will be used often later on.