The stamp history of Hungary is somewhat complicated, and there is a huge range of postal items to keep collectors of Hungarian stamps endlessly busy.
The first stamps used in Hungary were Austrian stamps from 1850; the first real Hungarian stamps were issued in 1871, four years after Austrian rule ended and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was created. This first set can be hard to identify as Hungarian — there was no inscription for the Kingdom’s name; the stamps depict Franz Josef I plus the value in krajczár (kreuzer in Austria) in two circles at the bottom. For example, the 2 krajczár stamp has one circle with a 2, the other with the abbreviation kr.
In 1874, the first readily-identifiable Hungarian stamps were issued; showing a picture of an envelope, these were inscribed MAGYAR KIR. POSTA for Magyar Királyi Posta, or Hungarian Royal Post. Very few new designs would be used on Hungarian postage stamps for several decades, even after the full separation of the Hungarian Post from Austria in 1908.
Eventually, in 1916, a new stamp design was issued; the value was 10 fillér (in 1900, a new currency system of 1 korona = 100 fillér had been adopted), and the inscription read M. KIR. POSTATAKAREKPÉNZTÁR, meaning Hungarian Royal Savings Bank. This was a postal savings stamp, but was used for regular postage; other designs soon followed.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved in 1918, and the Kingdom of Hungary became the Hungarian Democratic Republic (Magyar Népköztársaság). The republic was short-lived; Communists came to power in 1919, branding the country the Hungarian Soviet Republic, known in Hungarian as Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság and inscribed on a new set of stamps as MAGYAR TANÁCSKÖZTÁRSASÁG.
That there were stamps at all from this short-lived Soviet Republic is impressive, as it existed less than five months; after its quick downfall, the Hungarian Democratic Republic was restored, renamed the Hungarian Republic (Magyar Köztársaság). Old stamps from the Kingdom were used with overprints reading ‘KÖZTÁRSASÁG’, despite some confusion about the republic’s name (the 1918 name was still seen alongside the new name). New stamps soon were issued, inscribed MAGYAR POSTA.
The confusion over the Hungarian republic’s name would soon prove academic, however; the Kingdom of Hungary was restored in 1920, and would last until 1946 — though there never was a king. Instead, Miklós Horthy, a Regent, was in control, and this era of Hungarian history is sometimes called a Regency. On postage stamps, overprints were added to old stamps, then new stamps were issued; the inscription MAGYAR KIR. POSTA was at first resurrected but instantly dropped in favor of MAGYARORSZÁG, before being resurrected again in 1937. Several interesting stamps were issued by the Kingdom in the 1920s and 1930s and collectors can strive for complete sets of these between-world-war years.
Stamps were issued throughout World War II despite very difficult times for the Kingdom, and in 1945 a stamp was issued with a new overprint reading ‘FELSZABADULÁS’ (“Liberation”) to celebrate the end of the war. In 1946 the Kingdom was dissolved once again, and the Second Republic was born, sharing the name (Magyar Köztársaság) of the 1919-1920 version and issuing new stamps. Until 1949, this Republic issued stamps inscribed MAGYAR POSTA (and one in Latin as RESPUBLICA HUNGARICA).
In 1950, the name was changed to the People’s Republic of Hungary, a new English name but with the same Hungarian name as in 1918-1919, Magyar Népköztársaság. This incarnation of Hungary would last until 1989, always using MAGYAR POSTA on its stamps and issuing a large number of strikingly lovely designs and commemorating a wide variety of subjects.
In 1989, as Eastern Europe began a series of revolutions and sweeping changes, a Third Republic of Hungary was declared. This was officially called, simply, Hungary (Magyarország, the name used on postage stamps), and has continued to this day. Modern Hungarian stamps tend to the arty, graphic design-style, and there are many, many types to choose from for collectors.
Hungarian stamps, covers, philatelic pieces such as maxicards and souvenir sheets, plus much more for sale can be found in this section and in the various subsections. Browse what’s currently available, and check back often for the latest information on Hungarian postage stamps for sale.
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