Philokorea 1994





Mr. Michael E. Tsironis, Greece



1st day

2nd day

3rd day
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4th day       



5th day

6th day
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7th day         



8th day

9th day

10th day
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11th day        


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ATHENS 6              
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ATHENS 7             




The Olympic Committee posted its corespondance without stamps, ussing its special seal.
The above letter except this seal bears also the Athenian 7 Post Office postmark,
of 26 March 1896, second day of circulation









In 1988, I published in the OLYMPHILEX '88 SEOUL Catalogue an article relating to the 1896 Olympic Games issue. But at that time I could never imagined that I should have the honour to publish another article for the above issue in Korea.

Today the official invitation of my collection in PHILAKOREA '94 Court of Honour, offers me the honourable occasion to complete my previous publishment, with a new chapter which is at the same time an independent sector for the above Olympic issue.

So, I chose the chapter of postmarking on the stamps. This shall be the most characteristic el­ement in the future for above issue.

First of all, I clarify that there hadn't been official commemorative postmarks for these stamps, so I shall reffer only to the single postmarks during the period of their circulation, but not to other types of stamping as maritime, control (=TAMEION), railway e.t.c.
The main points of my study are the following:

a) First day postmarks (25. 3. 96, Julian Calendar)

b) Postmarks of the duration of Games (25. 3. –3. 4. 96)

c) Olympic Committee Stamping

d) Postmarks of Athenean Post Offices

e) Postmarks of the last known days of circulation of the Olympic stamps.





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                                                                   THE OLYMPIC ISSUES OF GREECE
                                                                                  1896 : Documents
                                                                    The day of issue: 25/ 3/ 96 First Day   a

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A. First day postmarks

The Greek Post Offices in 1896 had a very good function. The 25th of March, first day of circu­lation and launching day of the Olympic Games, found all the Post Offices in the Country in dis­posal of the new stamps. The fact was imposed since there was an official decree which:

– Temporarily forbade the circulation of all other Stamps and also specified that part of the in­come would be given to support the Olypic Committee (PHOTO).

So, my argument is verified by the fact that many samples of the First Day Postmarks were found among others, also and in the following cities:

Athens, capital of the Country, (ΑΘΗΝΑΙ 111486 population) big cities such as Piraeus (ΠΕΙΡΑΙΕ ΥΣ, 43.000), Patra (ΠATRAI 37985), Corfu (KEPKYΡΑ 17918), Volos (ΒΟΛΟΣ 16788), Kalamae (ΚΑΛΑΜΑ I 14298) Syra (ΣΥΡΟΣ 13272), small towns such as Lavrion (ΛΑΥΡΙΟΝ 7926), Almyros (ΑΛΜΥΡΟΣ 4833), Dimitsana, (ΔΗΜΗΤΣΑΝΑ 2400), Ithaki (ΙΘΑΚΗ, 1620) and smaller places almost villages such as Atalanti (ΑΤΑΛΑΝΤΗ 1403), Milos (ΜΗΛΟΣ 1088), Neon Faliron (NEON ΦΑΛΗΡΟΝ, 820), Isternia (ΥΣΤΕΡΝΙΑ 410) and others (PH 2,3). Here, I must mention the F.D. Covers (with all the set on) which even though posted on purpose, are extremly beartiful and rare.

These postmarks were used all over Greece and are classified in the following types:

IIΙ. (double circle with a number in the lower part)

V. (double circle with an ornament in the lower part)

VI. (circular – one only cirle) Till now, early days postmarks of types

II. (double circle with a number inside parenthesis)

IV. (double circle with gothic letters) have not been found. I suppose that it is rather a matter of coincidence since they appeared with a later date.

The diameters of postmarks vary between 21.5 – 26mm, especially for those in the villages. The Athenean postmarks (VI type), have a rather standard diameter 23mm, with very small variations of the number (22.8-23.2mm). Maybe some of these tenths of mm diferances, could be attributed to the inking.

I would like to remind that, at that time Greece used the Julian Calendar (-13 daysj) while the largest part of the World used the Gregorian. Maybe this is the reason, in some studies, the author accepted as first day of circulation – as well as starting of the Olympic Games– the 6th of April (Gregorian) which is the same with 25th of March (Julian). This fact also justified a confusion on to collectors who compare the departure postmark –on letters from Greece– and the date on the arrival postmark. At all events, April 6th is internationally established and today it is celebrated as the "Olympic Day".


B. The first ten days: postmarks of the duration of Games

The postmarks of the days following the first day of the circulation (26. 3. – 3. 4. 96) are also remarkable because they cover all the duration of the Olympic Games.

It is not easy to find a postmark of first day as well as a postmark of the following days. I personally presume that until today more examples of 25.3. have been found than of the 26, 27, ··· 31 March, 1, 2, 3 April (or 4 Aprl, the official reception day), (PHOTOS 4).

Both, traditional and thematic collectors are collecting and exhibiting the postmarks of these dates. The specialized traditionals collect them as useful and strong elements to form their collections (PHOTOS 5).

The thematic collectors following the example of the leaders of the field (+ Mannhart), Bergman, Tecardi, use the dates to present in their collections a true reference to the events of the day in the stadium.


C. The Olympic Committee Cachet

The Olympic Committee had the right legal clain as an advantage to mail their correspondance without stamps. The mailing was done through the Post Office by using the Olympic Committee cachet on the special Com mittee's covers, without stamps.

The cachet is composed by three circles: the external one 36mm, thick, whereas the interior ones are thiner, 34 and 26mm. In between the two thiner circles:



is written, which starts and finishes in an ornament. In the middle of the circles.


is written in two lines, and below it there is one more ornament Here, I present five different covers of the Olympic Committee with their cachets and postmarks.

7 AΘHNAI 7  25 MART. 1st day (PHOTO 6)

7 AΘHNAI 7  26 MART. 2nd day (PHOTO 7)

7 AΘHNAI 7  31 MART. 7th day (PHOTO 8)

7 AΘHNAI 7  3 AΠP. 10th, last day (PHOTO 9)

1 AΘHNAI 1  4 AΠP. (the reception day) (PHOTO 10)

I note that the letter of 3 ΑΠΡ has a special importance as an Historical Olympic Document. It is addressed to Spyros Samaras, the composer of the Olympic Anthem, who at that period was tem­porarily living in Athens. Maybe in the letter was enclosed the invitation for the reception of the following day (4 ΑΠΡ).


D. The Post Offices of Athens

During the period 1896—1906 were eleven main Post Offices in Athens although the exact lo­cation, is not entirely certain. However, we can classify these Post Offices in two categories:
a) the ones with numerated postmarks.
b) the ones with postmarks having no numbers.

a) Nine Post Offices exist in the first category. Their postmark is circular and its diameter is 23mm. On the upper part of the circle the name ΑΘHNAI appears. In the middle of the circle day/month/year/hour are writen in four lines. The main characteristic of this type of postmarks is that on each side of AΘHNAI, numbers from 1 to 9 appear; day/month/hour/year also exist.

From the remaining postmarks on stamps we concluded that those used more frequently come from 1, 2, 7, perhaps due to the fact of their function. On the contrary, the most rare postmark is the one having number 9 (especially for the years 1896—1898). In this study the postmarks are classified according to their rarity as follows:
9 (RRR), 5, 8, 6, 4, 3, 1, 2, 7 (easily found) ( PHOTO 12 )









without number


b) the other two types of postmarks are the ones without numbers. They have the same diam­eter 23mm. Their main characteristic is the thinner lettering of AΘHNAI, and specificaly the Greek letter Θ (th) is written θ instead of Θ. This is the tenth type of the Athenian postmarks. The eleventh type doesn't have the year on the fourth line; it appears on the lower part of the circle. It is also written 18 instead of 1896. (1897, 1898, 1899). Both these two last were in circulation also before the games.


E. Postmarks of the last known days of circulation of the Olympic stamps

As it is known the circulation of the issue had two official extentions until the end of June 1897 and finaly circulated until the deposit of stamps was consumed. So, it is a great rarity to find today mixed postage of Olympics with other issues with dates 25. 3. 96 — 30. 6. 97. (PHOTO 13). It is also equally difficult to find other Greek stamp postmarked with same dates, because their circulation (Small Hermes Heads, or other) was officialy interupted (PHOTO 14), as especially for the period 25. 3. 96-1. 10. 96 it was forbiden. (PHOTO 14A)

At all events, we find postmarks on Olympic stamps with dates 1897, 1898 and more seldom 1899, 1900 but after 1901 only very few of them are still in circulation (PHOTO 15). There are some examples of a few stamps, used even later in 1913 (PHOTO 15).
But in 1918 I make three remarkable observation:

1. On May 21, at the Tsagaradas (TΣAΓKAPAΔA) Post Office an unknown "number of 1 lepton stamps was postmarked. The postmark is of type III, but the stamping didnt become for postal reasons (PHOTO 16).
It is said thats it become on one sheet, but it seems that hapend the some for an unknown small quantity of 2 L (RRR).

2. On July 13th a registerd letter to Switzerland was posted from Patras. The postage was composed of (8) eight different issues of Greek stamps, and among them, there is also a stamp of 1 lepton 1896 issue.

I remark that the postage (86 lepta) as well as the stamps are chosen on purpose, but the let­ter is absolutely normally posted has three different cencorship marks and also a transit post­mark at Milano: The Patra postmark of 13 July. 1918 is the last known date, till today for a cover mailed with a 18966 issue stamp (PHOTO 17).

3. Finaly, a 2 lepta 1896 issue also exists postmarked with (probably ATHENS) registered postmark at •••. NOEM. 18(N0V.18) which, until today is the last known date for the 1896 First Olympic Games Issue (PHOTO 18)

I think that before I finish this atricle, I must make two special remarks on the above postmarks:

1) Some months ago, a very well known auction firm offered a very extraordinary and absolutely unknown until today first day postmark of Athenean Post Office 5. There, instead of the nor­mal types:

Day/Month/Hour/Year or Day/Month/Year/Hour

The first two lines (Day/Month) were inverted as Day/Month/Hour/Year (PHOTO 19).

2) Till now, even in a very limited quantity two types of Forged Postmarks on Athenean Post Offices are known:

The one exists on a First Day pmk of Post Office 7 with distinctly smaller diameter 21.5 in­stead of 23 mm and a rather partial heavy inking. (PHOTO 20)

The other exists on a common postmark of Post Office 1. It was remarked on an unmailed cover, addressed inside Athens (but with registration postage for abroad), where the letter­ing of the month, the caracteristic numbers of the Post Office and especially the numbers of the year, are obviously forged and prove private construction (PHOTO 21).

st_phil94_19_lst_phil94_18_lPhoto 14

st_phil94_20_l... but after 1897 - 1899 there might be a co-existence
A triple mixture postage: 1896 issue in combination
with perforated an imperforated Small Hermes. Photo14a



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                                                25 March, F.D.C., Yearly anniversaries 1896, 1897, 1898







                                                                  Prolongation of the usage, after 1899


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Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 16:46

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