Athens 1896-1996

st_zap_1_lThe catalog of exhibition


By Michalis E. Tsironis

The forthcoming Olympics at Atlanta in 1996 has largely contributed to an increase in the number of olympic-stamp Collectors; an already widespread number of Collectors in both Thematic and Traditional Philately.

Moreover, the continuous search for even earlier documents by advanced collectors, automatically directs them to the Olympic issue of 1896. That first issue, therefore, is not just a motive for starting a collection, but has also become the basic element for the creation of philotelic interest, particulary among those collectors who deal and demonstrate the Olympic issues from 1896 till our present times.

A most interesting field in organising an Olympic stamp collection is the field of Registered Postage in the periods 1896 and 1906. It is fortunate for collectors that, the already existing information and material available, offer an opportunity for further study on the matter and presentation of such a collection.

Nevertheless, after a century of the first Olympic stamps issue, there has not been presented a specific study on Registered Postage for the period of circulation of the Olympic issues. This fact gave me the opportunity to study that particular field of Registered Postage.


Registered Postage (SYSTIMENON) is practiced with the payment of an extra fee for registration. In the period of the first Olympic Games of 1896 and up to the Olympics of 1906, the registration fee was equal to the first weight rate: 20 lepta for Inland, 30 lepta (25 lepta in 1906) for abroad and thus the fee for registered letter of first weight was double the letter rate.

A list of some of the rates for normal and registered mail is given below:


1896 – 1906          Postage for interior (Inland)

5λ./15gr.                 In Town
10λ                          (but minimum postage

1λ./50gr.                  Newspapers, printed matters

2, 3, 5, 10λ             Visit cards

10λ. - 5λ.                Stationeries (with-without text)

5λ/50gr.                 Echantillons sans valeur

20λ/15gr.               Letters

20λ.                        Registration fee

20λ.                        Avis de reception fee

Postage for abroad

5λ./50gr.                Newspapers, printed matters

10λ./5λ.                  Stationery (with-without text)

5λ./50gr.                Echantillons sans valeur

30-25V15gr.         Letters

30λ. - 25λ.             Registration fee

60-50λ.                  Registered (1st weight)

90-75λ.                  Registered (2nd weight)

1,20-1 Δρχ.           Registered (3rd weight)

30-25λ.                  Avis de reception fee

                               Letters with Declared Value
                               may have a higher postage,
                               more than 10 Drh.

Thus, the fees for registered mail change according to the weight, in multiples of the first weight rate (30 lepta for 1896, 25 lepta for 1906). There have been of course many cases of overfranked philotelic covers. How else could be explained cases, where postage equals the price of a complete 1896 Olympic issue, that is Drachmas 19, 83, or Drachmas 12, 86 for the 1906 Olympic issue?

Registered items, other than letters, are also interesting for examination, as for instance:

• Postage of 40 lepta 2x5 lepta + 25 lepta - paid as 30- as (registration fee) for item heavier than 50 gram, 1896 period collection L. Jonker (Picture. 1)

Picture. 1







• Postage of 35 lepta for wrapper echautillon sans valeur as above, but 10 lepta +25 lepta, 1906 period collection N. Zafirakopoulos (Picture. 2)

Picture. 2







On the occasion that the value itself of the posted matter is declared, the registration fee is unspecified but, anyway, much higher than the normal fee. (Picture. 3).

Picture. 3





st_zap_5_lPicture. 4


I must lay special emphasis on certain elements that are likely to confuse the collector of Registered correspondence : the 25 lepta stamp was paid at the price of 30 lepta at the Post Office and was meant as a 30 lepta one. That is why, in some cases of registered letters, where may appears a 25 lepta stamp, it might be a strange phenomenon on first sight, especially for the period 1896-1900. Therefore, we have the example of a letter with stamps 2x25 lepta= 50 lepta (Picture. 4) covering the regular fee of 60 lepta (Picture. 5) as well as a letter with stamps of 60+25 lepta=85 lepta (Picture. 6) covering the regular postage of 90 lepta (Pic. 7, 8)

st_zap_6_lPicture. 6








st_zap_8_lPicture. 7


The indications for Registered Postage were marked as follows:
a) with a special postmark (There were many types of postmarks)
b) with the use of a special Post-office label.
c) with a hand-written indication SYSTIMENON (REGISTERED) or even without any indication at all, (even, missing indication is an exception of the rule).

st_zap_7_lPicture. 8


The registration of a postal item was made by putting a postmark and a registration number in latin (for international mail) or greek (for internal mail) characters.
a.1. rectangular postmarks of different dimensions according to the group of offices: 14x24, 16x34, 19x27, 13x23 mm. Main characteristic point is the Greek letter Σ in their left side as well as the words ΑΡΙΘ(μος) (=number) and ΓΡΑΜΜ(αρια) (=gramms) in the middle of the postmark.

st_zap_10_lst_zap_9_lPicture. 10
Picture. 11

  postmarks varying from each other, in an oblong rectangular frame 8x33mm (ARTA, LEIVADIA, PIRAEUS) or 7,5x36mm (PATRA, MANDOUDION) with the indication SYSTIMENON (REGISTERED) within the frame. (Picture: 9)
a.3. similar as above postmark forming a much larger frame of 10x64mm (ARACHOVA LEVADIAS) (Picture: 10)
a.4. As above, 12x36mm (KEFALOVRYSIN) (Picture: 11) or 15x33mm (NAXOS)
a.5. rectangular ΣΥΣΤΗΜΕΝΟΝ (without frame). Dimensions 3,5x32-36mm(SYROS,ATHINA).


a.6. as above (a.5.) but bearing a decorative ornament. This unframed postmark had dimensions of approximately 8x34mm (MILOS, SKYROS). It was mostly in use in Cyclades and Sporades Islandes(Picture: 12); also it was one of the most beautiful postmarks.
REMARK: In my opinion there might be several other postmarks of similar types used for Interior Postage.

Picture. 12
23 June 1896. Registered letter from SKYROS island to Bruxelles Bears the rural 13,
the decoratif ΣΥΣΤΗΜΕΝΟΝ posmarks as well as the manuscript indication No 134.
The decoratif ΣΥΣΤΗΜΕΝΟΝ Postmark, (used in islands) is one of the very few known on Olympic covers

A.2. For correspondence to abroad

a.7.  Postmark as type a.l., but the Greek letter Σ is replaced by the Latin R. Normal dimentions (even variable) are 18x24mm (Picture: 9).
a.8.  Round with bridge type postmark, d=32mm. Above is written the name of the town, and down is written (in Greek letters) the indication ΣΥΣΤΗΜΕΝΑ. On the bridge is the date. This postmark was used for both to inland and abroad destinations. (Picture: 13)


They have rectangular shapes of various dimensions in black lettering on white paper. The dimensions of the frame are 14x37. (Picture: 14).

Soon after 1900 were used labels of a frame dimension 13,5x42,5mm. The frame colour was either blue or black, while the numbers were red. (Picture: 15)

A similar label was used in Patras, through a little shorter in length. (41mm.) (Picture: 16)

Picture. 13


There are cases of letters mailed with a regular registration fee, however lacking altogether any sort of indication, such as a postmark or a label. In some of the above cases it appears a hand­written SYSTIMENON (REGISTERED). In some other cases (a few only) we couldnt even see the hand-written indication.

The last case is very unusual and extremely rare. (Picture: 17)

st_zap_14_lPicture. 14

st_zap_15_lPicture. 15

st_zap_17_lPicture. 16

st_zap_16_lPicture. 17




Last Updated on Monday, 27 December 2010 10:07

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