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Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Stamps of Greece

Author: Emil Drkusic
Date: 03/06/2024

We’ve already talked about the rarest stamps from Germany, France, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Vatican, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, Monaco, and Falkland Islands. Today we’ll take a look at the rare and most valuable stamps of Greece.

Postal history of Greece

The postal service in Greece was founded in 1828. This was the result of The Greek War of Independence (Greek Revolution, Greek Revolution of 1821). It lasted from 1821 until 1829 and the result was the Greek victory against the Ottoman Empire, and the foundation of modern Greece. In the years to follow, as the results of many local and global conflicts, Greece expanded and finally got into the “shape” we see today as Greece.

Academy of Athens (type II) - Greek Stamp

Academy of Athens (type II)

Greece - 1934

15 ₯ (Greek drachma)

Estimated value: 900 USD

"Greece's first postal service was founded in 1828, at the time of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. This initial service continued mail delivery and, later, the issuing of postage stamps until 1970. It was then succeeded by the Hellenic Post S.A. (abbreviated ΕΛΤΑ), which remains Greece's official postal provider. The first Greek stamps (known as "Large Hermes heads") were issued in 1861; by then, the postal service had expanded to operate 97 branches.

Until 1966, with the exception of a set issued in 1927, all Greek stamps were simply inscribed ΕΛΛΑΣ (Hellas, the country's Greek name). From 1966 to 1982, the inscription was modified to include both the Greek and Latin versions: ΕΛΛΑΣ-HELLAS. Beginning in 1982, ΕΛΛΑΣ was replaced with ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ ΔΗΜΟΚΡΑΤΙΑ (Hellenic Republic); this inscription is still being used on Greek stamps. It was also used on the 1927 set referred to earlier.

In 1875, Greece was among the founding members of the General Postal Union (renamed the Universal Postal Union in 1878)." - www.wikiwand.com

Balkan Wars

1912 and 1913 were extremely important years in Balkans, but also for the world history. In 1912, combined forces of Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia were victorious against the Ottoman Empire, and reduced its European territories by 83%. This led to the establishment of new states, but also territorial changes.

Bulgaria was unhappy with the conquered territory, so it started the Second Balkan War against its former allies. Bulgaria lost that war quickly. The Austria-Hungary used this opportunity to gain control over Bosnia, and this led to the chain of events, which started World War I.

Overprint on the "1912 Campaign" Issue - Greek Stamp

Overprint on the "1912 Campaign" Issue

Greece - 1923

10 ₯ (Greek drachma)

Estimated value: 1.400 USD

“In the wake of the two Balkan wars, tensions in the region only increased, simmering just beneath the surface and threatening to explode at any point. Austria-Hungary—which had expected first Turkey and then Bulgaria to triumph and had badly wanted to see Serbia crushed—became increasingly wary of growing Slavic influence in the Balkans, in the form of the upstart Serbia and its sponsor, Russia. Significantly, the Dual Monarchy’s own powerful ally, Germany, shared this concern. In a letter to the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister in October 1913 that foreshadowed the devastating global conflict to come, Kaiser Wilhelm II characterized the outcome of the Balkan wars as “a historic process to be classed in the same category as the great migrations of people, the present case was a powerful forward surge of the Slavs. War between East and West was in the long run inevitable…The Slavs are born not to rule but to obey.”” - www.history.com

First Greek Stamps – Large Hermes Heads

Greece issued first stamps in 1861. The motif on these stamps was Hermes head. Hermes (Mercury in Roman mythology) was the Greek god of trade, wealth, luck, fertility, animal husbandry, sleep, language, thieves, and travel. He was also the son of Zeus, king of Mount Olympus, and Maia, a nymph, and was considered the messenger of the Olympic gods. Therefore, he was a good choice for the motif of the first Greek stamp ever.

Hermes Head - Greek Stamp


Greece – 1861/10/01

2 Λ. (Greek lepton)

Estimated value: 2.600 USD

“The first stamps of Greece were the so-called "Large Hermes heads", depicting a profile of the Greek messenger god Hermes in a frame strongly resembling that used for contemporary stamps of France. The basic design was by the French engraver Albert Désiré Barre and the first batch was printed in Paris by Ernst Meyer. The first set was issued on 1 October 1861. It consisted of seven denominations (1 lepton, 2, 5, 10, 20, 40 and 80 lepta). In November 1861 the printing plates were transferred to Athens and subsequent printings made there. The plates continued in use into the mid-1880s, resulting in a number of varieties due to plates becoming worn and then cleaned, as well as the printing of the stamps on several kinds of paper. Most types were also printed with control numbers on the back, and all were imperforate. Additional denominations (30 and 60 lepta) were introduced in 1876, to comply with the General Postal Union's international letter rates (30 lepta for basic, 60 for registered letters).” - www.wikiwand.com

Hermes Head - Greek Stamp


Greece – 1861/10/01

20 Λ. (Greek lepton)

Estimated value: 7.000 USD

Hermes Head - Greek Stamp


Greece – 1871/10/01

40 Λ. (Greek lepton)

Estimated value: 35.000 USD

Today we’ve seen some of the most valuable Greek stamps. Feel free to check us because more articles in this series are coming soon. While you wait for them, take a look at previous articles from this series.

Continue Reading

UK - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable UK Stamps

France - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable French Stamps

Germany - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable German Stamps

Ireland - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Irish Stamps

Belgium - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Belgium Stamps

The Netherlands - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Dutch Stamps

Australia - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Australian Stamps

Canada - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Canadian Stamps

Spain - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Spanish Stamps

Portugal - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Portuguese Stamps

Israel - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Stamps of Israel

Vatican - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Vatican Stamps

Italy - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Italian Stamps

Switzerland - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Swiss Stamps

New Zealand - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable New Zealand Stamps

USA - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable U.S. Stamps

Monaco - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Monaco Stamps

Falkland Islands - Rarest Stamps: Most Valuable Falkland Islands Stamps

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