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By Daphne Martin

Hungary was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ruled by the Hapsburg dynasty.

This ancient family supplied dukes of Austria (from 1282), kings of Hungary and Bohemia (from 1526) and emperors of Austria (from 1804).They ruled the Holy Roman Empire (1438-1806) and were kings of Spain (1516-1700).

They enlarged their original small territory in Switzerland by conquest and marriage, until the Austro-Hungarian Empire included Austria, Hungary, South Poland, and parts of modern Czechoslovakia, Romania, North Italy, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Netherlands.

Emperor Franz Josef I reigned 1848-1916. The assassination of the heir to the throne by the Bosnian Serbs in 1914 precipitated WW 1.

Austria first issued postage stamps in1850 and these were used in Hungary as well until a dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy was established in 1867. Austria retained control of defence and finance. Even then, no distinct Hungarian postage stamps were issued until the provisional set in 1871. The Austrian currency (100 kreuzers = 1 gulden) which was used in Hungary before that date was replaced by 100 krajczas = 1 forint.


These changes are reflected in the revenue stamps. The first Austrian revenue stamps of 1854 were used throughout the Empire (figure 1).
Their face value, in “Conventionmoney” denoted by C.M., was used in kreutzers (kr.) and Florins (fl.).Hungary had no distinctive ones of its own until 1868 (figure2). These were identical with the contemporary Austrian fiscals in their rococo style with garlands of fruit and flowers, cupids and classical figures, but had the local coat-of arms and new currency units (kr. and ft.) This state of affairs persisted until 1898, although the Austrian revenue stamps themselves had changed to a large portrait of Franz Josef by 1875.


The 1898 fiscal issue for Hungary was in a new currency (100 filler = 1 korona) (figure3).

This change was not reflected in the postage stamps until 1900 (the Turil bird issue), the first by a new stamp designer. He may have been responsible for the break in 1898 with the Austrian fiscal series (which then featured transparent paper and security underprints on the gum).

The next Hungarian documentary issue of 1903 featured strong national symbols (St. Stephen and the crown) with folk-art decoration elements, and this trend continued until 1914 and WW1 (figure 4).

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figure 4
1903 Issue


No new revenue stamps were issued by the 1918 Hungarian republic of the short-lived Bolshevik regime which followed.

When Admiral Horthy took control in 1920 as Regent for a non-existent royal family, this nationalistic style was retained. However, inflation occurred in Hungary as in all the other western countries, and fiscal changes rose to 10,000 korona by the 1924 issue of documentaries. The country devalued and again changed its currency in 1926 to 100 filler = 1 pengo. Both postage and revenue stamps were issued. When a new set of documentaries appeared in1934, there was again with a change in style due to a new designer. These have a complex security underprint and a monocolour motif (figure 5).

After WW2 inflation recurred, so extreme that surcharges were in ‘ Ado pengos’, (figure 6) i.e. almost notional ‘tax pengos’, reminiscent of the ’milliarden’ of the German inflation of the 1920s. This was followed by devaluation and yet another change in currency to 100 fillers = 1 forint.

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figure 6
1946 Post WW2 inflation

Click on the images to see a close up of the Revenue Stamps
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