Croatian Collectors' Stamps

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The modern state of Croatia dates back only to 1991, when it declared independence from Yugoslavia and prompted a brutal, four-year war. Today, however, the country’s fortunes have changed, and it enjoys a strong economy, full membership in NATO and the EU, and a burgeoning tourism sector.

Stamps have been in use in the region since 1850, when it was part of the Austrian Empire. Over the years, control over the territory changed hands several times, and with each upheaval postal administration changed accordingly. Keeping track of the early history of Croatian philately can be confusing, but for avid collectors, there’s much to explore.

Croatian Postal History

Between 1871 and 1918, Croatia was ruled by the Hungarian portion of Austria-Hungary and used that country’s stamps. That changed when, as part of the short-lived State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, Croatia began overprinting Hungarian issues with “Hrvatska/SHS.” The following year, the new state started printing its own stamps, though a similar overprint remained in use in what is now Croatia.

The State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs was quickly superseded by Yugoslavia, and the practice of using region-specific overprints stopped in 1921. This persisted until 1941, when the Independent State of Croatia was founded. Another short-lived experiment in statehood, the fascist Independent State of Croatia lasted only three years. During that time, it initially used Yugoslavian stamps with the “Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska” overprint, but began issuing its own postage soon after.

Croatia returned to Yugoslav control in 1945. For a brief period, Croatian stamps remained in use, this time with a special overprint of “Jugoslavia" or "Demokratska Federativna." Lasting independence would not be achieved until 1991, at which point the Croatian Post was reestablished and the country began issuing its own postage once more.

Stamps of Dalmatia

Dalmatia, modern Croatia’s southernmost region, has its own unique postal history. It has, at various times, been occupied by and used the stamps of Austria, Italy, Germany and Yugoslavia. Stamps from the Italian period were overprinted specially for use in the region, and remain important collectors’ items to this day.

Because they were only briefly in circulation, postmarked Italian overprints tend to be worth more than unused examples from the same time period.

Collecting Croatian Stamps

Clearly, anyone interested in collecting rare Croatian stamps has lots to explore. If you’d like to start or expand a collection, Apfelbaum, Inc. can help. We frequently have rare Croatian stamps for sale in our online store and Buy It Now sales, as well as related postage from Yugoslavia, Hungary and the Austrian Empire. Check out our current inventory using the links on this page. You can also contact our office directly for assistance tracking down any hard-to-find or rare Croatian stamp you need for your collection.