Ancient peoples called the Balts were the original settlers in the area we now call Latvia. As a people they were historically oppressed by overlords from neighboring states. The Varangians (Vikings) were the first in the 11th century, followed by the German Knights of the Swordin the 12th and 13th centuries who christianized the followers of pagan faiths. From the 16th to the 18th centuries Latvia was partitioned between Poland and Sweden, then expansionist Russia overwhelmed the area in the late 18th century and retained control until the 1917 Russian Revolution. Latvian nationalists realized an opportunity to form their own nation finally in 1918, and declared their independence on November 18, 1918, a week after the end of WWI.
A month later on December 18, 1918 Latvia issued its first postage stamp. Following a shortage of paper, the 5 kapiek stamp was printed on German military maps left behind by their oppressors, making them among the most collectible of all postage stamps. The design by Ansis Cirulis (1883-1942) featured the Latvian Coat of Arms at center, the sun symbolizing statehood with 17 rays for 17 Latvian districts and 3 ears of grain and 3 stars for the 3 historic districts of the new nation. There were 11,956 printed, with 4,900 perforated but only 4,750 delivered to government. The new nation was overwhelmed once again by the German army in WWII, and under Nazi control the nation suffered grievously. Jews were forced into ghettos and 70,000 were liquidated, along with an additional 20,000 brought from Central and Eastern Europe. As many as a million surviving Latvians left their country, never to return.
This linocut print is printed on US Geological Survey maps to suggest the German military topographical maps originally used for the stamp. A genuine stamp within a clear Showgard mount is positioned at lower right to allow face or reverse to be shown. here to edit.
Image Size: 4" x 5"
Paper Size: 10" x 13"
Paper Type: USGS 7.5" topographic maps
Edition Size: 50
Inks Used: Warm Red [87.5]; Rubine Red [12.25]; Black [0.25]
Date cut: 20 Mar 2023
I scanned 1918 Latvian postage stamp, 5 kap. Coat of Arms 10s [Scott #2], and printed onto copy paper. I coated the face of the paper with an aqueous solution [1:10] of matte gel medium onto which I positioned a linoleum block [4" x 5"]. After drying under clamps I cut away the white under a stereo dissecting microscope [Bausch & Lomb 13x], and printed on sections of USGS 7.5" topographic maps.
Shipping: $15.00 with tracking to USA