The subject for the 2020 Europa postage stamps was Ancient Postal Routes, a very interesting issue for the collector. Russia produced the first example we show here. The oldest Russian regular postal service between Arkhangelsk and Moscow was launched under the rule of Peter the Great in 1693. The postal stamp shows an ancient postal route: the Kholmogory post road (Arkhangelsk — Vologda — Yaroslavl — Moscow).
The stamps above, issued by the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic), aren’t recognised on an international level, not by the UPU nor by PostEurop. These stamps are listed in most stamps catalogues (Gibbons, Yvert & Tellier, Michel) and most Europa stamps collectors are likely to collect the stamps even if they aren’t official stamp issues.
A certain form of postal service began in San Marino in 1607. Responsible for bringing and collecting mail to and from the postal office in Rimini, the post messenger on the first stamp is shown arriving at the Porta del Paese in the historic centre of San Marino while the second value has him en route to Monte Titano.
The stamp from Italy has a reproduction of a map of the Italian peninsula from 1695 called “Italy with its post offices and main roads” which showed for the first time the entire Italian postal system. The stamp is completed by the legend “Ancient Postal Routes”, the writing “ITALIA” and indicates the tariff “B ZONA 1”.
The Swedish postal service began in the 17th Century with fixed mail routes shown on the centre stamp. That between Stockholm and Hamburg is one of the oldest and was an important means of conveying messages and news to and from the continent. The stamp on the right shows the messenger’s equipment.
This stamp, issued by the Polish Post (Poczta Polska) was awarded first prize in the the 2020 EUROPA Stamps Jury competition. The theme inspired designers to produce some wonderful stamps. The winning stamp, designed by Maciej Jędrysik, depicts the most important postal routes of the 16th century on a map of Poland featuring the course of the Vistula River and the royal cities of Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Toruń, Elbląg and Gdańsk.
Apart from the 2020 EUROPA Stamps Jury competition, PostEurop announced Turkish Post PTT as winner of the 2020 EUROPA Stamps online competition through public voting. Haypost C.J.S.C. Armenia took second place and Azerpost Azerbaijan third.
Armenia produced this item depicting the general view of the old city of Gyumri, which was the first cultural and political centre of Armenia in the 19th Century and from which many routes began.
The third-placed Azerbaijan stamp in the 2020 EUROPA Stamps online competition was produced by Azermarka LLC and dedicated to the courier service established in 1501 by Shah Ismail Khatai.
The design produced by Switzerland in co-operation with Germany depicts a postal route from 1627. The route ran from Rheinhausen in Germany, passing through Basel and Zurich, before reaching Milan and Mantua. It was operated by the House of Thurn and Taxis, a noble family from Lombardy who set up a courier service for the Republic of Venice in the 14th century. The brothers Janetto and Francesco de Tassis (the German form for Taxis) founded the postal service spanning Europe in 1490 on behalf of the later Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Their descendants ran the imperial post service from Brussels. The post riders were adventure seekers who encountered many dangers along the way.
There were so many great stamps in the 2020 competition, but if you follow the link below you will be able to read about the hardship and mishaps experienced in the past by postal workers on the Faroe Islands.