Estonia Puts its Stamp on Independence
TALLINN, Estonia (AP) _ Estonians accustomed to waiting in line were not overly bothered by the hours-long wait this time: they were buying the first stamps ever issued by a newly independent Baltic government.
″Some people were waiting for five hours,″ said Vladimir Viies, a computer specialist among those buying the stamps Tuesday.
Most of a half dozen Estonians interviewed at the central post office said they were buying the stamps and having them canceled on a first-day envelope to add to their collections or send to friends and relatives abroad.
″It’s a big chapter in Estonian history,″ said Ago Papp, a harbor dispatcher who said he had an extensive collection of stamps from the period before World War II when Estonia was last independent.
″I stood in line four hours to buy these stamps,″ Papp said. The eight stamps bear the traditional pre-Communist seal of Estonia, three lions stacked one atop the other. They run a range of pastel colors from yellow and pink to three shades of blue imposed on a white background.
Estonia and its sister republics of Latvia and Lithuania were occupied by the Soviet Union at the close of the war. Their newly declared independence was recognized by the Kremlin after the failed August coup.
The two other Baltic republics are also planning to issue stamps, and all three are getting set to mint their own currency as well.
Enno Ratsep, an advertising manager, said he’d stood for six hours in three separate lines to buy the stamps, have them canceled with a first-day mark and receive an additional mark on the envelope proclaiming the revival of an independent Estonian postal system.
″We had a good time,″ said Ratsep, who was sending the first-day covers to friends in Finland, Norway and Sweden.