Unexpected Armenia – Romania issue

On April 3, 2023, Armenia and Romania honored Prof Ana Aslan (1897-1988) with a joint issue showing two portraits of the Romanian biologist and physician of Armenian descent, specialist of gerontology and founder of the first Geriatrics Institute. She is known for the invention of the drug Gerovital also called “The Elixir of Youth”, words appearing on the margins of the miniature sheets (Information first provided by Don Birschel, USA).

Both countries issued two identical stamps each. Armenia produced two miniature sheets of 10 stamps (2x[2×5]) and a miniature sheet containing two blocks of 4 of both designs. Printing run of the two stamps is 20,000 but it is not clear how this is distributed between the two miniature sheets. Romania produced panes of 32 stamps (2x[4×8]) at the level of 2×300 panes, together with miniature sheets of 5 stamps linked to a label representing the portrait used in the other design. The number of printed miniature sheets was limited to 2×865. Romania produced also official mixed first day covers bearing all four stamps, but only at 161 samples!

Romania – SMOM 2022

With one stamp representing firefighters in action, removing snow, and the other one showing Ukrainian refugees arriving in Romania and welcomed by local volunteers, Romania and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) celebrated on September 16, 2022, 90 years of relationship. SMOM conducts diplomatic relations with 112 countries, among which Romania, and the European Union and its stamps are recognized by 57 postal administrations. However, for example, SMOM does not have bilateral diplomatic relationship with China, or the United States.

Unfortunately, as SMOM is not recognized by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), even if these stamps look like a Twin issue and the words “Joint issues” appear on all stamps, this issue will be filed in the category Non-approved [NR].

This situation is quite difficult to handle and it is not our role to decide which country have to be collected by whom. It must be a personal decision to include SMOM in ones own collection or not. After having written that, it was interesting to explore both the UPU and SMOM web sites to get more details about recognition and consequences. Interestingly, in the list of non-recognized countries, one counts also, among others, Kosovo (which mail is routed through Serbia) and Taiwan (mail routed through Japan or the USA). Palestine has an observer status with mail routed through Jordan, while a series of other smaller countries are not members of the UPU, but issue stamps, and their post is routed through an UPU member state, e.g., Andorra (through France or Spain), Marschall, Micronesia, Palau (through USA), SMOM (through Italy), Northern Cyprus (through Turkey), … A full updated list is provided by Wikipedia under the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_Universal_Postal_Union.

We will continue reporting about stamps from all these countries and leave each collector define if it should belong to his own collection, but we will also continue mentioning the official situation for each country. In our particular case, we will have to update some issues and to add some comments for some of the above mentionned countries in the catalogue pages (use of grey color instead of black and itamlics characters).

There is a last point that needs to be mentionned in this specific issue. We do not have yet details about the printing runs of SMOM stamps (they should however remain small), but we got the figures for Romania. This country issued 2 stamps in sheets of 32 stamps ([8×4]) and sheetlets of 5 stamps ([3×2] including one label). Only 2×5,120 stamps were issued in sheets, meaning only 160 sheets were printed for each stamp, while only 2×530 sheetlets were printed. On top of this, Romania issued a folder containing an imperforate souvenir sheet with both stamps at only 292 samples! This is not the way to help collectors completing there collection, another reason not to recognize this issue as a true joint issue.

Moldova – Romania 2021

On November 24, 2021, Moldova and Romania issued each two stamps dedicated to viticulture and showing grapes. Moldova issued stamps in miniature sheets of 10 stamps 2x[5×2], but also as a se-tenant miniature sheet of 3 pairs [3x1p], alternating stamps (i.e. when cut either in 3 vertical pairs or 2 horizontal + 1 vertical). Romania proposed stamps in sheets of 28 (2x[4×7]), but also in miniature sheets of 5 stamps and one label 2x[3×2] consisting of a row of 2 and a row of 3 stamps. The label is positioned at the end of the first row, and represents the design of the second stamp type. Only 980 pairs of these Romanian miniature sheets have been printed. Mixed covers with stamps from both countries became also available.