Stamps - Yugoslavia / Macedonia : 1963 Earthquake
Obligatory Tax stamps featuring Skopje Railway Station Clock

Yugoslavia Macedonia Skopje Earthquake Station Clock . . Yugoslavia Macedonia Skopje Earthquake Station Clock

In 1963, Skopje (then in Yugoslavia, now in Macedonia) suffered a massive earthquake, which left more than three-quarters of the population homeless and destroyed most of the city. The picture above shows the outside of the Railway Station in the aftermath, the clock on the remains of the wall showing a time a fraction BEFORE the quarter-hour when it was stopped by the earthquake.

Until 1991, Obligatory Tax stamps were used throughout Yugoslavia at post offices to raise aid money for Skopje and its peoples. Additionally, for many years deductions were also made directly from workers' salaries to assist in the reconstruction of the city. From 1975 onwards, many of the Obligatory Tax stamps featured the Skopje Station Clock.

An unusual feature of these stamps is that they were not produced by the Post Office but by various charities. The charities supplied the stamps to the Post Office each year and the Post Office made their use compulsory on mail for one week, at the end of which ALL the money raised from the sale of the stamps was passed on to the charities. This printing source for the stamps explains why, in some years, one finds labels in the same design as the stamps and with the same face value, but in different colours. The charities had the printing plates and were perfectly entitled to print such labels to raise further funds for Skopje, but they are labels, not stamps, as they were never supplied to post offices.

We know that many collectors struggle with the confusing catalogue listings of these stamps. By providing illustrations of every stamp, we hope this article will help you to distinguish the postage stamps one from another and also from the charity labels.

Yugoslavia Macedonia Skopje Earthquake Station Clock

Above is a photograph of the clock inside the railway station, showing the time at just AFTER the quarter-hour and this is most likely to be this clock which appears on the stamps of railway interest, although the addition of some numbers on the clock-face suggest a degree of artistic licence, if this is indeed the actual clock. The design was first used for stamps in 1975 and it is one of the more poignant pictures of the disaster.

In certain years until 1991, some of the issued stamps were intended for use only in one or more specified areas of the country with a further stamp being valid in the rest of the country. In years where this occurred, such 'regional' stamps were only issued and used in those areas for which they were intended, not haphazardly around the whole country. With all mail for one week each year having to bear the Obligatory Tax stamps, one would expect used copies to be fairly plentiful, but this certainly does not seem to be the case.

In the Yugoslavia part of the listing below, 1975-1991, stamps should be understood to be intended for use throughout the country unless otherwise stated. However, after 1991, with the break-up of Yugoslavia, only Macedonia continued to issue these 'solidarity' stamps, and these Macedonia issues are listed under that country, after the Yugoslavia listing.

I should like to record my thanks to Dragan Krstic for his help and careful research into these issues and for providing some of the very interesting background information to this article.

In our check-lists, issued stamps are in Green whilst charity labels are in Chestnut-Brown.
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Issued by Yugoslavia: 1975-1991

1975, 1979 & 1980
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1975-1980 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1975-1980

1st stamp : 1975 : Mi. Z. 50 . . . . Domfil 975.49
2nd stamp : 1979 : Mi. Z. 65 . . . . Domfil 979.44
3rd stamp : 1980 : Mi. Z. 70 . . . . Domfil 980.56
4th stamp : 1980 : Charity Label with country name in deep red (same size as stamps)
5th stamp : 1980 : Charity Label with country name in bright rose-red (same size as stamps)

1975 : In use from 26.07. until 01.08.1975
1975 30p Mi. Z.50 Shiny Gum [ . ]
- ditto - Matt Gem [ . ]

1979 : In use from 01.07. until 07.07.1979
1979 30p Mi. Z.65 [ . ]

1980 : In use from 01.07. until 07.07.1980
1980 1d Mi. Z.70 [ . ]

1980 Charity Label, country name in deep red [ . ]
- ditto - country name in bright rose-red [ . ]

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1984 & 1985
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1984 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Earthquake Railway Station Clock 1984 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1985

1st stamp : 1984 : Not in Michel : Not in Domfil (SG 2149)
2nd stamp : 1984 : Charity Label in Deep Blue
3rd stamp : 1985 : Mi. Z.98 . . . . Domfil 985.60
4th stamp : 1985 : Mi. Z.99 . . . . Domfil 985.61
5th stamp : 1985 : Not in Michel : Not in Domfil (SG 2220)

1984 : We are advised this is a label, not a stamp, but we list it as a stamp here because it has that status in SG
1984 1d50 SG 2149 (self-adhesive) in Silver & Red [ . ]

1984 Charity Label (self-adhesive) in Blue & Red [ . ]

1985 : In use from 01.07. until 07.07.1985
1985 2d50 Mi. Z.98 [ . ] for use in Montenegro
1985 3d Mi. Z.99 [ . ] for use in all of Yugoslavia except Croatia & Montenegro
1985 3d SG 2220 [ . ] for use in Croatia
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1986
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1986
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1986

Row 1 :
1st stamp : Rouletted : Mi. Z.113C . . . . Domfil 986.71
2nd stamp : Mi. Z.113D : Perf 11 . . . . . Domfil 986.71 variety
3rd stamp : Mi. Z.111A : Perf 10 . . . . . Domfil 986.69
4th stamp : Mi. Z.111D : Rouletted . . . . Domfil 986.69 variety
5th stamp : Mi. Z.111C : Perf 11 . . . . . Domdil 986.69 variety
6th stamp : Mi. Z.112A . . . . Domfil 986.70

Row 2 :
Mi. Z111A (Perf 10) var. : 3 mms red shift (to left)

1986 : In use from 01.06. until 07.06.1986
1986 10d Mi. Z.113C Rouletted [ . ] For use in Croatia
1986 10d Mi. Z.113D Perf 11 [ . ] For use in Croatia
1986 10d Mi. Z.111A Perf 10 [ . ] For use in Yugoslavia except Croatia & Macedonia
- ditto - variety : major red shift (to left) [ . ]
1986 10d Mi. Z.111D Rouletted [ . ] For use in Yugoslavia except Croatia & Macedonia
1986 10d Mi. Z.111C Perf 11 [ . ] For use in Yugoslavia except Croatia & Macedonia
1986 10d Mi. Z.112A Normal Paper [ . ] For use in Macedonia
1986 10d Mi. Z.112A Chalky Paper [ . ] For use in Macedonia
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1987
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1987 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Earthquake Railway Station Clock 1987 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1987
The scans shows the issued stamp (left), followed by reduced-size scans of the two labels in the sheet, se-tenant with the stamp in two arrangements. The stamp was printed in sheets/72 (70 stamps & 2 labels)

1987 : In use from 01.06. until 07.06.1987
1987 30d Mi. Z.135 . . . . Domfil 987.65 [ . ]
- ditto - horizontal strip/4 (2 stamps, 2 labels) [ . ]
- ditto - Block/6 (4 stamps + 2 labels) [ . ]
1987 30d Mi. Z.135 F I . . . . Domfil 987.65 var. : Black & Grey-Brown omitted [ . ]
1987 30d Mi. Z.135 F II . . . . Domfil 987.65 var. : Red & Grey omitted [ . ]

We do not have examples of these last two, errors of colours, to display.

At around this time, we know of at least two charity labels, one sold at 50p, one at 1d50. The labels are self-adhesive and in a style very similar to the stamps but the labels are quite small, measuring (off their backing paper) 15x22.5 mms. The sheet arrangement appears to have been sheets/70 (14x5) with a slight gutter between down the centre between the 7th and 8th stamps of each row. The 50p label is dated 1988; the 1d50 label is undated but is most likely from 1987, possibly 1989. We list them together here for convenience.

Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988

c. 1987? 150p (1d50) Charity Label in Red & Brownish-Black (value in Black) (self-adhesive) [ . ]
- ditto - interpanneau pair (horizontal) [ . ]

1988 50p (0d50) Charity Label in Red & Black (self-adhesive) [ . ]
- ditto - interpanneau pair (horizontal) [ . ]

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For the record, we show the full(?) sheets/70 below, reduced size but displaying the sheet layout and the different-coloured backing paper:

Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988

Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988
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1988
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988

1st stamp : Mi. Z.155 . . . . Domfil 988.80
2nd stamp : Mi. Z.156 . . . . Domfil 988.81
3rd stamp : Mi. Z.157 . . . . Domfil 988.82
4th stamp : as 3rd stamp, surcharge inverted
5th stamp : as Mi. Z.155 but yellow and red omitted

Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988

1st scan : Mi. Z.157 var . . . . Domfil 988.82 var. surcharge double
2nd scan : detail scan of double surcharge
3rd scan : 1988 m/s Perf & Imperf Domfil 988.80-82HBE & HBE ND (also footnoted in SG)

1988 : In use from 01.06. until 07.06.1988
1988 50d Mi. Z.155 . . . . Domfil 988.80 [ . ] for use in Yugoslavia except Croatia & Macedonia
1988 50d Mi. Z.155 Variety: Yellow and Red both omitted [ . ]
1988 50d Mi. Z.156 . . . . Domfil 988.81 [ . ]
for use in Croatia
1988 50d/30d Mi. Z.157 . . . . Domfil 988.82 [ . ] for use in Macedonia
- ditto - horizontal strip/4 (2 stamps, 2 labels) [ . ] see 1987 issue scans for sheet format
- ditto - Block/6 (4 stamps + 2 labels) [ . ] see 1987 issue scans for sheet format
1988 50d/30d Mi. Z.157 variety SURCHARGE INVERTED [ . ]
1988 50d/30d Mi. Z.157 variety SURCHARGE DOUBLE [ . ]

1988 50d m/s Domfil 988.80-82 HBE Perf [ . ]
(sold at 1500d and only in Macedonia)
- ditto - but Imperf (Domfil 988.80-82 HBE ND) [ . ] (sold at 1500d and only in Macedonia)

1988 : Printers' Waste :
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Station Clock 1988

The right-hand stamp on the top row above is one of the values from a May 1988 set/7, Obligatory Tax stamps in aid of the Red Cross. These are not of railway interest, but the printers for these stamps were the same as for Mi. Z.155, which is shown again just below the Red Cross stamp to assist quick comparison.

The other six stamp images show three examples of the fronts and backs of printers' initial trial printings of elements of both the Red Cross and the Skopje (Mi.Z.155) designs on ungummed scrap paper. There is no way of knowing just how many variants of such 'Printers Waste' exist, not are they collected with a view to completion, and we therefore do not provide any check-boxes for such material, but they are nonetheless interesting.
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1989
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1989 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Skopje Earthquake Railway Station Clock 1989

1989 : In use from 01.06. until 07.06.1989
1989 250d Mi. Z.70 . . . . Domfil 989.75 [ . ]
1989 400d Mi. Z.71 . . . . Domfil 989.76 [ . ]

1989 250d as Mi. Z.70 but larger and in m/s PERF . . Domfil 989.75-76 MBE (sold at 3200d) [ . ]
- ditto - but IMPERF (Domfil 989.75-76 MBE ND) [ . ]

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1990
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1990 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1990 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1990

1990 : In use from 01.06. until 07.06.1990
1990 0,20d x 3 + label : Mi. Z.183-85 + label . . . . Domfil 990.81-83 [ . ]
- ditto - in m/s in gold frame PERF (SG footnote) [ . ]
- in m/s in gold frame IMPERF [ . ]
1990 0,20d (smaller stamp) Mi. Z.186 . . . . Domfil 990.84 [ . ]
1990 0,30d Mi. Z.187A . . . . Domfil 990.85 PERF 11 [ . ]
for use in Croatia
1990 0,30d Mi. Z.187C . . . . Domfil 990.85 var. ROULETTED [ . ] for use in Croatia
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1991
Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1991 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1991

Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1991 Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1991

1991 : In use from 01.06. until 07.06.1991
1991 2d Orange & Grey Mi. Z.204 . . . . Domfil 991.71 [ . ] for use in Yugoslavia except Croatia & Macedonia
1991 2d x 4 : Mi. Z.200-03 . . . . Domfil 991-67-70 block/4 FROM SHEETS [ . ] for use in Macedonia
1991 2d x 4 as Mi. Z.200-03 but in m/s PERF [ . ] issued in a folder (stamps unattached)
- ditto - but IMPERF m/s [ . ] Issued in folder. Both m/s were issued only in Macedonia
1991 2d20 Mi. Z.205 . . . . Domfil 991.72 [ . ] for use in Croatia
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Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1991

As printers get closer and closer to the finished item, incomplete designs will usually be described rather less as 'Printers Waste' and rather more as early proofs, progressive proofs (as here) or colour trials. These can be quite highly-prized by collectors, especially when they emanate from security printers and particularly popular countries philatelically. Whatever their perceived market value, though, they are always interesting and collectable, usually more so when, as here, they are on gummed paper, which is normally used only at the more advanced proofing stages.

In the examples above, the left block has only the red colour omitted, the right block has both red omitted and only a hint of gold. Note that the guide-lines for cutting the paper are shown, reinforcing the view that these are at a reasonably late proofing stage for the miniature sheets.

We close the Yugoslavia section, see scan below, with what may either be a partial proof or maybe a completed charity label; we have not been able to assign it to a particular year:

Yugoslavia Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1991

19xx? Skopje Clock in Green & Brown in a style similar to 1975-80 issues [ . ]
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End of issues sold through the Yugoslavian Post Office

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Issued by Macedonia : 1992-1996

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1992
Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

1992 20d x 4 Mi. Z.18-21 . . . . Domfil 992.22-25 [ . ]
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1993
Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

1993 50de x 4 Mi. Z.42-45 . . . . Domfil 993.47-50 [ . ] from sheets, stamps have silver frames
1993 50de x 4 in m/s PERF : Mi. BL. Z.8A . . . . Domfil 993.55 [ . ] m/s stamps have gold frames
1993 50de x 4 in m/s IMPERF : Mil BL. Z.8B . . . . Domfil 993.55 ND [ . ] m/s stamps have gold frames

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1994
Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

1994 1d Mi. Z.66 . . . . Domfil 994.34 [ . ]

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1995
Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992 Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

1995 1d Mi. Z.79 . . . . Domfil 995.36 [ . ]
- ditto - with label attached
*** Mi. Z.79 Zf [ . ]
1995 30d m/s Perf : Mi. BL. Z.15A . . . . Domfil 995.37
1995 30d m/s IMPERF : Mi. BL. Z.15B . . . . Domfil 995.37 ND [ . ]

*** : Issued in sheets of 25, 24 stamps and 1 label. No scan of the label available.
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1996
Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992 Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

1996 1d Mi. Z.89 . . . . Domfil 996.40 [ . ]
1996 30d m/s Perf : Mi. BL. Z.20A . . . . Domfil 996.41 [ . ]
1996 30d m/s IMPERF : Mi. BL. Z.20B . . . . Domfil 996.41 ND [ . ]

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That completes the Solidarity Stamps / Obligatory Tax stamps for Macedonia but there was a regular stamp issued in 2013 for the 50th Anniversary of the earthquake, which is shown below in a full sheetlet of 9 stamps:

Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

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The building is now a Museum and you can get today's street view of this on Google, which shows the time on the exterior clock at just AFTER the quarter hour, unlike the picture at the top of this article : Click here to view the outside of the Museum and the exterior clock. . . . . The earthquake occurred at 5.17, the hour hand on the clock at the museum today being a little advanced.
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Finally, totally unconnected to the Skopje earthquake, period postcards of Macedonia with railway interest are uncommon. As it is unlikely we shall have reason to write further articles on Macedonia, we thought we would take this opportunity to display below a postcard from the Great War (WWI) showing a narrow-gauge military supply train on temporary track behind the front lines.

Macedonia Stamps Earthquake Skopje Station Clock 1992

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