Philately Before Postage Stamps

Philately is the collection and study of postage stamps. In the period of philately (when postage stamps did not yet exist), letters and mail were transported with a single or double-line postal cancellation stamp indicating the name of the place of origin. Upon arrival at the destination, an impression of the receiving post's stamp was applied to the back of the letter. The early philatelic cancellations were characterized by the absence of the year, month, or day of mailing or delivery alongside the names of the sending and receiving locations. By the late 17th century, cities and larger settlements began including dates in addition to the place names.

The first postal cancellation with the name of the place in the Habsburg Empire was used in Vienna in 1751, and the first documented postal cancellation with the name of the place in Hungary (which included Novi Bečej) was used in Debrecen in 1752. According to the book "Philatelic Letters of the Hungarian Region" by Bela Terfi, published in 1943, the first post office in Novi Bečej was established in 1777.

In a book commemorating the 250 years of postal service in Zrenjanin, a group of authors mentions information from the map "Tabula Banatus Temesiensis" from 1776, where a postal horn is placed next to the location Bečei (referring to Novi Bečej). This would be evidence that postal services were conducted in that area at that time. The same book notes, based on information from 1846, that a postal service on horseback departed from Buda towards Subotica, Sombor, and Novi Bečej every Sunday and Thursday.

The postal map of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1750 to 1850, located in the Postal Museum in Budapest, schematically depicts the routes of postal traffic. Novi Bečej (Neu Becse) was connected through the route of Beodra (Novo Miloševo), Velika Kikinda (Kikinda), Banatski Komloš, and branching from Banatski Komloš, turning right towards Timișoara, and left through Male Kanjiža (Kleine Kanizsa - Novi Kneževac) to Szeged and Buda. Another route passed through Melenac, connecting Novi Bečej with Veliki Bečkerek (Zrenjanin), and a third route, through Rac Beč (Rácz Becse - Bečej) and Temerin, to Petrovaradin.

The first discovered philatelic letters from our town have an oval-shaped postal cancellation stamp and were in use in the early 19th century, in 1832/1833. There are two types of oval-shaped stamps with the inscription N.BECSE: one is ornate, and the other is a simpler type that was used even after the introduction of postage stamps, although at that time, a round postal cancellation stamp with the inscription NEU BECSE (Novi Bečej) was also in use.

Philatelic letters with the stamp of the settlement Franjova (now Vranjevo) have not yet been discovered, but the existence of such letters is not ruled out. In my collection, I have several letters dated from after 1886 with a circular Franjova stamp.

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