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Modern Romanian stamps are likely to cause shivers for most stamp collectors, but personally I'm quite fond of them. As the title says the topic of this post is Romanian 'Hotels, lodges and resorts' definitives series issued in 1991, and the varieties within. This is a a very common stamp series, likely just about every worldwide collector has got some stamps from the series in their collection. So it's surprising how poorly documented the series is: major stamp catalogs simply by-pass the varieties with very short footnote (Michel) or completely ignore them (Scott).
The series started in 1991, just few years after the fall of communism in eastern Europe. On simplified level, the series contains 21 face different stamps issued in 4 releases during 1991.
First release was 27th August 1991 containing values of 1, 5, 9 and 10 Lei:
The second run was released on 8th October 1991 containing values of 2, 4, 18, 25 and 30 Lei:
Third run released on 14th November 1991 containing values of 6, 8, 20, 45, 60 and 80L. The 80L stamp was reprinted in 1994 on watermarked paper:
Fourth and final release was on 5th December 1991 containing high values of 120, 160, 250, 400, 500 and 800L. All values except the 160L were re-printed on watermarked paper during 1994/96.
What explains the spread of face values is that during 1990s Romania experienced severe hyperinflation. The highest denomination in 1990 was 100 lei; in 1998 it was 100,000 lei; and by 2000 it was 500,000 lei. This of course affected postal rates and the use of these stamps:
The inflation created demand for new face values, and Romanian Post was forced to push out new definitive series annually. 1993 saw the release of 'Birds & Animals of Romania' series; in 1994 it was 'Romanian trees'; in 1995 it was 'Transportation'; and in 1996 it was 'Insects of Romania' - all with ever increasing face values.
By 1997 Romanian post started to overprint old definitive issues with new face values and it also meant a new lease of life for the stamps of Romanian hotels series. During the following two years a total of 24 different overprints on Hotel series stamps were released. Despite low catalog value, they are somewhat hard to come by as the prints runs were small. Below is all I've got so far:
This is where the fun begins... Besides watermark differences, Michel notes that paper varieties are known, but does not provide any further details on them. So basically what you are about to see below, is entirely based on observations I've done when checking through duplicates.
When viewed under UV, these stamps get a totally new life. As far as I can tell, there are at least two very different papers used. The non-luminescent paper appears dull brownish, whereas the phosphorescent paper shines bright.
As far as I can tell, most values come in both types of papers.
Another difference comes with paper thickness. Especially stamps with non-luminescent paper seem to come in varying paper thickness. For example the below 1 Leu stamp is IMHO available on four different (non-luminescent) papers:
Similar variations exists for most values.
Finally, there's the question of print varieties... The number of print varieties appears infinite. Very likely there was very little quality control when these stamps were printed.
First, the type of paper seems to have had affect on print quality. Especially specimens printed on thick, yellowish paper suffer from extremely poor, blurred print:
But it's not always about the paper. These all have similar type of paper, but yet the print quality goes across the board:
As usual, feel free to share your comments, questions and opinions on topic. I'm sure that out there is some specialized (likely Romanian) catalog / literature that covers these in more detail than Michel or Scott.
Finally... I've got roughly 18 grams (=400+ stamps) off-paper duplicates available. No damaged stuff, all postally used. If you're interested in getting yourself started with these, drop me a comment and I'm sure we can work out an exchange/swap to something that I can dig in next
Till next time, happy collecting!
You might also be interested of related posts about Stamps and postal history of Romania.