TYPE: A59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66
ISSUED: January 1, 1938
PAPER: Watermarked double cross on pyramid
PURPOSE: To commemorate the 900th anniversary of the death of St. Stephen
DESIGNER: Sandor Legrady
PICTURE: (A59) Pope Sylvester II and Abbot Astrik, receiving the crown, (A60) St. Stephen, (A61) St. Stephen seated on the throne, (A62) Saints Gerhardt, Emerich and Stephen teaching St. Emeric in the presence of his father, (A63) St. Stephen offering the Holy crown to the Virgin Mary, or the founding of the Hungarian Church, (A64) St. Stephen as King Stephen I, (A65) Madonna, Patroness of Hungary, (A66) The Crown of St. Stephen.
HISTORY: Pope Sylvester II was Pope from 999 to 1003; he introduced the use of Arabic figures into western Europe. Stephen, born 975, died 1038, became King of Hungary in 997; in order to make Hungary a Christian nation and to establish himself as a ruler, he sent Abbot Astricus to Rome to petition Pope Sylvester II for royal dignity and for power to establish episcopal sees. Sylvester acceded to Stephen’s wishes, recognizing the Magyar nationality and endowing the famed kingly crown on Stephen. Stephen was crowned with it on August 17, 1001, at Gran, his birthplace. St. Stephen’s son, Emery, (Imre, Emerich (1007-1031) or St. Emery the Saint of Youth) and the latter’s tutor, the Italian St. Gellert or Gerhardt, are shown. St. Emerich, the only son of Stephen, was the last great man of the Arpad family, and was drowned because of his religious beliefs.
Beginning with this 1938 set we find the words “MAGYAR KIR. POSTA” restored to the stamps of Hungary. “Kir” is the abbreviation of Kiralyi (Royal) and Magyar Kir Posta means Hungarian Royal Postage. When the Republic was declared in Hungary in November 1918, the monarchy’s Kir Posta stamps were overprinted KOZTARSASAG (Republic). (153-173). When these provisionals were displaced in 1919 the word KIR was dropped and MAGYAR POSTA (Hungarian postage) used (174-197). Later in 1919 radicals came into power, with Bela Kun dominating the government, and during his regime stamps were inscribed MAGYAR TANACSKOZTARSASAG (Hungarian Soviet Republic). Admiral Horthy was made Regent under a restored monarchial constitution in 1920 and stamps inscribed MAGYAR KIR POSTA again were issued (beginning with 335). In 1925 the KIR was abandoned and MAGYARORZAG, meaning Hungarian Country, was adopted. With this 1938 set we go back again to MAGYAR KIR. POSTA, although Hungary was then a Kingdom without a king.