Bitter Grounds Magazine

stamps, espresso & conversation

Fantastic EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes

Written by catpaw

August 16, 2021

The EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes competition produced a spectacular thematic year. The only thing that could have made it more exciting would be changing it to “Early Airmail Routes”.  Although Europa stamps date to 1952, the competition didn’t start until 2002. Each year a theme is picked and participating countries design stamps that capture the topic.  Not all Europa members participate in the competition, and a few stamps were issued too late to be included in the voting. 

As well, not all stamps are considered in the voting process. I’ve opted to post all the stamps, not just the ones under consideration. Sometimes a set expresses a bigger story than a single stamp can fully explain. 

Europa competition themes

Subjects are announced well in advance, giving postal authorities plenty of time to plan their entries. Topics offer countries the chance to showcase their nation & stamp designers.  It’s an interesting competition, which has gone from strength to strength. Well, with the exception of the first year – Circuses. Far too many clowns to enjoy the year. Thanks Stephen King for ruining clowns forever.  

  • 2024 – National Archaeological Discoveries
  • 2023 – Underwater Fauna & Flora
  • 2022 – Stories & Myths
  • 2021 – Endangered National Wildlife
  • 2020 – Ancient Postal Routes
  • 2019 – National Birds
  • 2018 – Bridges
  • 2017- Castles
  • 2016 – Think Green 
  • 2015 – Old Toys
  • 2014 – Musical Instruments
  • 2013 – Postal Vehicles 
  • 2012 – Visit …
  • 2011 – Forest 
  • 2010 – Children’s books
  • 2009 – Astronomy
  • 2008 – The Letter
  • 2007 – 100 Years of Scouting
  • 2006 – Integration as seen by young people
  • 2005 – Gastronomy
  • 2004 – Holidays
  • 2003 – Poster Arts
  • 2002 – The Circus

EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes

2020’s theme was Old Postal Routes. Some post offices called it ancient, some old. The topic was titled Ancient Postal Routes, but I’ve opted to use old for most of the article because shifting between ancient and old became irritating so I picked one format and stuck with it throughout the article. 

Regardless, this theme turned into a fascinating trip through the evolution of mail services across Europe. Along the way, I learned quite a bit about early mail delivery. I often think of the post office in modern terms – use a stamp and off it goes. Many of the stamps in this series pay tribute to routes that predate the use of postage stamps and allude to the dangers messengers faced during their journeys. 

55 countries can compete in 2 categories: juried & popular. The popular category is picked by the public. No specific criteria is required in this category. Online voting takes place over a number of months with the stamp with the most votes winning. 

Juried voting considered two questions:

  1. What was it like when “mobility was quite reduced, and travelling a dangerous activity”? 
  2. How did the Postal systems start?

This year’s EUROPA Stamps theme will answer these questions by depicting some of the most famous routes and traveling methods which paved the way to improve connectivity throughout the globe. From famous ships to wonderful carriages, we will see a historical variety of beautiful elements which constitute the rich postal heritage. Travelling the Ancient Routes via EUROPA Stamps, POST EUROP press release

Covid effect

The “reduced mobility” question weirdly foreshadowed the current pandemic. When the topic was picked, no one envisioned how it would resonate in in a locked down world. Last year’s topic tied into the Covid pandemic in an unexpected way. 2020’s theme emphasized the life of postal couriers and the dangers that accompanied their jobs. The pandemic reminded many of how vital communication is and how difficult front line service can be. 2020’s juried winner was picked in part, because it reminded the judges of the vital “human aspect”  of mail service.

“This year virtual jury-meeting brought a very high-quality result and five really fascinating stamp designs as short-listed winners of the international competition 2020. As the theme – old postal routes, was not an easy task, we were really surprised by the artists solutions. Especially the winning design from Poland with its special proportions in vertical format expressed the theme in a perfect manner – colours and technique of the artwork are really modern and perfect for a small stamp. The same can be said about the other four short-listed winners from Switzerland, Germany, Ukraine and the Faroe Islands. The whole set of the jury’s favourites shows big parallels: The Focus on riding or walking postal couriers or mailmen, the focus on the ”human aspect“ behind the postal delivery system and their adventurous and sometimes dangerous journey in former times convinced us and also the other jury members. Chapeau!” said expert jurors Stefan Klein and Olaf Neumann, our recurring judges from Kommunikations Design in Germany. News ( 

I agree with their assessment. The artistry across all designs is eye riveting.  2020 postal routes created some of the best stamp designs since the inception of the competition (including 2021’s stamps).  

Poland’s winning entry

POLAND EUROPA 2020 winning stamp

This long stamp was certainly eye catching. Maciej Jędrysik’s design followed 16th century routes along the Vistula River, with major stops along at Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Toruń, Elbląg, Gdańsk.  If you look closely at this stamp, you’ll see different methods of delivery tied into the design – foot, horse & ship delivery.

Second prize was an unusual 4 way tie between Faroe Islands, Switzerland, Ukraine and Germany.    

Faroe Islands 

Faroe Islands Europa 2020

This is an intriguing stamp that explores the dangers of mail delivery in icey, remote areas.  The map on the top left, shows the mail route from Klaksvík – Viðareiði. The yellow line traces the tragic route Jacob Eliassen (1836 – 1887) took when he plunged to his death during a delivery in 1887. 

The second half of the stamp, Postmen of the Mountains, follows the red route on the map. Two postmen found themselves trapped by a storm at Breytarstígar and were forced to build a makeshift shelter to protect themselves. Unlike Eliassen, both these men survived their journey. 

Second row map shows the route Vestmanna – Vágar, rowed by Ólavur Olsen (1855 – 1947).  Initially the route was undertaken by men in rowboats, a treacherous trip that was banned in 1920.  

You can read more about the stamps & the history they depict here

 Artist Philatelic Pursuits has a page on the history of Faroe Island mail delivery that is quite fascinating 2021 Stamps: Faroe Islands (Postal History) – Philatelic Pursuits.  


Switzerland 2020 EUROPA  Switzerland 2020 EUROPA stamp 2

This pair of Swiss stamps was created with the cooperation of Germany. The stamps follow the 14th c route established by the legendary House Thurn and Taxis. The route begins in Rheinhausen, Germany and travels to Milan and Mantua, with stops in Zurich and Basel.  


Germany EUROPA 2020

Deutsche Post issued this medieval Thurn & Taxis route, which was a nice companion piece to the Swiss stamps. The stamp depicts a mail rider on one leg of the Frankfurt to Vienna route. Established in 1490, it is considered the first permanent postal route in the Holy Roman Empire. 

 Ukraine – postman Fedir Feketa

Silver medal winner Ancient Postal Routes

This was an immensely popular stamp in Ukraine. The story of Fedir Feketa (1789 – 1838), a beloved Ukrainian, speaks to the heart of the theme. It captures the human aspect  better than any stamp in the competition. Feketa delivered mail on foot, for 30 years. He walked the 25 km route from Tury Remet to Uzhgorod, a couple times each week, travelling through mountainous routes and rivers to safely deliver mail throughout the Carpathian mountains.   

EUROPA 2020 Popular Vote Gold Stamp – Turkey

TURKEY Europa 2020

Overall winner of the popular vote was Turkey with 38,000 votes. It turns out, Turkey is the country to beat, with previous wins 2018, 2017, 2015, 2013 and 2011. Historic routes depicted in this stamp include boats, horse messenger & foot. It’s a delightful stamp that echoes medieval art work. 

Second place Armenia

Armenia Europa 2020 single stamp

This stamp shows the city of Gyumri, considered the cultural and political centre of Armenia in the 19th century. 

Third place Azerbaijan

Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 Azerbaijan stamp 2 Azerbaijan Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020

Azerbaijan’s created a playful set. Depending on how the stamps are arranged, they could be couriers going or returning.

Azerbaijan Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 Azerbaijan stamp 2

These stamps depict mounted couriers from the first postal routes established in the 15th c by Shah Ismail I (1487-1524). 

My favourites

EUROPA 2020 MOLDOVA 4 stamp sheet

Of course it had to be the sole entry with a biplane. Biplanes and maps will always be a winning combination. Moldova’s set is spectacular. The stamp celebrates the first airmail deliver in Moldova (1926), and designer Vitaliu Pogolşa strong illustrations grabbed my attention. 

My second pick – well, there were so many, but I loved the Albanian stamp. Unfortunately it arrived too late for the competition, but that doesn’t lessen it’s over all appeal to me. 

Albania souvenir sheetKarneti-pulla-Europa-2020-1024x567

Third – pigeon post from Bosnia-Herzegovina (JP BH). Pigeon post is often neglected when we talk about postal delivery, but it played an interesting part in the evolution of mail delivery. 

EUROPA 2020 Bosnia-Herzegovina (Croatia) FBiH  two stamps

Best overall cancel

This isn’t a category in the competition, but should be. Cancels are much underrated as far as artwork goes and aren’t given nearly the attention they deserve. 

Hungary’s post horn cancel is exquisite. It was a hard pick, but this was by far the outstanding cancel of 2020. The level of detail in this cancel is wonderful. 

Hungarian Europa 2020 cancel showing an  carved possthorn

I found getting clean scans of all cancels impossible, and did the best I could. If you have a better image and would like to share it, drop me a line in the comments. 

Quick note

I wasn’t able to cull details about all stamps. When possible, I’ve included interesting features and/or links for more information. Feel free to add details you think people might enjoy. Just drop a mention in the comments.  If you spot any errors, please let me know. I appreciate it when readers reach out and offer corrections. 

Some post office’s don’t do a good job promoting the designers and artists, so any help you can offer regarding the missing designers would be appreciated. 

If you’d like to be notified when updates to this page are made, sign up for the newsletter.  Use the pop up form or go to the home page and use the link in the middle of the page. As always, I’ll be poking around different history sites and making trips to my local reference library to find more information for this page. 

Europa 2020 Old Postal Routes – A 

Åland –  Postal Boat Race across the Sea of Åland

 Postal Boat Race across the Sea of Åland 

sheet of 30

Aland sheets EUropa 2020

This stamp shows the Postal Boat Race across the sea of Åland. The race, which began in 1974, follows the 400 year old postal route between Aland and Sweden.  

The first mail run across Åland to Finland departed from Sweden in 1638. The crossing between Grisslehamn and Eckerö was to be known as one of the most dangerous postal routes in the world, particularly during times of treacherous ice and snow conditions; more than 200 farmer-postmen lost their lives. Aland Post Office

Designer: David Lundberg

 Release date: May 20, 2021


 Albania single stamp Europa-2020

mini sheet

Albania souvenir sheet Europa-2020-1024x764  


Albania FDC with souvenir sheet bllok-Europa-2020-1024x566 Albania FDC single stamp seri-Europa-2020-1024x566

souvenir sheet

Albania souvenir sheetKarneti-pulla-Europa-2020-1024x567


Albania 2020 Booklet cover

Designer: Artion Baboçi

Issued too late for the competition

Release date: Feb. 22, 2021


Andorra (France) – map of postal route through Andorra

ANDORRA Europa 2020 cancel 

ANDORRA EUROPA 2020 single stamp showing map of Andorra

Designer: Enric Cardús
Sheet designer: Stéphanie Ghinea

Release date: May 12, 2020


Andorra (Spain) – Andorra la Vella and La Seu d’Urgell

Andorra Sp - Europa 2020 showing a map of Andora

Andorra (Spain) Europa 2020

This stamp shows the pedestrian messengers travelling between Andorra la Vella and La Seu d’Urgell

 Release date: April 23, 2020


Armenia – city of Gyumri

Armenia Europa 2020 single stamp 

sheet of 10

Armenia EUROPA 2020 sheet of stamps

Stamp shows city of Gyumri, the 19th century cultural and political centre of Armenia 

Designer: David Dovlatyan

Release date: May 9, 2020


Austria – Historical Postal Routes Thurn and Taxis

Austria Europa 2020 postmark

 Austria Europa 2020 - Historical Postal Routes Thurs and Taxis


 Austria - Historical Postal Routes Thurs and Taxis FDC

The Thurn and Taxis family, then called Tassis, began providing mail courier services for the Italian city-states in the 13th Century. By the 16th Century, they had a monopoly on postal services, operating a network of postal routes in Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, and the Low Countries. At the peak of their operations, they employed some 20,000 messengers to deliver mail and newspapers.  Thurn and Taxis – A Brief History (

Designer: David Gruber

Release date: May 8, 2020

See Austrian issues for 2021 


Azerbaijan – gasid (post rider) 

Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 Azerbaijan stamp 2 Azerbaijan Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 


Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 Azerbaijan sheet of stamps Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 

mini sheet

Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 Azerbaijan souvenir sheet


    Ancient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 booklet with coverAncient Postal Routes EUROPA 2020 booklet cover 

These stamps show a gasid (post rider) and Medieval postal routes. Shah Ismail Khatai in 1501 established the gasid messengers.

  • 1,5 manat. Depiction of a gasid (post rider) on horseback. 
  • 0,5 manat. In the foreground is shown a gasid (post rider) on horseback. The background depicts a map showing Baku, Shamakhi and Tabriz.
  • 0,6 manat. In the foreground is shown a gasid (post rider) on horseback. The background depicts a map showing Derbent, Shamakhy, Nakhchivan, Ganja and Irevan.

Designer: Vugar Eyyubov
Eyyubov is Azermarka’s chief designer and responsible for many of Azerbaijan’s outstanding stamps

Release date: May 9, 2020

See Azerbaijan’s 2021 stamps 


Azores – postal hand stamps & postcards

Azores cancel EUropa 2020


mini sheet with 2 stamps




maxi card


Designer: Design&etc  / Hélder Soares‎
Release date: May 25, 2020


EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes – B


Belarus – two routes 
mini sheet
mini sheet
Belarus EUROPA 2020 sheet of two stamps
sheets of 6 
maxi cards
Belarus EUROPA 2020 maxi card Belarus EUROPA 2020 maxi card  
First stamp shows a foot messenger with a special travel document on the Krakow – Warsaw – Goradnya – Vilna route approved by the Grand Duke of Lithuania Stefan Batory in 1583
Second stamp shows a horse messenger on the Vilna – Maladzeczna – Mensk – Barysau – Drutsk – Orsha – Smalensk. It was established by  the Grand Duke of Lithuania Zhigimont the Old in 1528
Designer: Tatyana Kuznetsova

Release date: May 5, 2020

See more stamps from Belarus here:  issues for 2021


Belgium – Thurn und Taxis family
mini sheet 
Another tribute to the legendary Thurn und Taxis family. 
First stamp shows lion, from the late 19th c, second showing a W, from 1815-1830.

Designer: Kris Maes
Sheet designed by Eugène Péchaubès

Release date: June 15, 2020


Bosnia-Herzegovina (Croatia) FBiH – Roman Messenger Service
mini sheet 
sheet of 8  
Bosnia-Herzegovina (Croatia) FBiH - Roman Messenger Service FDC

The Roman Messenger Service, initially called vehiculatio later cursus publicus, was founded by Emperor Augustus between 27 and 20 BC. For Emperor Septimius Severo (193-211) cursus publicus is divided into two parts: fast (cursus velox) and slow (cursus claburalis). A wagon and a silver penny from the Roman Consul L. Saufeius (152 BC) were chosen as motifs on the stamps.  Croatian Post Mostar

Designer: Marin Musa 

Release date: May 9, 2021

Bosnia-Herzegovina (Serbian) RS – horse messenger and rail
Bosnia Serbia EUropa cancel
Sheet of 8
Bosnia Serbia EUropa sheet of 8 Bosnia Serbia EUropa sheet two
Bosnia-Herzegovina (Serbian) RS 
According to preserved records dating back to the Ottoman Empire, the first post offices on the territory of present-day Republika Srpska opened in 1864. Year. Visegrad, Zvornik, Bijeljina, Brcko, Gradiska and Brod were the first to receive postal stations. Europe -ancient-postal -routes – Web portal Post Office Srpske (
Designer: Tanja Kuruzovic
Release date: April 15, 2020


Bosnia-Herzegovina (JP BH) – Sarajevo to Istanbul pigeon post
mini sheet
Designer: Tamer Lučarević
Release date: April 5, 202

mini sheet
Bulgaria 2020 sheet of 8 stamps  
graphic cover 
Bulgaria 2020 FDC    
souvenir sheet
Bulgaria sheet Europa 2020
Designer: Stanimir Zhelev
Release date:  June 28, 2020

EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes – C to E

Croatia – the master road

Croatia Europa 2020 cancel

Croatia EUROPA stamp 2  Croatia EUROPA 2020


 Croatia Europa 2020 pair of stamps 

sheet of 12

 Croatia sheet MASTERROAD 



… built from 1825 to 1832 and is considered the first modern road that connected continental Croatia and Dalmatia. It was built by the famous builder of Croatian roads of the time, border officer Josip Kajetan Knežić. Precisely because of the high quality of design and construction, it was called the “Master Road”.  At the end of 1833, traffic was established once a week by postage carriages (dilizansa) between Vienna and Zadar Croatian Post – Europe – old postal routes

Designer: Alenka Lalić

Release date: May 8, 2020


Cyprus – from the Ottoman Empire to modern rail


sheets of 8



Release date: May 4, 2020

See the 2021 issues for Cyprus here.


Czech Republic – mail coach

Czech Republic single stamp

In the Czech lands, the development of postage began only with the advent of the Habsburgs. Regular mail, organized news transport in today’s territory of the Czech Republic is associated with the election of Ferdinand I as Czech king and was created even before Habsburg took the Czech throne, already in 1526. Ferdinand I used the services and experience of the aristocratic Taxis family, who since the end of the 13th century have almost monopolized postal transport in northern Italy and much of Europe. The oldest postal route between Prague and Vienna led through Tábor and further into the area of Košice, where it was divided into two branches. The southern one was heading for Linz, the eastern branch led through Jindrichuv Hradec and Slavonice further towards Vienna. Czech Post ( 

Designer: Jan Maget

Release date: April 4, 2020



Denmark – 1624 route Copenhagen and Altona

Denmark Europa 2020  


Denmark Europa FDC 

1624 route between Copenhagen and Altona near Hamburg. Established by Christian IV 

Designer:  Ella Clausen 

Release date: May 11, 2020

See Denmark’s 2021 issues


Estonia – Tartu–Võru road & Tille tavern

Estonia Europa 2020 postmark

Estonia Europa 2020   Estonia Europa 2020

sheets of 10

Estonia Europa 2020 Sheet of 1   Estonia Europa 2020 sheet of 10


Estonia Europa 2020 FDC

Designer: Triin Heimann
Heimann is a prolific designer for Estonia’s post office. He has designed most of the Lunar New Year stamps, including the 2021 one.

Release date:  May 14, 2020

See issues for 2021

Europa 2021 Endangered Wildlife – F   


Faroe Island  – two routes Klaksvík – Viðareiði & Vestmanna – Vágar

    Faroe Islands Europa 2020


Faroe Islands FDC with two stamps Faroe Islands FDC with block of mountain stamps Faroe Islands FDC with block of boat stamps

sheets of 10

Faroe Islands sheet of 10 showing mail boat Faroe Islands sheet of 10 mailmen on the mountain

Also comes in blocks and booklets

For an extensive writeup on these stamps, check out Faroe Island post’s article 

Designer: Anker eli Petersen

Release date: April 27, 2020

See issues for 2021 


Finland – Father Christmas around the world

Finland Europa 2020 stamps - Santa and his sleigh

Designer: Klaus Welp

Release date: May 6, 2020

See all of Finland’s 2021 releases here



France – briska horse drawn carriage

 FRANCE EUROPA cancel 2020


From horse-drawn wheelbarrows, to trunks without shock absorbers and with two wheels, to the 1830s briska model equipped with a convertible, postal vehicles always knew how to find the light on the relay station at night, because “to run the post ”suffered no interruption… La Poste

Illustration: Stéphane Humbert-Basset  
Engraving: Line Filhon  

Release date: May 11, 2020


EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes – G


Georgia 2020 Europa  

Release date: Oct. 30, 2020

Germany – Thurn und Taxis routes

Germany EUROPA 2020 cancel of a post horn Germany EUROPA 2020 cancel two

Germany EUROPA 2020

Medieval postal routes – Thurn und Taxis 

1490, the Roman-German king and later Emperor Maximilian I commissioned the brothers Janetto and Francesco de Tasso to establish a postal connection. With the help of their family, they created the Dutch postal exchange, on which letters could be sent from Innsbruck to the Netherlands and as far as Italy.

This postal exchange is considered to be the first permanently operated, centrally organized postal route in the Holy Roman Empire and the year 1490 as the founding year of the modern European postal system. Along the route, post stations were built where riders and horses changed and the messengers handed over the broadcasts to each other like a relay (relay system). Deutsche Poste Issue 8, 2020

Designer: Michael Kunter

Release date: May 7, 2020 

See issues for 2021


Gibraltar – Lady Mary Wood 1842|SS Iberia 1836 

Gibraltar - Lady Mary Wood 1842|SS Iberia 1836 Gibraltar - Lady Mary Wood 1842|SS Iberia 1836

mini sheet

Gibraltar - Lady Mary Wood 1842|SS Iberia 1836 sheet



The P&O was a profitable business entity at the time when it was awarded the mail contract between England and Alexandria, and between Suez and Calcutta. Securing the contract to Singapore and Hong Kong further cemented its position in the region.4 At the time, steamers took 140 hours to travel from Ceylon to Penang, 45 hours from Penang to Singapore, where there was a 48-hour stopover, before completing its journey to Hong Kong in another 170 hours.5

The Lady Mary Wood began its maiden voyage from London on 24 June 1845 and arrived in Singapore on 4 August 1845, after an eight-day passage from Point de Galle, Sri Lanka. It brought mail from London in a record time of 41 days. On its return journey, the mail steamer carried a total of 4,757 letters from Singapore, the bulk of which were bound for Great Britain and Europe. By 1848, the standard practice was to raise a red flag on Government Hill (today’s Fort Canning Hill) in the day to signal the arrival of mail from Europe and a yellow flag for mail from China, while a gun was fired at night. Lady Mary Wood | Infopedia ( 

The SS Iberia was another P&O mail ship. It ran under the Iberian Peninsula mail contract. 

Designer: Stephen Perera
Illustration / Photography: Beatrice Garcia

Release date:  May 8, 2020


Greece – steam ships

Greece Europa Cancel

 Greece Europa 2020 stamp entry two ships

Greece Europa 2020 FDC

  • Prince Maximilian 19th cent 
  • Arciduca Lodovico  19th cent

Designer: Myrsini Vardopoulou

Release date: May 8, 2020

See all Greek issues for 2021


Greenland  – airmail with Charles Lindbergh | Lindbergh Post

   Greenland Europa 2020


Greenland Europa 2020 booklet


Greenland Europa 2020 FDC 

special cover

Greenland Europa 2020 special cover

1933 Lindbergh mail route over Greenland The Lindberghs’ 1933 Survey Flight | Pioneers of Flight (

Designer: Robert Dam

Release date: Sept. 14, 2020

See issues for 2021 


Guernsey – mail & packet ships

 50p: Earl of Chesterfield  68p: Ariadne  70p: Antelope  85p: Alberta  95p: Isle of Guernsey  £1.02: Sarnia

mini sheet

Guernsey Souvenir sheet Europa 2020  

presentation pack

Guernsey presentation pack 


Guernsey sheets of 10 


Guernsey postcards 


Guernsey FDC

  • 50p: Earl of Chesterfield – 78 ton oak cutter. Captured in 1811 by privateer L’Epervier
  • 68p: Ariadne – 3 mast paddle steamer. Captained by J. Bazin on the Southampton to Guernsey & Jersey route around 1823
  • 70p: Antelope – 672 gross ton ship that sailed for Great Western Rail along the Weymouth-Channel Islands. Maiden voyage 1889
  • 85p: Alberta – South & Western Railway single funnel ship that sailed in1900. Sailed the Southhampton to Channel Islands until 1930, including during the Great War
  • 95p: Isle of Guernsey – First sailed inn 1930 and sailed extensively around the Channel islands until WW2. During the war she was converted to a hospital ship and served in the Dunkirk evacuation. One of the first ships to be fitted with son
  • £1.02: Sarnia – 308 ft ship sailed 1960. The 3989 ton vessel traveled the Channel Island route

 Designer: Andrew Robinson

Release date: April  1, 2020

See 2021 releases here.

EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes  – H to K



Hungary 2020 Europa posthorn cancel 

  Hungary Europa 2020 sheet of 4 stamps


Hungary Europa 2020 FC

In the territory of Hungary at the time of Louis the Great in the 14th century, guilds established postal routes, which, besides their own correspondence, carried the letters of private individuals, while travelling merchants and craftsmen took the messages and orders of customers to distant places. One of the most well-known postal routes was that of the butchers. Armed drivers escorting cattle from the Hungarian Great Plain to markets abroad carried the correspondence of the cities and their burghers based on individual instructions. Magyar Posta Ltd. – EUROPA2020: Ancient postal routes

Images on the stamps show brass signage used by butcher’s guilds and an ornate horn.

The mini sheet shows the work of László Balla, The Butchers’ Post Progressing Through Hungary and Diligence Crossing the Hortobágy Plain

Designer: Attila André Elekes

Release date: May 4, 2020

See all Hungarian issues for 2021

Iceland – postal routes

Iceland Europa 2020 stamp two 

sheets of 10

Iceland Europa 2020 sheet twoIceland Europa 2020 sheet one 


This was the last Europa stamp issued by Iceland

The map shows the main postal routes

Designer: Borg Hjörleifur Árnason

 Release date: May 7, 2020 


Ireland – medieval mail 


sheets of 9



EUropa Ireland 2020 fdc

Taking inspiration from religious art, using a quadriptych (four quadrant layout), the stamps tell the story of the journey of a letter during the Middle Ages An Post – Media centre | An Post July 16, 2020

First stamp: medieval monk preparing a letter and then carrying it overseas by boat
Second stamp: shows the message being carried onward by horseback and the delivery of the message to the recipient, a medieval prioress

FDC follows the travels of artist Orlagh Murphy, an 11th century cleric who traveled between the Vatican and Dublin

Designer: Red&Grey based on artist Orlagh Murphy’s work
Release date: July 16, 2020


Isle of Man  – landing at Plymouth Rock

IsleoMan EUropa 2020 cancel 

IsleoMan EUropa 2020 stamp 

FDC & sheet

IsleofMan Europa 2020 FDC IsleofMan Europa 2020 sheet

This is an extensive set of stamps & covers for the 400th anniversary of Mayflower. Not all stamps in this set were part of the Europa set. 

Designer: Caleb Johnson, IOM Stamps & Coins 

Release date: April 22, 2020


Italy – postal roads 

Italy Europa 2020 cancel one Italy Europa 2020 cancel two

Italy Europa 2020 stamp twoItaly Europa 2020 stamp one


Italy Europa 2020  postcard one Italy Europa 2020 Postcard two 


Italy Europa 2020 folder


Italy Europa 2020 card one Italy Europa 2020  card two 

info bulletin

Italy Europa 2020  info bulletin

Stamp one Campania and Lazio as show in the 1930 Charter of postal communications and the Kingdom of Italy

Stamp two 1695 Italian peninsula  showing the its extensive postal system roads 

Release date: June 29, 2020


Jersey  – mail ships


presentation pack one

Jersey Europa 2020 presentation packe one Jersey Europa 2020 presentation pack one inside  

presentation pack two

Jersey Europa 2020 presentation pack two Presentation pack two inside 

mini sheet 

Jersey Europa 2020 mini sheet 


Jersey Europa 2020 FDC  

sheets of 10 

Jersey Europa 2020 sheets

Designer: Martin Mörck
Mörck is one of the premier stamp designers & engravers in the world. The Norwegian artist has has designed over 600 stamps for countries such as for Norway, Faroe Islands, Jersey, Latvia and Canada.  

Release date: April 7, 2020

See issues for 2021


Kosovo  – delivery carts on cobble roads |postman on foot




Designers: D. Luta & L. Ademi
FDC & cancel designer: Hyrije Ademi

Release date:  June 10, 2020

Europa 2020   – L  


Latvia – horse messenger | bike delivery 


mini sheet


sheets of 10



Designer: Ludis Danilāns 

Release date: May 8, 2020


Liechtenstein – stage coach | mounted messenger | boat post

Liechtenstein cancl

Liechtenstein   Stagecoach | Mounted Messenger Liechtenstein   Stagecoach | Mounted Messenger  


Liechtenstein   Stagecoach | Mounted Messenger maxi card Liechtenstein   Stagecoach | Mounted Messenger maxi card 


 LiechtensteinStagecoach | Mounted Messenger FDC

mini sheet

Liechtenstein souvenir sheet Europa 2020

This was a transport service that operated between the trading centres at the time in Lindau at Lake Constance and the Italian city of Milan up to 1826 and carried goods, money and letters. It is assumed that the Lindau Messenger was already travelling along the arduous route, which reached its peak on the Splügen Pass at 2113 metres above sea level, on a fairly regular basis towards the end of the 15th century. Stamp issue information – Philatelie Liechtenstein

Designer: René Wolfinger

Release date: March 2, 2020


Lithuania – taurages |1841 letter

Taurage Post Office 1841 sent from Svencionys to Moscow  

sheets of 10

Lithuania Europa 2020 sheets  


Lithuania Europa 2020 FDC

Designer: A. Gudynas

Release date: April 24, 2020

See 2021 stamps for Lithuania



Luxembourg – postal routes

Luxembourg Europa 2020 cancel


Luxembourg FDC_Europa_2020

Designer: Tom Diederich

 Release date: May 5, 2020

See issues for 2021


Europa 2020 – M  


Macedonia 2020 Europa stamp one 

mini sheet

Macedonia Europa 2020 sheet 

sheet of 9 

Macedonia 2020 Europa sheet of stamps

 Release date:  May 8, 2020



Madeira Europa single stamp 

mini sheet

 Madeira Europa 2020 mini sheet 

maxi card

Madeira EUropa 2020 maxi

Designer: Design&etc  / Hélder Soares‎

Release date:  May 25, 2020


Malta – mail boats | Francisco de Tassis

Malta EUropa 2020 cancel

Malta EUropa 2020 stamp showing map of Mediterranean & mail boats Francisco de Tassis  

sheets of 10

 Sheet of Europa map stmpsMalta Europa 2020 Francisco de Tassis sheet of stamps


  Malta Europa 2020 FDC


Malta Europa 2020 booklet cover

Francisco de Tassis who was a 15th century pioneer of the postal service in Europe and tasked by Emperor Maximillian I to reform the courier system in Burgundy and the Netherlands. In time, this new postal system grew as deTassis founded new postal stations in major European cities, thereby guaranteeing a complete service over the years. De Tassis commercialised this service by establishing fast and stable connections which evolved into the globalised postal network service we have today. Maltapost Philately – EUROPA 2020 – ‘ANCIENT POSTAL ROUTES’ (

Designer:  Miguel Farrugia

Release date: May 9, 2020


Moldovia  – first airmail | 1812 mail route

Moldova Europa 2020 cancel

Moldova Europa 2020 biplane Moldova Europa 2020 wheel and message 

sheets of 10

Moldova Europa 2020 biplaneMoldova Europa 2020 sheet two  

mini sheet

Moldova Europa 2020 wheel and message souvenir sheet


Moldova EUropa 2020 booklet

First airmail route 1926. Compagnie Franco-Roumaine de Navigation Aérienne – CFRNA flew the route ran from Bucharest – Galaţi – Chişinău and Bălţi.

First postal route in 1812

Designer: Vitaliu Pogolşa

Release date:  Aug. 17, 2020


Monaco – 18th C messenger 

Monaco Europa 2020 cancel

Monaco 2020 Europa stamp  

sheet of 10

Monaco 2020 Europa sheet 


Monaco Europa 2020 FDC

Designer: Pierre Albuisson Pierre Albuisson – Artiste Dessinateur – Maître Graveur (
Albuisson is one of France’s top engravers/designers

Release date: May 6, 2020



Montenegro Europa 2020 stamp 

mini sheet

 Montenegor Europa 2020 mini sheet 

sheet of 8

Montengro Europa 2020 sheet

Designer: Adela Zejnilović

Release date: May 9, 2020


Europa 2020 – N  


Netherlands – Thurn and Taxis postal routes

Netherlands 2020 Europa 

Netherlands 2020 Europa booklet

 Release date: May 11, 2020


North Cyprus – steamship mail 

North Cyprus Europa 2020cancel

North Cyprus stamp one North Cyprus stamp 2 

sheets of 8

North Cyprus sheet 1 North Cyprus sheet 2


North Cyprus FC 

Steamship lines were created during the Ottoman period. Austrian Lloyd established routes from Trieste, Istanbul, Rhodes, Lamarca and Beirut. Second lines were operated by P&O with steamships running between Istanbul & Beirut. Third line run by Captain Bell’s Asia Minor Company (depicted in the FDC) ran steamers between Beirut and the Levant. 

Designer: G.K. Sonmezer

Release date:  Sept. 10, 2020


Norway – Vindhella Road 

Norway EUropa 2020 cancel 

mini sheet

Kongevegen road - Norway Europa 2020 


Norway Europa 2020 FDC 

gold FDC

Norway Europa 2020 gold cover 

Also comes in booklet & presentation pack format

Vindhella Road is an ancient mountainous route that connects Oslo to Bergen. Postmen walked this dangerous route with mail bags slung on their back.

Release date: Jørn O. Jøntvedt

Release date: April 17, 2020

See issues for 2021


Europa 2020 – P to R


Poland – 16th century mail delivery along the Vistula River

Poland Europa 2020 cancel 

POLAND EUROPA 2020 winning stamp  

sheet of 6

Poland Europa 2020 sheet of 6 stamps  


Poland Europa 2020 FDC

First Prize winner – Juried
16th century routes along the Vistula River, with major stops along the route Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Toruń, Elbląg, Gdańsk.

Designer: Maciej Jedrysik

Release date: April 29, 2020

See issues 2021



Portugal Europa 2020 cancel

PORTUGAL EUROPA 2020 single stamp  



FDC with stamps Azores, Madeira & Portugal


mini sheet

PORTUGAL EUROPA 2020 sheet  

maxi card


booklet cover

PORTUGAL EUROPA 2020 info brochure

Designer: Design&etc  / Hélder Soares‎

Release date: May 25, 2020


Romania – 1840 seals of Telegraph office Moldovia & Posts Office Directorate in Wallachia 

Romania Europa 2020 stamp showing coach and horseEuropa 2020 Romania stmp 2  

mini sheet

Europa 2020 Romania mini sheet  

limited edition souvenir sheet (only 301 issued) 

Romania Europa 2020 limited edition sheet

sheets of 5

Europa 2020 Romania sheet Europa 2020 Romania sheet


Europa 2020 Romania FDC 

Europa 2020 ANCIENT POSTAL ROUTES – Romfilatelia – O lume intr-un timbru 

Designer: Ion Chirescu

Release date: March 9, 2020


Russia – Kholmogory postroad (Arkhangelsk — Vologda — Yaroslavl — Moscow) and

Russia Europa 2020 cancel 

 Russia Europa 2020 stamp 

sheet of 8

Russia Europa 2020 sheet  


Russia Europa 2020 FDC

Designer: O. Shushlebina

Release date: Jan. 15, 2020

Europa 2020 – S


San Marino – 1607 postman at start of journey & completion



sheet of 12


First stamp postman on foot heading to Monte Titano 
Second stamp arriving at Porta del Paese  

Designer: Marina Marcolin

Release date: March 24, 2020


Serbia – sahiyas | ferries & boats

Serbia EUropa 2020 cancel

Serbia Europa 2020 pair 


Serbia Europa 2020 FDC   

sheets of 8

Serbia Europa 2020 sheets

Pedestrian messengers – sahiyas, especially on shorter distances and in difficult terrains where pedestrians were quicker than horses. Sahiyas were hardy, lean people, armed, dressed appropriately, and wore jingle bells under the left knee as a sign of recognition. The jingling announced their arrival in a populated place, and the bells helped them keep the rhythm while striding Пригодна издања – 2020 – еФилателија (

Designer: Boban Savić

Release date: May 5, 2020

See issues for 2021

Slovenia –  ancient Roman carriage | postillion 

Slovenia cancel for Europa 2020 mail delivery 

Slovenia Europa 2020 stamp oneSlovenia Europa 2020 stamp two 


Slovenia Europa 2020 FDC

Stamp one – ancient Roman carriage with coachman and two horses based on a relief on the Church of Our Lady in Maria Saal 
Stamp two – postillion, a post ride with a post horn based on a famous famous print of a postillion that appeared on a handbill announcing end of the Thirty Year’s War (1618-1648)  

Designer: Zlatko Drčar

Release date: July 13, 2020

See stamps for 2021


Slovak Republic –  Magna Via

Slovak Europa 2020 cancel 

Slovak Europa 2020 stamp  

sheet of 8

  Slovak Europa 2020 sheet

mini sheet

Slovak Europa 2020 souvenir sheet 


 Slovak Europa 2020 booklet insideSlovak Europa 2020 booklet cover


Slovak Europa 2020 FDC 

Designer: L’ubomir Pal’o

Release date: April 20, 2020


Spain – bicycle mailman on a rural route

Spain Europa 2020 cancel showing an old bus

Spain Europa 2020 Old Postal Routes

 Release date: April 23, 2020

See Spanish issues for 2021 


Sweden  – Mail rider | map of Sweden |messenger’s bag & horn

Switzerland 2020 EUROPA cancel 

mini sheet of 3

 Switzerland 2020 EUROPA mini sheet of three stamps


 Switzerland 2020 EUROPA FDC 

souvenir sheet

Switzerland 2020 EUROPA

Release date: April 30, 2020


Switzerland – House of Thurn and Taxis

Switzerland 2020 EUROPA Switzerland 2020 EUROPA stamp 2 

Designed in cooperation with Germany. Shows the 1627 route from Rheinhausen, Germany to Milan and Mantua.

Designer: Jürg Glauser 

Release date: May 7, 2020


EUROPA 2020 – Old Postal Routes – T to V


Turkey – horse, foot & mail delivery

TURKEY Europa 2020  


Winner of the 2020 popular vote

Release date: May 9, 2020

See issues for 2021


Ukraine – postman Fedir Feketa

Ukraine 2020 Europa single stamp 

mini sheet

  Ukraine 2020 Europa sheet

sheet of 6

Ukraine 2020 Europa sheet of 6


Fedir Feketa lived in the village of Tury Remety in Transcarpathia. 

Fyodor Feketa (1789 – 1838) worked as a postman at the local foundry and daily for 30 years on foot delivered correspondence at any time of the year in any weather. Several times a week he traveled 25 km from Tury Remet to Uzhgorod, received mail there and returned to his native village. His path ran along mountain paths, where you had to move through mountain rivers. Feket was revered by fellow villagers and called “ambassador” for his excellent work. Ukrposhta’s new brand with Transcarpathian postman nominated for best in Europe 

Designer: Iryna Medvedovska

Release date: May 2, 2020

See issues for 2021


Vatican – views of Vatican city

Vatican Europa 2020 stamps

Colonia Axernias (Terracina), with a stretch of the Appia Route.

Colonia Iulia (Turin), with the intersection of its main roads, the Cardo Massimo (North-South direction) with the Decumanus Maximus (East-West direction) 

Release date: June 23, 2020

See more Vatican stamps for 2021 here.


Follow, support, subscribe 

Follow me on social media -> check out all ways here  Bitter Grounds Magazine – espresso fueled | Bio Link. You can also leave me messages and question on either platform or in the comments below. I enjoy chatting with readers.

If you prefer to receive updates directly to your inbox, sign up for the weekly newsletter. Each issue will let you know when an article has been updated as well as tell you about new posts.

Subscribe & support  Bitter Grounds. If you enjoy reading about stamps, you can help with a donation via the little coffee cup on the bottom left. I’ll do the heavy lifting in getting the material sorted and you can sit back and enjoy.

PATREON SUPPORT -> Check out the Patreon tiers: Instant Coffee $2 a month, Espresso Shot $5 month, Espresso & Stamps $10 per month, or Deluxe Mocha & Box of Stamps tier – $25 per month. Visit my Patreon page and see what perks come with membership.

If you enjoy Europa stamps, why not take a look at the 2021 competition entries Europa 2021 Endangered Wildlife stamps | Bitter Grounds Magazine




Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



photo of the author drinking beer
Buy my merch & support Bitter Grounds

Buy Merch!

Your cat needs new boxes to play in.

© 2021
Bitter Grounds Magazine.
All Right Reserved