Alytus Main Post Office is Hosting Exhibition of Letters

Mar 04, 2014

The residents of Alytus interested in their local history are invited to Alytus Main Post Office to visit the exhibition Letters from Alytus arranged by Alytus Ethnographic Museum. The museum has about 100 exhibits representing postal cancellations of Alytus City from the period of the Tsarist Russia.

“Today we are all aware that the envelope of the posted letter must bear the stamp and the postal cancellation. No one raises questions what they mean and what they are for. The postal cancellation, like the postage stamp, has its history and contents and reflects the land’s, region’s, or country’s political developments. These changes can be traced looking at the exhibits of the exhibition Letters from Alytus,” Head of History Division of Alytus Ethnographic Museum Vilma Jenčiulytė said.

For the first time, the postal cancellation was used in 1660 in England. It was round in shape with the first letters denoting the month in one side, and the posting date in another side.

The oldest cancellations did not carry the function of present days, i.e. to cancel the stamp‘s value, as there were no postage stamps. In those times, the cancellations were used to mark postage paid.

It was the middle of the 19th century when the cancellations became universally used. By then, the date was mainly marked with hand, and the cancellation with the name of the place was put aside. When postage stamps appeared, they were cancelled with another type of cancellation (not the date cancellation). After a while, the same cancellation was used to cancel postage stamps.

The first facts about the post office in Alytus go back to the 18th century. At the end of the 19th century, there were 2 postal points located on the left side of the river: in the city and at the railway station. On Vilnius side of Alytus, the postal point was located at Jiezno Street (until the breakout of World War I).

In the exhibition arranged by Alytus Ethnographic Museum, the oldest mark of the cancellation comes from the year 1908. This is the postal mark of the Tsarist Russia used at the first Alytus’ postal point. It says “ОЛИТА ВИЛ.”. After Lithuania has gained its independence, for a while, the post office had no cancellation; therefore, the indications were written by hand. Later on, postal cancellations were constantly changing along with political situation in Lithuania.

The exhibition of historical cancellations Letters from Alytus will be open until March 31.