A completely normal general meeting


View into the meeting room


This is what it looks like when members of the ArGe Baltikum and guests come together, swap ideas, chat, show each other their latest achievements, ask questions, give presentations and enjoy seeing each other. Simply relaxed, restful and informative. No stress.


When inspecting exhibition sheets,...

When inspecting exhibition sheets,..

...chatting...

...chatting...

... talking shop...

... talking shop...


...in lively exchange...

...in lively exchange...

...or during a relaxed chat...

...or during a relaxed chat...

...whether with beer...

...whether with beer...

...or still without...

...or still without...


...there was a lively exchange throughout the days, and in addition to the formal members' meeting, there were of course – as usual – interesting presentations, this time by these 3 active members:

Thomas Löbbering

Thomas Löbbering

Money and value covers 1864–1945

Money and value covers 1864–1945

Martin Bechstedt

Martin Bechstedt

Fluorescent overprints on Lithuanian and Latvian stamps

Fluorescent overprints on Lithuanian and Latvian stamps

Bernhard 'Tony' Fels

Bernhard 'Tony' Fels

Digital database of modern date stamps of the Republic of Lithuania

Digital database of modern date stamps of the Republic of Lithuania


We have gathered all our strength and replenished our inner stores of motivation – and are looking forward to our monthly video chat, the BALTIKUM 2024 editions,
the MARE BALTICUM in Tartu and our next members' meeting in 2025, on May 23–25, also in Hennef!


37. monthly video chat

The cover shown here illustrates one of the topics of the above video chat: a member asked about the origin of this Latvian postal stationery without nominal value from December 1990, long before Latvia issued its own stamps again. The answer: Mi U2, PS for domestic use.

Other topics were: Questions about the Baltic States on philaseiten.de, new acquisitions by individual members, transport problems of our exhibits on the way to Mare Balticum, discussion about the advantages of video chat (article on this coming soon).

Our monthly video chat, where anyone with an interest in Baltium philately is welcome, takes place on every first Saturday of the month at 17 h CET (more technical information on this here).

Next date: June 1, 2024

Special topic:
Postboxes from around the world (Olaf Hoffmann)

Join the Zoom meeting with:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85338222428?pwd=WGpZRXJTZVpnSnB6eHg4Ukx2aFVHdz09


Valuable talks in Munich

Torsten Berndt and Wilhelm van Loo in dialogue

Torsten Berndt and Wilhelm van Loo in dialogue


The trade fair team in conversation with a visitor

The trade fair team in conversation with a visitor

Good attendance, lots of contacts - the most recent PHILATELIA in Munich was again a success all round. The concept of limiting the trade fair to two days simply meant that the visitors were well distributed over both days and there was never a day on which there was more or less low tide, as we often experience at trade fairs with three days. Of course, in the last hours of Saturday and especially on Sunday afternoon, the crowds slowed down considerably. But that happens at all trade fairs. Therefore, it cannot be emphasised often enough that less is more, that both visitors and exhibitors prefer events that run over two rather than three days. The concept of mixing non-commercial and commercial exhibitors and not separating them is just as convincing.

Our trade fair team this time consisted of Friedhelm Doell, Reinhard Heinrich, Olaf Hoffmann and Torsten Berndt.

We not only answered the visitors' questions, but also learnt a thing or two. Who knows, for example, that in the period before the German occupation in the First World War, only comparatively few postcards were produced in Lithuania? There are many offers from Estonia and Latvia, as a visitor specialising in philocartography explained to us, but you have to search a long time for Lithuanian items. Lucky the Lithuania aficionados in our working group, whose albums also contain picture postcards!

Die Messemannschaft der Philatelia München 2024

The trade fair team, from left to right: Reinhardt Heinrich, Friedhelm Doell, Torsten Berndt and Olaf Hoffmann

On Saturday, a veteran of philately and expertising visited us: Wilhelm van Loo had found his way to Munich from the far west. More sprightly than some people 20 years younger, he wandered around the hall, taking photographs and finding time to exchange ideas. It's not just because of his rich experience that it's always a pleasure to chat to him.

This time, our monthly video conference took place "Live from PHILATELIA". For the team at the stand, the conference camera and audio worked as usual; however, the travelling video message from Friedhelm Doell, who took participants on a virtual tour of the exhibition hall, was received by colleagues at the stand – unlike the external participants – without audio. So there is room for improvement.

With its contemporary concept, the organising trade association APHV has positioned PHILATELIA for the future. At the farewell, the motto was: "Next year, same wave, same place".


Latvian Post to close 105 post offices

As of January 25, 2024, there are 173 post offices and 423 locations in Latvia where postal services are provided on request (www.pasts.lv/en/Category/Post_Offices). In relation to around 1.875 million inhabitants, this currently means one post office for approx. 11,500 inhabitants and a total of one postal facility for some 3,150 inhabitants.

On January 24, 2024, Latvian Post announced that it intends to close 105 post offices (from 176 at the beginning of the year) by the end of 2024, with 12 ceasing their services completely and 93 "changing their format", i.e. also only providing postal services on request. This means that by the end of the year there will only be 71 post offices in Latvia, one for every 26,400 inhabitants. Some residents already have to travel 20 to 25 kilometres to their nearest post office, a distance that will soon double.

In the postal service centres with the "modified format", customers who wish to use postal services must call the customer support telephone number and a postal employee will come to their home the next day.

The reason for the closure of the post offices is the unprofitability of their management for the Latvian State Post. Desperate reactions from the population, such as the offer by the local council of South Kurzeme (Latvia's largest municipality by area) to take over some of the tasks of the postal staff, have so far been unsuccessful, as the Latvian Post is not willing to hand over its offices and competences to the municipality.

My opinion: The times in which a postal system for the general public was seen as a state welfare service are clearly over. Capitalism has arrived in the Baltic States.

Latvian mailbox

Image source: Latvian State Broadcasting Corporation

Source of information: Latvian State Broadcasting Corporation eng.lsm.lv/article/economy/transport/24.01.2024-latvian-postal-service-to-close-most-offices.a540108/


Estonian Post (brand name Omniva) addition as of January 26, 2024:

Also in Estonia, another 10 to 15 post offices will be converted into postal points this year (which are not owned by Omniva, but are operated by local authorities, for example in libraries or shops). Post points are also being replaced by parcel machines. Sending and receiving parcels is the most used postal service at 80%, and with outdoor parcel machines, people are not tied to opening hours. The hoped-for savings amount to 1 million euros per year; up to 10 full-time jobs will be cut in 2024.

There are currently 57 post offices and 59 post points as well as around 350 parcel machines in Estonia. "There will not be a wave of closures like in Latvia, as these changes have already taken place in recent years," assured Mart Mägi, CEO of Omniva.

Source of information: Estonian State Broadcasting Corporation www.err.ee/1609234572/omniva-vahendab-tanavu-postkontorite-arvu-kuni-kumme-protsenti.


New status of the Latvian Post as of February 2, 2024:

The head of Latvijas Pasts, Beate Krauze-Čebotare, said on Thursday (February 1) that the plan to close 105 post offices had been put on hold. Latvian Transport Minister Kaspars Briškens also confirmed this. The Latvian Post's plan had caused great resentment in the country, as the decision would have left some municipalities without a post office. An individual solution is now being sought for each location, whereby the costs must also be seen in the context of small subsidies, said Krauze-Čebotare.

My opinion: Why not just like this?

Source of information: Estonian State Broadcasting Corporation www.err.ee/1609241208/lati-pani-postkontorite-sulgemise-plaani-pausile.


Consequences at the Latvian Post on February 7, 2024:

The Chairman of the Board of Latvijas Pasts, Raimonds Duda, and Councillor Ivars Blumbergs resigned because they felt that cooperation and communication with the Ministry of Transport had stalled and the common goal of developing the Post as a competitive company had not been achieved. For over a year, the new strategy to change the company's business model with significant process improvements had been developed with the involvement of the relevant officials from the Ministry of Transport. They had been aware of the restructuring plans for a long time, but had not raised important issues with the Post directly after the planned measures were publicised, but via social networks. The Ministry of Transport then instructed the Latvian Post to suspend and reconsider the planned closure of each post office in order to reduce Latvia's economic independence in postal services, taking into account the views of local residents, authorities, municipalities and employees in the sector.

Source of information: Estonian State Broadcasting Corporation www.err.ee/1609245840/lati-posti-noukogu-astus-tagasi.