• Paper Seals

    envelope seals made from paper came into use around 1850; replacing the usual wax seals at public authorities, they reached the height of their popularity in the first two decades of the 20th century, when it became customary for private businesses as well to have their own seals printed for representative purposes; the typical paper seal was round with a diameter less than two inches, pre-gummed like a stamp and had an embossed imprint showing a crest and the sender’s identification; after 1920, they became less and less common until there were only a few offices left using them in the 1930s.
    see also envelope seals of the Woermann Line.

    • Liberian official seals

      • Department of State Monrovia
        1900-1918?
      • Consulate Ancona
        1900-1918?
      • Liberian Legation Paris
        1900-1918?
      • Consulate General Vienna
        1900-1918?
      • Consulate General (Belgium?)
        1900-1918?
    • Béla Szekula seals

      Béla Szekula (1881-1966) was born on Feb. 9, 1881, in Budapest, Hungary, and moved to Geneva, Switzerland in 1901. The same year also saw the first issue of his house organ Szekula Briefmarken-Verkehr (1901–1912). In 1903 he aquired the remainders of the 1902 commemorative issues of the Dominican Republic, and started selling them with fake cancels on and off piece. After offering forged stamps of Guatemala as genuine reprints he had to leave Geneva and returned to Budapest in 1904. While carrying on producing forged stamps and postmarks, especially of South American countries (e.g. Bolivia 1894), he began to operate under the name of Internationale Philatelisten. In 1913 he went back to Switzerland, this time to Lucerne, where he sold unused Belgian stamps confiscated by Germany during WW1. By that time the stamp dealer Béla Szekula had already been black listed by most European countries. To circumvent the embargo he would sometimes use the pseudonym Ed. Bieri for international shipments. At some point in the mid-twenties he and his brothers Eugen, Frank and Géza (Charles), all four stamp dealers based in Lucerne, changed the spelling of their last name to Sekula.

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      Béla Sekula is believed to be the driving force behind the “exotic” looking stamps of Tannu Tuva issued between 1934 and 1936, who were, in fact, produced, canceled and sold by a state trading firm in Moscow. However, Béla’s activities in Switzerland had probably already reached their climax somewhat earlier, when he went into contract with Jean Adolphe Michel, former postmaster in Ethiopia, who owned the original plates of the Ethiopian 1919 Animals and Rulers issue, and the rights to reprint these stamps. In the early 1930s, Szekula began producing reprints, mint and used, including a variety of errors like imperforates, centers inverted or missing, and in 1935 he started advertising them as “guaranteed genuine”. Although a law suit against Sekula and Michel was unsuccessful, the Union of Swiss Philatelic Societies was finally able to force Sekula to discontinue the advertising in 1938. Two years earlier, he and his family had already moved to New York — their new home for the next two decades. Being only one among many shady stamp dealers his stay in the U.S.A. seems to have produced no notable scandal. Around 1955/56 Sekula returned to Switzerland, first to Zurich and later to St. Moritz. Three years before his own death his life was struck by a personal tragedy when his only child, the artist Sonja Sekula (4/8/1918–4/25/1963) commited suicide in her studio. Béla is buried in a family grave in St. Moritz next to his wife Bertha and daughter Sonja.
      During their whole “career” at least two of the Sekula brothers, Béla and Eugen, produced one philatelic scandal after another. In 1934 the U.S. Post imposed a short-lived embargo on both of them, even marking postal money orders as "Fraudulent" and returning them to the senders. Reason for these drastic measures was their practice of sending out unwanted stamp selections and then agressively demanding payment. On Aug. 21, 1934, the embargo was lifted for Béla, stating that it had been an error. It should be noted that a similar embargo against the brothers had already been in place in Great Britain in 1916.
      As far as Liberian stamps are concerned, Sekula’s name has become linked with the provisional surcharged issue of 1914, because this set was readily available from many dealers in Switzerland mint and used in small quantities. Apart from that, his trade seems to have been confined almost entirely to cheap canceled-to-order pre-1910 issues until some years after the end of WWII when he managed to purchase the bulk of the remainders of the 1921-1923 German printed issues, including a quantity of mint sheets of the “1921” overprints (see Cockrill’s Liberia Series Booklet No. 9). The fate of this stock is unknown.
      The labels below, produced during Szekula’s second stay in Budapest ~1904–1913, are listed here because the majority are featuring stamps of Liberia. Szekula favoring Liberian stamps for advertising might indicate that the connection between him and this county was in fact closer than previously thought.

      • Int. Phil. “Genf” 10f dark indigo
        1904-1913?
      • Int. Phil. “Genf” 1c Yale blue
        1904-1913?
      • Int. Phil. “Genf” 1c violet
        1904-1913?
      • Int. Phil. “Genf” 2c violet
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c purple
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c magenta
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c claret
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c red
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c green
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c light sea green
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c sea green
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c sky_blue
        1909-1913?
      • Int. Phil. 1c blue
        1909-1913?
  • Christmas Seals

    “Christmas seals are labels placed on mail during the Christmas season to raise funds and awareness for charitable programs. They have become particularly associated with lung diseases such as tuberculosis, and with child welfare” (Wikipedia). There is only one seal listed for Liberia in Green’s authoritative catalog “Tuberculosis Seals of the World.”

    • community welfare service

      Christmas (Tuberculosis) seal issued by the Young Men's Christian Association of Liberia in 1951.

      • YMCA Christmas Seal
        1951