When politics unite to form an abominable coalition, the Prince must act, even if he is wrong and foreign. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
One can see the similarity to a Napoleon III stamp from France I did recently. The early versions, which I believe mine is, were actually printed in Paris. A later version with less distinct printing and cheaper paper came from Bucharest. These medal like profiles of royalty originated on the first postage stamp the penny black from 1840 with Queen Victoria. By the 1870s it was a little overdone with small country people outside of the country will have difficulty identifying. Notice Britain did not have to put the countries name on the stamp. Queen Elizabeth II is the last monarch who does this. I wonder if it will end when her time has passed.
The stamp today is issue A11, a 10 Bani stamp issued by the Principality of Romania in 1872. It was part of a 7 stamp issue in various denominations showing new Domnitor(Prince) Carol I. He had recently arrived from Germany and had tactfully changed his name from Karl. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth $5. The mint versions of this issue are more valuable with the 30 Bani version of the later Bucharest printing up at $190.
Romania had come together after a merger of Moldavia and Wallachia under Domnitor (prince) Alexandru Ioan Cuza. He was quite liberal and actually from Romania. He was in favor of a land reform that would free the multitude of peasants from their mainly ethnically German landowning class. Trying to thwart this was what Cuza referred to as an abominable coalition of liberal and conservative wealthy politically connected German front men. There was soon a coup and the local Cuza was out on his ear and liberal politicians were off to find a German to be there King. They found their man in a serving Prussian officer named Karl. He had enough distant family connections to Napoleon and spoke French if not Romanian. He was also Lutheran but agreed to raise his sons, which he never had, Orthodox.
Somehow this was allowed to happen and Karl, sorry Carol, proved his worth as a military leader against the Turks and has a power player in the dance a small country must do when dealing with France, Russia and Germany. The liberals that had gotten rid of Cuza were having second thoughts. Carol’s regality grated on them and they began thinking of a coup to become a republic that would more benefit the urban government workers and the Jewish who were so many of their supporters. They planned a two day coup that would happen the first night in Ploesti and the next night move to Bucharest. One of their leaders was Ion Bratianu who had earlier recruited Karl, sorry Carol. Late at night they arrested the police chief of Ploesti and took the city hall and the Telegraph Office. Unfortunately the guards they placed on the telegraph operator got drunk and forgot to police his transmissions. He asked the Bucharest station how the coup was going there and the Bucharest operator told him everything was quiet. He reported to Prince Carol and he showed his efficiency by having troops in Ploesti by morning to arrest the conspirators. They then insisted it was not a coup but a party prank.
Carol showed his acumen by buying off the liberals by making an uninterrupted series of them Prime Minister, including Ion Bratianu. They did nothing for the peasants who were put down efficiently and bloodily by Carol who was soon upgraded from Prince to King. He ruled till 1914 when he abdicated after trying to side with Germany in World War I instead of respecting the people’s French loyalties.
Well my drink is empty and I better not have another or the people around me won’t stay silent about all my hair brained conspiracies. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.