As a result of a contract with the Lithuanian Ladies Welfare Committee the Pašto Valdyba agreed to surcharge a set current definitives and airmail stamps with an additional value for charitable purposes. There is no official first day of issue but a circular about the surcharges was sent out to post offices dated February 13, 1924. As stated on the overprint, this issue came to be popularly known as the War Orphans (“Karo Našlaičiams”) issue.
The charity surcharge was quite high and on most stamps amounted to the actual value of the stamp itself. The complete set, including 4 airmail stamps, consisted of 17 stamps and cost a considerable 22.50 Litai. Though the charity issue was widely available and publicised, and the purchase of surcharged stamps was actively encouraged , sales were slow. By late 1926 the Pašto Valdyba requested post offices to return unsold stocks which in turn were used to produce two more charity issues.
At the post offices, the selling of the War Orphans Issue was subject to a complicated accounting procedure. The monies collected for the postal value of the stamps were part of the normal income, but the income from the charity surcharge was a separate matter and eventually relegated to an account held by the Ladies Welfare Committee.
This fiscal separation, despite instructions from above, now and again caused some accounting confusion and resultant irritation among the postal clerks. While such errors may not have produced financial loss, worse was the ignorance that the surcharge was not an ornament but real value. This fact occasionally (luckily very rarely!) resulted in selling charity stamps without charging for the surcharge. As recalled by a serious collector of pre-war period, the late Stasys Biržiškis, among the postal staff and in the press such errors, though costly, were simply blamed on “inexperience”. It is not known if such inadvertent losses were written off by the upper management.
The following Money Order from Pasvalys shows inappropriate or simply redundant prepayment in charity stamps. It seems the postal clerk wished to use up small values being unaware of their different cost.
Inappropriate or redundant use of charity surcharges occurred also at Žeimelis and Rokiškis
Because of relatively high surcharge, use of charity stamps was not frequent. The main exception was formed by local and foreign stamp dealers. Among private collectors, worth noting is army officer (later a general) Jonas Juodišius who so franked his personal correspondence and encouraged others to do likewise when writing to him. A friend writing to Juodišius in Brussels made sure that the postcard carried at least one charity surcharge.
As time passed on, it was noted that the War Orphans Issue was somewhat rare in used condition whereas, by contrast, mint was still available and stocked in the central store. To make up for shortage of used, some dealers resorted to the obvious practice of cancelling-to-order. Indeed, much of this issue available on the market nowadays in used condition stems from CTO.
The cover below shows part of the War Orphans set ordered CTO by a German stamp dealer in 1927.