Kybartai, Kibarty (in some postal aspects a joined-twin of Virbalis, Verzhbolovo, Wirballen) is a town with an important railway station next to the border of what was East Prussia, ca. 25 km west of Vilkaviškis. In World War One, after repeatedly changing hands it was finally secured by 78. Reserve-Division on February 10-11, 1915. After German withdrawal from Russia, the area was not affected by post-war hostilities.
In czarist times, Kybartai had a major transit post office (as Kibarty) servicing international postal traffic by rail but none during the German occupation, as a civilian post office was located at Eydtkuhnen just across the East Prussian border.
The first Lithuanian postmaster at Kybartai was Otto Kochanauskas, mandated as of January 15, 1919, though it is not clear when the post office did in fact open for business. He was replaced by Juozas Markevičius on August 7 of the same year and stayed on as deputy. With increase of staff came Antanas Aušrotas as deputy on April 1, 1920, followed by Kazimieras Venclovas as postmaster (?).
As an early post office Kybartai was provided with the Second Vilnius Issue and probably the First Vilnius Issue as well. It did have First Kaunas and possibly some values of the other Kaunas Issues, certainly followed by Fourth Berlin etc. Surviving items show that the Kybartai post office was frequented by collectors who may have brought along stamps or values not available at Kybartai. One of the customers was Max Spiekien who kept sending cards and covers to his wife Gertrud in Eydtkuhnen, and to some others – and so unwittingly facilitated a reconstruction of the evolution of postmarking at Kybartai.
In the absence of a postmarker, for cancelling Kybartai at first made do with two pen strokes producing a diagonal cross.
In ca. second half of February 1919 the simple diagonal cross was supplemented by a seal-type cachet reading “Kybartų Miesto Komitetas” = The Kybartai Town Committee.
Before long the diagonal cross was abandoned and cancelling was effected by the seal alone.
The seal as canceller also appears on values of First Kaunas Issue.
However, Kybartai also cancelled in MS by showing place and date. This method is encountered at various times, seemingly starting in March and becomes frequent on Fourth Berlin values.
After the introduction of registered mail, probably with the intention of making its registered items appear more post-like, especially for foreign destinations, Kybartai arranged for a circular postmarker with a Vytis in the centre. A fragment of the cancel has been reconstructed by Vytautas Fugalevičius.
So far, only one item with the special cancel is known. Generally, in the absence of a regular registration cachet, early registration at Kybartai was indicated in manuscript.
The early period of Kybartai has attracted forgers. There are at least three types of fakes:
(a) back-dated cancels on Kaunas Issues with dates when the standard “KYBARTAI” postmarker was not yet available;
(b) illegal use of the provisional “Committee” seal (taken from archives ?);
(c) covers made up in the late 1920s carrying the two First Vilnius values cancelled “-4. I. 19” with registration and “Damokėti” = “to pay” cachets. At least 3 such covers are known, including Nos. 38, 40, 41.
(d) Recent forgery (ca. 2011) imitating the forgeries of the late 1920s:
[For a more detailed account of postal history of Kybartai in the immediate post-WWI period see an article /in English/ by Vytautas Doniela, “Kybartai in 1919” in the Journal of the Lithuania Philatelic Society /Chicago/, No. 237 (2008-2009)]
Known provisional markings:
Cancelling by diagonal cross:
No date, card to Eydtkuhnen, Vilnius II 40 [colln. Doniela]
ca. 15.II.19 cover to Germany, Vilnius II 10, 15, 20, 40, 50, Kaunas I 30 [colln.?]
Cancelling by cross and seal:
No date, letter card to E. Vilnius II 10, 50 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date, letter card to E., Vilnius II 20 x2 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date cut-outs, Vilnius II 15, 20, 30, 40, 50 [colln. Bubnys]
No date cut-out, Vilnius II 10 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date cut-out, Vilnius II 20 [Wilson]
Cancelling by seal only:
No date, cover to E., Vilnius II 30 x2 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date, cover to E., Vilnius II 10, 50, Kaunas I set [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date, cover to Leipzig, Vilnius II 40, 50 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date, card to E., Vilnius II 40 [colln. Ušpuras]
No date, cover to E., Vilnius I 10, 15, Vilnius II 20, 30, 40, 50 [colln. Doniela]
No date singles, Vilnius I 10, 15 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date single, Vilnius II 15 [colln. Bubnys]
No date singles, Vilnius II 20, 30, 40, 50 [colln. Brazdeikis]
No date singles, Vilnius II 40, 50 [colln. Doniela]
No date single, Vilnius II 40 [colln. Wilson]
No date singles, Kaunas I set [colln. Doniela]
No date, cover to Germany, block of 4, Kaunas I 15 with “5” [colln. ?]
No date, block of 4, Kaunas I 15 with “5” [colln. Geyfman]
Cancelling in MS place and date:
…/ III / 19 single, Vilnius II 10 [colln. Wilson]
4 / VIII / 19 cover to Germany, Berlin IV 30 x2 [colln. Bubnys]
14 / IX / 19 pair, Berlin IV 30 x2 [colln. Liesis]
No date strip of 3, Berlin IV 20 [colln. Liesis]
No date single, Berlin IV 20 [PHILLIT 40]
Registration in MS:
155 date ? special cancel, to Germany, Kaunas II 30, Kaunas III 50, Berlin IV 40 [colln. ?]
160(?) date ? reg. cover to Germany, Berlin IV 10, 15 x2, 20 x4 [colln. ?]
…?… 17. IX. 20 reg. cover to Germany, Berlin IV 50, 75 [colln. Brazdeikis]