In World War One, Skuodas (Shkudy, Schkudy), a town in northwestern Lithuania, was passed through on May 5, 1915 by German forces (Abteilung Schulenburg) on their way to storm the naval base of Liepaja (Libava, Libau) which was taken in the early hours of May 7.
When the German army withdrew from Russia at the end of 1918, Skuodas found itself in a zone along the Baltic coast, south of Liepaja, overseen by the Grenzsschutz. In early 1919, Skuodas was a rallying point for Lithuanian para-military units, organised by Gen. Povilas Plechavičius, opposing the Red Army’s advance into northern Žemaitija.
Skuodas had had a post office in czarist times, but none during the German occupation. A mandate, as įgaliotinis, to open a Lithuanian post office in Skuodas was issued to Jonas Kumpikevičius, effective as from March 17, 1919. He had been appointed to establish a P.O. in Akmenė (as from February 17, 1919), but was unsuccessful there owing to Bolshevik occupation.
Skuodas being close, by rail and road, to Liepaja with its active stamp dealers and collectors, some of the surviving postal items bearing the early cancellations of Skuodas are of a philatelic nature. Moreover, when franking obviously does not meet the Lithuanian postal rates, it may be assumed that the item was not even posted for normal postal transmission and later was provided with a receiving cancel at (usually) Liepaja then spelled Leepaja.
The earliest Lithuanian stamps available at Skuodas appear to have been the Third Kaunas Issue, followed by Fourth Berlin. There is less certainty about the availability of First Berlin and some values of Third Berlin Issue. (This matter is under investigation.) They were followed by the Sėjėjas Issue etc.
Earliest cancelling at Skuodas was done in manuscript by cancelling the stamp(s) cross-wise and adding place and date.
Before long, Skuodas acquired two provisional cancels but there is some unclarity about their chronological employment, for, quite different as they are, at certain periods they were used concurrently.
The first type is the distinctive one-line rubber cachet “Skuodas” with irregular lettering, sometimes appearing by itself but usually accompanied by a date-line in which the month is shown in Cyrillic letters. Both the place-line and the date-line were made up by using a primitive rubber “printing set” with linear grooves for the insertion of the elements (letters, numerals, punctuation marks etc). For cancelling, the filled grooves sometimes were placed together so that they run parallel and give the impression of a two-line cachet, sometimes the grooves were used individually so that the two lines sit at an angle.
The place-line could be used by itself, and the date-line could be used with the second type canceller.
The second type of provisional canceller is a one-line cachet spelling out in relatively large letters ”Skuodas, Sedos apskr.”, usually followed by a separate date-line as described above.
Early registration was effected in manuscript, indicating place and serial number within a hand-drawn box. If the registered item’s destination was foreign, to cancel the stamps the month in the date-line was put together in Latin, not Cyrillic, letters.
In addition, the long cachet “Skuodas, Sedos apskr.” was also used.
A standard postmarker was supplied some time in 1920.
Known provisional markings:
Cancelling cross-wise with place and date:
17 / IV 19 card to Kaunas, Kaunas III 10 [colln. Bubnys]
Cancelling by one-liner “Skuodas” and date:
22 SEN 1919 single, Berlin III 30 [colln. ?]
8 IYUL 1919 card to Seda, Berlin IV 20 [colln. Liesis]
9 AVG 1919 card to Raseiniai, Berlin IV 20 [colln. Bubnys]
25 AVG 1919 lettercard to Riga, Berlin IV 10 x2, 20 x2 [colln. Brazdeikis]
1 SEN 1919 cover to Kaunas, Berlin IV 30 [colln. Lapas]
Various fragments, Berlin issues [several collns.]
Cancelling by one-liner “Skuodas” no date:
No date philat. cover arr. Leepaja 5.5.19, Kaunas III 15, Berlin IV 20 [colln. ?]
No date philat. cover arr. Leepaja 5.5.19, Berlin IV 20 x2 [colln. Wilson]
Cancelling by “Skuodas, Sedos apskr.” and date:
15 AVR 1919 card, Kaunas III 40, arr. Leepaja 20.4.19 [colln. Ušpuras]
15 AVG 1919 card to Latvia, Berlin II 30 [colln. Bubnys]
18 AVG 1919 philat. card, Berlin IV 15, arr. Leepaja 20.9.19 [colln. Doniela]
19 AVG 1919 philat. card, Berlin (?) 30, arr. Leepaja 9.9.19 [colln. Liesis]
Boxed manuscript registration in red, month in Latin letters:
14 30 APR 1919 reg. cover to Germany, Berlin IV 20 x2, 30 x2 [colln. Doniela]
Registration by using “Skuodas, Sedos apskr.”
8 11 IYUL 1919 reg. cover to Seda, Berlin IV 40 x2 [colln. Bubnys]