Želva is a small town in Aukštaitija 22 km east of Ukmergė. In WWI, during the German encirclement and capture of Vilnius (which fell on September 18, 1915), Želva was passed through in early September by troops of Korps Hutier which was flanking Vilnius from the north.
In the immediate post-war period, in 1919 – 1920, Želva witnessed colourful political and military changes. When the German forces withdrew from Russia at the end of 1918, troops of the Red Army came to Želva region in early January 1919 but were pushed out by Lithuanian regulars in the second half of May 1919. When the Poles, under the spurring of General Pilsudski, were intending to re-establish a greater Poland with the inclusion of Lithuania and Byelorussia, Polish forces moved into eastern parts of Lithuania, and Želva came under their intermittent control on August 5, 1919. During the Russo-Polish war, when military misfortunes in 1920 forced the Polish forces to retreat, Lithuanian troops re-took some of the lost territory, including Vilnius, and Želva was re-taken in mid-July, 1920. On Polish military recovery, Želva again became entangled in local skirmishes, with Poles moving in on October 28 but Lithuanians conclusively regaining Želva on November 19, 1920.
In czarist times, a postal facility for Želva had been established ca. 1913 in the nearby Manor Poželva (Pozelva). A Lithuanian post office at Želva was opened some time in 1921, after the cessation of the Polish-Lithuanian hostilities and the imposition of a Line of Demarcation. The name of its first postmaster is not known.
The earliest stamps available at Želva were values of the Sėjėjas Issue, the First Airmail Issue, followed by overprints etc. As Želva had no regular postmarker to start with, cancelling at first was done in manuscript, indicating place in capitals (“ŽELVA” or “ZELVA”) and date. Sometimes place and date are separated by a horizontal line.
By May 1922, while still having no regular postmarker, Želva obtained two oblong cachets inscribed “ŽELVAI”: one with “R” for registered items, and one without “R” for money orders and parcel cards. For a few months, the latter was used for cancelling as well.
A regular calendar-type postmarker, with the spelling changed back to “ŽELVA”, was supplied ca. mid-1922.
Known provisional markings:
MS cancelling without a horizontal line:
22 / III 1922 single, Sėjėjas 2a [colln. Brazdeikis]
12 / IV  single, First Air 5a [colln. Doniela]
MS cancelling with a horizontal line:
2 / II 1922 single, Sėjėjas 1a [colln. Doniela]
Provisional cancelling by means of a cachet “ŽELVAI”:
300 3 / V / 1922 reg. cover to USA, Sėjėjas 2a x4 [colln. Lapas]