Šeštakavas (later renamed Šeštokai) is a town in Suvalkija ca. 30 km south of Marijampolė. In World War One, after the final clearing of Russian armies from East Prussia, Šeštakavas was passed through by 31. Infantry-Division on February 13, 1915 during the German attempt to encircle a major Russian concentration at Augustavas (Augustow).
During the German withdrawal from the East at the end of 1918, Šeštakavas was not affected by further clashes, as a Red Army’s attempted breakthrough was beaten back at Alytus.
In the czarist period, Šeštakavas had had a post office (as Shestakov) but none during the German occupation.
A mandate as įgaliotinis to open a Lithuanian post office at Šeštakavas was given to Dimitrijus Artemjevas who had been postmaster of the Lithuanian post office in Gardinas (Grodno) until the town came under Polish control in late April 1919, and then was temporarily evacuated to Alytus. It is not clear when Dimitrijus Artemjevas did in fact open the post office in Šeštakavas, as his mandate indicated only the month of May 1919 without specifying the day. At Šeštakavas, Dimitrijus Artemjevas stayed on until his transfer to Tauragė as from November 1, 1920. It is not certain who took his place.
For stamps, Šeštakavas was provided with Second Kaunas and Third Kaunas Issues followed by Fourth Berlin Issue etc. It is possible but not certain that Šeštakavas also had values of Second Vilnius Issue. As Šeštakavas was a railway station much used by German Grenzschutz troops some of whom were keen collectors, stamps were also brought up personally from elsewhere for cancelling-to-order with the impressive looking Šeštakavas violet post office seal. Activity at the P.O. subsided noticeably when Grenschutz troops left south Lithuania after mid-1919.
While some very early cancelling may have been done by pen (though none have been recorded), the Šeštakavas post office rubber seal seems to have been employed without delay. It was used liberally for obviously philatelic purposes and so has been noted not only on blank sheetlets but on specialist-spotted errors as well. No other provisional markings have been recorded, as yet.
Copious philatelic use of the seal had once given rise to suspicion that the seal was some sort of speculative fake, but genuine mail from that period does in fact exist.
A standard calendar-type postmarker was provided in the first half of 1920 and was also inscribed “ŠEŠTAKAVAS”. Subsequent postmarkers carried the shorter place-name “ŠEŠTOKAI”.
Known provisional markings:
Cancelling by violet P.O. seal:
No date single, Second Vilnius 20 [colln. ?]
No date, Second Kaunas various values [several collns.]
No date, Third Kaunas various values [several collns.]
No date, Third Kaunas 15, pair imperf. between [colln. ?]
No date, Fourth Berlin various values [several collns.]
No date, cover to Germany, Fourth Berlin 60 [colln. Doniela]