From this very small and poor land locked republic, a whole industry of fake news production sprung up prior to the 2016 US elections where youth were cashing in to the tunes of thousands of dollars a day by churning out fake and outlandish news stories. Since that US election, the term "fake news" is still a topic of discussion and a household word. And, even as Facebook and other social media giants are attempting to fix the problem with fake news on their platforms, these young "news and media entrepreneurs" in the former Yugoslav republic are eagerly anticipating and gearing up for the US elections of 2020.    .
For Greeks however, fake news, outlandish stories and forgeries emanating out of the FYROM is not a new phenomenon. It has been a thorn in the side of Greece and Greeks ever since the former Yugoslav republic declared independence as the "Republic of Macedonia" in September of 1991. Greece opposed the name of the new republic from the very beginning and has rightfully argued that the Balkan nation's name as "Macedonia" points to territorial claims over the Greek geographical region in northern Greece called Macedonia.
In the early days of the internet, FYROM Slavs especially in the diaspora were busily plying their trade in promoting fake history and ancient forgery on the then new medium (i.e. the internet of the early days) in their hodge-podge attempt at linking the ancient Greek history of Macedonia to that of the then recently independent Yugoslav state. Unfortunately, the remnants of their early endeavors online from the mid-1990's is actually still available on websites which will forever be frozen in time. Today, anyone who attempts to search the terms "Macedonia" and "ancient Macedonia" on the internet will always without fail end up on fake history websites about 95% to 98% of the time - websites which are all laden with anti-Greek rhetoric and racism. In other words these early websites and news forums from the early days of independence simply fulfilled an ultra-nationalist agenda and nothing remotely of history.
The latest fake news emanating from the media in the FYROM targets both the US Postal Service and the modern history of the Balkans (in particular the modern history of Greece and Bulgaria respectively).
Desperately grasping at straws due to the upcoming September 30, 2018 "Name Change Referendum" which will seek to change the constitutional name from the "Republic of Macedonia" to the "Republic of North Macedonia," the ever crafty media in the FYROM and many ultra-nationalist, anti-Greek FYROM Slav diaspora Facebook and Twitter pages released a fake story between mid to late August 2018     that claims that: "back in 1928 the US Postal Service released stamps featuring a map of a "United Macedonia" along with the name of the country as "Macedonia" and its national heroes."
The obvious reason behind the fake news article is a very last ditch effort in attempting to sway a certain segment of the FYROM Slav population to boycott the name change referendum. The message that the FYROM media is trying to push onto this particular segment is: why should we change the name of the country to appease Greece, Bulgaria, the EU, NATO and the UN when even the US considered us simply as "Macedonia" back in 1928?" The target segment of the population that this hoax was geared for was obviously towards the hardcore ultra-nationalist element. However, this hoax also targets the more vulnerable and also the less educated in society who may not be able to determine if these stamps are authentic or not.
So, the question is: did the United States Postal Service ever release the above set of "Macedonia" stamps which also features a fantasy map of a "United Macedonia" in 1928 as claimed by the FYROM's fake news media and diaspora groups?
The answer is an emphatic NO!
All stamp collectors know that next to the stamps of the United Kingdom, the stamps released by the United States of America are some of the most recognizable and most desirable in the world. Every image of every US stamp is known. Every single one of them.
The hoax and the facts
The stamps featured above are claimed to be released by the US Postal Service in 1928. However, according to the Philatelic Learning Centre:
"When the fiscal budget for 1927, (July 1, 1927 through June 30, 1928), was reduced from the $8 million of the 1926 fiscal year to $7.5 million, the Postmaster was forced to tighten the belts of the stamp production process considerably. Chief among these was elimination of any new commemorative issues. It was an unfortunate coincidence that this period marked the 150th anniversary of some of the more famous events in the American Revolution, events that by all rights deserved to be commemorated by postage stamps. After much prodding, including from the then President Coolidge, Postmaster New authorized the production of the "Surrender of Burgoyne" and "Green Mountain Boys of Vermont" commemoratives in 1927. Further pressure was exerted to issue a stamp honoring the events at Valley Forge."
Therefore, the first thing to consider is, if the US Postmaster was forced to tighten the belts of the stamp production process in 1928 - on such an auspicious year - a year which marked the 150th anniversary of some of the more famous events in the American Revolution, how likely then would it have been for the US Postal Service to almost forego the printing of US commemorative stamps altogether but, in turn, spend limited funds and resources to print stamps of a then non-existent country in the southern Balkans? As stated above by the Philatelic Learning Centre, even President Coolidge personally intervened and then even further pressure was exerted by others just to print a few stamps honoring a few of the most famous events in the American Revolution.
The second thing to consider is that all US stamps have been heavily documented and catalogued for decades. Taking into account the point above then, due to financial constraints on the US Postmaster, according to all stamp catalogues, in the year 1928, the US Postal Service printed only six different themed stamps for the entire year. According to all stamp catalogue sources, none of those printed were the stamps features above with the legend "Macedonia" as promoted by FYROM Slav organizations. The stamps, therefore, are a hoax.
The third thing to consider is that the fake "Macedonia" stamps don't even look like US postage stamps. First, they are missing the words "U.S. Postage" featured on all US stamps in that particular [protected] font of that era. Even more importantly they are all missing the value of the stamps which was also a main feature on all US stamps of the era.
Sources: An inside look inside the catalogues of United States postage stamps
1) The six types of US stamps printed in 1928 can be seen here: United States Stamps of 1928.
2) The entire catalogue of all US stamps ever printed can be seen here: United States Stamps since 1847.
Other stamps printed by the US Postal Service include:
a) Panama Canal: The Canal zone 1904-1978; b) China: US Post China 1919-1922; c) Guam: Guam 1899-1930; d) Mariana Islands (Philippines postage) Mariana Islands 1899; e) US Cuba (Surcharged): US Cuba 1898-1899; f) Hawaii Postage: Hawaii 1851-1899; g) Confederate States: Confederate States; h) City Carrier Stamps: City Carrier Stamps; i) Postmasters Issues: Postmasters Issues.
Based on the fact that the above stamps are obviously not printed by the US Postal Service, the conclusion that can be drawn is that the fake stamps were more than likely created as a souvenir item among ultra-nationalists especially of the 1950's or more than likely a very recent Photoshop. Google and other image search engines also point back to the FYROM media articles and to FYROM Slav diaspora Facebook and Twitter pages that are promoting these fake stamps as "real US stamps of 1928." The oldest image we could find of the above fake stamps was from back in 2017, a search which led us on to a FYROM Slav ultra-nationalist website in which they "uncover the hidden truth" on subjects pertaining to the former Yugoslav republic.
Some chatter that we have seen online on certain FYROM Slav diaspora social media pages also posit that these stamps were printed in Yugoslavia. Others say Bulgaria. There is even a very small minority who promote an outlandish theory that these stamps were printed by "Slav separatists" within Greece under their own provisional government - a "provisional government" that is also based purely on fantasy or, as the term is stated today, "fake news."
Therefore, lest there be any doubt of our research by our FYROM Slav friends promoting this hoax, below and for good measure we also link the catalogues for these three countries to cover all the theories swirling about these "1928 stamps."
Yugoslavia: Yugoslavia stamps of 1928;
Bulgaria: Bulgaria stamps of 1928;
Greece: Greece stamps of 1920-1929.
We hope then, that by exposing the above "Macedonia" stamps as a verifiable hoax, that the generally anti-Greek media in the former Yugoslav republic and the ultra-nationalist FYROM Slav diaspora organizations which incessantly promote these sorts of fake stories for internal consumption will understand that their racist, anti-Greek fake news and Photoshop games aimed towards Greece and Greece's history will always be exposed by the Macedonian League to an extremely wide audience.
Department of Document Analysis
About the Macedonian League
We are an international professional Hellenic advocacy group. Our primary purpose is to advance our interests to informed and responsive governments on issues concerning Greece's national security and territorial integrity.
The Macedonian League's main focus is on the “Macedonian name dispute”, as this dispute is a serious national security issue that threatens the territorial integrity of Greece.
The Macedonian League also focuses on exposing and combating anti-Hellenism and analyzing political developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
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