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Hungarian Hyperinflation
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Historical Background
Inflation, page 1        Inflation, page 2
Adópengö, page 1        Adópengö, page 2

With the constantly raising fees it soon became a problem to provide enough of both revenues and space on the address cards where they should be affixed.  As of April 1946 the Hungarian Post Office therefore introduced the use of certificates of paid income tax, the Adópengö, to replace normal revenues.  Adópengö is mentioned in most catalogues as "tax pengö" without any information of what it really was.  In Michel (Eastern Europe) 1999/2000 it was even given a false value (1 billiard Pengö).

Late 1945 the Hungarian Tax Authorities realized that the population profited from the inflation by delaying their tax payments.  It was therefore decided that as of New Year 1945/46 income tax had to be paid by a new certificate, named Adópengö, for which "tomorrow's" value was announced in the National Radio after the banks and tax payment offices had closed down for the day.  It suddenly became very expensive to delay tax payments!  

Below is a complete overview of the value of 1 (one) Adópengö, converted to Pengö, from 1st January - 28th July 1946.  

The Hungarian Post Office introduced the Adópengö as the official denomination for stamps with the raise of postage on 12th July 1946 (Period No. 25).  The rate of exchange was 2 trilliards Pengö (10 x 21), whereas revenues in Adópengö denomination were in use from April 1946, intended for fees for the address cards.  As of 1st May 1946 the fee was established as 500 Ap, and converted according to the above table.

By the beginning of July 1946 the Hungarian authorities must have been working on the conversion to a completely new currency, the present Forint, as well as establishing the rate of exchange for the rest of the month.  In order not to make it more difficult than necessary, the Hungarian Post Office was informed in advance so that it could adjust the postage according to the constant inflation.  A total demonetizing of all means of payment does not take place overnight; it was a vast project to have all new banknotes, coins, stamps and revenues distributed to all areas of the country.  

The intended use of stamps with letter surcharge (see table on Inflation page 2) should be taken absolutely verbatim, proven by the below letter sent from Hungary to Denmark on 21st March 1946 (Period 9), correctly franked with 160,000 Pengö.  

The letter is further franked with four letter surcharges Hl. (1st series), each 400 Pengö = 1,600 Pengö.  These surcharges (see table on Inflation page 2) were intended for local letters, and were not allowed on mail to abroad.  The letter has therefore a violet cancellation "Vissza! Forgalom Szünetel" meaning "To be returned - Processing stopped", and was returned to the post office from where it was mailed.   This is proven by the cancel on the backside (not shown here) saying 24.III.1946.  
  • Returned letter to Denmark, because of illegal use of stamps intended for local postage.

Below is an interesting address card for a parcel of books, weighing 15 kg, sent on 4th May 1946 (Period 14). The card and the postage information given is verified by Mr. Robert B. Morgan (USA), secretary of the Society for Hungarian Philately.  

The parcel was sent for 10 million Pengö, noted in the field reserved, but the correct postage was 12 million Pengö. On the front (left scan) is a stamp of the face value Cs - 10, corresponding to 8 million Pengö (cf. the table on Inflation page2).  The reverse side (right scan) is franked with 2 million Pengö, making the total postage 10 million Pengö.  This means that window clerk has made something illegitimate, no matter whether it was as a favour for a friend, or for himself to save 2 million Pengö.  

This card shows clearly that Hungarian address cards were fiscal stationery, rather than postal stationery.  The imprinted fee, augmented by revenue stamps, was collected by the post office and passed on to the Finance Ministry as a tax.  

  • Front and backside of an address card, underfranked with 2 million Pengö.  

There are plenty of such "illegitimate" cards in Hungarian philately; for the sake of clarity I have only shown one such card here.  

Historical Background
Inflation, page 1        Inflation, page 2
Adópengö, page 1        Adópengö, page 2


Revised 02 nov 2006 
Copyright © by Ann Mette Heindorff
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