Latvian Collecting

Latvia tourism map postcards

In the 1930s Latvia issued 40 map postcards to promote tourism. Most cards are 15x10 cm with a map number on the back or front, or both; one card is known in a smaller size; a few cards have no map number. Cards #1 to 11 are black, blue, and red. Cards #12 to 40 are black, blue, red, and green. The map scales vary from 1:37 000 to 1:400 000. Most of the maps are in landscape format, wider than they are tall.

upper right cornerThe cards sold for 5 sant. each, as indicated in the space for postage in the upper right corner of the address side. From the end of 1931 to the Soviet occupation of 1940, Latvia's domestic postcard rate was 10 sant.

Each card has a map name and a publisher logo beside the space for an address. Many cards also have a map number in front of the map name. We do not know exactly when the cards were published, nor in what quantities. Information is scarce.


According to Tourist Route Map Postcards by Peteris Zāriņš [Postal and Monetary History of Latvia 1918-1945; N. Jakimovs and V. Marcilger; 1991; pp 4-23 to 4-25], three departments published the cards:

    Ministry of Public Information, Department of Tourism;
    Ministry of the Interior, Bureau of Tourism;
    Ministry of the Interior, Department of Emigration and Tourism.

The Peteris Zariņš article refers to illustrations of the 40 cards and a list of the cards. Unfortunately the book with this article has no illustrations or list. We would appreciate a copy of the full article with its illustrations and list.

We expect there was only one publisher of these cards, not three, with changes of name and logo during the time it published these postcards. This would reflect changes in government ministries and explain why the names and logos are similar to each other. We would appreciate more information.

Because the uppermost logo, #1, is the most ornate, it is probably the oldest of the three logos. Both of the other two logos look more modern. Logo #3 appears on very few cards. We would appreciate information on other material that shows these logos.

Used examples of these cards are scarce. This is unfortunate, because they would help determine when individual cards were issued. Juris Mors warns that the DANIEŁI CDS cancel shown on card #36 is faked, with a canceller in private hands. Postcard collectors [deltiologists] may have saved the unused examples we have. We would appreciate copies of used examples.

The bird in this logo is probably a herring gull. We thank Algimantas Muzikevicias for this information.

logo  1 - IEMTB
Logo 1 enlarged - bird over an oak leaf wreath with Latvia Coat of Arms and I.E.M.T.B. [on 1a, 1b, 2a, 3a, 4, 5a, 6, 7, 8 , 9, 10, 11].
logo  2 - map with lines
Logo 2 enlarged - bird over a circled map of Latvia with slanted lines [1c, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37].
logo 3  unlined map
Logo 3 enlarged - bird over a circled outline map of Latvia [20, 21].

Map legends

Beneath the map name and publisher logo on the back of each card is a map legend. These vary from map to map.

map key, card 1a
Map legend, card 1a, enlarged. According to Zariņš, the red lines [Sarkanā līnija] show recommended routes for tourist walks. The heavy dashed lines show train tracks [dzelzcelš]. The text min. emigrācijas un tūrisma nodalas propagandas izdevums probably means "Ministry of Emigration and Tourism Department publicity issue".

map key, card 21
Map legend, card 21, enlarged. The text Pazīsti savu dzimto zemi! may mean "Our noted native land!"; Sabiedr. lietu min. tūrisma nodalas izdevums probably means "Department of the Interior, Ministry of Tourism Section, issue".

map key, card  34
Map key, card 34, enlarged. ezers=lake; šoseja=paved highway; lielcelš=highway; pārējie ceļi=other roads; parks=park; jauks skats=fine view; jauka vieta=notable place; dārzniecība=gardens; paragusaimniecība=model farm; piensaimniecība=dairy farm; senću kapenes=burial ground.


One of three printer names is usually in tiny text in the outside margin on the map side of each card:

    Latvian Army Staff Lithographers;
    Latvian Army Staff Photo-Lithographers;
    P. Mantnieks Cartographic Institute.

The text of the names varies from card to card, as does the Riga street address that often follows the name. P. Mantnieks had been in charge of the Latvian Army Staff Photo-Lithographers.

text for Army Staff Lith.
Card 7, enlarged, name in bottom margin.
Army Staff Lith{ography}, Valdemara Street 10/12.

text for Army Staff Photolith.
Card 20, enlarged, name in bottom margin.
ARM. ŠTĀBA FOTOLIT. Rigā, Valdemāra ielā 10/12
Army Staff Photolith{ography}, Riga, Vademara Street 10/12
This text was also used on cards #21 and #24 and appears only with logo 3. [courtesy of A. Muzikevicius]

text for P. Mantnieks  Cartographic Institute
Card 23, enlarged, name in right margin.
P. Mantnieka kartografijas instit. Rīgā. Šarioles ielā 15
P. Mantnieks Cartographic Institute, Riga, Sharioles Street 15


We have seen two versions of card #1: one printed by P. Mantnieks and one by the Latvian Army Staff. A third type of card 1 exists with a different card name. There are two versions of cards #2, #3, and #5, as reported by Pēteris Zariņš. And there are two versions of card #18. Algis Muzikevicius notes that the original version did not show the international border with Lithuania at the right bottom right corner. In 1937 after Lithuanian officials protested, the card was reprinted with the border in red. The two types are otherwise the same.

There are spectacular printing errors on the backs of #36 and #37, reported by J. Mors, and #37, reported by A. Muzikevicius.

Please send scans or copies of all types not shown here and any other further information. We still need examples of mapcards #26.


We thank Atis Blakis of the US, Juris Mors of Sweden, and Algimantas Muzikevicius of Lithuania as sources of many images.

cards #1 to 10 [1649K]
cards #11 to 20 [1150K]
cards #21 to 30 [978K]
cards #31 to 40 [1126K]

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New Mon, 2002-03-25; updated Sun, 2011-01-09 .
Copyright ©2002 to 2014, Bill Apsit.