This website is dedicated to the Hungarian born stamp dealers Béla, Géza, Eugen and Frank Szekula.
After moving to Lucerne in Switzerland each one of them opened his own stamp business with emphasis on international stamp trade.
All four brothers were probably driven by money rather than the love of stamps, and especially Béla’s creative business ideas provoked more than one philatelic scandal during his career.
However, the history of philately would arguably be considerably poorer without the Szekula family.
Eugen (Jenő) Szekula (1888–1950) was born in Szeged on March 9, 1888.
When he was old enough, he joined Géza as an employee at Béla’s Internationale Philatelisten.
On August 19, 1912, he married Elisabeth (Erzsébet) Zenner in Budapest.
Like his older brothers he then moved to Lucerne, initially still working for Béla.
In October 1913, Eugen traveled to the United States representing Béla’s company at New York’s first stamp exhibition, the New York Philatelic Exhibition.
First ads for buying stamps appeared in Swiss newspapers in 1915, and in January 1917 he opened his own Briefmarken-Import und -Export (= stamp import and export) business Eugen Szekula in Lucerne.
On July 5, 1919 he became a naturalized Swiss citizen of Geuensee.
In September 1919 Eugen closed his business at Grendelstrasse 19 and reopened it as Briefmarken-Import und -Exporthaus (= stamp import and export house) at the new address Hertensteinstrasse 56.
Like the rest of the family he changed the spelling of his name to Sekula in March 1923.
Apparently his business went well for the next ten years, but in 1933 he was facing bankruptcy.
As a result, in August of that year Eugen’s stamp import and export firm was converted into a corporation, Eugen Sekula A.G., with him as director.
In August 1934 the Eugen Sekula A.G. changed its name to Atlas Briefmarken A.G. in Luzern (Atlas Stamp Ltd. Lucerne).
In February 1935 the board of the Atlas Briefmarken A.G. in Luzern decided to leave Lucerne and move to Lugano; the corporation was renamed to Atlas Briefmarken A.G. in Lugano (Atlas Stamp Ltd. Lugano).
After less than three years, In November 1937 the Atlas Briefmarken A.G. in Lugano moved again, this time to Zurich, and became Atlas Briefmarken A.G. in Zurich (Atlas Stamp Ltd. Zurich).
The company continued to sell stamps for another thirteen years, but in the end Eugen Sekula was apparently headed for financial ruin.
On Sunday the 29th of January, 1950, the police was called to Sekula’s apartment at Rigistr. 18 where they found the lifeless bodies of Eugen Sekula (62), his wife Elisabeth (57) and their disabled daughter Maja (24).
Both parents were already dead when the police arrived; Maja was hospizalized but died one day later without regaining consciousness.
All three had taken an overdose of sedative drugs, presumably due to their desperate financial situation.
Three months later, in April 1950, the Atlas Briefmarken A.G. in Zurich was declared bankrupt.
Although he was much less of a traveler, Eugen Sekula’s business qualities probably came close to those of Béla.
A failed attempt to establish his own stamp-like labels in the Swiss postal system in 1930 shows that he was similarly creative, but he also employed the same sale tactics as Béla sending out unwanted stamp selections and then aggressively demanding payment — eventually with the same result.
In 1934 the U.S. Post imposed a short-lived embargo on both of them, even marking postal money orders as fraudulent and returning them to the sender.
Postcards — June 1912
On June 1st, 1912, the Imperial Post Office granted permission for mail transport with a zeppelin and an airplane as part of a charity event for the benefit of the Grand Ducal Center for Mother and Infant Care in Hesse. The Flight-Postcard Week on the Rhine and Main (Ressource in German), one of the first flight events with official airmail transport worldwide, was scheduled to take place from June 9th to 16th. Airmail was transported between the cities of Frankfurt a.M., Offenbach a.M., Darmstadt, Worms and Mainz. Postcards meant to travel by aircraft could be placed in any street mailbox of the participating cities during the event, but in addition to regular stamps paying the actual postage (e.g. 5 Pf for a postcard) they had to be franked with semi-official stamps issued by the organizer. Although these so-called flight stamps had no postal value, they also received a post office cancellation. On Sunday, June 9th, air post offices began selling official charity postcards and stamps. Military bands providing a respectable supporting program turned the Flight-Postcard Week into a folk festival which was publicly observed far beyond the guild of stamp collectors. On June the 10th the first airmail was transported from Frankfurt to Darmstadt by the Gelber Hund (Yellow Dog), a double-decker with yellow wings built by August Euler. Two days later, the airship Schwaben (Swabia) arrived at Frankfurt for a roundtrip with stops at Offenbach, Darmstadt und Mainz. At each stop, mail bags were dropped on parachutes and new mail was picked up with ropes and hooks while the airship stayed hovering about 50 m above the ground. Several more flights took place during the following days. Due to delays caused by technical problems and the weather leading to undelivered mail, but also to increase sales of charity postcards, the fair was extended to Sunday, the 23rd. However, delivery of the mail lasted beyond the end of the fair. The Schwaben, already back at her home base in Baden-Oos, had to return to Frankfurt, and on June 24th (according to some sources June 27th) she carried out the final flight, transporting mail that had actually been intended for the – now defective – Gelber Hund plus last-minute postcards quickly prepared by the patronage and addressed to Altes Palais Darmstadt. Unsold remainders were later sold to stamp dealers like the Senf brothers, Leipzig, and Eugen Szekula, Lucerne, who redistributed them with their own modifications. It is important to note that all these postcards were actually flown and thus qualify as airmail.
Szekula postcards can be identified by the presence of one of three different typewritten messages on the back and a hand-stamped number on the front (№ 832 … № 835).
Sent on September 15, 1915, from Lucerne to New York City, USA.
Postcard — January 1916
Sent as printed matter on January 29, 1916 from Bischweiler, Alsace, Germany (today Bischwiller, France) to Lucerne.
Cover — February 1916
Sent on February 10, 1916 from Luzern to Helsingborg, Sweden.
Scan provided by Max Brack.
Postcard — December 1918
Sent on December 26, 1918 from Naumburg a.d. Saale, Germany to Lucerne.
Cover — February 1919
Registered cover sent on February 1, 1919 to Skive, Denmark.
Postcard — April 11, 1919
Sent on April 11, 1919, from Lucerne to Mora, Sweden.
Cover — April 15, 1919
Sent on April 15, 1919 Lucerne to Wolfhalden.
Cover — December 1919
Sent on December 19, 1919 from Kingston, Jamaica, to Eugen Szekula in Lucerne.
Return Envelope — 1920
Pre-addressed envelope sent registered in August, 1920 from Copenhagen, Denmark to Eugen Sekula.
Postcard — October 26, 1920
Sent on October 26, 1920 from Lucerne to San Francisco, California, USA.
Cover — October 29, 1920
Sent on October 29, 1920 from Helsinki, Finland to Eugen Szekula in Lucerne.
Parcel Registration Card — February 15, 1921
Sent on February 15, 1921 with shipment from Leipzig, Germany, to Eugen Szekula in Lucerne.
Cover — February 19, 1921
Cash paid printed matter sent on February 19, 1921 within Lucerne to Eugen Szekula at “Villa Sonnenhof”.
Scan provided by Max Brack.
Postcard — May 1921
Sent on May 25, 1921 by Eugen Sekula from Lucerne to Millville, New Jersey, USA.
Cover — August 1921
Sent on August 7, 1921 from Nysted, Denmark, to Eugen Szekula in Lucerne.
Cover — May 1922
Sent registered on May 28, 1922 from Vienna, Austria, to Lucerne.
Cover — February 1923
Cover sent on February 9, 1923 from Valletta, Malta, to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cover — May 1923
Cover sent on May 19, 1923 from Saint Pierre and Miquelon to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cover — September 1923
Sent registered on October 14, 1923 from Lucerne to Seon, Aargau. Acceptance refused and returned on October 15.
Cover — October 1923
Sent on October 26, 1923 from Eugen Sekula’:s office in Lucerne to his hotel address in New York City, USA.
Cover — November 1923
Registered cover sent on November 2, 1923 from Roustschouk (= Ruse), Bulgaria, to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Postcard — January 1924
Postcard sent on January 7, 1924 from Lucerne to Brussels, Belgium.
Cover — April 1924
Sent registered on April 19, 1924, from Castelmoron-sur-Lot, France, to Lucerne.
Cover — July 1924
Sent on July 14, 1924 from Gloggnitz, Austria, to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cover — October 1924
Registered cover sent on October 7, 1924 from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Return Envelope — October 1924
Pre-addressed envelope sent registered on October 6, 1924 from Bordeaux, France, to Eugen Sekula.
Cover — November 23, 1924
Registered cover sent on November 23, 1924 from Varna, Bulgaria, to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cover — November 28, 1924
Sent registered on November 28, 1924 from Paris, France, to Lucerne.
Cover — December 23, 1924
Sent registered on December 23, 1924, from Châlons-sur-Marne (today Châlons-en-Champagne), France, to Lucerne.
Cover — January 2, 1925
Pre-addressed cover sent registered on January 2, 1925 from Lille, France to Eugen Sekula in Lucerne.
Cover — January 27, 1925
Registered cover sent on January 27, 1925 from Strasbourg, France, to Lucerne.
Return Envelope — March 1925
Pre-addressed envelope sent registered on March 30, 1925 from Diessenhofen to Eugen Sekula in Lucerne.
Cover — April 8, 1925
Registered cover sent on April 8, 1925 to Dole, Jura, Switzerland.
Cover — October 1925
Registered cover sent on October 24, 1925 to Munich, Germany.
Postcard — December 9, 1925
A postcard from Eugen Sekula to the editor of the “General Anzeiger für Philatelie”, where he complains that his advertisement was not printed correctly.
The advertisement contained the phrase “ordinary nominal value”, but he insists on never having used the word “ordinary” and therefore refuses to pay for it.
Cover — December 21, 1925
Registered cover sent on December 21, 1925 to Bruges, Belgium, redirected to Namur.
Cover — 1926
Sent on July 15, 1926 to Caxias do Sul, Brazil.
Cover — March 1927
Sent registered on March 11, 1927 from La Sagne-Ste-Croix to Eugen Sekula in Lucerne.
Cover — June 7, 1927
Registered cover sent on June 7, 1927 to Schwäbisch-Gmünd, Germany.
Cover — June 25, 1927
Registered cover sent on June 25, 1927 from Antwerp, Belgium, to Eugene Sekula, Villa Heimeli, Lucerne.
Cover — July 1927
Sent registered on July 15, 1927 to Effretikon.
Cover — August 1927
Sent on August 20, 1927 to Montclair, New Jersey, USA.
Cover — November 18, 1927
Sent registered on November 18, 1927, from Saint-Étienne, France, to Lucerne.
Cover — December 1, 1927
Registered cover sent on December 1, 1927 to Holdton, Kansas, USA.
Cover — December 24, 1927
Registered cover sent on December 24, 1927 to Reading, Pennsylvania, USA.
Cover — January 17, 1928
Sent registered on January 17, 1928 to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Cover — March 1, 1928
Sent registered on March 1, 1928 to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Postcard — April 26, 1928
Sent on April 26, 1928 from Lucerne to Lyon, France.
Cover — May 1928
Cover sent on May 11, 1928 from Harburg-Wilhelmsburg (now part of Hamburg), Germany, to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cover — June 21, 1928
Sent registered on June 21, 1928 to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Cover — June 25, 1928
Special cacheted cover for the benefit of war invalids sent on June 25, 1928 from Riga, Latvia via airmail to Eugen Sekula.
Scan provided by Albert Little.
Postcard (1) — July 4, 1928
Sent on July 4, 1928 from Lucerne to Montreal, Canada.
Postcard (2) — July 4, 1928
Advertising postcard sent to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Cover — July 20, 1928
Sent on July 20, 1928 to New York City, USA.
Scan provided by Albert Little.
Cover — August 28, 1928
Sent registered on August 28, 1928, from Aix-en-Provence, France, to Lucerne.
Cover — September 1928
Registered cover sent on September 26, 1928 to Corvallis, Oregon, USA.
Cover — December 1928
Sent as printed matter on December 27, 1928 to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Return Envelope — March 1929
Pre-addressed envelope sent on March 8, 1929 from Berlin to Lucerne.
Scan provided by Albert Little.
Covers — August 1929
Sent registered in August 1929 to Bad Homburg, Germany.
August 9, 1929.
August 20, 1929.
Cover — August 30, 1929
Sent on August 30, 1929 to Holden, Massachusetts, USA.
Cover — September 1929
Registered cover sent on September 16, 1929 to Luxembourg.
Cover — October 1929
Pre-addressed cover sent on October 7, 1929 from Pécs, Humgary to Eugen Sekula at “Villa Heimeli” in Lucerne.
Picture Postcard — November 1929
Sent on November 2 from Friedrichshafen, Germany, to Lucerne. Carried by the airship “Graf Zeppelin” making her first trip to Switzerland. The postcard was printed on thick paper rather than cardboard to reduce the weight.
Cover — December 3, 1929
Sent registered on December 3, 1929 to Effretikon.
Cover — December 31, 1929
Sent on December 31, 1929 to Alfred, New York, USA.
Scans provided by Albert Little.
Postcard — 1930
Payment reminder sent on October 4 to Lübeck, Germany.
Cover — February 1930
Sent on February 25, 1930 to Gabolshausen (today part of Bad Königshofen), Bavaria, Germany.
Cover — April 1930
Sent on April 17, 1930 to Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Cover — May 1930
Sent registered on May 8, 1930 to Effretikon.
Postcard — May 1930
Sent on May 28, 1930 to Osijek, Yugoslavia (today in Croatia).
Return Envelope — May 1930
Pre-addressed envelope sent on May 23, 1930 from Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, to Eugen Sekula in Lucerne.
Cover — June 1930
Sent in June, 1930 from Triebendorf, Czechoslovakia (today Třebařov, Czech Republic) to Lucerne, Switzerland.
Cover — August 1930
Sent registered on August 16, 1930 from Lucerne to Fabbenstedt (today part of Espelkamp, North Rhine-Westphalia), Germany.
Cover — September 1930
Sent on September 2, 1930 to Bern, Switzerland.
Postcard — September 1930
Sent on November 14 from Geneva to Lucerne. Carried to Zurich by the airship “Graf Zeppelin” (LZ 127) on her way back from her first trip to Geneva.
Vignettes — September 1930
In 1930, Eugen Sekula had a very special idea for injecting his own creations into the philatelic market: instead of printing or writing the words “Porto bezahlt”, “Port payé” or “Porto pagato” (German, French and Italian for “Postage paid”) on envelopes meant to be sent out as cash paid printed matter, he started using stamp-like labels he had produced himself for that purpose. On September 24 the post office no. 6 of Lucerne granted permission to use these labels. After preparing a few hundred covers he began sending them out on October 10. His marketing ploy only lasted 10 days. On October 20, as soon as the postal administration of Lucerne became aware of this, further use of these labels was prohibited.
Instead of feeling defeated the businessman Sekula immediately saw an opportunity. Pointing out the rareness of his vignettes in ads placed in various philatelic journals he began selling his leftovers at high prices! Complete sets of all four stamps were offered in special glassine booklets in German, English, and French. The ones shown below contain the scarcer set of tête-bêche printed pairs.
Cash Paid Printed Matter — October 1930
Four covers and a picture postcard “franked” with Eugen Sekula’s vignettes sent out between October 11 and October 18, 1930. Due to the short period of time these labels were accepted by the Swiss post office in Lucerne, traveled covers with these labels are scarce.
Cover — February 1931
Sent on February 19, 1931 to Vienna, Austria.
Cover — March 1931
Sent registered on March 30, 1931 to Munich, Germany.
Cover — May 25, 1931
Sent registered via airmail on May 25, 1931 from Saint-Ursanne to Lucerne.
Cover — May 27, 1931
Sent on May 27, 1931 to Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Scans provided by Albert Little.
Cover — June 2, 1931
Sent on June 2, 1931 from Lucerne to Queens Village, New York City, USA.
Postal Card — June 17, 1931
Postal card sent on June 17, 1931 from Terrassa, Spain to Lucerne.
Cover — July 1931
Sent registered on July 10, 1931 to Werdau, Saxonia, Germany.
Return Envelope — July 1931
Pre-addressed envelope sent on July 29, 1931 from Valparaiso, Chile, to Eugen Sekula.
Cover — July 17, 1931
Sent registered on July 17, 1931 from Lucerne to Fabbenstedt (today part of Espelkamp, North Rhine-Westphalia), Germany.
Postcard — July 30, 1931
Postcard sent registered via airmail on July 30, 1931 to Oberiflingen (today part of Schopfloch, Baden-Wuerttemberg), Germany, to collect payment by cash on delivery.
Postcard — August 1931
Sent on August 28, 1931 to Brooklyn, New York City, USA.
Scans provided by Albert Little.
Postcard — September 1931
Postcard sent on September 17, 1931 via airmail to Vienna, Austria, to collect payment by cash on delivery. Returned to Lucerne on September 21 (backstamp) because receiver refused delivery.
Cover — December 1931
Sent on December 31, 1931 to Schenectady, New York, USA.
Postcard — December 1931
Postcard sent on December 12, 1931 via airmail to Oberifflingen, Germany, to collect payment on delivery.
Postcard — March 15, 1932
Sent on March 15, 1932 to Benton Harbor, Michigan, USA.
Cover — March 17, 1932
Sent registered on March 17, 1932 to Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA.
Cover — May 1932
Air mail sent registered on May 10, 1932, from Lucerne to Nitra, Czechoslovakia (today Slovakia).
Cover — June 1932
Sent registered on June 4, 1932 from Lucerne to Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
Postcard — August 1932
Sent on August 30, 1932 to Brooklyn, New York City, USA.
Cover — May 5, 1933
Sent on May 5, 1933 to Liestal.
Cover — May 27, 1933
Sent on May 27, 1933 to Ennenda (today Glarus).
Cover — August 1933
Sent registered on August 26, 1933 from Lucerne to Königstein, Saxony, Germany.
Cover — December 1933
In 1933, Eugen converted his company into a corporation to avoid bankruptcy. On August 22, the “Eugen Sekula” company was replaced by the “Eugen Sekula A.G.” (Eugen Sekula Inc.) with him as director.
Registered cover sent on December 21, 1933, by Eugen Sekula Inc. from Lucerne to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA.
Cover — April 1934
Registered cover sent on April 7, 1934, by Eugen Sekula Inc. from Lucerne to Reading, Pennsylvania, USA.
Cover — June 1934
Sent registered on June 18, 1934 to Linn’s Weekly Stamp News in Columbus, Ohio, USA.
Letter — August 1934
On August 20, 1934, the “Eugen Sekula A.G.” in Lucerne changed its name to “Atlas Stamp Ltd. Lucerne.”
The letter below was sent one week later to inform a customer in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, about the name change.
Cover — April 1935
Sent registered on April 16, 1935 from Castagnola (today part of Lugano) to Brooklyn, New York City, USA.
Cover — May 1, 1936
Registered cover sent on May 1, 1936 from Castagnola to Maplewood, New Jersey, USA.
Cover — May 21, 1936
Sent registered on May 21, 1936 from Castagnola (today part of Lugano) to New York City, USA.
Cover — July 1936
Philatelic cover sent registered on July 29, 1936 from Brussels, Belgium to Lugano.
Cover — February 1937
Sent on February 4, 1937 from Lugano to Peterswald bei Karbitz, Czechoslovakia (Petrovice u Chabařovic, today Czechia).
Postcard — April 1937
Sent on April 12, 1937 from Montreux to Atlas Stamp Ltd., Lugano, on the occasion of the Montreux Convention Regarding the Abolition of the Capitulations in Egypt.
Cover — June 1937
Sent registered by airmail (Europe only) on June 11, 1937 from Castagnola (today part of Lugano) to New York City, USA.
Cover — July 1937
Philatelic cover sent on July 16, 1937 from San José, Costa Rica, to Lugano.
Cover — August 1937
Philatelic cover sent registered on August 5, 1937 from Brussels, Belgium to Lugano.
Cover — October 1937
Philatelic cover sent on October 29, 1937 from Barcelona, Spain to Lugano.
Cover — November 1937
Philatelic cover sent registered on November 22, 1937 from Barcelona, Spain, to Lugano.
Cover — December 1937
Sent registered on December 1, 1937 from Lugano to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
Cover — January 1938
Sent registered on January 31, 1938 from Zurich to Long Island, New York, USA.
Postcard — February 1938
Postcard prepared on February 14, 1938, by Atlas Stamp Ltd., Zurich.
Cover — March 1938
Sent registered on March 8, 1938 from Zurich to Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Cover — May 1938
Sent on May 10, 1938 from Zurich to West Grove, Pennsylvania, USA.
Postcard — May 1938
Sent on May 22, 1938 from Bern to Atlas Stamp Ltd., Zurich, commemorating Switzerland’s first “Pro Aero” flights promoting aviation.
Scans provided by Max Brack.
Cover — June 1938
Sent on June 30, 1938 from Zurich to New York City, USA.
Postcard — June 1938
FDC Postcard prepared on June 15, 1938, by Atlas Stamp Ltd., Zurich.
Cover — October 1938
Sent registered on October 18, 1938 from Zürich to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, USA.
Cover — November 1938
Sent registered on November 12, 1938 from Zürich to Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Cover — December 1938
Sent registered on December 6, 1938 from Zurich to Sankt Gallenkappel (today part of Eschenbach).
Cover — July 1939
Sent on July 18, 1939 from Zurich to Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.
Cover — May 1940
Sent registered on May 15, 1940 from Lucerne to Syracuse, New York, USA.
Cover — August 1940
“ ATLAS STAMP LTD. ZÜRICH” cover sent on August 4, 1940 from Lugano to Asbury Park, New Jersey, USA.
Cover — August 1941
Sent registered on August 28, 1941 from Zurich to Gelterkinden.
Cover — November 1941
Sent registered on November 25, 1941 from Zurich to Solothurn.
Cover — December 1942
Sent on December 2, 1942 from Zurich to Aadorf, forwarded to Wallenwil.
Cover — September 1943
Sent on September 6, 1943 from Zurich to the Sentier Collège, Vallée de Joux.
Cover — April 1944
Sent in April 1944 from Zurich to Åbenrå, Denmark.
Cover — September 1946
Sent on September 12, 1946 from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Atlas Stamp in Zurich.
Cover — June 1947
Sent registered on June 7, 1947 from Zurich to Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Postcard — April 1948
Sent on April 17, 1948 from Zurich to Montéal, Canada.
Postcard — September 1948
Documenting Switzerland’s first (experimental) helicopter mail flight on September 23, 1948.
Cover — October 1948
Express cover sent registered on October 20, 1948, from Zurich to Geneva.
Cover — February 1949
Sent registered on February 9, 1949 from Bollnäs, Sweden, to Zurich.
Postcard — February 1949
Sent on February 9, 1949 from Zurich to St. Joseph, Michigan, USA.
Scan provided by Max Brack.
Cover — May 1949
Sent on May 3, 1949 from Zurich to Akron, Ohio, USA.