The first stamps of Greece, or “large Hermes heads”, were issued in 1861. (Hermes is similar to the Roman Mercury, messenger of the gods.) Many stamps that followed have denominations printed on the back. These early stamps look similar to French Ceres stamps of the day, perhaps because the first and some subsequent printings were printed in France. In 1896, the first Greece commemoratives appeared, in honor of the first modern Olympic Games. Lettering on Greece stamps is similar to Russia stamps because Russian writing is based on the Greek alphabet. Today’s stamps are inscribed Greece in Greek plus the Roman letters HELLAS.