Since 1852, whenPeak XV, later to be named the Everest, was found to be the highest not only in the Himalayan range, but also in the whole world, this tallest of pinnacles on earth has presented a supreme challenge to man. To date, there have been as many as fifteen full-fledged expeditions to Mount Everest both from the Tibet and the Nepal side, and four reconnaissance and three solo attempts.
A New Zealander, Sir Edmund Hillary, and an Indian, Tenzing Norgay, as members of the 1953 British Expedition, led by Sir John Hunt, were the first ever to reach the summit of the Everest on May 29 that year.
Of the fifteen expeditions, India mounted three. The 1960 Indian Expedition, under Brig. Gyan Singh, was compelled to withdraw when only 700 ft. from the goal owing to bad weather. The second Indian attempt in 1962, under the late Major John Dias, met the same fate when just 400 ft. below the summit. The third Indian Expedition’s initial attempt, towards the end of April, 1965, was also thwarted by high velocity of winds and blizzards and it had to return to the base camp and wait for over two weeks for better weather. Towards the end of May, however, the efforts of the Expedition were crowned with remarkable success when Mount Everest was scaled in four successive attempts.
On May 20, 1965 the expedition became the first All-Indian team to reach the summit when two of its members, Capt. A. S. Cheema and Nawang Gombu climbed the peak. This was the second time that Nawang Gombu had climbed the Everest – a record worthy to be proud of. Two days later, on May 22, Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Wangyalreached the summit becoming respectively the oldest (42) and the youngest (23) climbers ever to stand on top of the Everest.
Again, on Mav 24, C. P. Vohra and Ang Kami reached the top. On May 29, 12 years to the day from the first ascent of Everest, the fourth and last summit party with Capt. H. P. S. Ahluwalia, H. C. S. Rawat and Phu Dorji made the summit. This was the first time that three men had stood together on the Everest.
Nine men reached the 29,028 ft. high summit of the Everest in four successive attempts made within ten days in May, 1965. This is the success story of the third Indian Mount Everest Expedition, doing credit to all its nineteen members and bringing glory to India.
Issued on Sunday, Aug 15, 1965
Issued for : As a tribute to the glorious success of the Indian Expedition to Mount Everest the Indian Posts and Telegraphs Department will bring out a special commemorative stamp on the 15 August 1965 – the 18th anniversary of India’s independence.
Design : The facsimile on the stamp is from a colour transparency taken by one of the summit parties. The picture was taken at 10.30 a.m. when a high-speed westerly wind of over 75 km per hour made the Tri-colour flutter against the deep blue sky.
“It’s true that young people don’t write letters or really know what stamps are, and that, generally speaking, stamp collecting is for an older generation that is slowly dying out, so far fewer people collect stamps nowadays than they did in the past,” says Douglas Muir, senior curator of philately at The Postal Museum in London. “But people are still extremely honoured if they appear on stamps, and you get far more publicity about stamps in newspapers these days than you ever used to.”
Etching your way into history by Royalty; Politicians and by those genuine accomplisher is something we have accepted, much like many other unquestioned impositions.
However over the last few decades, vanity by the commoners ( like me) have infested both the digital and real world.
If you are not on LinkedIn, and/or Facebook, and/or Twitter and/or Whatsapp and/or etc etc. You are probably non-existent ( and if I can be audacious enough to say irrelevant) as far as the digital world is concerned.
And if you are, well, of course you are. You are reading my blog. You have a reign and rein on your digital presence. You would have possibly and surely succumbed to this plague which is called vanity.
It strikes quietly uncontrollably and unconscious to many, to others it’s merely a competitive response.
And how it grows, triggers are everywhere must have been your surprise birthday party ( you had no idea you ruled so many hearts ) or your newly minted certification at a course ( latent genius ) or a recent acquisition ( hope we are taking Tesla and not Lamborghini). Or just a change of partnership ( personal or professional – everybody cares).
We post, and we share and we like and we go viral with this infestation of our glorious feet’s and hourly and weekly sense of dis appropriate accomplishments with the unfailing assumption that the world won’t “live another day” till they applauded to your blessed existence ( even if they don’t)
Well, who am I to preach, who in this crazy world doesn’t want the love ( as fake as it might be) ! It’s human to be vain.
So here I am sharing the opportunity for you to continue your persuasion in vanity into the glorious pages of history, or should I say sheet, ahem- may be just say, adhesive paper.
Many lovely desperate ( for commercial viability) postal departments of a few countries have found your sweet spot.
Vanity and they are at your service to flame your fire.
Getting on a stamp
Until quite recently, appearing on a stamp used to be something of a double-edged honour. In most countries, unless you were the head of state, one crucial condition for being so honoured on a postage stamp was that you were dead – and have been that way for at least five years.
In the UK, the birthplace of the postage stamp, the first living recipient of this honour was Sir Francis Chichester, whose boatGipsy Moth IV, featuring its skipper’s definite if unidentifiable image as a small figure on deck, appeared on stamps in 1967 in celebration of the sailor’s singlehanded circumnavigation of the world.
Until then, the ban on picturing living people on stamps was an unwritten Post Office rule in the UK, and therefore the commonwealth stamp world and one that is still broken only rarely, and not always overtly.
A stamp in 1999 honouring Freddie Mercury, the singer with the band Queen, who had died eight years previously, also featured in the background the unmistakable figure of the band’s drummer, the very-much-still-alive Roger Taylor.
But the tribute of the first starring role as a living subject on a stamp was reserved for cricketers Michael Vaughan and Freddie Flintoff after England’s victory over Australia in the Ashes series in 2005.
In the US, a statutory restriction on the use of portraits of the living on currency, dating from 1866, was also applied to postage – until in 2011, the United States Postal Service announced it was “dropping a rule that currently requires an individual to have been deceased at least five years before being honoured on a stamp”.
In a move that looked suspiciously like a cynical effort to make philately both cool and commercially viable again, members of the public were urged to use social media – ironically – to nominate “acclaimed musicians, sports stars, writers, artists and other nationally-known figures” for consideration as subjects for stamps.
Well, now that was a start, but not quite so enamouring to the younger generation ( who we are counting upon to carrying on the baton of philatelic pursuits and not render our vintage collections worthless)
So how do we solve a problem like Mariaaaa… as the song goes.
Aha! #HarryPotter is summoned and #Avengers are called in #Starwars and #StarTrek collide while #lordoftherings vibe with #GamesoftheThrones and of course the #Pixar and #Disneyland characters have there own special commemoratives to ensure everlasting place in #philatelic history.
All this efforts to lure the young into stamp collecting. A win-win commercial arrangement.
Well if you are famous ( and saleable) anybody and nobody who has earned instant fame over the last few quarters are now on an adhesive paper which in other words is called a collectors item.
I have this uncanny premonition that publicists and advertising agencies will soon feel very threatened about their livelihood. Superstars shortcut to the hearts, minds and albums of their fans are just a call away to the post office stamp artists team!
Well, do we stop here. Oh no! We don’t. Vanity is much much more personal.
It’s not good enough that I have the entire collection of #wonderwoman stamps. I am wondering woman – why am I not on a stamp!
So, voila the not so artificial intellect of our friendly neighbourhood post office just went into a eureka nebulous state.
Selfie Stamps wave.
Postage stamp with your own ( or family) picture is the latest missile launched by postal offices of various countries such as USA, UK, Australia, Austria, Bhutan, Canada, Finland, India, Indonesia, New Zealand and a few more.
For example, The United States Post Office allows you to make custom postage stamps from your own photos, but you must use one of the organization’s approved third-party vendors. As explainedon the U.S.P.S. website, custom stamps can be designed and purchased fromPhotoStamps,PictureItPostageandZazzle.
You can get your personalized stamps in a variety of sizes and monetary values. Most vendors also offer a collection of stock images you can use for your stamps. You can use your own logos and graphics to create postage, postcards and envelopes as well — which can come in handy for wedding announcements, family reunions and other events.
Custom postage stamps cost more than the standard versions available at the post office. Prices vary by vendor, stamp size and amount.
So as you can read, we are been nudged to remain self indulgent and in our family history be itched as the first’s to be on a postage stamp.
I wonder, if this doesn’t do the trick for keeping philately alive…. what will !
The Queen has been on postage stamps since 50 years and going strong. Her reign on England and Postage Stamps is quite remarkable. This linkage further entwines into her own personal wealth, so as to speak of.
As of 2015, she is worth £300million but is “asset rich and cash poor”, claims the most comprehensive analysis of her wealth in decades.
Some of her most valuable possessions are kept under wraps, or rather protective sheets.
She inherited the Royal Philatelic Collection, the world’s most comprehensive collection of postage stamps of Britain and the Commonwealth, from her father, George VI.
Many of the most prized pieces were assembled by his father, George V.
With just one set of penny blacks valued at £4million, the Queen’s total collection must be worth £10million although some estimates put the figure at £100million.
The Queen also owns a valuable art collection worth many millions.
On May 9, 2006, Spanish police raided 21 homes and offices of Afinsa Fienes Tangibles SA, the world’s largest postage-stamp dealer, and rival firm, Forum Filatélico. They charged eleven men with running a $6.4 billion pyramid scheme that took in some 343,000 investors – 1 percent of Spain’s entire population, making the fraud one of the largest in Spanish history.
An economy either is in trouble or has lost its sense of balance when investors shy away from tangible capital formation in favor of buying postage stamps and similar collectibles. Unlike machinery and technology, stamps do not produce real goods and services. They have long since been printed and sold by the government, and will never be used actually to mail letters. However, stamps have shown themselves to be a great vehicle to attract savers who think that buying them can produce an exponential earnings growth – or more technically, “capital” gains, if we can stretch economic terminology far enough to call a stamp collection “capital.”
If value resulted merely from scarcity, then postage stamps, coins and master paintings all would seem to increase almost automatically over time, just like most land does. But these trophies of wealth do not promote rising production, consumption or living standards. As stamps do not earn money by employing labor to produce goods and services, their price gains are neither profit nor capital gains as classically understood. They are what economists call a windfall.
The Spanish postage-stamp scheme seems to have taken off in 2003, the year in which Spain’s free-market conservative government deregulated public insurance and oversight for non-financial investment funds. Afinsa Group bought two-thirds control of the New Jersey stamp and coin auction house Greg Manning and merged it with the Spanish auctioneer Auctentia to create Escala as the world’s third largest auction house (after Sotheby’s and Christie’s). Escala moved its operations to New York City and listed its stock on the Nasdaq over-the-counter market. Despite the stock market’s lethargic trend, the company’s earnings showed such rapid growth that in just three years its share price soared from under $5 to $35, tripling in 2005 alone.
Afinsa’s purchases accounted for 70 percent of Escala’s profits, thanks largely to the fact that as its Spanish parent’s sole supplier, Escala marked up its stamps by a reported 1,150 percent, out of all proportion to the usual 25 percent. Afinsa thus was carrying stamps for which it paid 58 million euros on its books at €723 million, over ten times their catalog values – which are fictitiously high in any case, being published mainly for the benefit of stamp dealers to give their customers the idea that they are getting a good buy. But as Forum Filatélico’s chairman, Francisco Briones, explained to a reporter from London’s Financial Times: “It was ‘normal’ to charge clients such inflated prices because of the services provided . . . including the custody and conservation of stamps.”
Afinsa paid its stamp investors an annual rate of 6 to 10 percent interest, beating most competing yields as the global financial bubble was pushing interest rates steadily downward. (Spanish government bonds paid only 3.5 percent.) To build up trust, Afinsa gave its clients post-dated checks for the gains that were promised. It also promised to buy back the stamps it sold, at the original price. This gave an appearance of liquidity to the normally illiquid market in stamps, fine arts and other collectibles, where 25 percent commissions to auction houses are normal. These ploys convinced the majority to simply re-invest the money to buy yet more stamps, which the company held in its offices ostensibly for safekeeping and preservation.
Money poured in, giving stock-market investors in Escala much higher returns than the stamp-buying customers nominally were receiving. As one news report remarked, why buy stamps and coins when you can invest in companies dealing in them? But within a week of the arrests, Escala’s stock plunged below $4 a share.
The denouement came shortly after Lloyd’s of London withdrew from a €1.2 billion policy to insure Afinsa’s stamps. One of its experts noticed that if $6 billion really had been invested, it would have bought up all the investment-grade stamps in the world many times over. The fact that stamp prices did not reflect any such extraordinary buying implied that few bona fide stamp transactions occurred at all, and there had been a massive over-billing.
Afinsa often bought the stamps from Guijarro at 8 percent of their value listed in philately catalogs and re-sold them at a monstrous profit of up to 1,150 percent. Just between 2000-02, it spent 57.88 million euros on the stamps and sold them for 723.55 million euros.
As matters turned out, most of Afinsa’s stamps had no investment value. This explained why there were no receipts for transactions with Escala. The police found €10 million in €500 banknotes (worth about $650 each at the exchange rate of $1.30 per euro) by breaking open a newly plastered wall at the Madrid home of Afinsa’s main stamp supplier, Francisco Guijarro. What they could not find were any receipts for the stamps that he allegedly bought. And despite the remarkably high markups charged for curating the stamp collection, it was rife with phonies, as Lloyd’s had suspected. Concluding that the bills Senor Guijarro had sent to Afinsa were just a cover for a money laundering operation, the prosecutors charged the family members and officers who controlled Afinsa with embezzlement, money laundering, tax evasion, fraudulent bankruptcy, breach of trust and forgery.
After a lengthy trial that stretched for almost a decade, Afinsa’s executives were convicted by the national court in July 2016 and sentenced to up to 12 years in prison, although the Supreme Court later reduced Cano’s sentence to only eight years.
The arrests recalled memories of a more famous U.S. fraud involving postage stamps some 86 years earlier, in 1920, by Charles Ponzi – the man who bequeathed his name to history in the form of Ponzi pyramid scheme. He is reported to have arrived in Boston in 1903 with only $2.50. Not speaking much English, he took menial jobs. Fired as a waiter for shortchanging customers, he moved up to Montreal and became an assistant teller in an Italian immigrant bank. It grew rapidly by paying double the normal 3 percent rate of interest on savings accounts, but failed when its real estate loans began to go bad. The bank’s attempt to give the impression of solvency seems to have given Ponzi the idea of paying interest out of new deposit inflows rather than actual earnings. As long as clients felt they were receiving interest regularly, they tended to be calm about the principal balance.
Ponzi was sent to a Canadian prison for forgery, and then was jailed in Atlanta for trying to smuggle Italian immigrants into the United States. After his release he moved back to Boston and got a job selling business catalogs. A Spanish customer sent him a postal reply coupon, which allowed its holder to buy stamps in foreign countries for return mail rather than using domestic currency to buy a stamp.
Prices for these coupons were long out of date, having been set in 1907 by the International Postal Union. World War I drastically shifted exchange rates, enabling buyers to pay a small amount in Britain – or even less in Germany with its depreciated currency – and obtain a return stamp order that was good in the United States.
The markup on these tiny postal orders was large. An American penny could buy foreign stamp orders that could be converted into six cents in U.S. stamps, for a 500 percent profit. The problem was that it would take a truckload of such postal orders to make serious money. A million-dollar investment would involve a hundred million penny coupons – which then would have to be converted into stamps and sold in competition with the U.S. Post Office, presumably at a discount, mainly in immigrant neighborhoods.
Focusing on the principle of arbitrage rather than such laborious implementation, Ponzi explained that he could make a 400 percent gain after expenses. He promised that investors could double their money in 90 days, pretending to take due account of the costs and shipping time from Europe to America. When his Securities Exchange Company paid early investors the high returns he had described, they spread the word to others. Ponzi’s inflow of funds rose from $5,000 in February 1920 to $30,000 in March, and $420,000 by May. By July an estimated $250,000 a day was flowing into his firm, mainly from small investors who let their book credits build up rather than taking out their money. Some people put their life savings into the plan, and even borrowed against their homes.
Ponzi spent most of the money on himself, buying a mansion and bringing his mother over from Italy. The financial reporter Clarence Barron (publisher of Barron’s) noted that if he really had invested the money as he told his investors he had done, Ponzi would have had to purchase 160 million postal reply coupons. Yet the post office reported that few were being bought at home or abroad, and only 27,000 were circulating in the United States.
Federal agents raided Ponzi’s offices in August, but did not find any postal reply coupons, just as Spanish police did not find investment-grade postage stamps in the scheme’s 2006 replay. Ponzi was sentenced to prison yet again, but jumped bail and tried to make some quick money selling Florida real estate. He soon was recaptured, and was deported back to Italy upon his release in 1934.
What Ponzi sold was hope, pandering to peoples’ unrealistic desire to believe that a new way to make easy gains had been discovered, with no visible upper limit as to how long gains can persist in excess of the economy’s own rate of growth. It is a measure of how much harder it is to make returns in today’s world – and hence, how little hope needs to be excited – that whereas Ponzi promised to double his investors’ money every three months, the Spanish stamp scheme paid only a 6 to 10 percent annual return. Neither fraud actually made any trading gains or profits, but simply paid investors out of new money coming in from fresh players. New inflows were treated as earnings. That’s how pyramid schemes work.
It was almost as if the Spanish operators had read one of the biographies of Ponzi that began to appear as observers noticed the common denominators between the global financial bubble of the 1990s and earlier bubbles. These bubbles provide a classic contrast between the real wealth of nations and what the business press these days calls “wealth creation” that simply takes the form of rising asset prices – “capital gains,” most of which are land-price gains.
No doubt stamp collectors would have viewed the bidding up of stamp prices as wealth creation if it actually had occurred. But all it would have achieved was to inflate the price of old stamps, much as the world’s growing ranks of billionaires were bidding up prices for master paintings and modern art, designer furniture and beachfront homes. If all the economy’s savings went into Rembrandts and Picassos, their price obviously would soar, just as putting $6 billion into postage stamps would have established higher plateau levels for stamp prices.
The flow of funds into any category of assets bid up their prices. This is true most of all for land, one of the most universal economic needs and conspicuous-consumption status measures. But does this really “create wealth”? Do market prices reflect use values, living standards and the progress of civilization?
The requisite characteristic for such price gains is indeed scarcity, but not so much that there is not enough for large numbers of buyers to make a market. If psychological utility is the key, “scarcity” has value only as a compulsive acquisitive character – wealth addiction. It means having what other people lack, with connotations of denial.
Today’s balance sheets confuse bubble wealth with real capital formation. “Investment” has become whatever accountants say they are. So have asset and debt values, given today’s leeway for financial fiction. The practice of “marking to market” permits accountants to project hypothetical gains at astronomical rates of interest, or trivializing by discounting, applying purely mathematical functions that have lost all connection to realistic rates of growth. The result is that the financial sector itself has become decoupled from the “real” economy.
The tragedy of our time is that saving today is being diverted in ways that are decoupled from real capital formation, but merely add to the economy’s debt and property overhead. To distinguish wealth from overhead, this book starts with real estate, and then reviews the stock market, advance saving for pensions and health care via a flow of funds into the stock market to create capital gains. My aim is to show how different the actual economy is from what economic textbooks teach. Economic statistics have been hijacked to the cause of special-interest pleading. All but lost from sight is the common weal.
Suppose that Ponzi actually had bought International Postal Orders, and that the Spanish stamp companies actually had invested $6 billion in rare philatelic items and coins, driving up their price to create paper gains for the investors. To whom would they sell, in order to take their gains? (This is the proverbial “greater fool” problem.) More to the point, how positive would have been the broad economic effect of such asset-price inflation?
The recent stock market and real estate bubbles are much like pyramid schemes in the sense that what is bidding up stock and property prices is an exponential inflow of new money from pension plans and mutual funds (for shares) and bank credit (for real estate). Venture capitalists are “cashing out” while corporate managers exercise their stock options.
Suppose that mortgage-packaging companies are honest in their appraisals of current price trends. The real estate bubble is nonetheless speculative and postindustrial. The analogy is found when financial managers endorse government policies that encourage the inflation of price for stocks and bonds, stamps and coins, Rembrandts and modern art by claiming that this creates wealth and hence, by definition, pulls living standards and culture onward and upward.
What is wrong with this picture? For starters, it fails to define value as distinct from price, windfall and capital gains as distinct from earned income. It also neglects the fact that market prices rise and fall, but the debts remain in place. And when debts cannot be paid, savings are wiped out.
On May 9, 2006, the price of Escala shares fell by half as news of the police raids spread. By Friday its stock was down almost 90 percent. On Monday it jumped by 50 percent, from $4.34 at Thursday’s close to $9.45 a share. Hedge funds were making and losing money hand over fist, dwarfing the gains and losses made from stamp trading. A veritable market in crime, punishment and beating the rap was in play.
What does this have to do with true capital formation? Individuals are getting rich while the economy is polarizing between creditors and debtors, property owners and rent-payers. Unproductive investment occurs when it takes the form of windfall “capital” gains, and when it involves going into debt for real estate, stocks or bonds, or “collectibles.” Unproductive credit occurs when commercial banks make loans that merely finance the purchase of property, companies or financial securities already in place.
Two centuries ago, French followers of Count Henry St. Simon outlined an industrial system that was to be based mainly on equity financing (stocks) rather than debt (bonds and bank loans). Their idea was to make industrial banking a kind of mutual fund, so that claims for payment (and hence, the value of savings) would rise and fall to reflect the economy’s earning power. The industrial banking that developed largely in Germany and central Europe differed from the short-term Anglo-American collateral-based trade credit and mortgage lending. But since World War I, global financial practices have been more extractive than productive.
The consequence has been that debts on the economy-wide level have grown more rapidly than the ability to pay. Instead of reducing this debt overhead by earning their way out of debt, economies have sought to inflate their way out of debt. However, the mode of inflation is not the familiar rise in consumer prices, much less wage inflation. Rather, it is asset-price inflation, emanating largely from the United States. Since the gold-exchange standard gave way to the paper dollar standard in 1971, the U.S. economy has become unique in being able to create credit – and foreign debt – without constraint. The result has been an unparalleled growth in debt relative to income, production and wages. This “debt pollution” has been likened to environmental pollution. It is the financial equivalent of global warming.
We have entered an era in which financial markets resemble the stamp-buying funds. Governments have replaced industrial growth with purely financial wealth creation in the form of a real estate and stock market bubble. This has turned the economic universe upside-down relative to what the classical writers expected to result from the technological progress unleashed by the Industrial Revolution and its parallel agricultural, commercial and financial revolutions. Property and credit have become costs instead of a benefit, institutional forms of rent- and interest-extracting overhead rather than helpful inputs.
The first American missionaries arrived in Hawaii around 1820. They sent letters to the United States. The Hawaiian government created its first post office in 1849, and printed its first stamps two years later. Given their use, the stamps were called “Hawaiian Missionaries”. They had a face value of 2 cents, 5 cents and 13 cents.
This stamp was at the heart of a murder mystery in France at the end of the 19th century. Gaston Leroux, namesake of the writer, lived in a very nice apartment in Paris at that time. He was a collector and had one of the famous 2-cent “Hawaiian Missionary” stamps in his collection.
In 1892, police were called to his apartment where they found him dead, murdered by an intruder it seemed. The problem was they could not find anything missing. Luckily, one of the detectives was a philatelist and upon observing that the dead man had a sizable collection, he took a closer look. He realized that Leroux had owned a Two Cent Hawaiian Missionary of 1851, a very rare and valuable stamp, and that it was missing. The motive began to take shape!
Upon investigating Mr. Leroux’s friends and associates, police came in contact with Hector Giroux who also had a collection, and in whose possession was…….a Two Cent Hawaiin Missionary stamp! Giroux broke down during questioning and confessed his crime–he had just wanted the stamp so badly. He was trialed, found guilty and hanged.
Only 15 copies of this stamp are thought to exist, and a copy of an unused 2¢ Hawaiian missionary sold in 1996 for $660,000.00! The current estimated value for this unused stamp is £450,000 and for a used version it’s £225,000.
On 9 September 1918 the Latvian postal authorities give an order for the printing of 3.000.000 stamps. The value must be 5 kapeiki. In total 11.956 sheets of 228 stamps were printed: 2.725.968 postage stamps.
After Germany signed the Armistice with the Allied Powers on 11th November 1918, Latvia quickly proceeded to declare its Independence on 18th November 1918 – though German troops and administrators remained in Latvia until late in December.
The Latvian government in Riga took delivery from the Riga printer of the first instalment of Map stamps on 17 December.
The first stamps were delivered on 17 december 1918 on the main-postoffice of Riga. Some consider 27 december -the main postoffice of Riga under control of Latvia- as the first day of issue of the first Latvian stamp.
The stamps were printed by printing house Schnakenburg in Riga, later -end 1919- the Latvian state-printing house.After the war in Latvia there was lack of paper, so the stamps were printed on the back of German military maps.Collectors can specialize in plate errors, but also in types of maps.
The first illustration below shows a blank philatelic cover cancelled 18th December 1918 but this is unusual – most Riga cancellations on Map stamps are dated for the last five or six days of December. Then the trouble begins.
The Latvian Government evacuated from Riga on 2 January 1919 and on the 3 January 1919, Soviet Latvian troops entered the city.
The government evacuated first to Jelgawa (Mitau / Mitava) and then to Liepaja (Libau, Libava).It returned to Riga on 22 May 1919 and took delivery of more Map stamps (which may simply have been kept in store during the Soviet occupation). But it seems doubtful that these new supplies were issued.
So if you are looking for postage used Map stamps, then for Riga they will only be found in a 14 day period from 18 December to 1 or 2 January. After that, they can be found from other cities and towns – but rarely – and they were soon replaced by further issues with a wider range of values – the Map stamp only exists in one 5 kopeck denomination.
These unaddressed items are not so common – either they had addresses written in soon after or they were “harvested” for used copies of the Map stamps and so no longer exist.
A bit more ambitious are Registered covers like this one. But it has no cancellation on the back and is one of a batch which were probably handed straight back to the “sender”.
The 20th century threw Latvia into endless trials and turbulences: a revolution, two world wars, freedom fights, several occupations, deportations, refugees and a large exodus among them. However, this was also the century when the Latvian state was created. In the aftermath of World War I, realising its right of self-determination the Latvian nation became a sovereign in the territory which since times immemorial had been inhabited by Latvians.
In June 1940, Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union. Fifty years later, on May 4, 1990, Latvia proclaimed its independence again and obtained full independence on Aug. 21, 1991.
In the UK, specially-designed stamps honor cultural fixations and key anniversaries. It’s comes as no surprise that many Brits were bothered by the Royal Mail’s decisionnot to issue a special stamp to mark the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union by April 2019—arguably the most defining event in its recent history.
A few decades ago, a 1973 commemorative setthat marked the year the UK joined the European Economic Community (which became part of the EU in 1993). But nothing to commemorate Brexit. Disappointingly.
There have been plentyfunny attempt to design a Brexit Stamps. In this article, I share with you some of thesehilarious attempts.
Collectively, they capture anxiety, regret, anger, and sorrow for the impending separation with the rest of Europe—all delivered with characteristic dry wit.
Hashtag #BrexitStamps, are mini masterpieces of savage British humor (and impressive Photoshop skills).
Getting stamps to stick hasn’t always been a simple task. Most stamps made after 1840 came with an adhesive gum on the back. But the gum—made from various plant products such as cornstarch, sweet potatoes, gum Arabic, and sugar—wasn’t always of the highest quality, meaning stamps often fell off letters. The U.S. Postal Service tried various gum formulas to remedy the situation, including special “summer gum” that was resistant to humidity, and “winter gum”that resisted cracking in cold, dry winter air.
Finally, in the 1960s, the South Pacific island kingdom of Tonga broke the mold when it printed a series of self-adhesive stamps. Not only did they not require licking, they came in odd shapes—the most famous of which was this 1969 stamp shaped like a banana. These unusual stamps were a big hit and, for a time, became a significant source of revenue for the country. Collectors went crazy for them. In fact, they became so popular that one dealer ordered more copies of a particular stamp than had been printed. Most countries followed Tonga’s lead, and today, the die-cut, peel-and-stick stamps are the most common type of stamps in the United States.
A brief history on Tonga:
The island of Niuafo’ou is a volcanic island and is surrounded by steep lava cliffs and it is almost impossible to approach the island by ship. The first Tin Can Mail was initiated by W. Travers in 1882, when he convinced the Tongan postal authorities to place the incoming mail in a ship’s biscuit tin and have it thrown overboard to be retrieved by swimmers. Similarly, outgoing mail was placed in water-proof greased paper and carried on the end of a stick by the swimmer to the ship. Beginning in 1921, Charles Stuart Ramsey, a copra trader became involved with the Tin Can Mail Service. Ramsey swam the mail himself and made 112 trips. He was the only white man,who actually swam the mail. Walter George Quensell, who arrived on the island in 1928 began receiving requests from stamp collectors for examples of letterscanceled by Tin Can Mail. Mr. Quensell then began applying special cachets in several languagesto the face and reverse of the covers on both incoming and outgoing mail.
The Tongan Island Group was first settled by Polynesians around 3000 years ago and from the 10th century, it has been ruled by a line of hereditary Kings and Queens. The current ruling family began it’s reign in 1845. Siaosi Taufa’ahau Tupou Maeakafawa established the line and became King of Tonga in 1845. He later adopted Christianityand in 1875 established a constitutional monarchy under the name of King George Toupu I. Queen Salote Toupu, thegranddaughter of George I was the third in line of the Toupu Monarchs. She ruled Tonga from 1918 to 1965 and her son, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV is the current ruler.
In 1901, in order to prevent German encroachment in the area, Great Britain established a protectorate over the Islands which lasted until 1970 when Tonga became an independent member of the British Commonwealth.
The first Europeans to discover the islands were Dutch Mariners in 1616. Captain James Cook visited and charted the Islands in 1773. The islands were also the site of the “Mutiny on the Bounty.“
The above picture shows a combination franking of the heart-shaped 3d x 2 and regular 2d from the 1953 Pictorial series, used from Nukualofa to Samoa in June, 1966. 8d was the ½oz airmail rate and the correspondence was between the local and Apia offices of Morris Headstrom Ltd. The self-adhesives are cancelled by the bold ‘NUKUALOFA / TONGA / FRIENDLY ISLANDS ‘ handstamp, wisely introduced to facilitate cancelling of the embossed gold foil self-adhesives.
The second series of self-adhesives, issued in 1964, was heart or map-shaped, as seen in the picture on the left for the Pan-Pacific South-East Asia Women’s Association Meeting in Nukualofa. Absolute domination would appear to best describe the relationship between the coin-stamps and the cover in picture below. Issued in 1967 for the Coronation of King Taufa’ahau IV, the 2 seniti denomination x 5 in combination with 1966 Centenary of Tupou College and Secondary Education 1/2d on 2d overprint, another old/new currency item, was for the ½-1oz airmail rate, on this occasion for a 14 Jan 1969 article of correspondence between two houses of commerce.
The beginnings of the postal history of Tonga can be traced to the Wesleyan missionaries, who landed in the islands in 1826, and sent regular communications back to London and Sydney from the day of their arrival. The Tongan Post Office was established in 1887, but even before then postage stamps featuring the image of King George Tupou I were produced in New Zealand.
On 23rd December, 1886, King George Tubou I of Tonga agreed to the establishment of the Tonga Post Office but even before this date, a request was made to the Postmaster-General in NZ to produce stamps for use in Tonga.
King George Tupou I died in 1893 at age 96. Having outlived both his son and grandson, he was succeeded by his great-grandson, George Tupou II (in Tongan, Siaosi Tupou II). The first stamp to bear the new king’s image was issued in 1895 (Scott 29), but the monarch did not like his appearance on the stamp. The stamp was redrawn and reissued, but the king still didn’t like it. Two years later, a new set of 15 attractive engraved stamps was issued (Scott 38-52).
King George Tupou II’s new portrait graced several denominations of new stamps, and this time he was pleased.
On June 1, 1899, the king married Lavinia Veiongo, and the royal wedding was commemorated with a postage stamp (Scott 53), perhaps the first royal wedding to be depicted on a stamp.
The 1d ovava tree-design stamp was overprinted. “T-L”: the “T” for Taufa’ahau, the king’s family name, and the “L” for Lavinia, along with the wedding date, written as “1 June, 1899.”
In 1900, Lavinia gave birth to a daughter, Salote, but Lavinia later contracted tuberculosis and died in 1902. George Tupou II chose a husband for Salote: a chieftain of distinguished lineage named Viliami Tungi Mailefihi, and they married in 1917. The king died the following year and was succeeded by Salote, only 18 years old. She became the first (and, to date, the only) queen regnant of Tonga.
Nine stamps were issued for the new Queen Salote Tupou III in 1920.
Queen Salote died in 1965, shortly after Tonga had begun issuing die-cut, circular, embossed metallic stamps that displayed images of Tonga’s new coinage and the nation’s beloved ruler. Most of the citizens of Tonga would say Queen Salote could not be replaced, but the eldest of her three sons took the throne in 1965 as King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV. King George Tupou VI is the current monarch of Tonga. Long live the Tongan monarchy? Maybe, but there are Tongan citizens who are requesting the elimination of the monarchy and feudal system as a whole.
Time will tell if the royal days are numbered for this last outpost of South Pacific monarchy.
During the post-World War I era, Germany was wracked by one of the most famous and spectacular bouts of inflation in history. Under the strain of huge war reparations demanded by the victorious Allies, prices for everything from pumpernickel to postage stamps soared out of control.
To put things in perspective, consider this: In July of 1923, the rate for someone to mail a letter from Germany to the United States had risen from 300 marks to 900 marks (equal to a little more than half a cent in U.S. money). Only three months later, the cost to mail that same letter was 6,000 marks. By November, the mark had plunged even further, and stamps were being printed at values as high as 20 billion marks.
Beginning in August 1923 and proceeding through October of 1923, the postal service began applying re-valuation overprints to existing stocks of lower denomination stamps. The re-valuations ranged from 5,000 Marks to 2,000,000 Marks.
The 1923 postal rate table, for domestic / foreign letters under 20 grams, is shown below.By October of 1923, 2,000,000 Marks wasn’t even enough to mail a single domestic letter, thus by that time, most of the re-valued stamps, shown in the images above, were all useless.
Letter Postage Rates for 1923 ForDomestic / ForeignLetters, Less than 20 Grams
1923-JAN-15 — 20 Marks / 150 Marks
1923-MAR-01 — 40 Marks / 300 Marks
1923-JUL-01 — 120 Marks / 800 Marks
1923-AUG-01 — 400 Marks / 3,000 Marks
1923-AUG-24 — 8,000 Marks / 60,000 Marks
1923-SEP-01 — 30,000 Marks / 200,000 Marks
1923-SEP-20 — 100,000 Marks / 750,000 Marks
1923-OCT-01 — 800,000 Marks / 6,000,000 Marks
1923-OCT-10 — 2,000,000 Marks / 15,000,000 Marks
1923-OCT-20 — 4,000,000 Marks / 30,000,000 Marks
1923-NOV-01 — 40,000,000 Marks / 200,000,000 Marks
1923-NOV-05 — 500,000,000 Marks / 4,000,000,000 Marks
1923-NOV-12 — 5,000,000,000 Marks / 40,000,000,000 Marks
1923-NOV-20 — 10,000,000,000 Marks / 80,000,000,000 Marks
1923-NOV-26 — 40,000,000,000 Marks / 320,000,000,000 Marks
1923-DEC-12 — 50,000,000,000 Marks / 300,000,000,000 Marks
Due to the rate of hyperinflation, the previously surcharged issues had become obsolete. This required the creation of a new series of postage stamps, suited to keeping up with the rising postal rates.
Thestampsshown above in denominations from 500,000 Marks through 50,000,000,000 Marks, were issued inOctober 1923. Actually, after about two months, these new stamps were also on the verge of being obsolete. By the beginning of December 1923, a domestic letter cost 50,000,000,000 Marks to mail, and a letter being mailed outside Germany cost 300,000,000,000 Marks.
During this period of runaway inflation, it became harder and harder to cram enough stamps onto letters and documents to pay for postage or revenue stamp fees. According to sources, one Swiss document had to be sent with 10 feet of paper attached to it, just to hold the required amount of revenue stamps. Eventually, the situation became so bad that Germany temporarily stopped requiring stamps to mail letters. Instead, they allowed customers to pay for postage in cash at the post office, and officials would simply mark the letters as paid.
In December 1923, hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic ended!A new currency, the Rentenmark, was instituted, and the German economy began to recover.
In 1924, one Rentenmark (or Reichsmark) was equivalent to ONE BILLION Papermarks of the Weimar Republic hyperinflation period. Exchanging the old paper currency was futile, and many people, businesses, and banks, either re-cycled the old paper Marks or threw them in the trash.
Thenewseries ofstamps, againdenominated in Pfennig, shown above was issuedDecember 1, 1923.
They all feature a circular central design, with the numeral of value printed over it. The numerals were printed separately from the stamps, so there are also many shifts on this series. This whole series also exists imperforate and with missing value numerals. Most of them are scarce and expensive.
It would be unfathomable to even imagine the effect the hyperinflation had on businesses that relied on mail advertising, mail billing, mail order sales, etc., and on people, who may have lost their homes, possessions, or that may have even starved to death, because they didn’t have the means of paying for food or necessities. History would soon forget the hyperinflation of 1921-1923, and Germany would once again become a thriving nation, but theGerman peoplewouldNEVER FORGETthe pain and suffering they endured through this period in history. Combined with the Great Depression at the end of the decade, these events would lead to the eventual downfall of the Weimar Republic.
The Graf Zeppelin was Dr. Hugo Eckner’s crowning achievement in the concept of the zeppelin. Even though the later Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin II would be technologically superior to the Graf Zeppelin, no other airship was so beloved by nearly all the world.
The pioneering flights of the giant German airship made front-page news around the world. The dirigible became the first commercial aircraft to span the Atlantic Ocean in 1928 and it set other aeronautical records in subsequent years. Before being decommissioned in 1937 and dismantled in 1940, it had traveled further than any zeppelin before or since: 590 flights, more than a million miles and 144 ocean crossings.
Two collectors of Ukrainian background sought to have mails transported on this new aerial conveyance. The renowned collector Eugene Vyrovyj and the stamp dealer Katherine E. Shattuck (later spelled Shutock) were philatelic associates who set up a trans-Atlantic correspondence. Both were members of the Society of Ukrainian Philatelists in Vienna, Austria. While he was a Ukrainian living in Prague, Czechoslovakia, she was an American-born Ukrainian (both mother and father having emigrated from Chernivtsi in 1902. The U.S. address on several of the covers that appear in this article was also the address of Miss Shattuck’s ECHO Stamp Co. Both parties conducted many successful and unique stamp exchanges over a number of years.
Mr. Vyrowyj and Miss Shattuck would address and send envelopes to each other – in quantity cancelled at special events. Subsequently, a received portion of the envelopes would be returned to the other in normal mail.
Figure 1 is a cover from the Graf Zeppelin that raveled on the return (second) leg of the first round trip between Germany and the U.S. The airship first arrived in Lakehurst, N.J., on October 15, 1928, after a 111-hour flight from Germany. It left the U.S. on October 30 bearing a great deal of commemorative flight materials, including the illustrated cover, which was mailed by Miss Shattuck to Mr. Vyrovyj. The envelope carries 6 cents airmail franking and a special violet commemorative marking that proclaims: “First Flight Air Mail Via Graf Zeppelin, United States – Germany.”
The return flight was much faster, since the aircraft was now riding the prevailing westerly winds. The cancels on the reverse reveal that the ship arrived at its home base of Friedrichshafen on November 1 and was delivered to Krale Vinohrady in Czechoslovakia two days later.
Figure 2 and 3 are a postcard and envelope both highlighted with the same round blue cachet that in German states: “The Airship Graf Zeppelin, First America Trip [of] 1929.” (This flight was the aircraft’s second trip to America.) Both items were mailed by Mr. Vyrovyj to Ms. Shattuck on or about May 16, 1929 (note special black “Luftschiff Graf Zeppelin” [Airship Graf Zeppelin] cancellation). However, 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) into the flight engine trouble developed and the ship became unmanageable. The Graf Zeppelin drifted a considerable distance in a short time. Finally, with the assistance of a ground force, it landed at Cuers, a French military airport. It took several days for temporary repairs to be made, after which the Zeppelin headed home, landing safely at Friedrichshafen.
All the mail that was on the zeppelin was overprinted with a red, one-line, German inscription that stated: “Conveyance delayed because of a break in the first American journey.” Mails received subsequently, while the Zeppelin was being repaired at its home hanger, did not carry this marking. Consequently, mail with this overprint has a greater value, for fewer items were carried on the original aborted flight.
On August 1, 1929, after the engines had received extensive repairs, the zeppelin again departed for its second Atlantic crossing, this time completing the trip without further incident.
The Graf Zeppelin‘s subsequent excursion was its most ambitious to date: a journey around the world. This trip was as big a global news story as the moon landing 40 years later. Carrying 16 passengers and a crew of 37, the airship left Lakehurst in the early morning hours of August 8, 1929. It made only three stops on her 19,500-mile trip. The first destination was its home base in Germany.
Figure 4 is of a pre-stamped 5 -cent airmail cover (with 1 cent stamp added), mailed by Miss Shattuck to Mr. Vyrovyj and carried on the first leg of this historic trip from the U.S. (postmark is New York on August 7, 1929) to Friedrichshafen (arrival cancel of August 10). The item was subsequently forwarded to Prague, arriving two days later.
From Germany the ship flew over Siberia to Japan, where it made its second stop in Tokyo. It next proceeded westward over the Pacific to Los Angeles for its final stop and then returned to Lakehurst on August 29, having journeyed for 21 days, seven hours, and 26 minutes – a new record for around-the-world travel. More amazing was the fact that only about 12 of those days had been spent in the air. The round violet cachet on the cover proclaims “First Round-the-World Flight, U.S. Air Mail” and lists the three stopover sites of the flight as well as Lakehurst, the beginning and end point.
The above pictures, figure 5, is of a postcard traveling in the opposite direction, once again making a groundbreaking journey – this time a Europe-Pan American tour. The German message in the round, light red cachet reads: “Airship Graf Zeppelin, South America Trip 1930.” This time Mr. Vyrovyj used a typewriter to print out Miss Shattuck’s address, as well as a short inscription under the cachet: “By Airship Graf Zeppelin to Lakehurst.”
His Ukrainian message on the back contains instructions for his philatelic partner. It reads:
Prague May 14, 1930 Highly Esteemed Miss Shattuck!
I am sending you three cards and four letters. If you like, keep for yourself one card and one letter and return two cards and three letters to me in a registered letter. If you like, you may retain one additional letter. Please also send me two-three letters by zeppelin, franked only with airmail stamps and not with some others. Sincerest greetings and I wish you all the best. E. Vyrovyj
P.S. [In the left margin] In another letter I inserted a prepared addressed envelope.
On May 18, 1930 the Graf Zeppelin left for Seville, Spain – the first stage of its Europe-South America-North America flight – and arrived the following day. Note the cancellation dated the 19th, which was undoubtedly applied in flight. Shortly after midnight of the morning of the 20th, the airship departed for a long (6,400-kilometer, or 4,000 mile) flight to Pernambuco, Brazil, arriving on May 22 after a flight of 61 hours. On the 27th, a short flight was made to Rio de Janeiro. After 70 minutes on the ground, the zeppelin returned to Pernambuco. The following morning, the aircraft proceeded northward on its historic trek, heading for Havana. Because of the weather, the ship skipped this rendezvous and continued on to Lakehurst, arriving at daybreak of May 31. The ship returned to Friedrichshafen by way of Seville, Spain.
Figures 6 and 7 are items apparently prepared by Miss Shattuck, but never carried on the last leg of this journey. The applied stamps were quite high-value for their time and were part of a three-stamp set released by the U.S. Postal Service in the spring of 1930. The stamps were specifically issued for use on mails carried on the first Europe-Pan-America round-trip flight of the Graf Zeppelin in May of 1930. Relatively few of these stamps were issued and today they are among the most valuable of all U.S. airmail stamps. The stamp in Figure 6 might be worth about $200, while the one in Figure 7 about $400. Why these two items were never mailed remains a mystery.
More about the U.S. Graf Zeppelin stamps
In February of 1930, Hugo Eckener, the pilot of the Graf Zeppelin, went to Washington to receive the National Geographic Society’s Gold Medal for his around-the-world flight. He used this occasion to lobby for and convince the U.S. Post Office to issue a set of zeppelin stamps.
The stamps, valued at $.65, $1.30 and $2.60, were quickly designed and placed on sale initially at the Washington post office and the Philatelic Agency on April 19, 1930. Two days later, they began to be sold at other post offices. This was about a month before the airship’s next scheduled big flight, from Europe to South America and then North America. The stamps were withdrawn from sale at post offices on June 7, 1930, a week after the arrival of the aircraft in the U.S. The stamps continued on sale at the Philatelic Agency for the benefit of stamp collectors until June 30, 1930. Subsequently all remainders were destroyed.
The $.65 and $1.30 values were used for postcards and letters respectively carried on the last leg of the journey from the U.S. to Seville, Spain and Friedrichshafen. The $1.30 and $2.60 values were used for post cards and letters respectively carried on the round trip flight Friedrichshafen to Friedrichshafen or Seville. These latter items were delivered to Germany by boat and forwarded to Friedrichshafen for the start of the trip.
Very few of these Graf Zeppelin stamps were sold. The U.S. and the world were still in the throes of the Great Depression and the $4.55 value for the set represented a week’s food allowance for a family of four. One million copies of each stamp were printed, but less than 8 percent survive and they remain the smallest U.S. issue of the 20th century (only 229,260 of these stamps were ever purchased). Despite this fact, the U.S. Post Office was able to present Dr. Eckener with $100,000 raised towards the expenses of the trip.
About Count Zeppelin and the flight around the world
Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917) was a retired German brigadier general who developed the rigid dirigible, a lighter-than-air vehicle that became known as the zeppelin. His first craft was completed in 1900. Despite many setbacks, Zeppelin persevered and continued his research to modify and improve his designs; in 1910, one of his airships was able to provide the first commercial air service for passengers. One of Zepplein’s closest associates from 1906 was Dr. Hugo Eckener. After World War I and Zeppelin’s death, Dr. Eckener became the chief proponent of dirigible travel.
Even with all its novel design innovations and the excitement and support of the German people, getting the Graf Zeppelin built was slowed by the lack of money. It had taken a plea to the German people by Dr. Eckener to raise most of the funds to have it built and more arm-twisting in the government to get enough monies to finish the ship. Finally christened on July 8, 1928, the ship was launched on September 18, 1928, but further financial support was needed to keep it flying. Such support was found by way of an American businessman and airship supporter, William Randolph Hearst.
Hearst put together a shrewd deal with Dr. Eckener that would benefit both the Zeppelin Company and Hearst’s newspaper companies. Hearst would put up the money for a global flight of the Graf Zeppelin that would gain it the publicity it would need to form a solid reputation for dependability. In return, he would get exclusive U.S. rights to the story.
Dr. Eckener, having been a journalist and writer before going to work for Count Von Zeppelin, knew how to make the most of this publicity and did so at every opportunity. The global flight would begin in Friedrichshafen and proceed to Lakehurst, N.J. Lakehurst would then mark the official starting point of the journey, as stipulated in the contract drawn up by Hearst.
Although the Graf Zeppelin was not the first aircraft to circle the globe, it was by far the fastest. What took months for a British military heavey bomber to do, with many breakdowns and hardships along the way, the Graf did in three weeks in comfort and style with a full passenger load over much previously uncharted land (Figure 8). The trip was a complete success and the world, particularly the US, caught “Zeppelin Mania.” Once safely moored at Lakehurst, Dr. Eckener was treated to a ticker-tape parade in his honor in New York City and the newspapers dubbed him the “Magellan of the Air”.
Six different Graf Zeppelin badges commemmorating the round-the-world flight were made available at auction (Figure 9). Made of heavy copper, each badge type was enameled a different color: blue, green, yellow, red, black, and white. These 4.5 cm (1.75 inch) medallions were slightly domed to give a globe-like effect to the central hemispheric map that appears on each badge. The four major stops of the journey were spelled out in the outer frame and their initials (L, F, T, and LA) appear on the maps and on the backs. The badges were almost cetainly manufactured in Germany and indicated by the “Tokio” spelled on the frame.