Postage Has Drawn Attention to Floods and Helped Victims

By Ivo Aščić and Jeff Stage

We only have to look back to last fall in the Gulf Coast and Florida to remember how flooding can ruin personal lives and property. As bad as the flooding can be in the United States, the effects were even worse in days gone by or can still be catastrophic today in developing countries that lack the proper infrastructure and relief systems to help flood victims.

Stamps and stamp collecting certainly cannot prevent flooding or create a super-relief fund, but they can help through a couple of ways.

First, let’s take a look at semipostals, which also are known as charity or fundraising stamps. The price of the stamp includes postage plus an extra amount for charity. Unlike revenue stamps, there are no conditions that force the use of these stamps. Consumers choose to pay the extra amount for postage and help a charity.

The first semipostals date to the late 19th century when a postal card issued by Great Britain in 1890 commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Penny Post. The card had a 1-penny face value, but sold for sixpence with the difference going to a fund for postal workers. By the early 20th century, charity stamps had become more common, particularly throughout Europe.

Semipostals throughout the world have been issued to help many causes and organizations, with the Red Cross, children’s charities and war victims being some of the major benefactors of these stamps.

Heroes of 9/11 semipostal stamp
The U.S. Heroes of 9/11 semipostal, Scott B2.

The United States issued its first semipostal in 1998 with extra money raised supporting breast cancer research. The second semipostal for the U.S. – the Heroes of 2001 – was issued in 2002, with money raised going to 9/11 charities.  The United States’ sixth semipostal – Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness – was  issued in 2017.

Here, we’re focused on semipostals to help victims of floods along with a stamp donation program likewise aimed at aiding flood victims and other charitable causes in Africa.

The earliest and certainly one of the largest floods on the planet, according to the Bible, was the great flood as a result of rain for 40 days and nights. Its exact date of occurrence is unknown, but likely 4,000 to 7,000 years ago.

In Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, floods were caused by the rivers Tigris and the Euphrates. Even the greatest rulers of that time could not prevent them. In more recent history, major flood disasters with millions of dead and invaluable material damage have occurred. River Huang He (Yellow River), Yangtze and Huai in the last 150 years took millions of human lives. European rivers such as the Danube, Rhine, Sava, Volga, Seine and others have also flooded from their troughs, causing huge economic damage as well as taking lives. Aside from disastrous floods along rivers such as the Mississippi and Ohio, the communities of Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Galveston, Texas; and New Orleans are among the many horrific flood sites in the U.S. over the past 130 years.

A set of 12 stamps from the Kingdom of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia (Yugoslavia) – overprints of the recently issued stamps of Alexander I – were created in 1926 to help flood victims, Scott B7.

Likely the first semipostal stamps aimed at helping flood victims was a set of 12 overprints issued in 1926 by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which would become Yugoslavia in 1929. The stamps show a young King Alexander I and were overprinted with the extra money targeted for flood victims.

Flood in Croatia
Modern floods destroy neighborhoods of all types. This is a flooded area in 2014 in Croatia (photo courtesy of Nenad Rebersak). A Croatian commemorative postmark mark with the Red Cross symbol and flood information.

In May of 2014, floodwaters from the Sava River devastated large parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia in southeastern Europe. Three months’ worth of rain fell in only three days; it is the heaviest rainfall in since records began in 1894. More than 3 million people were affected. A special Croatian commemorative postmark – “Red Cross and floods” – helped draw attention to the need for help following the 2014 floods.

Lichtenstein issued a semipostal to help victims of a 1927 flood, Scott B7. When the Danube flooded in 1965, Hungary did likewise, Scott B252.

Over the past 100 years, hundreds of semipostals with millions of copies receiving charitable add-on fees were printed to help flood victims and to raise awareness about the importance of preventive action. Some of these stamps report about flooding in Honduras in 1913, Austria in 1921, Russia (Leningrad) in 1924, Liechtenstein (the Rhine) in 1927, Hungary in 1940 and 1965, South West Germany in 1947-1948, Denmark in 1953, Netherlands (Icelandic stamp) in 1953, Argentina (Buenos Aires area) in 1958, France in 1959, Slovakia (Danube) in 1965, Iraq in 1967, Algeria in 1969, China in 1970 and other countries.

On January 27, 2011, Australia issued its first five semipostals, which raised money to help victims of devastating floods, Scott B2.

Disastrous floods, followed by a rising tide of charity stamps, continue in this century: Australia and Peru in 2011, Moldova in 2010, Hungary in 2010, Bangladesh in 2007, Austria in 2006, Romania in 2005, Algeria in 2001 and other states were the reason for issuing stamps with add-on  payments to help flood victims.

Sadly, flooding will continue to be a major threat worldwide, according to reports from the United Nations, much of it tied to rising sea levels. “Current projections of global average sea level rise are now expected to double by 2100, which would be severely damaging – if not disastrous – for many of the world’s coastal cities, from Ho Chi Minh City and Mumbai to New Orleans and Miami,” reported The Guardian in a 2017 article based on the U.N.’s projections.

ATA VP Dawn Hamman Interviewed for USA Philatelic

ATA VP Dawn HammanThe summer edition of the U.S. Postal Service’s catalog, USA Philatelic, includes an interview with Dawn Hamman. Hamman is vice-president of the American Topical Association and an avid collector, writer and exhibitor. The interview highlights the power of topical collecting to reach broad new audiences with creative, flexible approaches to collecting. She goes on to discuss how the “thrill of the chase” makes collecting a riveting hobby for collectors old and new.

Also featured in the article is the combined StampShow and National Topical Stamp Show co-hosted by the American Philatelic Society and the American Topical Association. The U.S. Postal Service will issue the new Mythical Dragons forever stamps at the show, making for a natural show theme of “Here Be Dragons.” Both organizations are working to make this year’s show an experience for collectors of all ages and interests. The July edition of The American Philatelist will feature several articles related to the show theme and a comprehensive guide to the event. A mobile app is also available.

The USA Philatelic interview highlights the U.S. Postal Service’s interest and dedication to supporting stamp collectors and their widely varied interests. The central booth at StampShow/NTSS will be home to the USPS during the four day event and will offer a virtual reality experience sure to please even the most discerning technophiles.

For information regarding StampShow/NTSS, visit the official show page at: www.stamps.org/STAMPSHOW-SS

More information regarding the American Topical Associationis available on their website: www.americantopicalassn.org/home.shtml.

USA Philatelic is available free at most U.S. Post Offices and can be requested, free of charge, from USPS.com.

2018 Luff Awards to Barwis, Stotts and Youngblood

The American Philatelic Society’s annual award season is upon us. The society’s highest awards for living collectors are the Luff Awards. This year’s recipients are John H. Barwis, Denise L. Stotts and Wayne L. Youngblood. The awards will be formally presented August 11 at the Celebration Banquet at StampShow / National Topical Stamp Show in Columbus, Ohio. Tickets can be reserved at stamps.org/stampshow. The awards are named for John N. Luff, who was president of the APS from 1907 to 1909.

John H. Barwis
John H. Barwis

John H. Barwis, of Holland, Michigan, is the 2018 Luff Award recipient for Distinguished Philatelic Research. Barwis co-founded and serves as president of the Institute of Analytical Philately. The organization offers research grants and holds symposia. The conferences have been held in conjunction with the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Chicagopex and the Royal Philatelic Society of London.

Barwis has studied and researched 19th-century stamps and postal history of Victoria’s first postage stamps. He plated Victoria’s first issue 1-penny stamp of 1850, which had never been done in the 160 years since the stamp’s first printing. Using scientific equipment, his cutting-edge examination of the shades, papers and inks of the U.S. banknotes was landmark.

Regarding Philadelphia postal history, Barwis wrote and maintains a database of date ranges for postmarks used on Philadelphia foreign mails. He has compiled sailing tables for the monthly packets between Philadelphia and Liverpool from 1822 to 1875 by using newspaper archives in the United States and Great Britain.

Barwis has been a stamp collector for 59 years. His exhibits have won national and international gold medals, as well as grand awards in the United States and Great Britain. He is a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society London and past president of the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society. He won the 2011 Champion of Champions competition.

Barwis retired in 2003 after 25 years with the Royal Dutch/Shell Group. His career comprised a range of technical and leadership positions, including stints as a chief geologist, exploration manager and manager of geological research, as well as technical director and member of the board of Shell U.K. While serving as an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers he conducted research in sedimentology and hydrodynamics at the Hydraulics Laboratory of the U.S. Waterways Experiment Station. Prior to military service he managed an Arctic drifting station owned by the Office of Naval Research, spending more than 15 months on the North Polar ice pack. He has contributed more than 50 articles and government publications to the geological literature in coastal geomorphology and hydrodynamics, sedimentology, stratigraphy, as well as petroleum exploration and production. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in geology.

Denise L. Stotts

Denise L. Stotts, of Houston, Texas, is the recipient of the Luff Award for Exceptional Contributions to Philately. Stotts has been an active and tireless philatelic leader and volunteer at the national, state and local level for more than 25 years. 

A lifelong philatelist, she served as director-at-large for the American Philatelic Society from 2007 to 2011. She has also served on the APS Chapter Activities, Ethics and Election Review committees, the Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship Advisory Board and as local committee chair for APS AmeriStamp Expo 1998.

Stotts has been on the Garfield Perry March Party show committee since 1988 and served as show chair for the Greater Houston Expo from 1994 through 2016. She is a founding member of the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors and Women Exhibitors and has been a director for the Texas Philatelic Association and Houston Philatelic Society. She has served as awards director for the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors, the United States Stamp Society and Women Exhibitors. She also was the assistant director of volunteers for the Washington 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition and helped managed the bin room for World Stamp Show-New York 2016.

Stotts also is a gold medal award-winning philatelic exhibitor. She has staffed booths for the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors, United States Stamp Society, Women Exhibitors and other organizations at numerous shows. She has even served organizations such as the Ohio Postal History Society, for which she was not even a member. Philately has benefitted tremendously from Denise’s leadership, guidance and service.

Wayne L. Youngblood

Wayne L. Youngblood of Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, is the recipient of the Luff Award for Outstanding Service to the APS. Youngblood is a lifelong stamp collector who began at age 8 and never stopped.

Youngblood has served three terms on the APS board as director-at-large and two terms as secretary. He has served as an expert for the American Philatelic Expertizing Service since 1990, providing opinions on about 2,500 items. He has been a columnist for The American Philatelist since October 2004. He has served as an APS Summer Seminar instructor all but one year since 1990.

Youngblood is the current editor for numerous philatelic journals including The American Stamp Dealer & Collector magazineThe Collectors Club PhilatelistTopical Time and Duck Tracks. He is also the past editor of Posthorn and Across the Fence Post, 2005-2012. In addition to The American Philatelist he also is a columnist for Linn’s Stamp News and Philatelic Exporter. Youngblood has served as president of the Errors Freaks and Oddities Collectors Club and the Los Alamos Stamp Collectors Association, and served on the boards of the American First Day Cover Society and Arizona Philatelic Rangers. He has been a member of the St. Louis Stamp Expo Show Committee and is a Boy Scouts Stamp Collecting Merit Badge counselor.

Wayne began his professional involvement with the hobby as an editor at Linn’s Stamp News, became editor of Scott Stamp Monthly then as editor-publisher of Stamp Collector newspaper and, more recently, as vice president at Regency-Superior Auctions. Wayne currently divides his time between his family and freelance writing, editing, dealing and exhibit work. He is author of 10 books (including Stamps that Glow and All About Stamps) and has written thousands of columns and features over the years. He speaks extensively on the hobby to both philatelic and non-philatelic groups.

Cheryl Ganz Appointed APS Vice President

Dr. Cheryl GanzToday, APS President Bob Zeigler announced the appointment of Dr. Cheryl R. Ganz, a notable Chicago-area collector, to serve as Vice President on the APS Board of Directors for the remainder of the term ending in August 2019. Pursuant to the APS Bylaws, Dr. Ganz was unanimously approved by the APS Board of Directors.

“Cheryl is well known throughout the hobby for her outstanding exhibiting, writing, and researching, so she brings a wealth of experience to the Board,” said Zeigler, “Her good judgment and creative thinking will make her an excellent fit for the Board and a win for the APS membership.”

Cheryl Ganz Award with Mick Zais
Cheryl Ganz receives 2018 Single-Frame Champion of Champions award from Mick Zais.

Ganz, a life-member of the APS, first joined in 1976. She was recognized with the prestigious Luff Award in 2016 for Exceptional Contributions to Philately. Her exhibit, “Zeppelin LZ-129 Hindenburg Onboard Postmarks” was the 2018 Single-Frame Champion of Champions awarded at AmeriStamp Expo in Birmingham. She has also been selected to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists by the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain. Ganz earned a PhD in U.S. history from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ganz is a Smithsonian Institution curator emerita following her retirement as the chief curator of philately at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and as lead curator of the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the world’s largest postage stamp gallery. She currently serves as vice-chair on the U.S. Postal Service’s Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, which selects subjects and approves designs for U.S. postage stamps.

Her books include The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: A Century of Progress; and Every Stamp Tells a Story: The National Philatelic Collection, most recently she co-authored, Zeppelin Hindenburg: An Illustrated History of LZ-129. Previous philatelic awards include the Alfred F. Lichtenstein Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Philately, Mortimer L. Neinken Medal, Carlrichard Brühl Medal, Wisconsin Philatelic Hall of Fame, AAMS Aerophilatelic Research Award, Lee Medal, Nicholas Carter National Service Award, Distinguished Philatelist Award, Elizabeth C. Pope Lifetime Achievement Award, FISA Gold Medal, Canadian Aerophilatelic Society Award, AAMS Presidents Award, Earl & Fred Wellman Literature Award, Gus Lancaster Award, George W. Angers Award, Chris Hunt Award, and Newberry Award for service to Chicagoland philately, and U.S. Philatelic Classics Society Distinguished Philatelist.

StampShow Mobile App Released

In preparation for StampShow and National Topical Stamp Show in Columbus, Ohio, the American Philatelic Society has created a mobile app.

While the app content continues to grow (as the show participants continue to commit) the tool is fully functional for users. Over the coming weeks, more information, images and details will be added to the app to fully enhance the StampShow/NTSS experience. Updates will be automatically loaded as users open the app.

The app is an excellent planning tool for anyone planning on attending the biggest stamp event of the year. It also provides a StampShow experience for those collectors and enthusiasts who cannot attend.

In order to assist users in install the app, a short video tutorial has been created and is available through YouTube.

The app will be continually updated through the end of the show and will include promotional offers, dealer information and direct links to several resources. Members and businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities should email martin[at]stamps.org.

The app is available for both iOS and Android phones.