Royal Mail Marks WWI Centenary Fourth Year With Six New Stamps

A shattered poppy, an exploded Bible, and a pair of life-saving nurses are among the images shown on six stamps issued Monday, July 31, by Royal Mail. The set is the fourth in Great Britain’s five-year commemorative series marking the centennial of events of World War I.

Across the series, the stamp images have provided a range of themes showing how artists, including writers and painters, interpreted the events; the role of non-combatants and civilians; the role of the armed services; the role of women; and the contribution of the Commonwealth.

The imagery on the stamps features historic memorials and artifacts that have become synonymous with the conflict, portraits of some of the participants, art showing some now famous and moving scenes, poems composed during the war and newly commissioned artworks of poppies — the symbol of Remembrance.

The 2017 stamps (shown below) feature:

Shattered Poppy, by photographer John Ross. Using a microscope in his work, Ross manages to reveal aspects of subjects not normally visible.

An extract from the poem, “Dead Man’s Dump,”by British poet Isaac Rosenberg. The poem graphically depicts the horrors of the war. Rosenberg himself died on April 1, 1918, during the German spring offensive.

Nurses Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm, who travelled to Belgium to join a small ambulance corps where they worked transporting casualties to base hospital. They established a front-line first-aid post at Pervyse in Belgium, where they would eventually treat 23,000 casualties. In 1917 they were awarded the Military Medal.

Also featured is an image of a warship with its hull painted in a geometric, abstract style. The design was created by British painter Edward Wadsworth, who was engaged to create “dazzle camouflage” patterns for British ships, which were intended to confuse attacking German U-boats.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele, which commenced on July 31, 1917, a stamp features an image of the Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium, where fallen soldiers from the battle were buried. Designed by Sir Herbert Baker, a total of 11,961 Commonwealth servicemen from WWI are buried or commemorated there.

Private Lemuel Thomas Rees’ life-saving Bible was specially photographed for the stamp issue. During the Battle of Passchendaele, an exploding German shell landed close by, and although Rees was hit, he was saved by the small Bible that he kept in his breast pocket. Rees was conscripted into the 6th Battalion in 1917.

Here is Royal Mail’s Summary of the stamps:

POPPY: To create Shattered Poppy, photographer, John Ross, needed a supply of fresh poppies and so he set up a temporary studio in a barn next to a poppy field, where he froze freshly cut poppies using a vat of liquid nitrogen, before breaking the brittle petals with a metal rod. Backlit to maximise the flower’s color and fine structure, the resulting image suggests a sudden, devastating act of violence, an impression that is heightened by the poppy’s natural delicacy.

POEM: Isaac Rosenberg was a British painter and poet. The son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, he studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, but also maintained an interest in writing poetry. By the time of his arrival on the Western Front with the 11th Battalion in the summer of 1916, he had published three volumes of poetry. In “Dead Man’s Dump,”Rosenberg depicts a shocking scene as mule-drawn wagons laden with coils of barbed wire pass by the dying and crush the bodies of dead men lying in their path.

NURSES: Shortly after the outbreak of war, friends Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm traveled to Belgium, joining a small ambulance corps where they worked transporting casualties to base hospitals. Realizing that many men were dying from untreated wounds, they established a front-line first-aid post at Pervyse in Belgium where they would eventually treat 23,000 casualties. In 1917 they were awarded the Military Medal. The stamp image shows the “Madonnas of Pervyse” wearing the Order of Leopold II, a Belgian decoration that they received in 1915. In 1918 both nurses were affected by a gas attack. Chisholm recovered sufficiently to return to the front.

DRY DOCK: Working in a geometric, abstract style British painter Edward Wadsworth was interested in technology and the new perspectives it might offer. After being invalided out of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1917, he was engaged to design “dazzle camouflage” patterns for British ships, which were intended to confuse attacking German U-boats (submarines).

CEMETERY: Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders, Belgium, was designed by Sir Herbert Baker. A total of 11,961 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated there. Of the burials, 8,373 are unidentified. Visiting the cemetery in 1922, King George V remarked: “I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon Earth through the years to come than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.”

LIFE-SAVING BIBLE: In 1917, Lemuel Thomas Rees was conscripted into the 6th Battalion, South Wales Borderers. During the Battle of Passchendaele, an exploding German shell landed close by, and although Rees was hit, he was saved by a small Bible that he kept in his breast pocket. After spending four months in a field hospital, he was sent home on leave where he suffered terrible nightmares, reliving the horrors of trench warfare. Following his return to the Western Front, Rees was wounded in a gas attack. He died from bronchial pneumonia and the effects of gas on November 13, 1918, only two days after the Armistice was signed.

The stamps and stamp products are available at:

August 2017 American Philatelist
Available Online

The August issue of The American Philatelist is online for APS members to view. Here are some of the highlights:

EFOs That are Best When the Lights are Off by Wayne Youngblood. Errors, freaks, and oddities are interesting enough, but things look especially freaky when you visit the somewhat hidden world of tagging miscues.

Philatelic Movie Props by Thomas Richards. From the 1930s, when real stamps could not be shown on the screen, to the creativity of Clint Eastwood, fake philately in movies can often be barely distinguished from the real thing.

Mail From the Pope’s Army by Thomas Pratuch. Exploring military mail from the 18th-century Papal States involves an exploration of complex army organizations and movements, not to mention deciphering old nonstandard Italian abbreviations.

The Lion, the Sun, and a Crown by Joseph Iredale. The sun, lion, and crown were used to imply sovereignty on the early stamps of Iran. There were no formal obliterators when the first stamps were issued in 1870.

APS Will Welcome the World by APS Staff. We have an early look at a special U.N. show scheduled for this fall at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

Senegal by Bob Lamb. A look at the philately of Senegal in West Africa, once a French colony, includes a visit with the short-lived Federation of Mali.

Protect Pollinators Stamps to be
Celebrated Next Week

The United States Postal Service will issue the Protect Pollinators commemorative forever stamps August 3 in Richmond, Virginia. The ceremony for the stamps will take place at noon during the American Philatelic Society’s StampShow. Here are the participants for the ceremony:

• U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer Gary Shaprio
• U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Mary-Anne Penner
• American Philatelic Society President Mick Zais
• The Pollinator Partnership President & CEO Val Dolcini.

The five stamps, to debut nationwide the same day, will be sold in a pane of 20 format with decorative selvage. Nearby is a preliminary image of the pane layout.

Here are some additional details about the stamp issue from the U.S. Postal Service:

Protect Pollinators
Protect Pollinators

Protect Pollinators
This stamp pays tribute to the beauty and importance of pollinators with stamps depicting two of our continent’s most iconic, the monarch butterfly and the western honeybee, each shown industriously pollinating a variety of plants native to North America. These particular species exemplify the ecological service provided by all pollinators, which include other insects, birds, and bats. Crop pollination by insects contributes approximately $15 billion of produce to the U.S. economy each year. Trending declines in their populations alert us that pollinators are helped by planting pollinator gardens with native flowers or heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. Art director Derry Noyes designed this stamp pane with existing photographs.

Faroe Island Eclipse Sheet Giveaway StampShow 2017 in Richmond

The Faroe Islands is giving away a souvenir sheet featuring a solar eclipse from 2015. The giveaway is being coordinated by the APS. The first 500 visitors to the APS booth who request the sheet will receive one.

What: StampShow 2017
Sponsor: American Philatelic Society and the United States Postal Service®
When: August 3 to 6
Where: Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 N. Third Street, Richmond, Virginia
Show hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Free for show, but all attendees must register.

United Nations Issue Could Create Wordiest Stamps Ever

A planned United Nations souvenir sheet designed to honor a world record might set a world record of its own, thanks to microprinting and a lot of words.

The United Nations Postal Administration will formally issue this souvenir sheet October 27 at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. The UNPA will have a sales booth at the two-day show. (Publicity image courtesy of UNPA.)

The three-stamp souvenir sheet pays tribute to the Translation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Passing the 500 Mark. (The declaration was drafted on December 10, 1948 and has been translated into 503 languages at last count. Guinness World Records recognizes it as the world’s most translated document.)

The sheet will be formally issued in October 27 on the first day of the two-day United Nations Stamp and Postal History Show, UNExpo 17, at the American Philatelic Center in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

The sheet has one stamp each denominated in U.S., Swiss, and Austrian currency. Those countries are home to the U.N.’s three main headquarters. Each stamp has a title in different languages, but includes the entire text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its preamble in English. (Here’s where another world record may be set!)

Malli Hui, of the U.N. Postal Administration, noted that the document, unofficially, has 1,778 words! Those words are spread across 60 lines of microprinting on each stamp. Blow it up big enough and the words are legible. The stamp will likely be eligible for world-record status once it is formally issued. (Side note: the German and English titles at the top are both five words, the French title is six.)

The current record for words on a stamp is 606 for a 2014 International Women’s Day stamp from Belgium in 2014, according to the Guinness World Records website.

A first-day ceremony will be part of the show that will bring together U.N. philatelists from all over. The show will feature exhibits, seminars, presentations, meetings, and dealers.

The souvenir sheet, which has not been produced, will be printed in offset with microprinting and silver foil, Hui said.

At the left is an image of Eleanor Roosevelt holding up the original document featuring the 30 Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A swirling grid pattern and bleeding muted hues from yellow to blue tie the historic photo to the stamps, giving it a modern feel. The words “United Nations Expo 2017 Pennsylvania, USA” are at the bottom left.

The photo shown was taken November 1, 1949 during Roosevelt’s visit to the U.N. headquarters, which at the time was in the former Sperry Gyroscope factory in Lake Success (Long Island), New York. Roosevelt served as the first chair of the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights and helped draft the declaration, which was proclaimed on December 10, 1948, by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in Paris.

For more information about the show, visit For more information about current U.N. stamps, visit