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: www.royalmail.com/firstworldwar.

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 https://stamps.org/UNExpo17. For more information about current U.N. stamps, visit https://unstamps.org/.

Five Final Images Conclude Five-Year Canadian Photography Series

Iconic images from distinguished photographers appear on five Canadian Photography stamps issued July 5 by Canada Post.

The domestic-rate permanent stamps feature photographs from Claire Beaugrand-Champagne, Robert Bourdeau, Gilbert Duclos, Samuel McLaughlin, and William James Topley.

The stamps are part five of a five-year series and are being issued in booklets of 10. Also, there are two souvenir sheets (one with three domestic-rate stamps, the other with two). As with all issues in 2017, the stamps contain a special Canada 150 feature. With these stamps, the Canada 150 logo repeats across the bottom and top of the stamps in taggant, which is visible only in ultraviolet light.

Here is a summary of the photographs on the stamps, including the artist’s title, the year and location, appearing on the stamps:

Beaugrand-Champagne: “Ti-Noir Lajeunesse,” [“The Blind Violinist, Disraeli”], Quebec, 1972. Beaugrand-Champagne was Quebec’s first female press photographer, well known for her documentary images of people who have served as powerful reflections of society.

Robert Bourdeau: “Ontario, Canada,” 1989. Bourdeau built a reputation for producing images taken with large-format cameras. His photographs are found in major collections in Canada and the United States. His work focuses on the revealing details of subjects ranging from traditional landscapes to architecture and still life.

Gilbert Duclos: “Enlacées,” Montreal, 1994. Duclos has focused his lens on scenes that reflect his passion for street humanism. Throughout his career as a professional photographer, his photographic series have depicted many of the Western world’s cities. His work has been featured in numerous publications and exhibitions. His portrait of jazz pianist Oscar Peterson was on a stamp Canada Post issued in 2005.

Samuel McLaughlin: “Construction of the Parliament Buildings, Centre Block,” circa 1862. McLaughlin became the province of Canada’s first official photographer in 1861. He published Canada’s first photographic collection: The Photographic Portfolio (1858-60), an impressive documentation of several Canadian public work projects, including the construction of the Parliament buildings.

William James Topley: “Sir John A. Macdonald,” circa 1883. Topley left a visual record of the first 50 years after Confederation, which include captivating portraits of Canada’s early political leaders. He learned the art of photography early from his mother, joined the William Notman Studio in Montreal for three years and later took over a branch office in Ottawa.

The stamps were printed by Canadian Bank Note and designed by Stéphane Huot.

United Nations Will Issue Six World
Heritage Sites Stamps at StampShow

The United Nations will formally issue six new stamps in its ongoing World Heritage series at a ceremony in August at the American Philatelic Society’s StampShow.

The stamps depict sites Along the Silk Road. A ceremony has been scheduled for 2 p.m. August 3, the first day of the four-day show at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Virginia.

To accommodate headquarters in three locales (U.S., Switzerland, Austria,) the stamps show architectural treasures in three national denominations: U.S. – Kyrgyzstan (Too Sacred Mountain) and China (Longmen Grottoes); Switzerland (text in French) –  Uzbekistan (Historic Center of Bukhara), Turkmenistan (Konye-Urgench, or Kunya-Urgench); and Austrian (text in German) – Iran (Bazaar in Tabriz), and Turkey (City of Safranbolu). The U.S. denominations are 34 cents (Grottoes), which pays the current postcard rate, and 49 cents (Mountain), the first-class domestic rate.

The series began in 1997 and features cultural and natural sites that have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The new release includes panes of 20 for each stamp and a prestige booklet a block of four for each stamp, additional photos of the sites, and explanatory text.

“The Silk Roads were an interconnected web of routes linking the ancient societies of Asia, the Subcontinent, Central Asia, Western Asia, and the Near East, and contributed to the development of the world’s great civilizations,” the U.N. booklet states. “They represent one of the world’s preeminent long-distance communication networks, stretching to around 7,500 km [4,600 miles], but extending to more than 35,000 km [21,700 miles] along specific routes.”

StampShow 2017, the nation’s largest annual philatelic show, will be held August 3 to 6 and feature hundreds of high-caliber exhibits, scores of dealers, displays of stamp rarities, a youth area, dozens of presentations, meetings of specialty societies. The show serves as the summer convention for the 30,000 members of the APS, which is marking its 131st year.

More show information is available online via the APS website.

Royal Mail Marks 50th Anniversary of the Machin Definitive With New Stamps

Great Britain today, June 5, marked the 50th anniversary of one of its most iconic stamps — the Machin Definitive (often called Machin Head by collectors) — with a series of new stamps.

The stamps show a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and were created in 1967 by artist Arnold Machin (1911–1999), who first sculpted a bust of the queen that was adapted to the stamp design. Born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911, Machin was a renowned sculptor and had a long association with Wedgewood potteries.

The new stamps present a snapshot into the history of the design that has been reprinted an estimated 220 billion times and is considered one of the most reproduced images in the world, according to Royal Mail.

The Machin Head has been reproduced in more than 130 colors and more than 800 major varieties.

Royal Mail lists 20 different products in connection with the new stamps, including a Prestige Booklet, Presentation Pack, postcards, first-day covers, and a set of six Post & Go (vending machine) labels.

A new miniature sheet of the new stamps show various steps in the Machin’s design process in 1966, including an image of the Queen Victoria Penny Black stamp, a model for the 1967 Queen Elizabeth II definitives; a photograph of the sculptor’s coin mold; essays; and a photograph of the queen by John Hedgecoe.

A new Golden Anniversary Celebration miniature sheet features eight stamps in various denominations, colors and shapes, including a £1 stamp, based on the high-denomination range of 1969 and is printed using gold foil.