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.

Royal Wedding Celebrated with Stamps

All eyes will turn toward Great Britain Saturday as Prince Henry of Wales and Meghan Markle are married at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, the medieval masterpiece at the heart of Windsor Castle.

To celebrate there will be stamps, of course. On Tuesday, Royal Mail of Great Britain unveiled its designated Special Stamps, which will go on sale Saturday. The stamps – one  black-and-white showing the couple in a casual outdoor setting and a color formal image of the couple holding hands – are being produced in a four-stamp souvenir sheet.

The images are taken from the official engagement photographs taken by Alexi Lubomirski at Frogmore House, Windsor, in December.

The couple’s engagement was announced on the morning of November 27 with an announcement from Harry, the  Prince of Wales. The Isle of Man on March 28 issued a pair of stamps celebrating the royal couple’s engagement.

Guernsey Post will issue a two-stamp souvenir sheet Saturday to mark the wedding. The stamps depict the couple in Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden as they officially announced their engagement.

Prince Harry, 33, is fifth in line to the British throne and is the younger son of Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales.

The prince, born Prince Henry Charles Albert David, was educated at Eton College. He spent a gap year working on a cattle station in Australia and in an orphanage in Lesotho. He then went on to train as an army officer at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurstand conducted two tours of duty to Afghanistan with the British Army during his 10 years of service.

Markle, 36, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and graduated from Northwestern University in 2003 with a degree in theater and international studies. She may be best known her role as Rachel Zane in the television drama Suits, and has also starred in the films Get Him to the Greekand Remember Me. Markle worked as a United Nations women’s advocate for political participation and leadership and became a global ambassador for World Vision Canada.

Canada Celebrates Canadian Women in Winter Sports

Canada Post of Wednesday (January 24) warmed up for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games in South Korea with five new stamps honoring six barrier-breaking female role models on five new stamps.

The Women in Winter Sports stamps commemorate Sharon and Shirley Firth, from cross-country skiing; Sonja Gaudet, from wheelchair curling; Danielle Goyette, from ice hockey; Nancy Greene, from alpine skiing; and Clara Hughes, from cycling and speed skating.

The stamps were issued and the stars were honored in a ceremony at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in Canada Olympic Park, a hub of winter sport, in Calgary, Alberta. Shirley Firth, who passed away in 2013 at age 59, was represented by her husband, Jan Larsson, and daughters Marie and Nina Larsson.

Designed by Roy White, Matthew Clark and Jacquie Shaw of Subplot Design Inc. of Vancouver, B.C., the stamps marry candid photos with action shots of the athletes.

“Sport is a vital element of our cultural fabric. It has the power to build bridges between people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities,” said Carla Qualtrough, minister of public services and procurement. “The women of these stamps have contributed to Canada beyond the medals they’ve won or the records they’ve broken. As a group, they have been champions of accessibility, community-builders and thought leaders.”

“The women who share the podium in these stamps broke barriers, inspired generations and have contributed to our country’s national story both on and off of the ice and snow,” said Deepak Chopra, president and CEO of Canada Post. “They have been ambassadors for their sports, impressive role models and a great source of national pride.”

Here is a little more about the athletes, according to Canada Post:

Sharon and Shirley Firth transformed Inuvik into a hotbed of Nordic skiing. They competed in four Olympic Games and four World Ski Championships and dominated their sport from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, winning 79 medals at the national championships, including 48 national titles.

Sonja Gaudet is the world’s most decorated wheelchair curler, with three Paralympic gold medals and three World Wheelchair Curling Championships. A tireless advocate for accessibility, she is an ambassador with the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Paralympic Committee.

Danielle Goyette scored more than 100 career goals and dominated women’s hockey into her 40s. She won two Olympic gold medals and a silver, as well as eight gold medals at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships. She was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.

Nancy Greene put Canada on the map in alpine skiing. She competed at Squaw Valley in 1960, Innsbruck in 1964 and Grenoble in 1968, winning gold and silver medals. Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century, Greene won 17 Canadian titles, 13 World Cup victories and three U.S. Ski Championships.

Clara Hughes is the only athlete in history to win multiple medals at both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. She made six Olympic appearances, winning six medals: one gold, one silver and four bronze – in cycling and speed skating.

From Far and Wide: Picturesque Canada Featured on Nine Stamps

Armchair travelers will likely be motivated to start planning some sort of trip this year, thanks to a set of nine upcoming stamps from Canada Post dubbed From Far and Wide.

The stamps in several denominations will be issued in various formats, mostly coils and booklets, January 15, plenty of time to plan a visit to see some of Canada’s most picturesque spots. For those who don’t want or need booklets, all nine stamps can be found on a souvenir sheet.

In addition to the From Far and Wide issues, Canada Post released the rest of its 2018 stamp calendar, which is noted at the end.

Canada Post says the From Far and Wide stamps are the first in a multiyear series. All feature current photographs of locales meant to take you on “a journey to some of the most breathtaking locations in Canada.”

The sites featured on five permanent (85-cent first-class domestic rate up to 30 grams, about 1 ounce) stamps are:

The flower-pot-shaped Hopewell Rocks, of New Brunswick; an old growth forest of Douglas fir at MacMillan Provincial Park, of British Columbia; an impressive natural rock sculpture at Parc national de I’Île-Bonventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, of Quebec; the sand and dunes of Prince Edward Island National Park; and the brightly painted jelly bean houses of St. John’s, Newfoundland.

The four special rate stamps in the group are Pisew Falls Provincial Park in Manitoba ($1, single stamp purchase); the forested isthmus at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario ($1.20, U.S. rate); a majestic peak at Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve in Northwest Territories ($1.80, oversized rate); and the northern lights at Arctic Bay in Nunavut ($2.50, international rate).

Other issues announced from Canada Post for 2018 are:

January 15: Lunar New Year – Year of the Dog.

January 24 (just before the February 9 start of Winter Olympic Games): Women in Winter Sports

February 1: Black History Month celebrates trailblazers Lincoln Alexander, the first black member of Parliament, federal cabinet minister and the 24th lieutenant governor of Ontario, and activist and humanitarian Kay Livingstone.

March: Two exquisite varieties of lotus, annual flower stamps.

April: Canadian Illustrators, featuring the work of five talented illustrators.

 April: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II graces a new commemorative, 65 years after her coronation.

 May: Native Bees of Canada; Memorial Cup (major junior hockey) 100th anniversary.

 June/July/August: Astronomy, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s 150th anniversary; Sharks in Canadian Waters; Weather Wonders; and Birds of Canada.

 September: Emergency Responders; and Canada Post Community Foundation.

 October: Bighorn Sheep.

 November: Christmas stamps (secular and religious).

Nominations Sought for Prestigious Crawford Medal

The prestigious Crawford Medal of The Royal Philatelic Society London will be awarded in 2018 “for the most valuable and original contribution to the study and knowledge of philately published in book form during the relevant period.”

It is open to all authors, whether members of the society or not.

Crawford MedalThe medal, in silver-gilt, features a portrait of the Earl of Crawford, bibliophile extraordinaire, and was instituted in 1914 but not awarded until 1920 owing to World War I.

Nominations are invited of books published in 2016 or 2017 to be considered by the selection committee, who will make a recommendation to Council. Nominations close on February 1.

Brief details should be submitted by e-mail to: secretary@rpsl.org.uk or by letter to the Society, 41 Devonshire Place, London WS1G 6JY, in every case using the subject “Crawford Nomination” or marking the envelope in the same way.

The society solicits nominations from as wide a selection of books as possible and would expect to have a copy in the society’s library. If the book is not in the library the nominator will be requested to supply a copy for the committee to consider.

The medal is open to worldwide competition. In the case of joint authorship the Council of the Royal may award a medal to each author, but in the case of books compiled as a result of collaboration on the part of more than two authors, the Council may award a medal to the sponsors or editors of the work instead of to the authors.