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/.

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