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Stalinist spy stamp


Check out these 5 controversial stamps from around the world

  1. Stalinist spy stamps

Image: Wikimedia Commons

When putting someone on a stamp, it's probably best to check they aren't guilty of human rights abuses.

That was the case in 2002, when the Russian postal service honoured six of Stalin's top-secret agents, including Sergei Puzitsky and Vladimir Styrne, each of who played key roles in the Great Famine of the 1930s.

There was concern at the time that the government under Putin was revising history.  

  1. Frida Kahlo

Image: eBay

Frida Kahlo's appearance on a US stamp in 2001 led to howls of protest from the conservative press, primarily due to her socialist politics, race and struggles with addiction.

One writer, John J Miller, commented in the Wall Street Journal: Not only was Kahlo Hispanic and female — she was bisexual and handicapped, too. That’s like hitting for the P.C. cycle."

  1. "Alcoholism: You can beat it!"

Image: eBay 

This 1981 USPS stamp loudly exclaims "Alcoholism: You can beat it!" and was intended to encourage people to confront their drinking problems.

Unsurprisingly, it offended everyone from the teetotal to the completely hammered.

A spokesperson for the organisation told the LA Times in 1985: "We had a stamp that said 'Alcoholism: You Can Beat It,' and it didn't sell.

"Apparently people felt that putting that stamp on a letter was suggesting to the person receiving it that he has a drinking problem. You have to be careful what you put on stamps."

  1. UK Marie Stopes stamp

Image: eBay 

In some respects, Marie Stopes was brilliant. A pioneer in the field of birth control, she opened the first family planning clinic in 1921.

This led to her selection on a British stamp in 2001.

Unfortunately, her interest in the subject was at least partially informed by her interest in eugenics.

She was also a big fan of Adolf Hitler – even sending him a book on his birthday in 1938.

  1. US mushroom cloud stamp


It can be argued that dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a necessary evil. It certainly shortened the duration of the second world war, but it came at an enormous cost.

When the USPS released this 1995 stamp showing a mushroom cloud and the line “Atomic bombs hasten war’s end" it was met with anger in Japan.

It was later removed from sale.
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