5 stamps with fascinating histories



2015-06-26 14:05:17

We take a look at 5 stamps with fascinating histories

5. Latvian map stamps

Latvia was left in ruins after the second world war. Everything was in short supply, including paper.

This forced the local post office to come up with new ideas. Old German maps and banknotes, which were in plentiful supply from the occupation, were thus used as a base material.

4. German inflation stamps

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the aftermath of the first world war, inflation in Germany reached absurd levels.

As the value printed on banknotes increased exponentially, so too did the value printed on stamps – resulting in figures in the tens of billions.

The problem got so bad that the post office was having trouble fitting the requisite number of zeros on to the stamps. Ultimately, the stamp was abandoned and mail was simply marked as paid.

3. Pneumatic tube stamps

Image: Catawiki

The pneumatic tube is a fixture of science fiction, appearing in everything from Futurama to the films of Terry Gilliam. But for a brief period during the 1920s it was considered a viable alternative for delivering mail.

The growth in street level traffic considerably slowed the process of delivery. To solve this problem a number of major cities installed pneumatic tubes between post offices.

From 1933 to 1966, Italy printed a series of stamps specifically for use in pneumatics. Sadly the tubes are no longer in use.

2. US 1929 overprints

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the late 1920s, the number of robberies in America were reaching epidemic levels. In addition to banks and stores, post offices were also considered fair game.

Stamps could be stolen in one state and sold on in another. To counter this, the post office began overprinting issues with the name of the state that they were to be sold in.

Unfortunately, the program failed to act as a deterrent and was swiftly abandoned.

1. 1900 Nicaraguan 1 centavo

Image: eBay

During the planning stages of the Panama Canal, the US government considered building through Nicaragua.

During talks, however, rumours began to spread that a volcano on the planned route had erupted – altering the terrain. The Nicaraguan government denied these rumours.

Enter Philippe Bunau-Varilla, the main proponent of the Panama route. As luck would have it, as he was going through his correspondence one day he came across a Nicaraguan stamp depicting smoke rising from the volcano.

He visited a stamp dealer and brought up a number of copies of the issue, which he passed around congress. This led to a landslide vote in favour of Panama.

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