Peak Japan

Imagine trying to collect Asian stamps as a western collector in the 19th century. There is a taste of that in this 21st century stamp from Japan. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The colors on this stamp are incredibly well executed. That is not to say they are very realistic. Instead the colors have been picked to be so subdued as to add a feeling of calm and contentment. More so than the more vivid colors of reality. This is a common theme in Japanese stamps from the early days. In the more modern offerings there is more of a reflective mood. The stamp offerings are often large sheets of different stamps dedicated to home towns or songs. Not the big cities where people still live and not songs that sit atop the pop chart. Rather an idealized reflection on a Japan that once was.

Japan is no longer a hard charging goal oriented country of the twentieth century. Rather it is an older place,still mostly inward looking, and very well off. This is reflected in the stamp offerings, that are clearly directed almost entirely to local collectors.

So where does that leave the western stamp collector. Well, if ones favorite part of collecting is art on stamps. Japan will have plenty of stamps for you. They are reasonably priced with comparatively few of them exceeding a dollar in value.

To a more general collector there are some basic issues that just do not come up as often with other countries offerings. The Japanese script, with no date of issue leave basic identification very difficult. To add to this, from the early 1990s on to present day there has been the problem of inflation. or rather the lack of it as Japan as been fighting a never ending battle with deflation since the Japanese stock market bubble burst in 1989. This takes away a method of time dating a stamp that works with most every country including pre 1989 Japan. Over time the denominations on stamps go up. So the newer the higher the denomination. Occasionally there is a big devaluation or a new currency to shake things up but those can be learned easily. On todays Japan stamp, the denomination is 80 yen. The has been the defacto postal rate for nearly 30 years. There were even a few earlier than that stamps with that denomination. That means that the denomination can only narrow the stamp down to a 30 year window. Not much help.

At the same time the postal issues have shifted at a few on going themes of a better yesterday that have new annual releases. An example of this is the hometown series that are now in the hundreds of individual stamps issued over many years. All with 80 yen denominations and descriptions only in Japanese characters.

Another factor making it difficult is the tendency not to show landmarks from the town but rather an idealized nature scene as with todays stamp. Very pretty and might mean something to one from that hometown, but not  much for anyone else.

Well my drink is empty so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

New Brunswick, letting the Canadians take over before the Irish do.

New Brunswick was formed when it was decided to be too far way from Halifax, Nova Scotia to be run effectively. So how then does Canada then get control from even farther afield. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

This stamp is from the 1860s. Queen Victoria is on her rightful place on the stamp. At the time there was still almost 40 years left in her then longest ever reign. As such a full face portrait of a younger Victoria goes unrecognized by me. In fact I was even wondering if the stamp was from a different New Brunswick. In fact, it is just a very old stamp and the bright color disguises that.

The stamp today is issue A5, a five cent stamp issued by the British Colony of New Brunswick in 1860. There are three color variations of this stamp; yellow green, blue green, and olive green. I think my copy is olive green, but be sure to look at the picture and tell me what you think in the comment section. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $175 mint. If it was never hinged, the value would double again. Mine was hinged and located long term in an old album, that did a great job in preserving the stamps condition. This is the most valuable stamp I have written about so far at The-Philatelist.com. To be honest, before my research, I had no idea the value or even that I possessed it.

During the American revolutionary war in the 1780s, it was decided that the still British colony of Nova Scotia was too large to be run effectively from Halifax. Therefore Nova Scotia’s territory on the western side of the bay of Fundy was broken away to form New Brunswick. Brunswick was the former name of the British royal house when it was still German. Brunswick was therefore in honour of King George III. A capital was chosen in the small inland city rechristened Fredericton after George III’s son. It was hoped that an inland city would be easier to defend than the larger coastal St. John.

After the revolutionary war a decent number of British loyalists immigrated to the new colony. This increased the ties to Britain and the colony also had close ties to New England. New Brunswick mainly sat out the War of 1812.

With the Irish potato famine of the 1840s came a large number of Irish refugees. So many as to change the demographics of the whole colony. Ireland was seeking independence from Great Britain at the time. There were a series of Fenian insurrections that sought to take control of some outpost in New Brunswick and hold it hostage in exchange for Irish independence. This was a huge miscalculation. It greatly overvalued the importance of New Brunswick in Britain’s eyes. It also lead New Brunswick to join in a new confederation with Canada, being one of the original 4 provinces in 1867. This ended the separate stamp issuance of New Brunswick.

The old issues returned for New Brunswick. Rule from Ottawa was not conducive to growth in New Brunswick. There became more distance between the former natural trading partners in New England. New Brunswick entered a period of economic decline.

Well my drink is empty and my next one will be from the top shelf as this stamp proved so valuable. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Panama Pacific Exposition, Celebrating permanent construction by building things designed to crumble

An immense construction project is completed and so America celebrates in a city that had lately needed some construction itself. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The Panama Canal was a massive project. It involved some wild political maneuverings to get control of the land. Some engineering challenges that must have seemed insurmountable. A massive requirement for labor in a hot, buggy tropical place at a time when it was no longer possible to have slaves do it. Just a massive challenge. A challenge that was by no means complete in 1913 when this stamp came out. The project was being handled so confidently that an international exhibition was scheduled to celebrate the successful completion. Imagine the egg on the face if the Panama project bogged down the way modern projects of any scale always seem to. The stamp was a success though because everything came off. To the collector all these years later it might have been better for the stamp value had it been a failure.

The stamp today is issue A145, a 2 cent stamp issued by the United States in 1913. The four stamp issue was part of the build up to the Panama Pacific International Exposition scheduled for San Francisco in 1915. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1 used. A mint version of the 10 cent stamp of this issue is worth $700.

The stamp displays the Pedro Miguel locks. This was one of the more simple locks on the Pacific ocean side of the canal. This made sense both for fact that this lock was done early enough to be shown on the stamp and also since a Pacific lock is more in keeping with the Pacific theme of the Exposition. It must be remembered at the time power and population was mainly located in the East and the power shift to the west on a complete different but soon not so far separated ocean. I can see why this would generate so much excitement about the project.

Getting the Exposition to San Francisco was a timely move. Panama was a long way away and they were not going to be able to have a world class exposition. The place was just too poor and isolated. San Francisco, on the other hand had been devastated by an earthquake in 1906. Nine years later was a perfect time for the city to announce that they were back and better than ever. Much Moorish style architecture was constructed for the fair. Interesting it was purposely designed to be short lived structures. The architect was of the opinion that every great city needs a few ruins. In the end most of it was demolished after the Exposition in1915. The Palace of Fine Arts was allowed to remain. First as a ruin and later rebuilt as a permanent fixture of San Francisco to this day.

Well my drink is empty so I will pour another to toast those hearty souls who traveled to the jungles of Panama to build a great canal that still serves today. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Iraq 1923, They don’t like the Ottomans or the British, lets see how they like the Hashemites

When an empire fades there is a vacuum. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The stamp today displays an exotic picture of an ancient Sunni Mosque. The other stamps of the issue show other religious sites from the various religions in Iraq. The stamp displays the problem facing the British as it did the Ottomans before them and the Americans much later. The country is just not a cohesive place  that lends itself to becoming a successful country.

The stamp today is issue A1, a one half anna stamp that was the first issue of a separate Iraq. There are earlier Baghdad overprints from the Ottoman era. It was part of a thirteen stamp issue of various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used. The 10 Rupee stamp featuring the Golden Shia Mosque at Kadhimain is worth $67 mint.

Iraq broke off from the retreating Ottoman Empire after World War I. When it became clear that there was going to be a British mandate to run Iraq, there was a rebellion. The head Shia Ayatollah issued a jihad forbidding Iraqis from working for the British and to press Iraqi demands peacefully at first. The rebellion was widespread and not just Shia. The British were able to put down the rebellion at high cost through the use of aerial bombing. The cost was such that Britain decided that they did not want to administer Iraq after all. At T. E. Lawrence’s suggestion, a Hashemite leader he had worked with in World War I was brought in and named King. He had previously served briefly as King of Syria until the French Colonial forces had removed and exiled him. He was originally from Mecca and could trace his ancestry to the Prophet Mohammed.

This choice was also complicated. King Faisal I was virtually unknown in Iraq and a Sunni. The Sunnis were a minority in Iraq and since the Ottoman administration was also Sunni, the majority Shia felt disadvantaged. Though Arab, the Shia also looked more to Iran for leadership and support. Faisal tried to overcome this by trying to appeal to a more pan Arab spirit. His brother was after all the ruler of neighboring Transjordan and covetous of Syria, Lebanon, Arabia, and Palestine. The choice of  Faisal let the British step back from the mandate while still keeping it’s interest in the British owned Iraqi oil company.

The Hashemite’s rule was not successful personally for them. The three Hashemite rulers of Iraq were all murdered. Faisal I was murdered by arsenic poisoning in 1933. His young son King Ghazi died in a mysterious car wreck in 1939. He had been a disappointment to the British as he was openly pro axis and said so on his radio show. There was also a sexual scandal with a black servant boy dying of a gunshot wound in the Royal chamber. The King claimed the boy died after forgetting to remove his gun before laying down for siesta. In 1958, a still only 23 year old King Faisal II ordered the army to deploy to Jordan to support his ally King Hussein of Jordan. Instead they marched to the palace and lead a coup. The King’s whole family was shot after surrendering to the coup plotters. The King survived the shooting but the King died later in hospital. The crown price and prime minister’s dead bodies were dragged through the streets and then hung from a lamp post.

That was the end of the Hashemites in Iraq but the tradition continued with republic. The coup plotter served five years as prime minister before another coup where he was shot and then hung from a lamp post. Remember also Sadam Hussein being hung after being forced from office and found hiding in a sewer pipe. At least he was given a trial. Progress?

Well my drink is empty and so I will open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Barbados had an attractive seal, but somewhat unrepresentative

Sometimes colonial stamp issues can stay around a long time, in this case becoming completely anachronistic. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The stamp today features the then seal of the then British Crown Colony of Barbados. It looks dramatic and mythical, like something from the 17th century. Which it probably was. The World Wars changed markedly British attitudes on maintaining far off colonies. The shameful legacy of slavery also meant that the views of many on the island were not being represented in the countries administration. When a basic stamp issue lasts from 1916 all the way to 1948, the upshot can be a period piece. Great for the stamp collector. For commonwealth issues are a popular collector interest. Whether the collector longs for Pax Britannica or is revolted by the audacity of it all. One cannot deny the eye candy.

The stamp today is issue A19, a two and one half penny stamp issued by the Crown Colony of Barbados in 1925. This is from the middle period of this long issued stamp. The words postage and revenue mark it as from the middle period. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $1 used. The one to look for in this issue is the 3 shilling version from 1918, which is worth $180 used.

Barbados was originally settled by Indians from Venezuela before Christ. The first British landed in 1625. At first the economy was tobacco based with the labor being handled by indentured servants from Britain. After a period of service they were usually given 10 acres. They did not fare well and many went on to the colonies of North and South Carolina. The few descendants of these indentured servants in Barbados today are known as red legs. Later sugar cane production took over with large plantations and Jewish leadership coming from Spain. The labor was performed by large numbers of African slaves imported from West Africa. The trade revenue from this period was quite high and Barbados was one of the most valuable British colonies in terms of trade. Bridgetown was then the third biggest British city in the Western Hemisphere after Boston and New York.

The freedom of slaves declared by Britain in 1834 changed Barbados dramatically. Sugar caine production dropped off. Many of the Jews left and the island was demographically dominated by Africans who were still not being represented in the administration of the colony. A wealth test was used to keep them out. This was done locally. The long period this stamp was issued was the period the right to vote was gradually extended to more of the people and Britain was becoming wary of maintaining such far off colonies.

There were two schools of thought of how to proceed. One was a federation of the British West Indies with Canada. This was tried in the 50s still within the empire but under a black Barbun Premier. The majority on most of the islands involved favored independence individually for the various islands. Independence was realized in 1966 and Barbados remained in the British Commonwealth. The main industries now are tourism and offshore banking.

Well my drink is empty so I will toast the period seal of Barbados. Briain managed quite a large realm from such a small island. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

China, the late Qing Dynasty, do we reform and if so, how much?

An elite lives an out of another era life, but one that is not working for the people. Can this be fixed? So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

At first glance this stamp is impressive. A dragon is an ancient symbol of Chinese power and much needed and feared water. At the time in the late nineteenth century, the image of the dragon was tied to the Emperor. Here is the rub though. The Emperor was quite weak and being controlled behind the scenes by Empress Dowager Cixi. The stamp coincided with major humiliating concessions of sovereignty to foreign powers. Even on a postage stamp, the Emperors complicity can be seen in the fact of the English lettering and that the stamp was printed in London. Modern Chinese stamps also have China written in English on them. Today is a different time with world travel and often multi lingual peoples. At the turn of the 20th century, it was a reflection of subservience.

Todays stamp is issue A 17 a two cent stamp issued by Imperial China in 1898. It was part of a 12 stamp in various denominations honoring the Qing Dynasty. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth $2.75 used. A mint version of the $5 stamp in this issue is worth $600.

The late Qing Dynasty was a string of weak often child Emperors with regencies speaking for them. The real power was wielded by the Empress Dowager Cixi. She faced an antiquated and apart elite and a vast and very populous realm. Western powers were sniffing around and pealing off ever greater pieces of China for there trading posts. There were even Christian missionaries coming to try to modify the Chinese peoples most basic beliefs. These missionaries were really just a way to get the camels nose under the tent. When the inevitable incidents happened to them, the westerners had their excuse to grab ever more from China.

It seems logical to use the numerical advantage of China to build a modern army capable of defending China. Remember that the elite is apart and old fashioned. For that reason, the average Chinese won’t fight for them and any army they organize will be hopelessly outdated. So there is a string of tough talk from the Empress Dowager and then an acquiescence to the west in return for the Emperor’s rule being allowed to continue.

On the domestic front, there was some push toward educational improvement but little in the way of land reform that might have gone some way to relieving the frequent famines. Of course there were no famines within the Forbidden City. The few reforms attempted were fought vigorously by the beaurocracy and indeed most of the reformers such as Kang Youwei proved to be just out for themselves. Kang went in twenty years from being thought of as a radical reformer to scheming with a warlord to put the last boy Emperor back on the thrown. He did however propose that the Emperor rule over a more socialistic system and has such his memory was somewhat rehabilitated by Mao. The Dowager Cixi died in 1908 by arsenic poisoning and her elaborate tomb was pillaged by a warlord in 1928. Supposedly some of her jewels with which she was buried were later in the hands of Madame Chiang Kei-shek.

Well my dink is empty. One wonders if instead of reforming and giving in to never ending demands if the Dowager had just fought to the death she might have been better remembered. Dragons after all breath fire. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Georgia 1920, a new socialist republic remembers an ancient Queen, while Whites, Reds, and Turks pound on the door.

Chaos in Russia allows peoples to escape the empire, only to find all around still desperate for colonies.So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The country of Georgia was new. Part of legitimacy is establishing an historic basis for a country. It would normally be unusual to feature a Royal on the stamp issue of a socialist government. Queen Tamar ruled a much larger Georgia successfully 700 years before and it was important to show a basis for a brighter future. The low quality of the stamp printing hint at the desperation of the times.

The stamp today is issue A3, a 3 Ruble stamp issued by the Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1920. It features Queen Tamar, who ruled Georgia from 1178-1213. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 65 cents mint. There are printings with inversions that are considered fraudulent. Also considered fraudulent are versions over stamped Constantinople. They were issued by the Georgian Embassy there after Georgia was conquered by the Soviets in 1921.

When the last Czar abdicated in early 1917 several areas of the Russian Empire broke off. In this, they had the support of Germany and Austria whose defeat of Russia in WWI contributed to the Czars fall. A federation with Azerbaijan and Armenia was first attempted but in 1918 it was decided that Georgia would stand independent. The land area was 70% larger than modern day Georgia but still much smaller than the Georgian Empire ruled by Queen Tamar.

The challenges facing the new Georgia were all around. Local Bolsheviks and ethnic Ossetians caused trouble at home. Pressuring for territory were the Ottomans and Armenians to the south. An army of White Russians who were fighting both the Red Army as well as Georgia. Also the Red Army itself was trying to bring the newly independent nations back into the fold, this time as Soviet Republics rather than colonies.

The new Georgian government did much to build a new country. While building an army and attempting to muster foreign recognition and support, many laws were passed. There was land reform and a judiciary.Georgia was also a multiparty political state with much self rule granted minorities. German support ended at the conclusion of WWI but for a short while there was a stabilizing British presence that helped keep out the White Russians. It was still a time of great economic dislocation and hyper inflation. Notice the high denomination of todays stamp.

For a brief period, the Soviet Union recognized Georgian independence and borders as well. In 1921, the Soviet Army invaded and conquered Georgia. They clamed a pretext of alleged mistreatment of Georgian Bolsheviks. For 70 years, Georgia was a Soviet Socialist Republic. It still faces some of the old issues of western recognition and  managing Russian ambitions and the minority of Ossetians.

Queen Tamar ruled an empire that included much of the Caucus mountains and areas deep into modern Turkey and Ukraine. Her  rule was Orthodox Christian and coincided with a blooming of Georgian culture. She was often portrayed in Russian literature as an exotic temptress of the East. In Georgia itself, the picture was more of the mother of the country. In the 19th century, a 13th century portrait of her was discovered of her and this image was widely distributed among Georgians longing to be free of Russia. Tamar is a Hebrew name  as the then Royal House believed itself descended from ancient Israeli King David.

Well my drink is empty and so I will pour another to toast Queen Tamar. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting

1968 Cambodia, The human rights flame burns bright, at least on the stamp

A newspaper editor who opposes the government is stripped naked and beaten in the street by police in front of the central police station. The head of the police is asked by the national assembly if government opponents have the right to police protection. Indeed they do, he said, and by the way, here is a list of national assembly men we consider opponents. The censure measure is tabled and the ruling Prince later remarks that the national assembly should be nicer to the police. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

The stamp today is from the important years of the UN. The UN was especially important in Cambodia. It was in UN conferences in the mid 50s that attempted to set the parameters of post colonial Cambodia. The stamps like this were issued all over the world by newly independent countries. In a way, it is sort of a rival to the British Commonwealth stamp issues. The UN issues are far more political and perhaps as a result have not developed the  same number of specialty collectors.

Todays stamp is issue A53. a 5 Reil stamp issued by the Kingdom of Cambodia on December 16th, 1968. It was part of a four stamp issue in various denominations celebrating Prince Sihanouk and the UN national human rights year in 1968. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 35 cents used.

The UN conferences specified the local King as ceremonial head of state of Cambodia and provided for the removal of French and Viet Minh communist foreign soldiers from the country. The machinations of King Sihanouk to consolidate power were interesting. He first abdicated in favor of his elderly father thereby becoming Prince. As Prince, Sihanouk then felt free to engage in politics. He set up the Sangkum as his political party that had the state behind it. The party included both left and right wing figures as a way to coopt both the left and the right. Sihanouk believed that if either the left or the right was allowed to rule, the first thing they would do is remove him as King, er Prince.

His rule was surprisingly socialist with the government taking over most business. This was done allegedly to insure the profits accrued to Cambodians rather than foreign exploiters. The reality was more of a spoils system rather like the Ferdinand Marcos regime in the Philippines. In foreign policy, there was much collaboration with Communists in North Vietnam and China.

Sihanouk was overthrown by a right wing former Prime Minister Lon Nol in 1970 and Sihanouk went into exile in China and later North Korea where Kim Il Sung built him a 40 room palace. When the Khmer Rouge overthrew Lon Nol, Sihanouk returned as head of state but was quickly put allegedly under house arrest in the palace. If this happened, it would seem to absolve him of his government’s genocide. He again was on his throne for a short while in the early 2000s as a ceremonial King.

His rule was not all political maneuverings. He directed over 50 films, some from his North Korean Palace in exile. He started a film festival in Phenom Penh where his films were the only nominees and winners. He also composed music and often traveled Cambodia with a full orchestra and local pop singers. He died in 2012 at age 90 and was given a full state funeral.

Well my drink is empty and so I will open up the conversation in the below comment section. The idea of one political party that coopts left and right to keep in charge an increasingly hereditary oligarchy sounds both ominous and plausible for the future. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

Trying to get out of Cameroon

Setting a colony up for independence is difficult. When a colony was taken from the Germans and divided between Britain and France doubly so. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

To look at the stamp, it appears to be that of an independent country celebrating the first anniversary of independence. This completely airbrushes out the struggles of putting together a new country. This perhaps is appropriate. The French were going and so were the British. They were just trying to leave the locals in the best hands they could find. Pretending the French were still making the decisions was foolhardy.

The stamp today is issue A32, a 20 African Franc stamp that was issued by the French Colony of Cameroon on May 10th 1958. It is the first stamp issue since French Cameroon was granted autonomy. It showed a mother lifting a baby to the Cameroon flag. The stamp is worth 80 cents used.

Cameroon had been a German colony through World War I. In taking it, the territory was divided into French and British sectors. The people spoke different languages and had different colonial systems. The northern part of the territory was mainly Muslim, and the southern area mainly Christian. Building a cohesive country was going to be difficult.

At the time of the stamp, the first African prime minister Andre-Marie Mbida was in charge. He was a southern Christian socialist who favored a 10 year process toward independence while Cameroonians were trained to take charge. This was not quick enough for the French. they were in favor of being out as quickly as possible with Cameroon staying on in the French African community of nations. Mbida considered this false independence. A French Governor General replaced Mbida with Ahmadou Ahidjo, a northern Muslim rival who was in favor of quicker independence but wanted to maintain close relations with France.

There was also the problem of British Cameroon. An election was held on short notice giving the British area the choice of joining independent Cameroon or joining Nigeria. Independence or continued colonial status was not an option. The northern part went to Nigeria and the southern part to Cameroon. Initially the British part had some self rule but this was done away with and there have since been attacks on English language speakers.

Ahidjo sent Mbida into exile as Ahidjo’s successor did to him. There have only been two presidents of independent Cameroon in the 58 years since independence and such relative stability has offered some benefit to the economy. The country is by no means free and the now aged President spends most of his time in Switzerland.

The articles I have written have shown me how difficult it is to leave a colony or to stay. The few countries that avoided colony status do not seem much better off either. Some questions only have least bad answers. What happened in Cameroon was probably that.

Well, my drink is empty so I will pour another to toast ex leaders in exile, and in Cameroons case the current leaders “working vacations in Switzerland”. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

Through Russian GranDukes, Polish Marshals, Nazi Henchmen, Communist Secretary Generals, and Lech Walesa, Belvedere Palace is still standing.

There is an Elton John song titled “I’m still standing” As you get older that feels more like a real accomplishment. With each new twist in the life of the palace on this stamp reminds of that song. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of a certain brand of vodka, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.

This is a stamp from the 1930s depicting a then 120 year old palace. His most prominent resident, Marshal Josef Pilsudski, the father of modern Poland, had just died in it. The stamp makers intention was probably document the palace as it passed into the historical. Dig a little deeper and we find that much of the history of the place was yet to be written.

The stamp today is issue A65. a 25 Groszy stamp issued by Poland in 1935. It displayed Belvedere Palace in metropolitan Warsaw. It was part of an 11 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 35 cents used.

Belvedere Palace was built in 1819 on the site of what was originally a porcelain factory. Russian Grand Duke Constantine took up residence there in 1818. He abandoned it during an uprising in 1830. The tendency of the residents of Belvedere to abandon the premises when the mob arrives at the gate would see the palace through many a crisis. After World War I, Poland was an independent country again and hero of the wars with Russia Marshal Josef Pilsudski took up residence. He left after his 4 year term  but then returned in a coup in 1926. The previous president abandoned the palace as Pilsudski’s troops approached the gates. Pilsudski’s years there, he died there in 1935 are thought of as the best years. The history was still being written.

During World War II Germany and Russia invaded Poland and Warsaw ended up in the German zone. The cruel rule of the Nazi occupiers was lead by Hitler crony Hans Frank who set himself up in Belvedere Palace. He once sadisticly joked that if a new poster was printed for every Pole he ordered shot the Polish forests would have to be cleared. Things did not go well on the home front for him as well. He sought a divorce from his wife Brigitte but she fought it based on her love for being “Queen of the Poles”, self proclaimed of course. Even the Nazis didn’t recognize that one, but they stayed married with Brigitte insisting she would rather be a widow. Frank also abandoned the palace as the Russians approached in 1944 and later was captured by the Americans in Bavaria. He was tried, convicted, and hung in the Nuremburg trials, leaving Brigitte a widow. The memoirs he wrote in jail were the source for the claim that Adolf Hitler had a Jewish grandfather who grandfathered him through his maternal grandmother who worked for him as a maid. The claim is unsubstantiated.

The Communists General Secretaries then took up residence at Belvedere. When Lech Walesa became President after the end of the cold war he also took up residence. The Presidential Palace in the city center of Warsaw became gradually to be more used while Belvedere became more ceremonial. It is still used today by visiting heads of state. I hope they are given a tour that goes into the significance of where they are staying. There is talk of turning the palace into a museum in honor of Marshal Pilsudski. It they do, I hope there will be a new stamp to honor it. Or maybe just a reprinting of the 1935 issue. The Polish vodka brand Belvedere is named after the palace and there is a likeness of the palace on the bottles. It is not made on the grounds.

Well my drink is empty and so I will open up the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.