President Benjamin Harrison. For once a government with too much money

When a lot of money is spent and there is not enough results, a President’s term might become limited. 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 a Presidents Day offering from The Philatelist.

Todays stamp was simple and elegant. The issue shows all the previous presidents in the order that they served. All are busts and in profile. Even though the issue excluded presidents still alive, this included some then fairly recent ones of the other party. That these are treated with equal reverence is pleasant.

The stamp today is issue A300, a 24 cent stamp issued by the United States in 1938. The stamp displays a bust of Benjamin Harrison. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used. The stamp to look out for in this issue is a used copy of the red brown version of the $5 Calvin Coolidge stamp. It is worth $7000. The catalog warns that it is possible to chemically alter the less valuable red version of the stamp to make it appear to be the red brown version. The suggest having it authenticated before purchase. Caveat emptor among philatelists… Shocking!

Benjamin Harrison was from Indiana and was by profession a lawyer. His Grandfather, William Henry Harrison was also President. The Family cane trace itself back to the early Jamestown settlement. Harrison was a Republican. At the time Republican political positions were more aligned with modern day Democrats and vice versa. Republicans dominated the Northeast and West and The Democrats dominated the South based on white votes.

Harrison defeated one term Democrat Grover Cleveland. He allowed 6 new western states into the union, the most of any president. Cleveland had delayed them fearing they would vote Republican. Harrison passed an anti trust act and enacted large tariffs on foreign goods. The tariffs threw off a lot of money to the government and government spending exceeded 1 billion dollars for the first time. There was infrastructure spending and an expansion of the navy. It came to be seen as an administration that spent money in a wasteful way. After 1 term Grover Cleveland ran again for his old seat and defeated Harrison. The new states he hoped would vote for him defected to a third party candidate to his left politically.

The second Presidential contest was bad for Harrison in another way. His wife Caroline was fighting tuberculosis and lost the fight two weeks before the election. His married daughter Mary took over first lady duties. A few years later he married Mary Dimmick, a 37 year old niece of his late wife that had served as her secretary. Caroline’s children who were in their 40s did not approve the match and boycotted the wedding. He had one daughter with his new wife and died in 1901 of pneumonia. Both wives are buried with him, Mary taking her place in 1946.

Well my drink is empty so I will pour another and toast all the Presidents. There have been 45 now so to do it one by one might leave me rather drunk. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

New Zealand expands a War Memorial

The stamp today signifies the expansion of a war memorial after another war. 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 a bit of a repeat. Another stamp from this New Zealand issue was covered by The Philatelist previously. see here, http://the-philatelist.com/2017/10/12/the-british-royal-family-picture-to-honour-end-of-wwii-in-nz-hmmm/.The text will not be a repeat. This is a better designed stamp that better relates itself to the topic at hand of celebrating the end of World War II. It does make the point that the ANZAC WWI memorials role will be expanded to include dead from later wars and even UN peacekeeping missions.

Todays stamp is issue A103, a 1 Shilling stamp issued by New Zealand on April 1st, 1946. It displays the New Zealand National War Memorial in Wellington. It was part of an 11 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is undervalued at 80 cents mint. It is the most valuable stamp in this issue.

The National War Memorial was dedicated on ANZAC day in 1932. The stamp only shows the Carillon, which was all that existed at first. A carillon is a musical instrument in a tower that contains a series of bells that can  be used to ring serially to play a melody or in concert to play a musical cord. They are controlled from a keyboard. When opened this example contained 43 bells. It is now up to 66 bells. Other additions since the stamp have been a hall of remembrance added in the early 1960s, a tomb of an unknown soldier added in 2004 and an expanded park added in 2015.

ANZAC Day is a day celebrated in Australia and New Zealand that recalls the ANZAC Corps landing at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during WWI. ANZAC stands for the Australia New Zealand Army Corp. This was the first combat of the newly constituted force. The landing occurred before dawn on April 25th 1915. It was supposed to be a lightening strike to take Constantinople and the Ottomans out of the war. The attack did not go as planned facing stiff resistance from an Ottoman force commanded by later Turkish President Kamal. There was an 8 month stalemate until the Allied forces were evacuated. 2721 New Zealand soldiers died in the battle which is a huge number in the small country. By tradition, ANZAC remembrances are at dawn with a gunfire breakfast following. Gunfire breakfast includes coffee with rum added to match the breakfasts of the soldiers on the day of attack.

As this stamp previewed, the war memorial was taken to honor the dead of all subsequent wars. This included Vietnam which lead to services of the era being disrupted by anti war protestors and even feminists protesting wartime rape victims. Over time, thankfully the remembrances have become less controversial.

Well my drink is empty so I will pour another to toast the brave men of Gallipoli. Not much of a coffee or rum drinker though. Kemal announced later as Turkish President that modern Turkey is now friendly  with the countries of the Gallipoli campaign. Therefore the dead of both sides can rest in peace side by side and all veterans are welcome to visit the old battlefield. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Thailand, An elite demand power from the King and call it Democracy

An independent Asian Kingdom tries to modernize, but too fast, or is it too slow. 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 is a great stamp. The printing and colors are exceptional. It is a monument to democracy designed locally and commissioned by a military that ruled undemocratically. Two years before this stamp in 1975 there were deadly protests at the monument to protest another military government. I think that this history on makes the monument more poignant. While falling short, whether the military or the student protesters, the two groups shared the ideal of democracy.

The stamp today is issue A183, a 75 Satangs stamp issued by the Kingdom of Thailand on January 26th, 1975. It was part of a four stamp issue showing different views of the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. The stamp celebrates the reforms enacted after the 1973 protests. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 30 cents used.

The monarchy in Siam had struggled to keep the country independent in the face of French and British territorial ambitions. The colonial powers often cloaked their desires in moral duties to civilize the natives. The monarchy in Siam tried to play off this by stating as an aim the modernization of Siam. They opened up trade and the noble classes began to be western educated. The result was a large class of westernized elites who began to resent the absolute power of the King. The crash of 1929 caused a revenue shortfall and failing to secure a widely based income tax, the King slashed military and civil service pay. This further angered the elites.

In 1932, a military coup occurred while the King was out of Bangkok. They promoted themselves as democratic and enacted a new constitution that took power from the King. One of the coup generals commissioned the monument on the stamp which was completed in 1939. Not visible on the stamp are four wing like structures representing the army, navy, air force, and police. The four protectors of democracy as they saw it. Notice the lack of reference to the King, who was still Head of State. It was designed by a Siamese architect and carved by an Italian who took on local citizenship and even a Thai name. Ironically by the time the monument was done in 1939, the military had fallen out with the civilians and was ruling as a de facto military dictatorship.

Despite the monument’s iffy beginnings, the 75 years since have seen the monument being a center of anti government protests. Notable among these were the 1973 troubles and the 2012 troubles. The fact that it is still around, shows the government and the demonstrators recognize democracy as the ideal. An ideal that often is fallen short of, but isn’t that what a monument is for. To remind us of our best selves.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the discussion in the below comment section. Some have compared the monument to the Arc de Triumph in Paris. I agree that it is a triumph. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Heres hoping a happy valentines day leads to family unity

I wanted a stamp with hearts for Valentines, but did not really know what to say about one of the hippy like messages of peace and love that are the central to many recent stamp issues. This stamp turned out to be about celebrating intact families. As Frank Sinatra sung, “Love and Marriage go together like a horse and carriage.” 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 the Valentines edition of The Philatelist.

I do not like the look of todays stamp. It manages to be both ahead of it’s time and behind the time at the same time. In both directions, it is in all the wrong ways. Like so many twenty first century stamp issues, this 1984 stamp has lost all the dignity and gravitas of a major country stamp issue. It used to be an important event for an issue to warrant a postage stamp issue. Instead we have here what is made to look like a child’s stick figure drawing, that doesn’t even really tell you what it is about. The way that the stamp is old fashion is in the way the government presumes to tell an individual how to live. There was a big movement in 1970s America to get the government out of an individuals bedroom. The fact that the message was so out of date is probably why the messaging was so obscure. It perhaps was not something the postal service wanted to talk about.

The stamp today is issue A1489, a 20 cent stamp issued by the United States on October 1st, 1984. It was a single stamp issue displaying a child’s drawing of a family consisting of mother, father, and a child. The issue promoted family unity. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used. There are out there imperforate vertical pairs of the stamp that are worth $325.

The level of illegitimacy was already on the way up by the time of this stamp. This was true both in the USA and in much of Europe. The rate of out of wedlock births in the USA was 16% at the time. This was more than double the rate at the beginning of the 20th century. This was mostly due do to the drop off in the practice of “shotgun” weddings. A shotgun wedding is one that happens immediately after an unmarried impregnation. The drop off accounted for over 75% of the increase in out of wedlock births.

Being raised by single parents does create issues for the child. They have higher rates of poverty, delinquency, and use of public assistance. They also have lower levels of educational attainment. What is less well understood is whether this is because of the illegitimacy itself of whether it relates more to the class of people involved. In Scandinavia for example the percentage of out of wedlock births are a big majority of births and yet wealth and education are at a high level and crime is low.

In any case it is not disputable that government promoting family unity was a failure. The illegitimacy rate in the USA is now over 40 % of all births. I guarantee that despite the fact that the rate of illegitimacy has continued to rise, the postal service would not repeat this type of issue.

Well my drink is empty so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. A stamp celebrating shotgun weddings would have more likely got my vote.  Issued a few weeks after Valentine’s Day? Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Remembering Jesuit contributions to Paraguay

Conservatives love to remember the institutions of the past, even if the modern equivalent institution has no love for them today. 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 old ruins on the stamp are not very well reproduced. I do like the 1950s period feel of the font used for the stamp. It is perhaps not the choice expected to show off ruins, but It works. It brings the old history up to the current time when the government might want to remind what can happen when stability is allowed to deteriorate.

The stamp today is issue A125, a 5 centimos stamp issued by the Republic of Paraguay on June 19th 1955. It shows the Jesuit ruins at Trinidad Belfry. It is part of a six stamp issue honoring the Jesuit contributions to Paraguay. According to the Scott catalog, it is worth 40 cents in its mint condition.

The Jesuits did much to bring civilization to Paraguay during the early years of the Spanish colonial period. The area was somewhat off the beaten track and mainly populated by Guarani Indians. The Indians were considered a source of slave labor and concubines for the plantations of Brazil. To protect from this, The Jesuits organized townships where the Indians could be protected. These townships converted to Catholicism and became prosperous under the management of the Jesuits. The Jesuits saw this as the beginning of an autonomous native nation in Paraguay.

The prosperity in a troubled region of empire came to be seen as a threat to Spain. They saw it as the creation of an empire within the empire and competition for the Spanish colonial plantations. The Jesuits were eventually ordered out by the King of Spain and the townships fell into mismanagement and plundering. Within a generation, the achievements of the Indian communities was lost.

Paraguay in 1955 was in the early years of the long rule of President Alfredo Stroessner. He did much to develop the economy and achieved a level of leadership stability totally lacking before and since. He did it by a firm hand on the controls of power. Reminding the people of how things can regress like with the Jesuits seems a logical lesson to try to teach.

Ironically, the Catholic church was not on board with such politicizing. The church became a source of opposition power. By the 1970s, political crackdowns by Stroessner would result in excommunication of leaders in the government. A visit by Pope John Paul II in 1988 put the church central to the opposition and there was a coup in 1989 that ended 40 years of Stroessner  rule.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the discussion in the below comment section, After Stroessner left power he spent the next 16 years in exile in Brazil. Sick and in his 90s, he was refused his request to come home to die. The level of tension between left and right still being so high. It might have been nice for the church to appeal the decision as a way for the country to come together. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

British Guiana, going independant means choosing between the Indians and the Africans

A late colonial era stamp displaying Sugar cane production facilities. This is quite poignant to the choices facing Guyana upon independence. 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 last decade of colonial rule in what was then British Guiana. So we get to see Queen Elizabeth, still the Queen so many years later. She looks down on a sugar cane production facility. The sugar cane industry was 70 percent of the economy at the time. There was probably some taking pride in what we bequeathed to the colony but it really shows the difficult choices facing the people.

The stamp today is issue A60, an 8 cent stamp issued by the crown colony of British Guiana on December 1st, 1954. It was part of a 16 stamp issue displaying interesting sites around Guiana.  The most expensive individual stamp in the world sold in 2014 for $9.5 million was from British Guiana. According to the Scott catalog, this stamp is worth 25 cents. Too low, this is an interesting stamp. The country never really got going though, so there is little local demand that should be pushing values up.

British Guiana was a territory that the British were probably happy to unload. The sugar cane industry is very labor intensive. So many African slaves were brought in. Also many Indians who were the economy’s merchants and traders. These two groups far outnumbered British colonists and indigenous natives. The outlawing of slavery made the economics of the industry less lucrative and introduced labour strife, where the workers understandably wanted to improve their poor lot. The industry was nationalized in 1970, and now accounts for just 4% of Guyana’s low GDP. It is still a vehicle to employ a lot of people and has worked a deal with the EU to pay 3 times the world price for sugar to keep it going. An inefficient government run outfit as seen output continually drop. The Chinese have recently made an investment, I doubt they will see a return.

The politics of the country extended colonial rule for a decade or more. Parties were formed on racial lines with the Indian party being openly communist and the African party feigning capitalism. The Indian party kept winning elections and the British would then delay, gerrymander, and reschedule to try to avoid Guiana becoming communist immediately upon independence. Independence was finally achieved in 1966 with the African party in charge. A 1968 election saw the African party also going communist  and ending ties to the Commonwealth.

The country, now spelled Guyana never really became successful. Over 1 percent of the population emigrates every year, mostly to the USA and Canada. I already described the massive subsidy from the EU. There is also much generosity from the USA. Debts have been forgiven and the entire wheat supply of Guyana is a annual gift of the USA. So much is given that Guyana sells excess on the world market. It is still one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.

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

 

Farouk, the Muhammad Ali dynasty knew how to fight and spend, but rule Egypt?

Today we will look at a face on a stamp that will be familiar to Egypt stamp collector, but how many know who he was and what he did. 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 is obviously from the Arab world. These stamps are very close to each other, A English backed King, who descends from an Albanian Ottoman sultan named Muhammad Ali. With more French blood than Egyptian. The stamps seem interchangeable and so do the men.

The stamp today is issue A77, a 10 milliemes issued by the Kingdom of Egypt and the Sudan in 1944. The stamp displays a portrait of King Farouk. It is part of an 11 stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used.

King Farouk ascended to the throne in 1936 at the age of 16 upon the death of his father King Faud I. He is a product of Faud’s second marriage. His rule did not see him getting along with his mother, now Queen mother Nazli. She spitefully sold all of King Fauds clothes in the Cairo used clothes street market after his death. This made public their unhappy marriage. She then supported the marriage of Farouk’s sister to a Coptic Christian Riyad Ghalli, which Farouk opposed. This lead to Farouk stripping them of their titles and sending them into exile in the United States. Nazli then herself converted to Catholicism and took the name Mary. She was of partial French decent. Farouk later proved correct about the marriage as the brother in law Ghalli squandered that branch of the families fortune on bad investments. This lead to divorce. Three years after the divorce he murdered his ex-wife and then unsuccessfully tried to kill himself. Queen mother Nazli, now Mary, was forced to auction off crown jewels.

King Farouk did not have much luck in other aspects of his rule. He and his people generally supported the Axis in World War II but was powerless to have any say on British troops in Egypt. At one point in 1942 British tanks surrounded the palace and forced Farouk to choose between abdication and a new British chosen Prime Minister. He gave in and appointed the Prime Minister but in doing so discredited himself.

What further discredited his rule was the lavish lifestyle with shopping trips to Europe and a bright red Bentley. An especially garish form of French Louis XV style furniture became known as Louis-Farouk and is still common in Egypt today. He also ballooned to over 300 pounds.

The Egyptian Army was also tiring of the King. It had fared poorly in fighting in Palestine. Many junior officers blamed this on incompetence and corruption. A group of about 100 junior officers staged a coup. in 1953. Farouk attempted to abdicate and named his infant son King Faud II. This was not enough and the family sailed for Italy on the royal yacht. He left in great haste and left behind an elaborate, valuable, and partially unpaid for coin collection. Embarrassingly he also left behind an extensive collection of pornography. He died in 1965. In the late seventies, then President Sadat restored citizenship to the royal family and allowed Farouk’s remains to be moved to the Royal mausoleum.

Well my drink is empty 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.

 

It is dangerous to rule the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes

Governing in the Balkans can be dangerous, hence today is our first black outlined memorial stamp. So slip on tour 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 Philatelists.

The stamp today is a common Yugoslavia stamp from the early 30s of King Alexander I of the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The King was assassinated in 1934 and a new printing of the stamp was made with a black outline around the stamp. This was a common way to mourn a deceased leader at the time.

Todays stamp is issue A7, a 50 paras stamp issued by the Kingdom of Yugoslavia on October 17th, 1934. The stamp added the black outline to the earlier King Alexander stamp issue. The issue contained 14 stamps of various denominations. According to the Scott catalog the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it is mint or used.

The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was formed in the aftermath of World War I. The royal house of Serbia was given the wider mandate. King Alexander was not originally in line. However his older brother George had been forced to renounce any claim to the throne. George was known to be unstable and there was a public incident where he kicked a servant in the stomach so hard that he eventually died. Alexander took the throne officially in 1921 but was already serving as regent for his elderly father. He married a Romanian princess in 1921. He had early hoped to marry a Russian Princess but she had been executed in the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The area that took the name Yugoslavia in 1929 was a wild place. In 1928, a Serb Deputy of the National Assembly assassinated 5 Croat Deputies including the leader of  the Croat Peasants Party. In response King Alexander banned political parties and assumed executive power. He hoped to clamp down on separatists  attitudes.

It was not to be. In 1934, while on a trip to Marseilles, France, King Alexander was killed by a Bulgarian assassin who was working for Montenegro autonomy. The assassination happened while on parade in an open limousine while surrounded by cavalrymen and sitting next to the French Foreign minister. The assassin jumped on the running board of the limousine shouting vive le King with a submachine gun hidden in a bouquet of flowers. The French Foreign minister was killed by return fire from French police and the assassin was slowed by a sabre blow from a French cavalryman and then beaten to death by the crowd of onlookers. The assassination was captured by newsreel cameras and shown around the world. Preparing for the state funeral it was discovered that King Alexander had a large heraldic eagle tattooed on his chest.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the discussion in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

The British in Cyprus, again having to stand between

How do big countries let themselves be dragged into these things. Cyprus contains many Greeks and many Turks. The route to peace is clearly for them to learn how to get along or partition. Instead the brilliant answer is to expensively send a disinterested army. 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 period in Cyprus history when, I think to the surprise of all, it was a crown colony of Great Britain. So in it’s way it is a very typical late colonial period stamp offering. There is His Majesty King George VI looking down on a view of the colony. These stamps both try to convey to locals that they are an important part of the empire and secondarily to the many British Empire stamp collectors that Cyprus would be an interesting place to visit. I don’t think the stamp did much to further either of these goals, but I respect the effort.

Todays stamp is issue A36, a one quarter pence stamp issued by the crown colony of Cyprus in 1939. It displayed the ruins of the Vouni Palace. It was part of a 16 stamp issue showing historical sites around Cyprus. According to the Scott catalog the stamp  is worth 60 cents either mint or used. The stamp to look out for in this issue is the 1 pound portrait of King George VI that is worth $45 in mint condition.

Cyprus had belonged to the Ottoman Empire for many years. As with much of the empire it was multi ethnic, but with a majority of ethnic Greeks. When Greece won it’s independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1830, there was a movement to unite Cyprus with Greece. This movement was brutally put down by the Ottomans. The brutality included 486 beheadings including 4 Greek Orthodox bishops in the central square of Nicosia. In 1877, the Ottomans faired badly in a war with Russia and made a secret side deal with the British giving them control of Cyprus. This kept the island from Greek control.

World War I saw the British at war with the Ottoman empire and they formalized control over Cyprus by declaring it a crown colony. Successor state Turkey formally disclaimed any interest in Cyprus after World War I. The Greeks on the island were plotting to expel the British and to achieve political union with Greece. By the 1950s there was a full military uprising. Britain managed to give Cyprus independence with a power sharing arrangement with Greeks and Turks on the island. This lasted until 1975 when there was a Greek militant coup which threw out the coalition government. The Turkish army invaded 6 days later and occupied 40 % of the island. Many on the island had to relocate to get on their side of the line and the island remains to this day partitioned. To this day Britain retains a small peace keeping military force on the island. I could find no accounting for how much getting roped into Cyprus cost Great Britain since 1877.

The Vouni Palace was built about 500 BC by Phoenicians that were then under the influence of the Persian Empire. It sits on a mountain from which it can control the then Greek city of Kyrenia. Kyrenia and the ruins of Vouni Palace now are located in the Turk part of the island and the town is now completely Turk after the ethnic cleansing of the mid 1970s. The site was extensively dug out by a Swedish archeological team in the 1920s.

Well my drink is empty so it is time to open up the discussion in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Further reading on a similar British Quagmire. http://the-philatelist.com/2017/12/05/mosque-of-omar-the-mandate-to-try-to-stand-between/.

Free African Americans colonize Africa

As the 19th century went along, there were ever more African Americans that had their freedom. Some thought these folks were in a great position to set up an American colony in Africa. 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 1921 Liberia. Liberia was one of the few countries of Africa that was not a colony of a European power. One might then hope that the stamp offerings would as such be a interesting local view of the Africa at the time. Instead we are faced with a very American style portrait of the President of Liberia. You see Liberia had a caste system in place where the tiny minority of people that could trace their lineage to America held all the political power. They retained American ways and this reflected in the no doubt American printed stamps. In this issue there were some African scenes and animals, but only the ones at silly high denominations, for stamp collectors.

Todays stamp is issue A76, a five cent stamp issued by Liberia in 1921. The stamp features President Daniel Howard. President Howard had left office in 1920 and lived until 1935. I can only think that the American printers did not know he was no longer President. By 1923 there was a stamp issue with the then current President, so eventually they got caught up. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it is mint or used. I mentioned above some of the high denomination stamps in this issue. They have fared better in the market. The $1 stamp featuring a bongo antelope is worth $20 mint. The $5 stamp featuring an elephant is worth $32.50 mint.

Liberia was the idea of Paul Cuffee, a free African American who owned a shipping company. He dreamed of sending ships full of freed slaves from America to the west coast of Africa where they would be free to build a new country. He believed that the Protestant religion and education of the freed slaves would serve them well. He forsaw his ships coming back to America full of Liberian goods to be sold in America. The first ship, named Mayflower of Liberia brought the first colonists in 1821.

The freed slaves did much to emulate what was learned in America. A constitution modeled an the American was enacted. The True Whig political party was modeled on the then USA Whig Party. Coffee plantations were formed. Even the architecture resembled America. Like the USA though, all of this only applied to Americo-Liberians. Indigenous tribes were not given any freedom and indeed where traded in contract labor schemes that resembled slavery in all but name.

Daniel Howard, the President on the stamp ruled during a troubled time in Liberia’s history. He faced an uprising from the Kru tribe of indigenous Africans. They had avoided slavery by developing a valuable skill of seamanship. Indeed they had taken to tattooing their foreheads to avoid being mistaken for slaves. They did not take well to being consigned to a lower caste in Liberia. The rebellion was only put down when an American Navy Cruiser the USS Chester appeared off the coast. It had been diverted to see that the Howard government did not fall.

World War I also occurred in Liberia while under President Howard.  He tried to remain neutral but the war cut off much of the trade that was so relied upon to service Liberia’s large debt. Desperate, Howard allowed the French to set up a telegraph station in Monrovia, the capital. The Germans protested and then attacked Monrovia from a U boat. This forced Howard to declare war on Germany and seize all German economic assets in the country. Liberia ratified the treaty of Versailles and joined The League of Nations

Howard served out two terms and left office in 1920. His successor was also a member of the True Whig party. Indeed that party ruled uninterrupted for over 100 years ending in 1980. His successor was even more unlucky than Howard. He was forced to step down after the League of Nations caught Liberia selling forced “contract” indigenous labor to Spanish colonists in the Spanish colony of Fernando Po.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the discussion in the below comment section. I wonder if the enterprise of Liberia would have gone better if enough freed blacks could have attracted to enable a population majority of the area. Had he lived, it was the policy of Abraham Lincoln to encourage freed slaves to Liberia. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.