Sri lanka 1974, Madame Prime Minister would like you to remember her late husband

Breaking away from the colonial power is hard. For how much do you throw away or at least pretend to. 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 does not give away many clues to the world wide philatelist. The former prime minister on the stamp was assassinated years before with his widow taking over his political party. The early 70s saw her and her party back in power and soon follows a tribute to her late husband. All well and good and domestic philatelists can follow what is happening. For world wide collectors more investigation is required to know what is going on. Sounds like a job for The Philatelist.

Todays stamp is issue A168, a 15 cent stamp issued by the Peoples Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on September 25th, 1974, It was a single stamp issue honoring S.W. R. D. Bandaranaike, the then current Prime Minister’s late husband and former Prime Minister himself from 1956-59. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 40 cents whether mint or used. If you have the later version with 15 cents blotted out and 25 cents in it’s place, you are in luck because that version is worth $7.

Ceylon got it’s independence from Britain in 1948. The people to whom power was given were those who had participated in the colonial administration. So the British first names and Oxford educations did not mean a lot to vast bulk of the people  that were not participating in the tea plantation based economy except as exploited workers. This lead to much tumult in the 1950s.

I suppose a true grass roots movement could have formed but instead why not have the feelings coopted by those in power. There was a natural divide as many of the new leaders had come back from their Oxford education as indoctrinated socialists. Since socialism is of course in favor of the worker and happy to take on affectations of local nationalism, it seemed a great fit. Solomon Bandaranaike was just such a leader. He was the son of a knighted colonial administrator and when his party won the election he was ready to give his country full independence.

Well at least he was willing to do the standard socialist things. The British were blamed for troubles and the English and Indian Tamil languages were targeted. The tea plantations were nationalized and instead of being closed down or privatized among true locals the exploited workers were now being exploited on behalf of the state. British military bases were closed and even the local military was targeted as a bastion of colonial sympathy, which was true but now a thought crime. Eventually the name of the country was changed and notably not to Kandy, the name of the place before colonization.

Naturally policies like this made a lot of enemies and soon Mr. Bandaranaike was assassinated. Not by the British, by then they didn’t care enough, but by gunman working for the Indian minority that were a left over from the colonial period. Remember how small the elite of independent Ceylon was. The two large parties were both in the hands of single families. Mrs Bandaranaike became the worlds first female Prime Minister and continued and intensified her late husbands policies. This perhaps would be a better milestone for female empowerment if it were not just nepotism and a would be cult of personality.

Economic output dropped and the UK and USA aid dried up as there was ever more socialism and by extension opposite side cold war posturing. Eventually the Tamil rebelled and the decimated military was not in a good place to fight it, so it dragged on and on. Also going on and on was the families political party which later featured such diverse leaders as the Bandaranaike’s son and daughter, who show their solidarity with the people by no longer having British first names.

Well my drink is empty and my learned musing/screed above might be thought of as pro British. It is actually the opposite. As the colonial power, it was their job to lift up all the people and not just a small elite. It was also a crime to permanently change the demographics of the place for their own convenience without a thought to what that meant for the future peace. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

Bulgaria tries to get back it’s land while trying to dance between Germany and Russia

Bulgaria emerged from World War I shrunken and defeated. It was time for the new King to set things right and he definitely tried until he was poisoned. Yes another German Royal in the Balkans tale. 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.

I like the aesthetics of todays stamp. A beautiful city up in the mountains. Perhaps somewhat idealized but so be it. When we study the history of the Balkans it always seems to involve a bunch of hot heads scheming for power. Well there was a lot of that but there were always also hearty people and great scenery.

Todays stamp is issue A58, a 10 Stotinki stamp issued by the Kingdom of Bulgaria  in 1921. The stamp shows a view of Sophia the capital and was part of a thirteen stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it is mint or used.

King Boris III took the throne after his father King Ferdinand was forced to abdicate. Bulgaria had listened to it’s German King and sided with Germany against it’s more natural relationship with Russia. The result had been the loss of land to both Romania and Greece and a large bill for reparations. Naturally by the time this happened there was a large socialist movement in Bulgaria supported by Russia that called for the end of the failed monarchy.

His German father had prepared him well to fight for the monarchy. Notice his name was actually Bulgarian and he was baptized Orthodox, causing his father to be excommunicated by the Catholic church. He also had much military training, becoming a Major General,, no not a modern one, by age 24. Both Socialists and conservatives had turns in power with little effect but a left wing coup then banned political parties and tried to leave Czar Boris as a figurehead. This was a big mistake as he then lead a counter coup that kept the ban on political parties and left Boris completely in charge. This did make the country more stable.

His power base stabilized, Boris then set out to reclaim lost lands. He entered into an alliance with Nazi Germany that allowed Bulgaria to reclaim lost land from Romania and later Germany conquered the land given to Greece and allowed Bulgaria to administer it. After doing this he marketed himself successfully as the Bulgarian uniter. He tried to keep his distance from Germany by refusing to send Bulgarian troops to fight with the Germans in Russia and refusing to deport Jews to the death camps. He claimed the troops were needed at home in case of Turkish aggression and the Jews were needed for vital slave labor construction projects. This was a dangerous pose to take and in 1943 Boris was summoned to Hitler where he was berated and most think poisoned, dying a month later.

His child son Simeon then took the throne under a regency. A socialist prime minister was appointed as part of a change in sides but Czar Simeon was deposed in 1946 as Bulgaria became a socialist republic. Simeon is still alive and as such as several notable lasts. He is the only person alive to have held the title of Czar and also the only World War II head of state still alive. He went into exile in Egypt and later Spain  but returned to Bulgaria in the 90s and even served as Prime Minister in the early 2000s. He recently disclaimed the head of his old German Royal house of Saxe- Coburg and Gotha-Kohary. He still claims his Bulgarian title.

Simeon shortly before he became the last Czar

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.

Easter Island pledges to Chile

Easter Island was another of those isolated islands that has to decide whether to pledge themselves to outsiders for protection or just go it alone. Easter chose to go with Chile but so late there was almost no one left to pledge. 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 has more going on than first appears. The map of the island brought me in and I am glad it did because the story of how Chile acquired Easter Island is interesting. The generic person on a Latin American stamp has proven to be somewhat troublesome for me at this website. There is often just very little information on these fellows on the internet. I think the interest in them had waned by the time history went online.

Todays stamp is issue A199, a five Escudo stamp issued by Chile on January 26th, 1970. It was a single stamp issue celebrating the 80th anniversary of the treaty between Chile and Easter Island. The treaty was actually signed in 1888 so there timing was a little off but such are things. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used. There is a better issue for the 100th anniversary in 1988 that was better printed, offered more views of the island and actually came out in the correct year.

Easter Island was first occupied by Polynesians in the 11th century. When the first Europeans arrived, they estimated 2000 natives lived there. The interaction with outsiders and internal turmoil took a heavy toll on the local population. In 1877 the native population was down to 111 people. There was some involvement from French people with a French Catholic missionary operation and a large sheep farm run by a French Jew from Tahiti. The French tried to keep the tribal organizations going while sending  not replyed to appeals to France to grant protectorate status to Easter. The island was being frequently raided by Peruvians who were shanghaiing natives into slavery.

The Chilean Navy had visited the island several times and a naval Captain named Policarpo Toro proposed to his government that the sheep farm be purchased and negotiations started to make Easter Island a protectorate of Chile. Permission for this was granted and after a year of negotiation a treaty was signed by Captain Toro and native King Atamu Tekena. The King was able to keep his title and the native part of the island was made a protected national park using the Polynesian name for the island Rapa Nui. The islands population has rebounded to 7750 with about 45 percent being of Polynesian decent. So Chile has proved to be a good steward of the island. The sheep farm closed in the 1950s but the 80s saw an expanded airport that has allowed more tourism.

Captain Toro was not revered for long in Chile. In 1892 there was a civil war that saw the navy on one side and the army on the other. Captain  Toro refused to participate and was dismissed from the service dishonorably. A few years later there was an amnesty that restored to former Captain Toro his pension. He died in 1921 and his brother’s family stayed on Easter Island.

Well my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast Captain Toro and King Atuma. Over time islands cost more than they make for their protector and it can’t be easy for the natives to pledge loyalty to outsiders in order to survive. The fact is though that the island surviving was achieved. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Canada 1955, cellebrating 50 years of Alberta being a province

When Alberta became a province, there were only 78,000 residents. Not a big center of political power, how Ottawa wanted it. 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 good visually. A pioneer couple in a new province where much development will occur. This then leads to the giant oil wells in the background. There was another stamp for the 100th anniversary in 2005. This stamp is somewhat in the same vain. The pioneer couple are gone but the oil wells are joined by tall skyscrapers and still pristine mountains. Further along in development but in some ways a return to appreciating the nature that lead to peoples new start there in the first place.

Todays stamp is issue A152, a five cent stamp issued by Canada on June 30th 1955. It was a single stamp issue celebrating the 50 years of Alberta and Saskatchewan becoming provinces. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used.

Before becoming provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan  were part of Canada’s Northwest Territories. While the area was sparsely populated, the area was seeing development related to the construction of railroads. A prominent citizen of the time, Frederick Haultain, was serving as premier of the Northwest Territories. He proposed that the territory including Alberta and Saskatchewan come in as a single province named Buffalo. He assumed himself as Premier. This was not acceptable to the Labour government in Ottawa. It was thought that over time, Buffalo’s power would rival that of Ontario and Quebec. It was also a much more conservative place and Haultain was of the rival Conservative party.

So instead Alberta and Saskatchewan were let in separately under appointed Labour Premiers. The capital of Alberta was also purposely kept out of the largest city Calgary, in favor if the much smaller Edmonton. This bypassed the local conservatives and allowed the liberal organs of government to develop elsewhere. For example, the new University of Alberta also went to Edmonton. Haultain served for a while as the head of opposition in Saskatchewan until he accepted a position as a senior judge.

The Labour party was able to stay in power for quite a while despite being involved in a scandal involving railroad construction. The province had guaranteed loans to developers far in excess of the amount of money needed to build the railroad. Eventually after much delay the Liberal Premier resigned, but only to be replaced by his still Labour deputy. The Labourites built a coalition that included Indians and recent immigrants from the Ukraine to keep conservative power in check and managed to do so until around 1970, when the conservatives began 46 years of uninterrupted power. Maybe Labour was right to be concerned about a big conservative Buffalo.

Well my drink is empty and so I will open the discussion in the below comment section. It is common in politics all over democratic areas, that opinions toward new arrivals revolve on guesses about how they will vote. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Ireland honours Arthur Guinness for 200 years of beer brewing

Arthur Guinness has the fairly unique situation of a brewery he started over 250 years ago being still around and being the leader in stout beers, that Arthur late in his career focused on. 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.

Todays stamp is not very well printed as is typical of Ireland’s early stamp offerings. As the 50s became the 60s the stamps of Ireland became less religious and more Euro centered. That does not mean that Ireland does not still honour it’s past. Indeed, Arthur Guinness received another stamp issue on the 250th anniversary of his most famous brewery in 2009.

Todays stamp is issue A38, a 3 penny stamp issued by the Irish Republic on July 20th, 1959. It was a two stamp issue in different denominations with this one being the low value. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used.

Arthur Guinness was born in 1725 in Ireland to an Anglican family. His godfather, an Anglican Archbishop bequeathed him 100 pounds in 1742. He used the money to start the first of his breweries. He was involved in several before taking on the one celebrated on this stamp. He had a lot of confidence in the success of the Dublin Brewery as he signed a 9000 year lease. A long lease worked as rent control for the brewery as now 45 pounds a year sounds very economical. Arthur married and by his one wife had 22 children, 10 of which lived into adulthood. Several of his children followed him into the brewery  but others were Anglican clergy, politicians and soldiers in the British Indian Army.

Late in his career Guinness focused his brewing to a dark beer known as porter. It was stronger and aged for longer period. Over time the methods were economized with less aging and the type of beer began to be known as stout. This type of beer was better known to come from London but the world wars changed that. With war time shortages, London brewers were forced to water down there now limited offerings. These shortages and rules just did not apply in Ireland and so Guinness Breweries were able to really expand their market. The fact that the brewery has continued and prospered means the company takes an active part in marketing the memory of Arthur Guinness. His signature, taken from the 9000 year lease, is on every bottle and there is now a scholarship foundation funded by the company in his name.

Well my drink is empty and since it was stout I think it best to just open the conversation in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

Niue 1979, A “Savage Island” remembers Cook’s landing at “Traitor’s Head”

Discoverers don’t just have trouble with mother nature, sometimes the natives are not overjoyed to see them. 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.

I like this stamp a lot. On one hand it is a fairly old fashioned commemoration of British explorer James Cook aimed at the commonwealth collector. It is however modern enough to show the challenges Captain Cook faced with natives he found. In doing so one can see the event from both sides. The printing is excellent and done on behalf of Niue by New Zealand Post.

Todays stamp is issue A68, a 30 cent stamp issued by the New Zealand Dependency of Niue on July 30, 1979. It was part of a 4 stamp issue in various denominations honoring the 200th anniversary of the death of the explorer James Cook. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 85 cents mint.

Captain Cook joined the Royal Navy in 1755. After showing great skill mapping the Saint Lawrence River during the French and Indian War, Cook was tasked with exploring the Pacific. His journeys took him to Australia and New Zealand most famously but also Hawaii and the islands depicted on todays stamp.

The stamp depicts Captain Cook’s attempted landing on the Vanuatu archipelago island of Erromango in 1774. Cook found the natives unfriendly and several of his men were hurt and several natives killed. From this experience, Cook referred to the place he landed as Traitor’s Head. This event might have had special meaning on Niue as they also were so unfriendly that Cook did not actually land at Niue but gave it the name Savage Island.

Erromango was later found to have a large supply of sandalwood, for which there was a rich market for in China. The British could not convince the natives to work in a forestry operation but word got out of the riches available. Hawaii sent a expeditionary force to take over the island but when the force got there if found two ships, one from Rotorua in New Zealand with Maori workers and another from Samoa. While none of this treasure seeking involved Europeans, none were welcome by the natives of Erromango. Of the near 500 Hawaiians sent, only 30 made it back to Hawaii. Eventually these rival Polynesians slashed and burned their way through all the sandalwood.

Eventually traders and missionaries were allowed on Niue. The tribal King repeatedly petitioned to Queen Victoria to be made a British Protectorate. This was finally granted in 1900, but administration passed to New Zealand in the 1960s. Offered independence. the island chose to remain associated with New Zealand and their people are New Zealand citizens. Over time about 75 percent of the population has moved to New Zealand. The population is now barely over a thousand. So far New Zealand has been rebuffed in it’s suggestion that the remaining population leave as it becomes more difficult to offer services there.

Well my drink is empty and so I will pour another to toast Captain James Cook. I recently returned from a great trip to New Zealand where I got to enjoy both the heritage of the British and the still preserved culture of the Maori, the local Polynesians. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Recovering from the hyenas, Ethiopia 1998

Since Ethiopia mostly avoided colonization, it should be an example of how an African country can succeed on it’s own. Well they do try. 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.

Todays stamp is a later rendering of the international United Nations stamp. It functions as a somewhat less successful rival to British Commonwealth stamp issues. I don’t say less successful in terms of the messaging of the stamps. It is just that such issues do not have a similar following to collectors. Ethiopia however has been a big part of African and indeed wider third world maters. The African Union for example is based in Abbes Ababa. To see the country embrace at least the ideal of universal human rights is heartening. This is not the African tradition, and logically Ethiopia should be a bastion of African tradition.

Todays stamp is issue A322, a one Birr stamp issued by Ethiopia on December 23rd 1998. It honors the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It was a a four stamp issue in various denominations. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 75 cents mint.

Between 1932 and 2012, Ethiopia only had 3 leaders. That is not to say there was stability. All faced the threat of coup and insurrection and despite their long rules, none left office of their own accord. Hailie Selassie styled himself as an Emperor, while the 1975-91 leader Mengistu and the 1991-2012 leader Meles styled themselves President.  The Emperor is best remembered and Mengistu the worst.

Mengistu took over from the Emperor in a coup and had him killed in his palace. He then gave a speech where he promised death to counterrevolutionaries. He then dramatized his point by smashing 3 bottles of blood on the ground. For the next several years child soldier age boys showed up dead in the gutter of Abbes Ababa, there bodies not even buried but gradually consumed by the wild hyenas that roamed the capital. There was also a war with Somalia and an independence movement in coastal Eritrea.

Naturally Mengistu’s economic policies of thievery with a Marxist tinge were unsuccessful. So when Soviet Bloc aid dried up, the many opposition forces closed in and Mengistu fled to friendlier areas in Zimbabwe, where he still lives. The next President Meles faced a big mess to clean up and against all odds made some progress at least economically. He was more modern though and as such put himself up regularly for elections. He always won them however dubious but it was always an excuse for foment and violence. The issue always seem to be that a small group benefit from any success and the masses don’t participate. The is true though each leaders aristocracy was different entirely from the previously privileged.

What Meles will never be forgiven for is losing Eritrea and returning Ethiopia to being landlocked. Eritrea was formally Italian and given to Ethiopia as  a reward after the British expelled the Italians from East Africa during World War II. Meles was of half Eritrean decent and this was thought to play a role. Meles died in office in 2012.

Ethiopia has never fully succeeded in being the African leader it should naturally be. It remains to be seen what a truly African leadership would look like. The fear of course is the natural state of things is a despotic strongman in power while hyenas roam the crumbling streets. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Jamaica 1970, Mixed Race Leaders try to graft Socialism onto Black Jamaica

How a place is to be administered after the colonial power leaves is a difficult issue. Socialists in the mid 20th century brought much to that discussion but convincing the people that this is how they should self determine is a challenge. 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.

I rather like this stamp. So many former colonies shut off anyone who participated in the colonial administration as if they were evil vassals of the devil. Yet here is a stamp issue that declares them heroes. Not that Jamaica was in a great place but it was independent and there was hope for a better future. This is not a standard Commonwealth issue with the Queen in the corner aimed at Anglophile stamp collectors. This is a more open window into Jamaica.

Todays stamp is issue A89, a 5 cent stamp issued by Jamaica on March 11th 1970. It displays former Prime Minister Norman Manley. It was part of a 5 stamp issue honoring leaders of the movement toward independence. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether it is mint or used or which independence leader was displayed. One of the leaders is Marcus Garvey, who is also known as a civil rights leader in the USA. This does not seem to help it’s value which I think is pretty good evidence that not enough historians of the civil rights movement collect stamps.

Post World War II, Great Britain’s time in Jamaica was nearing an end. As part of the transition two members of the Jamaica mixed race community were given prominance. They were Alexander Bustamante and the subject of this stamp Norman Manley. They were well educated in Britain and surprisingly even served in Empire militaries. Their educations had seen them exposed to the workers unite socialist movements that they hoped would be good for Jamaica. The challenges economically for Jamaica were great. Sugar caine really does require the type of large plantations and ample slave labor to be economically successful. Therefore it is not suited to post land reform, post independence Jamaica. In the 1950s, there was a bauxite mining boom that saw Jamaica become the worlds leading producer. These facilities were foreign owned and it is always a challenge to make sure the foreign company is making enough to continue while the area is seeing enough of the benefit. Remember Dr. No’s laird in Crab Key was a bauxite mine in the James Bond movie.

The two leaders formed rival socialist parties and set out toward land and education reform. In education, results were mixed as the new opportunities only slowly trickled from the top down and land reform saw output collapse as the crops did not suit the new small farms. The bauxite mines were so heavily taxed and beset with labor strife that Jamaica has fallen far down the list of producers. Another independence leader, Marcus Garvey, proposed former slaves emigrating back to Africa, where they won’t be held back the vestiges of the colonial system. His ideas were never tried.

By the end of the 60s things were getting worst fast. Manley’s son Michael took over his father’s party and served as Prime Minister several times the first in 1972. By then mixed race leaders were unfashionable and many of the younger Manley’s six wives were black. He even took to wearing a formal but shirtless and tieless Kariba suit. Bustamante old party was now in black hands and the two parties had armed gangs fight it out in the street during election time. 800 died in the 1980 election.

Michael Manley, in his kariba suit, his fourth wife Beverley, and then USA President Carter

Well, my drink is empty and I will pour another to toast Marcus Garvey. Since his ideas were not tried, he did not disappoint anyone. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

Romania 1872, when the politicians are self aggrandizing idiots the German Domnitor will dominate

When politics unite to form an abominable coalition, the Prince must act, even if he is wrong and foreign. 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.

One can see the similarity to a Napoleon III stamp from France I did recently. The early versions, which I believe mine is, were actually printed in Paris. A later version with less distinct printing and cheaper paper came from Bucharest. These medal like profiles of royalty originated on the first postage stamp the penny black from 1840 with Queen Victoria. By the 1870s it was a little overdone with small country people outside of the country will have difficulty identifying. Notice Britain did not have to put the countries name on the stamp. Queen Elizabeth II is the last monarch who does this. I wonder if it will end when her time has passed.

The stamp today is issue A11, a 10 Bani stamp issued by the Principality of Romania in 1872. It was part of a 7 stamp issue in various denominations showing new Domnitor(Prince) Carol I. He had recently arrived from Germany and had tactfully changed his name from Karl. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth $5. The mint versions of this issue are more valuable with the 30 Bani version of the later Bucharest printing up at $190.

Romania had come together after a merger of Moldavia and Wallachia under Domnitor (prince) Alexandru Ioan Cuza. He was quite liberal and actually from Romania. He was in favor of a land reform that would free the multitude of peasants  from their mainly ethnically German landowning class. Trying to thwart this was what Cuza referred to as an abominable coalition of liberal and conservative wealthy politically connected German front men. There was soon a coup and the local Cuza was out on his ear and liberal politicians were off to find a German to be there King. They found their man in a serving Prussian officer named Karl. He had enough distant family connections to Napoleon and spoke French if not Romanian. He was also Lutheran but agreed to raise his sons, which he never had, Orthodox.

Somehow this was allowed to happen and Karl, sorry Carol, proved his worth as a military leader against the Turks and has a power player in the dance a small country must do when dealing with France, Russia and Germany. The liberals that had gotten rid of Cuza were having second thoughts. Carol’s regality grated on them and they began thinking of a coup to become a republic that would more benefit the urban government workers and the Jewish who were so many of their supporters. They planned a two day coup that would happen the first night in Ploesti and the next night move to Bucharest. One of their leaders was Ion Bratianu who had earlier recruited Karl, sorry Carol. Late at night they arrested the police chief of Ploesti and took the city hall and the Telegraph Office. Unfortunately the guards they placed on the telegraph operator got drunk and forgot to police his transmissions. He asked the Bucharest station how the coup was going there and the Bucharest operator told him everything was quiet. He reported to Prince Carol and he showed his efficiency by having troops in Ploesti  by morning to arrest the conspirators. They then insisted it was not a coup but a party prank.

Carol showed his acumen by buying off the liberals by making an uninterrupted series of them Prime Minister, including Ion Bratianu. They did nothing for the peasants who were put down efficiently and bloodily by Carol who was soon upgraded from Prince to King. He ruled till 1914 when he abdicated after trying to side with Germany in World War I instead of respecting the people’s French loyalties.

Well my drink is empty and I better not have another or the people around me won’t stay silent about all my hair brained conspiracies. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Philippines 1964, remembering the brains of the 1898 revolution

Mabini checked all the boxes for a revolutionary leader. Up from poverty, educated locally, handicapped, so even more challenges to overcome and steadfast. The revolution in the Philippines was ultimately unsuccessful but is a vital backdrop to the independence that eventually came. 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 Philatelists.

The printing on the stamp is pretty good. Showing him sitting reminds those that remember him of his handicap without making fun of him for it. It is such an important part of the story. That someone could rise from poverty in a poor colony of a far off place and be educated solely in the Philippines and rise to Prime Minister is unusual. Then this courageous man has the fortitude to resign when he feels his new country disrespected. Definitely a majestic story worth remembering.

Todays stamp is issue A170, a 30 Sentiminoes stamp issued by the Republic of the Philippines on July 23rd, 1964. The stamp was part of a three stamp issue in various denominations celebrating the century of the birth of Apolinario Mabini, the independence leader and first Prime Minister. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents used.

Apolinario Mabini was born in Tanauan in the then Spanish colony of The Philippines in 1864. His father was a peddler in the town market. Being very lucky and literate he received a scholarship to university where he  excelled in legal studies. He supported himself during his studies by teaching children. After graduation he did not practice law but instead began working on the legal ramifications of independence from Spain. He joined La Liga Filipina that was a moderate group that sought independence by peaceful means. The group gradually became more radical as members were arrested by Spanish authorities. Mabini at the time was being racked with polio to the extent that he lost the use of both his legs. He used his convalescence to write pamphlets that described a basis for in independent Philippines. The pamphlets  came to the positive attention of the Field Marshal of the independence movement Emilio Aguinaldo, later Philippines first dictator. He had Mabini brought to him which involved hundreds of men voluntarily taking turns carrying his hammock. Mabini was found impressive and later appointed Prime Minister when Aguinaldo declared himself dictator. Mabini was at one point arrested with fellow revolutionaries but was released instead of shot because of his condition. America would later not underestimate him this way.

Mabini’s job as Prime Minister was to negotiate with the Americans. America had played a big part in the end of Philippine’s Spanish colonial status and sought to then claim it as a colony for itself. Mabini tried to convince the Americans to leave or at least stop fighting Aguinaldo’s army. The Americans flatly refused this and required  Philippines to take a loyalty oath to America to end the fighting. Mabini refused and resigned his position to fight the Americans. The Americans then arrested him and sent him into exile in Guam. Aguinaldo was shortly after defeated, captured and then took the pledge to the USA. A few years later Mabini was allowed to return to the Philippines after also taking an oath but by then he was sick and was shortly to die of cholera at age 39 in 1905.

For a long period, Mabini’s reputation was besmirched in The Philippines by the rumor that his handicap was the result of syphilis. This was apparently started by rivals within the independence movement at the time of Mabini’s quick rise to power. 75 years after his death, Mabini’s remains were exhumed and it was determined that his handicap was the result of polio rather that syphilis. At the time there was a popular novel that had Mabini as a  character being sexually decadent. When the truth came out it was rewritten with Mabini being decadent and drunk with a liver ailment. Also untrue. Not one of the Philippines finer literary moments.

Well my drink is empty and so I will pour another to toast Mabini and all he achieved during his short challenging life. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.