Building a University to try to turn Germans French

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell about how France tried gently to build a barrier with Germany.

The stamp today looks like what it is. A German stamp that is under a large amount of French influence. So you see German language on a stamp with paper and currency resembling the French. The library building, in the modern mid century Euro style even gives a sense of the coming Euro integration.

This is issue A72, a 30 Saar Franc stamp issued by the Saar, now the German state of Saarland, in 1953. It is part of a 14 stamp issue depicting local architecture. This stamp features the University Library of Saarland University. According to the Scott catalog it is worth 95 cents used. The 500 franc stamp from this issue is worth $65 used, so that is one to look out for.

The Saar is most famous for being taken from Germany after World War I. France was desirous of a barrier with Germany and the area contained rich deposits of coal from which to pay reparations. A plebiscite in the Saar was won by the side favoring reunification with Germany and this was achieved in 1935.

After World War II, again France desired the Saar. The USA stated that after being invaded by Germany three times in 70 years they could not deny France it’s ambitions in the Saar. The area was considered separate from the French occupied zone of post war West Germany.

France set out to turn Saar French despite the people being ethnic German. French was taught in the schools and a Saar version of the French Franc replaced the German Mark. Relating directly to this stamp, a new university was founded under French leadership that would teach in both French and German. This sounds like mild stuff and West Germany agreed in 1952 that Saar could remain outside of West Germany easing toward independence and part of Franco-German industrial cooperation that was the beginning of the long project of European integration. Indeed a early version of the twelve star Euro flag had 15 stars with one representing an independent Saar.

The will of the people was again allowed to hold sway. Another election favored integration with Germany and this was accomplished in 1959. With that came the end of the Saar version of the French Franc and the end of stamps from the Saar. Saarland today is one of the smaller German states but also one of the most conservative and religious.

The Saarland University still exists and the international character of the institution has served it very well in attracting a large international student community. The library building on the stamp is still in use.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. Compared to some of the ethnic cleansing that seems so common in the Balkans and elsewhere, the failed French effort in the Saar seem mild and almost friendly. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

The King is back, lets buy him a yacht!

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell of an elected King of a new country who then has to figure out how to come back after 5 years in exile while his adopted country suffered under the Nazis.

The stamp today is Scandinavian from the 1940s. has such the picture on the stamp is formal and the green color is muted. A closer look will reveal filigree and a coat of arms. Overall not an impressive effort, but perhaps the intent was to establish presence but be inoffensive.

Today’s stamp is issue A54, a 1 Krone stamp issued on June 7th, 1946 by Norway. The stamp honors King Haakon VII. It was part of a four stamp issue in various colors and denominations. The Scott catalog lists the value of the stamp as 25 cents in it’s cancelled state. In this issue the stamp to look for is a mint copy of the henna brown 2 Krone. It is worth $60.

In 1905 Norway ended it’s union with Sweden and set out among European royals to start a new royal family of the new country. Prince Carl, the second son of the King of Denmark was approached, as his family had some ties to Norway. He also already had a male heir and his wife Maud was the youngest daughter of British King Edward VII. Before Carl agreed to take the throne, he requested an election to make sure that Norway truly wanted to be a kingdom. He easily won the election making him an unusual elected King. He took the old Norwegian name Haakon. In the 30s, he proved himself above politics by rejecting advise not to allow a communist prime minister to form a government after winning an election. He stated he was also the King of the communists.

World War II came to Norway and the Germans demanded that the King recognize Quisling, the Norwegian national socialist as prime minister. King Haakon’s brother, the King of Denmark had made a similar agreement with the Germans.  The existing government and gold supply had escaped and met to discuss what to do. The King advised that Quisling not be recognized and the government agreed. He stated that if they chose Quisling he would have abdicated. After a few months resistance and neutral Sweden refusing to take him. The British government evacuated the Norwegian government to Britain at a steep price. The aircraft carrier HMS Glorious and 2 destroyers were sunk at the loss of over 1500 British officers and men. King Haakon made speeches broadcast to Norway from exile. The Quisling government demanded the King abdicate but he refused citing the request had come from a government in distress.

King Haakon VII returned to Norway in victory soon after VE Day and reigned until his death in 1957. In celebration a voluntary subscription was taken up to purchase a new yacht for the King, an avid sailor. A British yacht was purchased, upgraded, and given the name Norge. The yacht still serves Haakon’s grandson, Harald the current King of Norway. In 2007 the Norge sailed the southern coast of Norway in company with the Danish royal yacht Dannebrog to celebrate the seventieth birthdays of the Queen of Denmark, the King of Norway and the seventieth birthday of the ship itself.

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

Remembering Whitney Young

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell where we remember a civil rights leader from an important time in United States history.

The stamp today is from the Black Heritage series of USA stamps. There has been one a year of them since the late seventies. They are usually issued in January to be available in post offices during Black History month which is February. I especially like the early issues of the series as the often showed the subject looking up from his papers in a study. As if perhaps he is ready to discuss a stamp with The Philatelist.

The stamp is issue A1262, a 15 cent stamp issued on January 30th, 1981. As stated above it is the 1981 issue of the long running Black Heritage series of USA stamps. According to the Scott catalog, it is worth 25 cents in it’s used condition.

Whitney Young was the son of a black boarding school president and a postmistress in Kentucky. The school, Lincoln Institute, was formed by integrated Berea College as a way around mandated segregation laws in Kentucky that existed at the time. Whitney Young was also a graduate of the school. The school closed in 1966 after the desegregation laws then in effect was felt to leave the institution obsolete. The campus is now used as a government job corps center.

Whitney Young served in the wartime Army, married, and pursued academic opportunities. Soon he was dean of the Social Work department of traditionally black Atlanta University. Through this post he worked to bring more blacks in to the social work profession. To accomplish this goal he boycotted the professional organization of social workers in Georgia to pressure them to be more open to blacks.

At age 40 Mr. Young was made head of the National Urban League. During his tenure he greatly expanded the work of the organization. It went from 45 paid staffers to 1600. He worked hard through the institutions to open up opportunities for blacks.

In doing so, he somewhat became rather an institutional figure. He became close with higher ups of corporations, unions, and politicians. He was a major advocate for President Johnson’s expensive and failed war on poverty. He also controversially adhered to President Johnson’s pro Vietnam War policy, only to reverse course suddenly on the war when Nixon entered office. This can be a problem when you become a tool for one political party and forget who you are working for. Blacks were over represented in the conscripts sent to Vietnam and for the most part opposed it.

The esteem with which he was held by the establishment was shown when he died of a heart attack in Nigeria in 1971 while attending a conference there. President Nixon sent a government plane to pick up his remains and then gave a eulogy at his funeral. He has many monuments and schools named after him around the country which at least so far have not been attacked or threatened.

Well, my drink is empty on so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. Leaders like Mr. Young are not in fashion right now. Before they are condemned though, one should consider the real world help he gave individuals that were facing many barriers at the time. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

Pretty Asian cat but no longer populaire and ashamed to show the African country

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell of when the initial optimism of independence seeps away and you are left selling pretty pictures of cats from another continent.

The stamp today is quite pretty. It is labeled Congo. That seems straight forward but there are two nations named Congo and I initially guessed wrong which it was because it lacked the populaire republic that usually identified the former French, communist part. Belgium Congo called itself Zaire in the 70s-90s and then reverted to Congo. Stamp issues are getting far between in Africa these days but the Scott catalog will continue the stamp issues under Zaire until they have more clarity. This may be short sighted as stamp collectors may be more excited by the idea or researching their way through confusion. This stamp is from Congo,the former French Congo.

The stamp today is issue A319, a 60 franc stamp issued by Congo on November 21, 1992. It depicts a tiger. It was part of a four stamp issue of wild cats that could also be had in the form of a souvenir sheet. The Scott catalog lists it’s value at 60 cents whether it is mint or used.

The former French Congo has had a somewhat troubled history since independence. The first President was a defrocked former priest who had four official wives and was promoted as a mystic comparable to Jesus Christ. It was said that he could bathe in the river clothed and God would see that his clothes stayed dry. What he proved unable to do was maintain good relations with France or another country so to get an important hydroelectric project financed. He was deposed and France refused to take him because Mrs. de Gaulle was incensed by his lifestyle, she was a devout Catholic. The country was then ruled by Presidents for life that came from the military and declared Congo a peoples republic. They ruled still has cleptocrats but perhaps thought they could get aid from the Eastern Bloc. The Mystic priest former president wrote a book from exile in Spain titled, “I blame China!” Well okay then.

There is some oil that was developed by the French and Americans along the way and some diamonds that are smuggled out of the country as blood diamonds. The country did have a unsuccessful fling with democracy in the nineties when populaire republic was removed from the stamps. The status quo was returned when Angola invaded in 1997 and returned President Sassou to power. President Sassou still rules but fear not, his son is a top executive in the oil company and doesn’t feel that his name should disqualify him from office. So there is that to look forward to.

The tiger does not exist in Africa. It is an Asian animal and most of the examples still in the wild exist in India. The tiger is considered threatened but many of the nations that have them are doing more to protect them.

So what is it doing on a stamp from the Congo. That is a hard question. The stamps from Congo that year included a stamp with Bo Jackson, the American baseball player, and a stamp with an antique Aston Martin automobile. Nothing with the sights or personalities of the Congo. Just to milk a few francs from specialized stamp collectors.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. I notice that this stamp is more valuable than many stamps I have written about with more historic implications. Are the specialists really so much of what is left of our hobby? Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

Spain claims an international city in Morocco, annoying the Morroc.. er the British?

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell of one of those international cities that gets invaded in World War II by a neutral.

The stamp today is kind of hard to figure out. Not Spain, despite saying Republica Espanola on it. Not even Spanish Morocco, even though it is from a part of present day Morocco that was at the time of the stamp occupied by Spain. Hard to imagine a country walking a very fine line to stay out of a world war going on all around them, yet still having the perhaps foolhardy guts to take by force an internationally mandated free city. But it did, and then issued this .05 ptas stamp.

In 1911, Morocco was divided up between Spain and France with France taking the central part and Spain taking the northern and southern parts. At this time the British had long held the Rock of Gibraltar as a colony at the gateway to the Mediterranean Sea. Near the northern tip of Morocco lay Tangier on the Atlantic Ocean. It was an important trading city with a majority of non Muslim residents including a large Jewish community. The League of Nations agreed to recognize Tangier as a free state that was to be jointly administered by France, Spain, and Great Britain. It became a hotbed of spies and literary types with the likes the deposed last sultan of Morocco, then exiled Italian leader Garbaldi. American writer Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, British writer George Orwell, and Rolling Stone Mick Jagger spending time there.

In 1940, Spain under the fascist leader Franco, was neutral in World War II, but took the opportunity to take military control of Tangier. They did this on the day after Paris fell to the Germans. Britain did notice and strongly protested but British in Tangier were not harassed and Franco promised not to fortify the city. My guess that if the war had continued to go so badly for the Allies Spain would have entered the war on the side of the Axis and used Tangier as a springboard to take Gibraltar from Britain, a long standing goal of Spain. Spain ended their occupation without a fight in late 1945. Tangier reverted to being an international city.

The special status of Tangier was not to last. When Spanish and French Morocco were united as the independent kingdom of Morocco, Tangier became part of Morocco. As such the international character of the place has faded and although moderate Muslim, Morocco has not kept the religious diversity of the city intact. The city now has 13 times the population it had at the end of the special status.

It is interesting to me that todays stamp from the period of Spanish occupation includes the Grand Mosque and the attached orphanage. I wonder if they were trying to make the point that the Muslims in the area were better off with Spain than Britain. The French part of Morocco was Vichy so a natural ally of Spain. The site of the Mosque had previously been a Catholic Cathedral built by the Portuguese and before that a Roman temple to the God Hercules.

Well, my drink is empty and so it is time to open the conversation in the below comment section. Was Tangier better off as an international city or does being a part of Morocco better reflect the character of the place. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

New Country, so time to build a University?

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell that asks the question if it can be too early to build a national university.

Todays stamp is rather a mess to look at. The paper is cheap, the building on the stamp is generic and the overprints with a new denomination are lazy. They also do not exactly give one confidence in the value of the local currency.

The stamp today is issue C248, a 1961 reprint with a surcharge on issue C230 orriginaly issued by Panama in 1960. This stamp shows the administration building of the National University. It is part of a three stamp issue in various denominations commemorating the 25th anniversary of the National University. There were issues with various surcharges into 1963. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents whether mint or used or which surcharge it has been stamped with, if any.

Panama came into existence after the Columbian Senate refused to ratify a treaty with the USA to give permission to build the Panama Canal. A greater Columbia had existed early after independence from Spain, but over time many areas broke off. Panama was the last area to leave but the history indicates that Columbia was not meeting the needs of the outlying areas of there would not have been such a rush to the door. It is something to consider before someone rushes to judgement on American interference.

Panama was ruled by a small connected elite that made most of their revenue from the Panama Canal, more specifically those in the country to operate it. Not much of this income made it’s way to the poor, mostly rural, mostly Indian population. At the time when the university was started in 1935, over 70 percent of the population was illiterate and a solid majority of school age children were not in school.

From these facts it is easy to see that the University was really to serve the elites themselves. At the time the percentage of college age young people in school was only 7 percent. Even today, with the large university having been in operation for over 80 years, the number attending is still around 20 percent.

Panama only started making strides reducing illiteracy in the 1960s. Getting the opportunities out into the countryside took even longer. The military in Panama eventually decided that government by and for the elites was not the best and in 1968 a coup happened. The military set a program of price and rent controls and land redistribution to help the lower classes. They also started working with the USA to get control over the canal. A controversial in the USA treaty was signed with President Carter in 1977 and now the canal is fully owned and operated by Panama.

With several smaller institutions of higher learning already existing and the ability of the wealthy to study in the USA, I think the national university could have been put off to 1965-1970. Doing so before served as a way to keep power and opportunity in the hands of the few. If the building on the stamp dated from later, it would probably be even uglier. It would have been a bigger accomplishment, because it would have extended opportunity to all.

Well, my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. Columbia is better off today than the territories that broke off from it, how do you think a continuation of a Greater Columbia would have worked for the people. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

An Angry Brigade ruins a secret tower at location 23

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story of a 581 foot tower that was an official secret in the middle of one of the world’s biggest cities.

This stamp shows a post office tower that really is not related to the post office. It is still a new giant tower in London so how could the post office not give it a stamp. Well perhaps because it was officially illegal to take pictures of it. Well it is more of a drawing and the post office did own it.

The stamp today is issue A181, a three pence stamp issued by Great Britain on October 8th, 1965 to celebrate the opening of the post office tower in London. There was one other stamp in the issue with a more horizontal drawing of the tower. According to the Scott catalog, it is worth twenty five cents used.

In the early 60s, the government run post office was in control of the British landline telephone system. A new taller tower was needed so line of site was possible for satellite communications. So for this reason the tower was built at government expense. There was a public observation deck and a rotating restaurant called “Top of the Tower,” The majority of long distance communications in Great Britain were routed through the tower.

In 1970 an anarchist group called The Angry Brigade exploded a small bomb in the men’s room or the Top of the Tower restaurant. No one was killed but the government rethought public access  to the tower and the restaurant was closed. The group made 25 small bomb attacks from 1970 -72 including on The Miss World competition and the homes of Conservative members of Parliament. The leader of the Angry Brigade only got 10 years in jail and later realized that he was the only angry one and the rest of his brigade was only slightly cross. One of the Angry Brigade coconspiritors later received on Order of the British Empire for her work in homosexual rights. I guess people did not take terrorism seriously back then. I bet the Queen was gagging handing out that OBE if she knew who she was handing it to.

The secrecy of the tower was a major point or ridicule from the left even after the bomb attack. It was on secret government documents showing routing of communications that the tower was referred to as Location 23. Since the communications emanating from the tower was never cut off they get to enjoy there jokes. Don’t look up!

The post office was later reorganized and the telecommunication system separated from the post office and eventually privatized. For this reason the tower is now known as the BT Tower. Technology has left behind most of the antennas. Since the tower is now a listed property for it’s historic importance, it took many years to get permission to have them removed. By then, around 2010, they were in a bad state and in danger of falling off the tower. A night light show was added to the tower and there was a failed attempt to reopen the restaurant for the 2012 Olympics. The tower is no longer an official secret.

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

An American poet ignores the rules but the rulemakers hand out the honor

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell where in my opinion the honor of this stamp would not have been appreciated and should not have been offered.

This is a good looking stamp. The color usage on American stamps was getting better in the early 70s and the size of the stamp was rising. This allowed more to be fitted in. At a glance one will just see the profile of Mr. Jeffers but a group of people and even a Burro have been included. This is perhaps to make the stamp more about the community in Carmel, California that Mr. Jeffers was a part of.

The stamp today is issue A899, a 8 cent stamp issued by the United States on August 13th, 1973. The stamp depicts the American poet John Robinson Jeffers. It was part of a four stamp issue featuring figures from the arts. According to the Scott catalog, it is worth 25 whether it is mint or used.

Robinson Jeffers came from a well off background that included much travel and educational opportunities. He ended up in southern California where he was studying biology. Here is also began an long term  affair with an older women named Una who was married to a prominent lawyer. The case became infamous and Una had to flee to Europe while the divorce case went through. The couple stayed together and Una became the wife of Mr. Jeffers.

The couple settled in Carmel by the sea, California were Mr. Jeffers had built a granite stone house named Tor house. As with much of Mr. Jefers’ life, breaking the rules had paid off. He later built a tower addition to the house called Hawks Tower. The home still stands and is a house museum.

Mr. Jefers began writing long form poetry on the nature of the area that kindly critics have related to Greek epics. In them nature is central and humans are evil. As might be expected, the prose did not include any meter as Mr. Jeffers felt that was an imposition of man on nature. After a while the works were well received by the east coast establishment. It must be remembered that during the 20s and the 30s the natural world of the west was unexperienced by most. So again a case where the rules are flouted and success follows.

Later work was less successful. Mr. Jeffers was opposed to American entry in World War II and later works became political screeds that were not well received. He died in 1962. He was recalled by some later as a progenitor of the environmental movement but he is not very prominent today.

I wonder why the postal service decided on Mr. Jeffers to be the poet in the arts issue. When one sets out to break rules, it seems strange that the establishment would then be dishing out rewards in response. It is safe to assume after all it is not what the artist was after.

You can probably guess that Mr. Jeffer’s poetry is not to my taste. I prefer the rules to be followed and proper meter takes more skill to write. Is it any wonder that so much of the great poetry came from long ago when rules were followed. Without it, it is just free form verse. All that said, I encourage you dear readers to read some of Mr. Jefers’ work. robinsonjeffersassociation.org has some samples.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the conversation in the below comment section. With only one stamp in the issue for a poet, who would you have picked? Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.

 

 

Happy Veterans Day!

Thanks to all who have served in the armed forces. Both here in the USA and all around the world.

This stamp is issue A376 and shows the famous picture of the flag being raised by the Marines on Iwo Jima. The picture is so iconic then and now because it shows the immense struggle and sacrifice when even a brave force faces tenacious defenders. A true mountain of sacrifice on both sides.

Remember the divine duty of Empire

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. 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. We have an interesting story to tell of trying to hold on to an empire, and using a stamp to remind and convince of the divine duty inherent.

The stamp today is from Portugal. While the country is heavily Catholic, in the twentieth century there was a back and forth, with right of center governments revering the Church, and left of center governments persecuting the Church. One can easily see which period this is from with Saint Francis Xavier bathed in a warm glow and holding the Cross high over young boys.

The stamp today is issue A182, an one escudo stamp issued on December 23rd, 1952. The stamp displays Saint Francis Xavier. It is part of a four stamp issue in various denominations honoring the 400th anniversary of the death of Saint Francis Xavier. According to the Scott catalog, it is worth 25 cents cancelled.

Saint Francis Xavier was one of the founders of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. The King of Portugal had been worried about a collapse in the practice of Christianity among the Portuguese sent to the new colony of Goa in India. The Portuguese sent were mainly out of favor nobles and those from the lower classes. Many had taken up with local women and gone native. The King wrote to the Pope and requested missionaries be sent to the colonies to keep up the Christian faith among the colonists. Francis Xavier took up this challenge and preached the gospel far and wide in Portugal’s numerous outposts in Asia. It is said that Francis Xavier personally converted 30,000 people to Christianity from India to Japan. He went beyond colonists and attempted also to convert the native populations. His number of conversions was second only to the Apostle Paul and he was made a Saint posthumously.

This long ago history must have seemed very relevant to the right wing government of Portugal of the early fifties when this stamp was issued. Portugal was resisting the world wide trend of decolonizing and attempting to hold on to the remaining empire in Africa and Asia. This required expensive military deployments and conscription into the military. This was a big bone of contention with many young men emigrating from Portugal to avoid service. Once out of the country they were forming left wing political groups that were banned at home in Portugal. The Portuguese economy was growing though and there was the prospect of much oil wealth when the reserves in the colony of Angola were developed. The Portuguese Prime Minister Salazar also still believed it was the duty of the Portuguese to civilize and Chistianise  the native peoples of the colony. It does sound old fashioned and probably did in 1952 as well. It does explain this stamp and allows us to look at an earlier style of reverence so common in an earlier period of art but now almost entirely in the past.

The colonies were soon lost. The Indian army used force to take Goa in India in 1961. In 1974, there was a carnation coup by young left wing officers in Portugal that lead to immediate independence for Portugal’s African colonies and the formation of People’s Republics. A million Portuguese had to immediately return to Portugal where many found themselves destitute. Stability in Portugal was also undermined.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. Would it really have been possible to hold on to the colonies and allow the territories to develop gradually in a Christian environment? Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.