Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Wednesday Post

"The Stamp Collectors Stockbook": Page 2
From the Estate of Grandpa5000

Page two:

At a guess, I'd say that these stamps are Belgian, from about 1897!

It is even reasonable to assume that these stamps are part of the hype surrounding the Brussels Expo '97, a big confab that showcased the best of the art deco movement and the worst of King Leopold's rapine colonial excesses.  From a paper ephemera point of view, I am fascinated by the little tabs on the bottom that say "Don't Deliver on Sunday."  The idea of these seems to be that if you, the sender, felt strongly that mailmen should keep the Sabbath, you would keep the tab intact and your letter would be put aside for delivery on Monday.  If you didn't mind the idea of mailmen working on Sunday, you would remove the tab, and the postal carrier would set out on the Sabbath with your letter in his slightly lighter-than-usual mailbag.  It's an idea utterly charming in its unabashedly impractical practicality.

Hmm, what can we find out about these surprisingly similar "Service" stamps from Indore and Holkar States?

Alrighty, it would appear that Indore State was one of the patchwork of puppet monarchies that made up much of British colonial India, and that Holkar was the name of its ruling dynasty.  Thus, Indore State and Holkar State were perhaps more or less synonymous?  Part of modern Madhya Pradesh, anyway, smack in the middle of the country.  And the "SERVICE" overprint was apparently common South Asian practice for stamps that would be used in guvment work, presumably in an attempt to prevent the petty use of postage bought on the public anna for personal use or, say, the massive resale for personal profit of boxes and boxes of postage bought on the public anna.  I speculate.

Hmm, here's an item that seems to suggest a certain instability of political conditions in the Azores.  Have the Azores ever even been independent, much less a Republica?

OK, it turns out that the Azores have been part of Portugal for as far back as we need to worry about.  There was a 62-year period that Portugal overprinted stamps with "Azores," presumably to prevent the theft of box after box of postage out in the isles and their subsequent fencing back in the mainland.  Three issues, including this here Vasco de Gama stamp, were actually custom-designed for the Azores.  The "Republica" overprint suggests that this stamp was around in or after 1910, when the Portuguese monarchy was overthrown and the unstable, sixteen year First Republic was eager to announce its arrival in town.

Footnote: the Wiki says that Portugal started printing separate stamps for the Azores again in 1980.  "The stamps have no special purpose beyond the expression of local pride," it says.  Can anyone here think of any other possible special purpose for this decision of the Portuguese postal authorities?!?
Aside: I find myself startled by what a great entry point into modern history stamps are.  I can't pretend that this is the source of my interest -- I think I just like colorful old paper things -- but it's turning into a mildly fabulous side effect.  It helps, in a way, that stamps are still difficult to research directly, since the internet as a whole is much more interested in selling them to you than explaining them to you.  So, you kind of have to do the footwork yourself, which is a pretty cool history homework assignment.

Then too, intermixed with all of these older stamps of uncertain origin are whatever happened across my grandfather's field of vision.  It would appear that he got a letter from Australia.

Australia is a large island nation located north of Antarctica.

Venezia Giulia?  Hmmm....

Aw, man!  "Venezia Giulia" means the "Julian March!"  It's a term made up in the 19th Century to designate a stretch of terrain encompassing what's now northeastern Italy and bits of Croatia and Slovenia.  At the end of World War I, this chunk of the Hapsburg Empire was granted to Italy, with the usual attendant wave of ethnic cleansings and human miseries.  But the mail kept running, and for the next seven years local postage was provided with either Italian or leftover Austro-Hungarian stamps with this overprint.

This here is a stamp from the Kingdom of Montenegro:

L. Harrald Kjellstedt, writing in 1911, proclaimed that "The courage and bravery, and intense patriotism of the people of Montenegro displayed during a struggle for independence covering 400 years have secured them the respect and admiration of every liberty-loving nation in Europe."  Well, that's as may be.  When he wrote, Montenegro had been kinda-sorta independent since 1878; this 1910 stamp was part of the celebration of their finally installing a king (as was then still thought proper) and really getting their act together as a country.  Nicolas I would preside over the Kingdom of Montenegro for six years, at which point geopolitical events would snuff out Montenegran independence until 2006.  Last year, the Montenegran parliament created a ceremonial role for Nicolas I's great-grandson, Nicolas II, as a sort of bid for historical continuity.  Knowing nothing of Montenegro's internal affairs, I nevertheless find this gesture kind of... I dunno... hearty.  I wish the Montenegrans success and joy in their constitutional-monarchical scheme!


UnwiseOwl said...

As a proud citizen of a constitutional monarchy (that large island one north of antarctica), I heartily recommend this state of affairs to the Montenegrans. They've made one fatal mistake, though, in failing to simply co-opt someone else's monarch. We have a much more satisfactory arrangement here in the antipodes, where we get unlimited license to use the Queen's face on coins and stamps etc, and don't even have to pay for the privilege.

Michael5000 said...

God save her!