As this is being written, the United States Congress is continuing its often acrimonious discussion of many months with regard to extending benefits to the nation’s long-term unemployed.
France, on the other hand, readily offered financial help to “distressed and exiled” unemployed intellectuals between 1935 and 1940, with the proceeds resulting from 22 semipostal stamps (Scott B42-B43, B47-B59 and B86-B89; as well as B87A, B88A and B89A).
The surtaxes for charity over and above the postage denominations range from 10 centimes to 20c, 25c and 50c, with one issue from 1935 (Scott B43) having a surtax of 2 francs.
That large donation was later determined to be excessive, however, and the stamp was surcharged in 1936 to alter the value to 50c+20c (Scott B47).
The first of these charity issues in aid of distressed intellectuals is shown in Figure 1, a 50c+10c stamp issued Dec. 9, 1935. It paid the basic letter rate and collected an additional 10c for the charitable cause.
The engraved design, printed in ultramarine, depicts an allegorical female representing the French Republic comforting a presumably impoverished writer in his humble attic. The caption translates as, “For intellectual unemployed persons.”
The stamp was designed by Rene Gregory and engraved by Omer Desire Bouchery, and 1.5 million were printed.
The second semipostal to benefit intellectuals, shown in Figure 2, was also issued Dec. 9.
The red stamp depicts a female symbol of music, but the words in the text banner read, “For Art and Thought” (Scott B43).
The denomination on this stamp is 50c+2fr, but less than a year later the same design was reissued with the 20c surcharge replacing the hefty 2fr surtax (Scott B47).
This stamp was designed and engraved by Achille Crafted (1872-1951), a well-known book illustrator of the early 20th century.
How did intellectuals in hard times come to be recognized as a discrete category of French society who were deserving of public support?
In the miserable economic wake of World War I, the Confederation des Travailleurs Intellectuels (Federation of Intellectual Workers, or CTI) was founded in 1920 to represent the cause of “knowledge workers,” generally defined as being those whose livelihood depended on mental effort and initiative rather than physical or mechanical labor.
France had begun issuing semipostal stamps during World War I, with surtaxes aiding causes including the Red Cross and war orphans.
In lobbying for an unemployed intellectuals’ semipostal, CTI gained the support of two important sympathizers: the Minister of National Education Marius Roustan and the Minister of Posts Georges Mandel, who had been a journalist before entering government.
A wide range of “knowledge work” was recognized on the semipostal designs. The two allegorical issues of December 1935 were followed in November 1936 by six stamps (Scott B48-B53) recognizing Jacques Callot (printmaker), Anatole France (poet and novelist), Hector Berlioz (composer), Victor Hugo (poet and novelist), Auguste Rodin (sculptor) and Louis Pasteur (chemist).
During 1939-40, seven more stamps finished out the charitable issues for intellectuals: one value (Scott B86) depicting Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (painter), a design honoring Claude Debussy (composer) in two different denominations (B87 and B87A), a design of Honore de Balzac (novelist and playwright) in two denominations (B88 and B88A), and a design of Claude Bernard (physiologist) in two denominations (B89 and B89A).
The only expensive item in a complete collection of unemployed intellectuals’ semipostals would be the 1935 music issue with the 50c+2fr denomination (Scott B47), which has a catalog value of $125 in mint condition.
The majority of the other issues are valued at less than $10 each, within the budget of many collectors, intellectual or otherwise.
October 09, 2015 02:00 PMLinn’s managing editor Charles Snee reported the recovery of a block of three of the 1845 5¢ New York postmaster’s provisional stamp, once part of a block of 10 that was stolen from the Benjamin K. Miller collection in 1977. Read More ›
blogThis month marks my fifth anniversary writing the monthly auction report for Linn’s Stamp News. That’s 60 columns, totaling more than 100,000 words (enough for a decent-sized novel), all about our favorite hobby. Read More ›
blogWhen this cover was listed on eBay in mid-September, it didn't take long for some knowledgeable collectors to recognize this piece of postal history for the gem that it is: an early trans-oceanic survey cover for a Pacific route that included Midway Island, which would become famous as the location of a pivotal 1942 naval battle during World War II. Read More ›
blogIn mid-September I traveled to London, England, to attend Autumn Stampex, one of two British national stamp shows sponsored by the Philatelic Traders’ Society, Great Britain’s national stamp dealers association. The show took place Sept. 16-19 at the Business Design Centre in Islington (central north London), a comfortable and attractive venue for a stamp show. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman talks about the recovery of a block of three 1845 5¢ New York Postmaster’s Provisional stamps taken in an infamous 1977 stamp heist.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses current events that relate to the stamp hobby, including the relocation of a stamp show in Sweden due to the Syrian refugee crises, and new stamps honoring Pope Francis and the British monarchy.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News associate editor Michael Baadke talks about a record fifth win for wildlife artist Joseph Hautman in the federal duck stamp art contest, and see the painting that will appear on next year’s federal duck stamp
Watch as Scott catalog senior editor Marty Frankevicz questions Bolivia’s choice for the design of a 2013 stamp honoring the country’s efforts to protect its migrants in foreign lands.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.