By Michael Baadke
Joint issues are created when two or more countries decide to issue stamps celebrating the same topic at about the same time. Often the issues are released on exactly the same date, but sometimes several days or even weeks may separate the joint issues.
A joint issue is a coordinated effort between the countries, and it reflects cooperation between the national postal services.
Sometimes the designs of the stamps issued are nearly identical, as shown by the two Cinco de Mayo stamps illustrated in Figure 1.
The United States and Mexico each issued stamps April 16, 1998, to mark this Mexican holiday. The 32¢ U.S. stamp was designed by Robert Rodriguez of Pasadena, Calif. The same design was used for the slightly larger 3.50-peso issue from Mexico.
Stamps that have similar designs are not necessarily joint issues, however. The main requisite for a joint issue is the agreement between the issuing nations.
As an example, the nation of The Gambia scheduled the release of a Year of the Rabbit stamp for late December 1998. The design includes a paper-cut image of a rabbit and what appears to be Kanji script lettering along the left edge of the stamp.
The Gambian stamp was shown in color on page 16 of the Jan. 18 issue of Linn's.
In many ways it is similar to the 33¢ Year of the Hare stamp issued Jan. 5 by the United States.
However, there was no official agreement between the United States and The Gambia to issue these similar stamps so they are not considered joint issues.
Some collectors find such stamps of similar design interesting, though, and obtain them to create collections of what may be called "stamp twins."
Stamps that are official joint issues may also have designs that are considerably different from one another.
A U.S.-Mexico issue from 1996 featured animals that are endangered because of their limited numbers.
The U.S. Endangered Species issue consists of 15 stamps with individual designs, each featuring a photograph of the endangered animal and its name.
The Mexican counterpart consists of 24 stamps that together make a large painting that shows dozens of animals. Each stamp shows several creatures and includes their names in small type.
All of the U.S. joint issues are listed in the chart below.
Scott Publishing Co. manufactures album pages specifically for United States official joint issues. Each page has space for the U.S. stamp and for the corresponding foreign stamp.
For more information about Scott album pages, contact Scott Publishing Co., Box 828, Sidney, OH 45365, or call Scott product information at 800-572-6885.
Official joint issues between countries can be identified by notes that appear in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue and the Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers.
If a stamp is a joint issue, there will be a reference in the Scott listing that directs you to the corresponding stamp from the other country.
For example, the listing for the U.S. Endangered Species issue, Scott 3105, notes, "See Mexico No. 1995," which is the corresponding 24-stamp Endangered Species issue from Mexico.
Sometimes the effort to create a joint issue goes one step further.
The countries of San Marino and Italy produced a small pane in 1994 that contained one stamp from each country to mark the 900th anniversary of the Basilica of St. Mark. That joint issue is shown front and back in Figure 2.
Each stamp was valid for postage only in the country named on the stamp. This fact was emphasized with printing on the back of each stamp explaining "postally valid only in San Marino" or ". . . only in Italy."
Finally, there are even examples where the two issuing countries jointly issued one stamp with both country names upon it.
Figure 3 shows a single 1995 stamp issued by both Switzerland and Liechtenstein to celebrate the 75th anniversary of a postal treaty between the two nations.
The denomination "60" on the stamp refers to 60 centimes in Switzerland, and 60 rappen in Liechtenstein.
The stamp was valid for postage in either country.