World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

Four nations commemorate the Lindau courier service

September 09, 2014 07:00 AM

  • Switzerland is one of four postal administrations issuing stamps commemorating a courier service that operated between Lindau, Germany, and Milan, Italy, from the 14th to 19th centuries.

  • Germany’s new Stamp Day commemorative shows a Lindau Messenger courier service coach carrying passengers.

  • The Liechtenstein stamp honoring the Lindau Messenger courier service shows a carriage wheel, a small boat, a packhorse and names of stops on the route.

  • Israel commemorated the 50th anniversary of the musical Fiddler on the Roof on three stamps issued Sept. 9. This stamp shows Tevye the dairyman.

  • A series of stamps from Belarus features the republic’s theaters. This stamp honoring the Grodno Regional Drama Theater shows a production of Our Town.

Stamps from four countries honor an alpine courier service that began in the 14th century.

Germany and Liechtenstein issued their stamps Sept. 1, and a Swiss stamp was released Sept. 4. Austria will commemorate the service on a stamp to be issued Sept. 27.

Called Lindau Messenger, the service operated between the Bavarian town of Lindau on Lake Constance and Milan, Italy, also passing through Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

The service ended in the early 19th century, but today the firm Coaching in Bavaria, founded by Andreas Nemitz in 1973, offers horse-drawn excursions following the route.

Coaching in Bavaria provides a history of the original courier service on its website: “The ‘Lindau Messenger’ was the name given to the many personages, who served as a courier between the Free Imperial Town of Lindau/Lake Constance and the City of Milan/Italy on behalf of the Chambers of Commerce in both towns between 1322 and 1824, a span of more than 500 years.

“In those times it took him [the courier] 5½ days to cross the Alps, rivers, and lakes on his weekly route from Lindau to Milan and return.

“In winter and summer the Lindau Messenger did his tour with mail, goods, and passengers. It was a dangerous route through avalanches of snow or rock, rain, snow, loose rocks, narrow bridges crossing deep gorges. Even nowadays, the road and the landscape still give more than a glimpse of the hazards of those times …”

A map of the route is shown on the right side of the 1.40-franc stamp from Switzerland. The design also shows a coach pulled by five horses with the driver, groom and passengers riding on top.

A detailed 16th-century map by Aegidius Tschudi will be featured on the €0.90 Austrian stamp.

The €0.60 German stamp pictures a coach with four horses. Passengers are shown inside and riding on the top. Their luggage is in the back.

The commemorative is part of Germany’s Stamp Day series, and the inscription “Tag der Briefmarke” (Day of the Stamp) appears near the bottom of the stamp.

The same design will appear on the imprinted stamp on a German postal stationery envelope to be issued Sept. 27.

The carriage is represented by a wheel on the left side of the 1.40fr stamp from Liechtenstein. A boat, which the courier needed to cross lakes, is pictured at the top of the design. A packhorse is shown on the right. The names of the stops on the route also are written across the design.

Hans Peter Gassner designed the stamp from Liechtenstein. Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands produced it by offset and screen printing in sheets of eight stamps and four labels.

The labels show eight stops on the route. Numbers in the selvage symbolize the altitude of the locations, with the highest at Splugen Pass, at 2,133 meters (6,900 feet) above sea level.

Beat Leuenberger and Jurg Glauser designed the Swiss stamp. Cartor SA of France printed it by offset in sheets of 20.

Designed by Michael Rosenfeld, the Austrian stamp was printed in sheets of 50 by the Austrian Government Printing Office.

Peter Steiner and his daughter Regina designed the German Stamp Day commemorative. Bundesdruckerei in Berlin printed it by offset in sheets of 10.

Israel

Three stamps from Israel commemorate the 50th anniversary of the musical Fiddler on the Roof, which debuted on Broadway Sept. 22, 1964. The next year it was performed in Hebrew in Israel. Since then, it has been translated into more than 20 languages.

Based on Sholem Aleichem’s stories of Tevye, a Jewish dairyman in Russia before the revolution, the musical was written by Joseph Stein (book), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) and Jerry Bock (music), with choreography by Jerome Robbins.

One the most successful Broadway plays, it won nine Tony awards and was the first to run for more than 3,000 performances. A fifth Broadway revival of the classic is scheduled to open next year.

Zero Mostel and Chaim Topol are known for their portrayals of Tevye. Mostel played the lead role in the original Broadway version of Fiddler on the Roof, and Topol portrayed Tevye in the 1971 film version and in more than 2,000 stage performances.

Topol also created the illustrations that are featured on the Israeli stamps issued Sept. 9.

Each stamp is denominated 3.10 shekalim. One shows Tevye with a horse pulling his dairy cart.

Another design depicts Tevye and his wife Golde, in a scene from the song Do You Love Me?

The third stamp shows the fiddler on the roof.

Cartor printed the stamps by offset in sheets of eight stamps and four attached labels, or tabs.

Belarus

A recent stamp from Belarus shows a regional production of Our Town, Thornton Wilder’s 1938 three-act play about people in the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners.

The stamp, part of the Theaters of Belarus series, honors the Grodno Regional Drama Theater.

According to the new-issue announcement from Belarus Post, the theater was involved in the stamp project. In the English-language version of the press release, the play is called Our Small Town instead of Our Town, but no other information is provided.

The theater opened Oct. 20, 1947, with the performance of a play by Russian playwright Alexander Ostrovsky.

The Theaters of Belarus series began May 22, 2013, with a stamp honoring the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater issued May 22, 2013 (Scott 859), followed on July 10 with a stamp commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Belarussian State Puppet Theater (869).

The stamp featuring the theater in Grodno was issued June 5. The fourth stamp in the series was issued a little more than two weeks later, on June 20, to honor the Yakub Kolas National Academic Drama Theater.

All four stamps in the series are nondenominated. The two issued this year both include the letter “N.” According to Belarus Post, they pay the surface rate for postcards sent to other countries.

Anna Malash designed the Grodno Regional Drama Theater stamp. It was printed by offset by a security printer in Belarus in sheets of six.

The United States Postal Service honored Wilder on a 32¢ stamp issued April 17, 1997, in the Literary Arts series (Scott 3134). Wilder is shown in the foreground, and the fictional Grover’s Corner is in the background.