World Stamps

By Denise McCarty

New stamps honor achievements of six British humanitarians

February 25, 2016 05:34 PM

  • The three nondenominated first-class stamps in the British Humanitarians issue commemorate Nicholas Winton, who saved the lives of more than 600 children before World War II; Sue Ryder, who founded homes for people in need; and John Boyd Orr, who advocated for improved food nutrition and global food provision.
  • Three British Humanitarians stamps honor Eglantyne Jebb, an advocate for children’s rights; Joseph Rowntree, a businessman who championed for social reform; and Josephine Butler, a campaigner for women’s rights and social reform.

By Denise McCarty

Great Britain’s Royal Mail honors six British humanitarians on stamps being issued March 15.

The set of six includes three se-tenant (side-by-side) nondenominated, first-class stamps, and three se-tenant £1.33 stamps.

Nicholas Winton (1909-2015), who rescued 669 children from Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II, is commemorated on a first-class stamp. He arranged for the children, most of whom were Jewish, to be transported by train to Great Britain and placed with foster families.

Winton has been called the “British Schindler.” He was knighted in 2003 by Queen Elizabeth II and honored on a Czech Republic stamp issued in 2015, but he did not consider himself a hero.

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Robert D. McFadden wrote Winton’s obituary in The New York Times:

“It was only after Mr. Winton’s wife found a scrapbook in the attic of their home in 1988 — a dusty record of names, pictures and documents detailing a story of redemption from the Holocaust — that he spoke of his all-but-forgotten work in the deliverance of children who, like the parents who gave them up to save their lives, were destined for Nazi concentration camps and extermination.”

Like all of the stamps in the British Humanitarians set, the design shows a black-and-white portrait on a dark gray background.

The other two first-class stamps pay tribute to Sue Ryder (1924-2000) and John Boyd Orr (1880-1971).

Ryder served as a nurse and special agent during WWII, and, after the war, founded homes in the United Kingdom and other countries for people in need.

Domov Sue Ryder in Prague called her “one of the exceptional figures of the 20th century, a woman who dedicated her life to the relief of suffering and whose legacy lives on in the work of the organisations she established across Europe and in southern Africa and, together with her husband Leonard Cheshire, across Asia and in Australasia.”

Orr, an advocate for improved nutrition for the poor and for global food provision, served as the first director-general of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in 1945 and established the International Emergency Food Council in 1946. He received the Nobel Peace prize in 1949.

In his acceptance speech, Orr said that getting nations to cooperate in using science to develop the “vast potential resources of the earth to put an end to hunger and poverty and bring economic prosperity to the peoples of all countries” would also “put an end to one of the main causes of social unrest and war, and be an important step towards international agreement and peace.”

The current domestic first-class rate is 63 pence. It will increase to 64p March 29.

The three £1.33 stamps commemorate Eglantyne Jebb (1876-1928), Joseph Rowntree (1836-1925) and Josephine Butler (1828-1906).

As part of her campaign for the rights and welfare of children after World War I, Jebb founded the Save the Children Fund.

She said: “If we accept our premise, that the Save the Children Fund must work for its own extinction, it must seek to abolish, for good and for all, the poverty which makes children suffer and stunts the race of which they are the parents.

“It must not be content to save children from the hardships of life — it must abolish these hardships; nor think it suffices to save them from immediate menace — it must place in their hands the means of saving themselves and so of saving the world.”

Jebb also wrote the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was adopted as the Geneva Declaration by the League of Nations in 1924.

The Rowntree Society describes Joseph as a “grocer, cocoa and chocolate manufacturer, social reformer, and philanthropist.”

He championed both social reform and workers’ welfare, and in 1904 he set up three trusts: the Joseph Rowntree Village Trust (now the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) to provide improved housing for the working class; the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to support social research, adult education, and activities of the Society of Friends; and  the Joseph Rowntree Trust Ltd. (now the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd.) for social and political activities.

The Josephine Butler Memorial Trust, founded in 1979, says of its namesake: “Josephine Butler was one of the most revolutionary social reformers of the nineteenth century. She challenged the inconsistent and hypocritical standards prevalent at that time especially where they unjustly disadvantaged women. She campaigned vigorously against the sexual exploitation of vulnerable women and children and strove for legislative reform to provide some degree of protection, equality and justice.

“Josephine Butler worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged in Liverpool, opening her own home to women in need and single mothers with children. She became internationally known and respected for her work and achievements.

“Josephine Butler was inspired in this work by a deep Christian faith and she is remembered officially in the Calendar of the Church of England on the 30th May each year.”

The £1.33 denomination is used to make up other rates. It also meets the international rate for letters weighing up to 20 grams. 

The firm Hat-trick Design designed the stamps using photographic images from various sources.

These square (35 millimeter by 35mm) stamps, printed by lithography by International Security Printers in sheets of 60, are being sold in panes of 30 at most postal outlets. The stamps are perforated gauge 14.5.

Royal Mail products offered in conjunction with the British Humanitarians set include a first-day cover, six postcards reproducing the designs of the stamps, and a presentation pack.

The pack contains mint examples of the stamps, illustrations and text by Nigel Foundation about the lives and accomplishments of the six humanitarians.

Ordering information is available from Royal Mail, Tallents House, 21 S. Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9PB, Scotland.

Royal Mail’s two agencies in the United States are Interpost, Box 420, Hewlett, NY 11557; and the British Stamp Service in North America, 1 Unicover Center, Cheyenne, WY 82008.