War and Philately

Border changes, troops' letters home, and makeshift postal service makes for fascinating collectibles. 

Who is John Apfelbaum?

John is the owner of stamp dealer and auction house Apfelbaum, Inc. An insightful take on the vastness of stamp collecting, John's blog provides hours of enjoyment. Read over 1,000 articles about stamp collecting and stamp history.

By John Apfelbaum


The three great scourges of humanity have historically been war, famine, and pestilence. Modern technology though seems to have solved the problems of the devastation of two of these. In the last two centuries over 100 million people have died in famines. But fertilization, irrigation and genetic engineering have today made famine more of a byproduct of war than a primary killer. And infectious disease, after killing hundreds of millions throughout history, has largely been defeated. But war still kills millions each decade, and in the nuclear age we are always just a few poor Presidential decisions away from complete annihilation.


But wars make for great philately. Borders change, troops write home, postal service is makeshift and intermittent. And no war is more interesting from a philatelic point of view than WWII (and no war may ever be as interesting philatelically, as well-future wars, no matter how deadly should be short lived affairs, and the ubiquity of electronic communications now means that there will be far less for collectors to interest themselves in later).


WWII was so great philatelically for two major reasons. Read the full post to find out what they are.