World Stamps

Israel features Cyrus Declaration, several nations honor Magna Carta

May 15, 2015, 8 AM

Recent stamps commemorate two historic charters: the Cyrus Declaration of 538 B.C. and the Magna Carta of A.D. 1215.

Israel pictures the Cyrus Declaration, also known as the Cyrus cylinder, on an 8.30-shekel stamp issued April 14.

In announcing this stamp on its website, Israel Post said that in 539 B.C., King Cyrus, after uniting the Persian and Median kingdoms under his rule, subdued the Babylonian Empire.

The next year, 538 B.C., the king “made a public declaration granting the Jews the right to return to Judah and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.”

The biblical book of Ezra begins with the king’s decree. The tab, or label, attached to the stamp includes a portion of Ezra 1:3, “Anyone of you of all His people … and let him go up to Jerusalem.”

The stamp pictures the cylinder, which was discovered by Hormuzd Rassam during a British Museum archaeological excavation in 1879 in Babylon.

The British Museum, in a press release announcing that the cylinder would be displayed in five museums in the United States in 2013, explained its significance:  “The Cyrus Cylinder is one of the most famous objects to have survived from the ancient world.

“The Cylinder was inscribed in Babylonian cuneiform (cuneiform is the earliest form of writing) on the orders of the Persian King Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC) after he captured Babylon in 539 BC. It is often referred to as the first bill of human rights as it appears to encourage freedom of worship throughout the Persian Empire and to allow deported people to return to their homelands … ”

Cartor Security Printing in France printed the issue by offset in sheets of 15 stamps and five tabs.

Magna Carta

Great Britain’s Royal Mail  will issue six stamps June 2 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, as reported on page 1 of the June 1 issue of Linn's Stamp News.

Earlier this year, on Feb. 23, the Faroe Islands commemorated this anniversary on a 24-krone stamp.

The stamp design by Anker Eli Petersen shows an illustration of knights with raised swords on horseback at the bottom, representing the baron’s revolt that led to King John signing the Magna Carta.

Portions of two of the 63 clauses in the original Magna Carta are inscribed on the stamp, with the 39th clause in the foreground and the 61st in the background.

Cartor printed this stamp by the offset process.

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Pobjoy Mint of Surrey, England, has announced that five postal administrations — Ascension Island, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands and Tristan da Cunha — are planning to issue Magna Carta stamps in June.

The set of four stamps from the Bahamas is shown nearby.

The designs depict King John with the document; medals related to the anniversary; and two local government buildings, the Supreme Court and the House of Assembly, both in Nassau.

The stamp sets from the other postal administrations follow a similar pattern with a mixture of historical images of the signing in 1215, medals and local government buildings.

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