World Stamps

Inside Linn’s: Boats on Britain’s stamps reveal its rich maritime history

Feb 2, 2023, 8 AM
The impressive maritime history of Great Britain is well documented on its stamps. Matthew Healey has the details in Great Britain Philately.

By Charles Snee

The Feb. 20 issue of Linn’s Stamp News just landed on the presses and goes in the mail to subscribers Monday, Feb. 6. And if you subscribe to Linn’s digital edition, you’re at the head of the line with early access Saturday, Feb. 4. While you wait for your issue to arrive in your mailbox, enjoy these three quick glimpses of exclusive content available only to subscribers.

Boats on Britain’s stamps reveal its rich maritime history

Matthew Healey opens his Great Britain Philately column thus: “Inevitably for a nation surrounded on all sides by water, Britain’s history and culture have always been closely bound to the sea. For millennia, invaders, traders and immigrants arrived by boat, while explorers, admirals, fortune-seekers and mail carriers left by boat. And there’s a stamp — or several — for each of them.” If you enjoyed his exploration of British trains on stamps (Linn’s, Jan. 17, 2022), you won’t want to miss his colorful introduction to boats on Britain’s stamps.

An August 1939 cover sails on the eve of World War II

In Covering the World, Ken Lawrence features a surface mail cover sent Aug. 19, 1939, from St. Louis, Mo., to Bremerhaven, Germany. The addressees had booked passage for their return to America on the North German Lloyd ocean liner SS Europa, which was scheduled to depart for New York on Sept. 1. On that date, the armed forces of Nazi Germany invaded Poland, which launched World War II in Europe. The sailing was canceled; Europa stayed in Germany for the duration of the war. Lawrence includes a riveting passage from a news report that includes a “graphic account” of the voyage from two passengers. This cover is postal history at its finest.

Louis Pasteur stamps debut during turbulent financial times

“It is not surprising that we find Louis Pasteur and his achievements on many French stamps,” writes Philately of France columnist Larry Rosenblum. “Pasteur (Dec. 27, 1822 – Sept. 28, 1895) lived his whole life in France and revolutionized medical science in many ways. He is probably the best-known French scientist.” France’s first stamps picturing Pasteur were issued to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. “The Pasteur stamps would be issued in denominations primarily used for mail going outside France to show the world how highly France regarded one of its own,” Rosenblum explains. The story gets a bit more interesting for the Pasteur stamps when France is gripped by inflation.

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