Finding stamps for a whole year of rainy days: Topics on Stamps
By Denise McCarty
In many parts of the world, early spring is associated with rain. According to an old English folk rhyme, “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers.”
When it comes to postage stamps, though, you can find rain year-round.
Starting at the beginning of the year, a Wedding stamp issued Jan. 20, 2011, by Ireland shows a bride and groom walking in the rain (Scott 1907). Ireland’s An Post described the design of this €0.55 stamp as showing a “black and white photographic image of a newly married couple, in a loving embrace and sheltering under a shared umbrella. The loving couple are united, facing into their shared future and are prepared to battle the elements together.”
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Rain and a rainbow are shown together on a Jan. 31, 2004, commemorative from the Netherlands marking the 150th anniversary of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (Scott 1165). This stamp is printed se-tenant (side-by-side) with a similar €0.39 stamp showing a rainbow on a sunny day.
The institute, known by its initials KNMI, is the Netherlands’ national weather service.
Taiwan began a four-part stamp series Feb. 3, 2000, featuring the 24 seasons of the year according to the ancient Chinese calendar based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun. Five of the stamps in that first se-tenant set of six (Scott 3285) show rain falling on fields and in agricultural villages, and two of the seasons include rain in their name: “Rain Water” and “Grain Rain.”
In its new-issue announcement, Taiwan’s post office described the season of Rain Water: “Endless spring rain brings ample water. Farmers go to their fields to work, looking forward to a bumper harvest.”
As for Grain Rain, “This date is so named to remind farmers that it is going to rain and that they should start to work. Only with ample spring rain will crops grow well.”
Israel presents three winter flowers, each with its own rain cloud, on a set of stamps issued Feb. 10, 2015 (Scott 2051-2053).
Finland shows animals that can predict the weather on its Feb. 27, 2008, booklet of five self-adhesive stamps called Rain or Shine. Falling rain is included in the designs of the stamps depicting lambs (Scott 1310b) and swallows (1310d).
A girl playing in the rain is pictured on a €0.22 stamp issued by Cyprus March 12, 2014 (1201). She is protected both by her umbrella and her boots. Part of a Four Seasons set, this stamp represents winter, and a large snowflake is depicted near the center of the design.
Great Britain issued two of the rainiest stamps March 13, 1991, part of a set of four devoted to the topic of the weather. In the illustration on the 19-penny stamp (Scott 1963), it is literally raining cats and dogs. One cat (right below the silhouette of Queen Elizabeth II) is even holding an umbrella.
The 45p stamp (Scott 1965) is inscribed “Much rain” and “stormy,” and shows a ship being tossed by a wave on an angry sea.
The weather also is the theme of Brazil’s World Meteorological Day stamp issued March 23, 1962 (Scott 936). On this 10-cordoba commemorative, Brazil seems to be hedging its bets on the weather, as it shows rain, clouds, and the sun. Also, the three symbols in the lower right of the design represent: a rain shower (left), a severe sand or dust storm (center), and haze (right).
Several stamps reproduce paintings or prints of rainy days. For example, a stamp from Japan (Scott 646) shows a woman holding an umbrella in the pouring rain, from a woodcut by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815). This 10-yen stamp was issued April 20, 1958, to promote Stamp Week.
Two rainy day stamps are being issued this year on April 21, both celebrating the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. A 31-penny stamp from the Falkland Islands shows a photograph by Tim Graham of the queen, with umbrella in hand, stepping in a puddle during a 1977 visit to New Zealand. The photograph shown on an 80p stamp from Jersey was taken 20 years later, in 1997. It depicts the queen and the queen mother in an open carriage arriving at the Royal Ascot racing event. Both are holding umbrellas to protect them from the rain.
A summer storm with dramatic lightning is among the items shown on Slovenia’s Meteorology stamp issued May 9, 2000 (Scott 425). This 150-tolar stamp commemorates the 150th anniversary of meteorological measurements and observations in Slovenia.
One of the 40 stamps in the United States Wonders of America pane issued May 27, 2006, proclaims Mount Wai’ale’ale as the “rainiest spot.” The text on the reverse of this stamp (Scott 4066) reads, “Mount Wai’ale’ale on the island of Kaua’i in Hawai’i has an average annual rainfall of about 400 inches. Its elevation is greater than 5,000 feet. The name, Wai’ale’ale, may be roughly rendered in English as ‘overflowing waters’ or ‘rippling waters.’ ”
The 39¢ stamp shows the mountain covered in mist with a rainbow.
The $6 stamp in a souvenir sheet issued May 28, 1997, by Grenada (Scott 2663) depicts a boy holding tight to his umbrella as the rain pours down around him. The sheet commemorates the 300th anniversary of Mother Goose tales and includes the following rhyme in the selvage: “Rain, rain, go away,/Come again another day;/Little Johnny wants to play.”
On June 18, 1973, Hungary honored artist Tivadar Kosztka Csontvary (1853-1919) by issuing six stamps and a souvenir sheet showing his paintings. The 40-forint low denomination in the set features Storm Over Hortobagy Puszta.
Autumn rain is represented on a stamp from Belgium (Scott 2655d) issued June 24, 2013, in a souvenir sheet saluting 100 years of the Royal Meteorological Institute. One stamp in this sheet pictures the institute. The other four show the same tree in spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The leaves of the tree are arranged to form a map of Belgium.
This sheet was printed with a special thermochromatic ink that causes the leaves of the trees to change color when they are touched. On the stamp with the autumn rain, the leaves turn red.
Also, the selvage of the Belgium souvenir sheet shows rain and other types of clouds.
A tree and rain also are featured on a stamp issued July 30, 2001, by Turks and Caicos Islands (Scott 1344). Part of a Philanippon 2001 set showing works of Japanese art, this stamp depicts a detail from the woodcut Rain in Fifth Month by Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865).
On its website, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York said of this 19th-century print: “Kunisada’s vision of an early summer scene, luxuriant in the soft rain of the fifth month, reflects a new sensibility for landscape among late Edo artists. The unhurried pleasures of a warm summer day seem heightened by the soft rain, which hardly affects the activities of the travelers, fisherman, and groom. A bright light infuses the atmosphere and is enhanced by the unusual use of blue pigment for the evenly spaced, vertical lines of rain.”
Issued on the last day of July in 1984, a stamp from Great Britain (Scott 1064) pictures a drawing of the Norwich mail coach in a thunderstorm in 1827. This stamp is part of a se-tenant strip of five commemorating the 200th anniversary of the first Bath-Bristol-London mail coach.
Taiwan’s Aug. 26, 2009, Nursery Rhymes set includes a NT$5 stamp illustrating a children’s song called Thunder Shower. The new-issue announcement from Chunghwa Post said of the design: “The big raindrops of the thundershower echo the name of the song. The pink lotus blossoms in the pond and the fireflies and anthropomorphic fish in the rain add layers of interest to the turquoise water.”
On Sept. 8, 2014, Finland issued a booklet pane of eight free-form self-adhesive stamps called Signs of the Sky. One stamp is shaped like a rain cloud, complete with a flash of lightning and falling rain.
Children created the designs for Great Britain’s Protect the Environment stamps issued Sept. 15, 1992. The 20p denomination (Scott 1463) shows a drawing by Christopher Hall, who was 9 at the time, called “Acid Rain Kills.” The design depicts a drooping floor surrounded by black raindrops.
Two stamps issued in late October picture rain and umbrellas.
A dog and a boy racing a 19th-century letter carrier in the rain are shown on Norman Rockwell’s design for the U.S. 5¢ stamp issued Oct. 26, 1963, to salute the 100th anniversary of city mail delivery (Scott 1238).
A Child Welfare semipostal issued by Aruba Oct. 27, 1994 (Scott B37) shows three children sitting on an anchor, holding an umbrella to protect them from the rain falling around them.
Although in songs, stories, and movies, snow is the preferred precipitation on Christmas Eve, a stamp from Great Britain depicts Father Christmas trudging through the rain while one of his reindeer looks on. Issued Nov. 2, 2004, this 57p stamp (Scott 2248) is part of a set featuring illustrator and writer Raymond Briggs’ designs of Father Christmas also enduring wind, fog, snow, and hail.
India organized a design contest with the theme “A Day in the Rains” for its most recent Children’s Day stamps issued Nov. 14, 2015. More than 38,000 entries were received. From these, the three winning designs by Yamini K, Kimaya Gupta, and Rohit Gupta were selected to appear on the 5-rupee and 25re stamps and in the selvage of the souvenir sheet. All three designs show children playing in the rain.
Concluding this month-by-month look at rain on stamps is an International Year of the Child commemorative issued Dec. 29, 1980, by Mongolia. The design of this 30-mung stamp (Scott 1148) shows a boy using his umbrella to protect a girl from the rain. A rainbow also is pictured on this design, described by the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue as “Above Them the Sky is Always Clear.”
There are many more stamps that are related to rain. Perhaps on a rainy day, you can search your collection or the Scott catalogs to find them.
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