World Stamps

When American history and culture are featured on world stamps: U.S. Stamp Notes

Jul 15, 2016, 9 AM

By John M. Hotchner

American history and culture have a worldwide reach, and it is no surprise that they are featured on stamps and other postal products of many countries. 

While no doubt some of these stamps were issued with the objective of raking in long green from American collectors, that isn’t true of all. 

Likely most collectors have run across such stamps. They are not hard to identify because they feature presidents engaged in head-of-state visits, or were issued in memory of U.S. presidents. 

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Many of the world’s nations issued a stamp or a set of stamps to commemorate President Franklin D. Roosevelt after he died in 1945. 

Also, President John F. Kennedy was the subject of a great many stamps, sets, souvenir sheets, overprints, and commemorative covers after his assassination in 1963.

By that time, the revenue-producing aspect of stamp-design content had come to the attention of most of the world’s postal administrations.

The result was that larger stamp sets were the rule, showing not only President Kennedy but also members of his family. Plus, perforated and imperf souvenir sheets, sometimes with overprints and surcharges, and even limited edition (likely intentional) errors were part of the challenge for JFK collectors. 

American accomplishments in space have been commemorated on many stamps issued by other countries. Such stamps normally show astronauts, space vehicles, and/or images of moon landings.

Some of these space stamps are joint issues with Russia, celebrating cooperation in space exploration. 

The area of joint issues is a fertile field, with two or more countries celebrating lengthy periods of friendship, diplomatic relations, contributions to society of people with connections to both countries, and joint projects. 

An example of joint projects is the 1959 United States-Canada St. Lawrence Seaway joint issue (Scott United States 1131, Canada 387). 

American participation in international organizations, and in regional or bilateral treaty arrangements, has been specifically acknowledged on stamps.

Under the category of history, there was worldwide recognition of the 200th birthday of the United States in 1976, and it is likely that something similar will happen on the 250th anniversary in 2026. 

Many nations where the United States sent troops or aid in time of war or national disaster have marked these events with stamps. The Peace Corps, the Alliance for Progress, and other U.S. peacetime projects also have been honored.

And then there is culture: movies and movie stars, singers, works of art, books, sports stars, and more. 

In addition, American themes  appear on other philatelic products. 

For example, shown nearby are Perry Como on an Australian ad cover, and Bob Hope and Bing Crosby as golfers on a British aerogram highlighting golfing at St. Andrews in Scotland.

If Americana is an area that interests you, there is an excellent resource: the Americana Study Unit of the American Topical Association