World Stamps

Austrian COVID-19 semipostal stamp printed on toilet paper

Nov 5, 2020, 3 PM
A recent souvenir sheet from Austria is printed on toilet paper. Issued Oct. 30, the sheet includes a single semipostal stamp.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

In late October, a new Austrian COVID-19 semipostal stamp printed on toilet paper made headlines worldwide in the mainstream press. The press attention for philately is always appreciated, even in this case, when some might consider the stamp to be in poor taste.

Austrian Post has been known in recent years for pushing the boundaries in creating unusual stamp issues, so this latest innovation isn’t a surprise.

Austria’s €2.75+€2.75 Distance that Brings Us Together semipostal souvenir sheet of one was issued Oct. 30 and printed by Variuscard Productions and Handels GmbH of Vienna in a quantity of 300,000.

Both the name of the souvenir sheet and the material it was printed on relate to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, supplies of toilet paper around the world vanished quickly from supermarket shelves.

The souvenir sheet’s name comes from the slogan “Distance that Brings Us Together,” which refers to keeping a distance of at least 1 meter from other people to help to reduce the spread of the disease, according to Austrian Post.

The stamp features two silhouettes of the virus with a baby elephant “meant to help us judge and maintain this distance correctly,” Austrian Post said. Other animals are pictured in the selvage for comparison in size. The baby elephant was added as a metallic foil.

As for the technological feat to pull off this issue, the souvenir sheet was printed at the same size as an actual sheet of toilet paper with a self-adhesive foil added to the reverse to hold it together so that it would not tear. Lastly the post office was proud to tout the perforations as “typical for toilet paper.”

Austrian Post did say in a press release that “the seriousness of the situation has not been forgotten” and reported that the extra funds from the issue will be “used for a charitable cause.”

For more details, visit the Austrian Post website.

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