World Stamps

U.N. Crypto souvenir sheets highlight new technology

Nov 16, 2020, 9 AM

By Denise McCarty

The United Nations Postal Administration is issuing three Crypto souvenir sheets Nov. 24, one for each U.N. post office.

A website for the sheets proclaims that they connect “a new generation of United Nations stamps with the blockchain.”

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines blockchain as “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”

Thanawat Amnajanan, chief of the UNPA, said the Crypto souvenir sheets support the secretary-general’s strategy on new technologies. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres introduced this strategy in December 2018.

According to the United Nations: “The goal of this internal strategy is to define how the United Nations system will support the use of new technologies like artificial intelligence, biotechnology, blockchain, and robotics to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and to facilitate their alignment with the values enshrined in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the norms and standards of international law.”

Each Crypto souvenir sheet contains a single stamp featuring a stylized image of a U.N. headquarters building. For example, the U.N. headquarters in New York City is shown on the $7.75 stamp issued for the U.N. post office at that headquarters. The initials “UN” appear above the building, with the U.N. emblem, the words “Crypto Stamp” and the denomination below it. The “2020” year date is in the lower right.

The Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, is pictured on the 8-franc stamp for the U.N. post office in Geneva. The inscriptions are in French.

One of the curved buildings of the U.N. complex in Vienna, Austria, the Vienna International Center, is featured on the €7 stamp inscribed in German.

The Crypto souvenir sheets were developed in conjunction with the United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology and run on the Ethereum blockchain, according to the UNPA.

Sergio Baradat of the United Nations designed the sheets. Each sheet measures 84 millimeters by 55mm, and the stamps are 25mm by 35mm. Joh. Enschede of the Netherlands printed 30,000 examples of each sheet. The UNPA described the printing processes used as “hexachrome” and “foil.”

According to the aforementioned website, each sheet includes a secret code hidden behind a scratch-off panel that "enables its owner to activate exactly one counterpart of that stamp on the blockchain as a digital collectible.”

The website also mentioned that there are 51 variations of the U.N. Crypto souvenir sheets, as each sheet features one of the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

“There are equal quantities of all stamp variations and they are arranged sequentially from Goal 1 to Goal 17,” according to the U.N. Crypto stamp website.

For ordering information for these Crypto souvenir sheets, visit the UNPA website; email unpanyinquiries@un.org; telephone 212-963-7684 or 800-234-8672; or write to UNPA, Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-5900.

The UNPA reports that while orders may be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is committed to filling them as soon as possible.

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