Saturday, 16 October 2010

Machin Portrait Graces UPU Book

The Universal Postal Union was founded in 1874 to coordinate international mail exchanges. (Anyone who has studied postal rates and practices prior to the formation of the UPU knows how badly it was needed.) It has headquarters in Berne, Switzerland.

The Postal Union Congress is "the supreme [legislative] authority of the UPU" according to the web site. It now meets every four years, with the next meeting in October, 2012.

Collectors of British stamps have at least passing familiarity with the Postal Union Congress because of the five stamps issued by the British Post Office in honor of the 1929 Congress held in London that year. The stamps include the large, engraved £1 stamp picturing St. George slaying the dragon and, of course, the image of King George V.

At some time, the postal administrations started compiling books containing copies of all stamps (and sometimes postal stationery) issued since the last Congress. Above is the front cover of the book prepared by Royal Mail for the 19th congress held in 1984 in Hamburg, West Germany.

The books have text that describes the subject matter of the stamps as well as dates of issue and printing information. Stamps in early books were hinged to the pages, but now mounts are used. Definitives are included, and I also illustrate the page containing the major varieties of Machins issued between 1979 (the year of the 18th Congress) and 1984. Regionals and postage due stamps (called "To Pay Labels" by Royal Mail) take up another two pages.

These books are given to delegates, and many of them find their way onto the market. They show up at stamp dealers from time to time. Rushstamps in England usually has a selection, but their prices are generally too steep for me.


I will be traveling for the next two weeks, so it is unlikely that I will post anything. However, I have some interesting posts planned for November, so do come back then.

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