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Did You Know?

  • In the Central American countries of Bolivia and Paraguay, stamps actually provoked a war!  The conflict began when Bolivia issued a stamp claiming an undefined and long-disputed area of wilderness.  This stamp was simply a map with this territory’s possession clearly labeled.  Enraged by this bold claim, Paraguay countered by issuing a larger stamp, which even more clearly showed the territory and labeled-in Paraguay’s name.   Also on the stamp were the words, "Has been, is, and will be."  Soon afterwards a vicious war over the territory began.  The war raged for many years with Paraguay eventually proving to be the victor.  Several stamps were then issued proudly proclaiming the territory as Paraguay’s.
     
  • The world’s longest-lived mail delivery system exists to this day in India.   Called the Dak or Dawk system, this organization can be traced back to Roman relay runners.   Dak runners carried the mail over long distances by inserting it in a stick, split down the middle.   A torch bearer helped guide the runners at night, and another ran along beating a drum to scare off dangerous animals.  Sometime during the seventeenth century, the job of carrying the torch and tom-tom were combined.  The East India Company ran the system while Britain controlled India.   During that time, postal inspectors were employed, and time keepers kept the runners on schedule.
     
  • The first recorded stamp collector was John Bourke, who served as Receiver-General of Stamp Duties in Ireland.
     
  • Dr. John Edward Gray of the British Museum became the first collector of adhesive stamps when he purchased a block of Penny Blacks on May 1, 1840.
     
  • The January 1, 1869 issue of Stamp Collectors Magazine showed collectors how to make their own stamp hinges cut from the margins of stamp sheets.  This is the first known example – previously collectors had pasted their stamps directly into their albums.
     
  • In 1918, the British government counterfeited stamps from the nations of Austria, Bavaria and Germany.  The stamps were then to be used to mail fake propaganda leaflets and postcards to neutral countries, such as Switzerland or Holland, who would believe they were the genuine articles.  It was hoped these letters would win support for the Allies, but the program was abandoned before it could be employed.  However, during WW II the British did successfully circulate German "Hitler Head" stamps.  These stamps were used to spread rumors of dissension among German Army troops.
     
  • George Herpin of Paris was the first to use the term philately.  Herpin didn’t like the term "timbromanie," which means stamp madness, which had been popular in the 1860s.