5¢ Flag of Netherlands
Overrun Countries Series
Issue Date: August 24, 1943
City: Washington, D.C.
Printed by: American Bank Note Company
Printing Method: Flat-Plate
Color: Blue violet, dark rose, blue, and black
U.S. #913 is part of the Overrun Countries Series, which honors each of the nations invaded by Axis powers during World War II. It pictures the flag of the Netherlands, which features red, white, and blue stripes. The flag was first introduced in 1572, making it one of the first tricolor flags, and the oldest still in use.
Although the Kingdom of the Netherlands is most commonly known as Holland, natives prefer to be called either Netherlanders or Dutchmen. The Netherlands, which enjoys the oldest unbroken diplomatic relations with the United States in our history, is located on the North Sea, just above Belgium and France.
As World War II approached, the Netherlands planned to remain neutral, but was invaded by Germany on May 10, 1940. French and British forces helped evacuate many civilians and German prisoners of war. Within five days, the entire country was overrun. The government fled to London for the remainder of the war. Once the war was over, the Netherlands left behind its ideas of neutrality and built closer ties to nearby nations. It was also one of the founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
These Stamps Brought Hope to Overrun Countries of WW II
After receiving several designs from artists who felt the current U.S. postage stamps were unattractive, President Franklin Roosevelt began to consider the types of stamps he wanted to issue. He sought to show the world that America was in this war to achieve world peace, not military dominance. With this in mind, the President suggested the U.S. issue a series of stamps picturing the flags of all the overrun nations in Europe.
In the border surrounding each flag, Roosevelt suggested picturing the Phoenix – an ancient symbol of rebirth. He believed “It might tell those suffering victims in Europe that we are struggling for their own regeneration.” The other side of each flag pictured a kneeling woman “breaking the shackles of oppression.”
When the time came to print the stamps, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing was unable to print the multiple colors needed for each flag, so the American Bank Note Company received a special contract for this series.
Additionally, a 5¢ denomination – the foreign rate for first class postage – was chosen so the stamps could be used on overseas mail. The stamps were printed in relatively small quantities and were in high demand as soon as they were issued, with stocks across the country running out almost as soon as they were released.
FDR – The Stamp-Collecting President
President Franklin Roosevelt was instrumental in the design and issuance of U.S. #913. Introduced to stamp collecting at a young age by his mother, Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned to his collection throughout his life to relax and unwind.
Elected President four times, Roosevelt served in the nation’s highest office longer than any other chief executive – 12 years. During those 12 years, Roosevelt shared his love of stamps with the nation, personally approving each of more than 200 stamp designs. He suggested topics, rejected others, and even designed some himself. It was his aim to use stamps not just to send mail but also to educate Americans about our history. And as he reluctantly entered America into World War II, he saw these stamps as an outlet to raise spirits and bring hope.