Berlin, Animal Semi-Postal Stamps, 1968

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Alright guys. These stamps, issued in Berlin in 1968, are some of my favorite animal stamps of all time. They are part of a semi-postal series intended to raise funds for child welfare causes (“Für Die Jugend”). See the additional denomination shown under the postal rate (+5 on the Wild Cat stamp, for instance)? That means that, when a customer purchased these stamps, he or she paid a surcharge that supported charitable programs within the issuing country or state. 

Here in the US, semi-postals are popular; one of the most well known is our Breast Cancer Research stamp, which has been available from the USPS since first issued in 1998, and has raised over $76 million for the National Institutes of Health and a Department of Defense research program.    

The stamps above are just four of dozens of wildlife stamps designed by a fellow named Froitzheim. I am really drawn to his bold, graphic designs. And pretty excited that there are so many others to add to my collection. Unfortunately, though, (as is the case with many other stamp designers), I have had difficulty finding more information about Froitzheim’s career and other work. 

A bit of postal history now: In the past I just bundled all of my German stamps together, but realized after researching this set that many of my favorite stamps were actually issued by Berlin’s post—Deutsche Bundespost Berlin—a local postal entity which operated during Germany’s post-war divided period, from 1948 to 1990.  

US, Humane Treatment of Animals Stamps, 1966

imageToday I am sharing a stamp that I like both for its design and its message. I love animals and I appreciate that countries sometimes issue stamps that validate this simple but sometimes neglected value—that of kindness to animals. 

Several months ago, while walking my own dog Russell, I saw a man dragging a little poodle, who was clearly injured, across the street. The man was exasperated and the dog—tethered by a leash—could not keep up with his fury; he was limping and falling, falling and limping, scrambling to get back on his feet. This continued down the street as far as I could see. This image haunts me and I regret not running after them. I don’t know what I could have done… perhaps, at a minimum, by stopping them, the dog could have had a moment’s respite.  

This stamp reminds me of that moment and that little dog. And of course, of the countess other animals who endure far worse treatment at the hands of their people. It reminds me that I am not the only person appalled by that kind of treatment. Even in 1966, when this stamp was issued, Americans valued their animal companions and efforts to ensure their welfare. Nearly fifty years later, the message is still relevant and this stamp’s charming design is a legacy to that.