There Are Many Kinds Of Stamps - Part 2

But if a stamp could be issued to commemorate a special event, then why could not a stamp be issued to raise funds for something special? That horrible thought was given birth in 1897 when New South Wales issued two stamps to raise funds with which to build a home for consumptives. It is an idea that has cost stamp collectors many millions of dollars and one which has accounted for a large portion of all of the modern stamps issued in late years. The plan was simple. Stamps were issued in double denomination, but had postal franking power for only a portion of their face value. The other portion was donated to the charity for which they were issued. At first such stamps were designated by collectors as "charity" stamps. But the uses to which they were put soon made the word "charity" a charitable description indeed of their purpose. Before long these stamps were issued to raise funds for the Red Cross, invalided soldiers, poor children, war orphans, restoration of cathedrals, the building of national monuments and lighthouses and even to help eradicate a grasshopper plague.

Stamps issued to raise funds
Stamps issued to raise funds for French war victims, the reconstruction of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna and for Spanish Red Cross
Marquess
of Pombal
Marquess of Pombal

There is no end to the purposes that can be, and have been, dreamed up to issue postage stamps with the idea of raising funds for some "worthy" project. The list of countries that have engaged in this practice is without end and the idea persists in ever wider circles. Even our own nation is not completely with clean hands. In 1930 we indulged the operators of the airship Graf Zeppelin by issuing a set of three stamps in denominations of 65$, $1.30, and $2.60 and turned over the Zeppelin Co. most of the money from those that were used to mail letter aboard the airship. Long since, the catalogues of the world have ceased to call these "charity" stamps in favor of the more descriptive name, "semi-postal" stamps. While many modern semi-postal stamps are frankly intended to raise funds for some stated purpose by including upon the stamp itself an extra charge, others are not quite so obvious. The "charity" idea has often been hidden in devious manners. Thus Spain and Portugal, to mention two specific instances, have issued long sets of stamps which of themselves in no way indicate that they were intended to raise funds. These stamps were placed on very limited sale on certain designated days and would not be good for postage on any days other than the specified ones.

Graf Zeppelin Stamps
Graf Zeppelin Stamps

The general public, of course, would be largely unaware of this restricted use and few of the stamps would actually find their way into the ordinary postal use. However, such stamps were indeed postage stamps and were perfectly good for postage purposes if used on the specified days. Hence, they received wide distribution among stamp collectors and thus provided large sums of money without the necessity of the Post Office performing any service. Such income is, of course, pure "velvet" and can amount to a very considerable sum. In the case of the Pombal ssries issued by Portugal in 1925 an extremely ingenious idea was employed. With this issue it was made mandatory that on certain specified days the Pombal stamps were required in addition to ordinary postage stamps. Failure to use them resulted in "postage due" being charged and for this purpose special Pombal postage-due stamps were issued. The money thus raised was to be used to build a national monument to the Marquess of Pombal. In this case the entire population of the country was directly taxed. Also, of course, many hundreds of thousands of the stamps were acquired by collectors.