There Are Many Kinds Of Stamps - Part 3

It is not always necessary to issue special stamps to raise substantial funds. Very small countries, where the use of the mail is negligible, have found that, by issuing attractive and numerous postage stamps, a very large sum of money will accrue to the treasury through sale to stamp collectors. Thus the Republic of San Marino has for many years found one of its principal exports to be postage stamps for collectors. Other nations have found this to be a very lucrative source of revenue.

Many British colonies also benefit substantially from the sale of attractive postage stamps, a particular example being Pitcairn Island. The 177 people living on this tiny island possession of Great Britain did very well without postage stamps until 1940. But suddenly the world became acutely conscious of this island through the book and the moving picture Mutiny on the Bounty. The possibilities of this situation were too good to be overlooked so a very attractive set of postage stamps were issued picturing Fletcher Christian, Captain Bligh, the "Bounty" and other characters who had captured the imagination of the world.

Stamps of  Liechtenstein Monaco San Marino
Attractive stamps of tiny Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino

This set of stamps has found a place in millions of stamp albums and continues to be of top-ranking popularity among collectors. No figures are released by the British Crown Agents on the amounts realized from the sale of postage stamps, but we may conservatively assume that this set of stamps may well have produced a greater revenue to the British Government than the profit made by either the authors of the book or the producers of the motion picture. Since 1921 the United States Post Office has maintained a Philatelic. Agency at Washington, D.C., for the sole purpose of supplying unused postage stamps to collectors. In recent years these sales have amounted to over three million dollars each year. The first year of its operation the Agency grossed only about fifty thousand dollars! To date, the gross sales of the Agency have totaled over fifty million dollars. This represents money paid at face value for postage stamps, almost all of which will never be put to use - a source of clear profit to the Post Office Department!

Stamp of
Pitcairn Islands.
H.M. Armed Vessel "Bounty" on a stamp of Pitcairn Islands.