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Collecting Stamps: The United Nations and Stamps
LATE IN 1950 THE UNITED Nations, in its new headquarters in New York, announced plans for the creation of its own postal administration, and its own stamps. Prior to that time all outgoing mail bore United States postage stamps, and used a New York cancellation. Such a proposal presented many problems. One was that the United States would have to accept the United Nations as a sort of sovereign unit within the territorial confines of this govemment, and yet would have to do all the carrying. The proposal, in the form of a draft agreement between the United Nations and the United States, provides that special U.N. stamps be printed for use on outgoing U.N. mail, and for sale to stamp collectors and the general public through a separate U.N. agency. Payment would be made to the United States for servicing United Nations mail, but the revenues from sales to collectors and others would remain with the U.N. Estimates place the revenue from special sales at $300,000 annually. This, in the opinion of the author, is low, providing those in charge do not abuse the privilege, or bring out poorly printed, unattractive, designs.
As a step toward this goal Pitney-Bowes, postage meter manufacturers in Stamford, Conn., proposed a meter marking as shown on the jacket of this book. As a second step the United States established a postal address known as "United Nations, New York" and provided a special cancellation as of Jan 3, 1951.
Isaac Gregg, writing from Washington for the New York World-Telegram and Sun, on March 9, 1951, observed that protests against the issuance of U.N. stamps would be unavailing, and that a regular postage set, and possibly commemoratives, would appear in due course.
The U.N. postal administration, headed by Bertil A. Renborg of Sweden, has been faced with many problems, and the very nature of the international body requires time for any action to be accomplished.
In all probability, the first United Nations set will be for regular postage purposes, and will embrace a number of denominations-the exact number unknown. The main question seems to be whether one design for all is satisfactory, or whether there should be a separate design for each denomination. Since so much time will be consumed in setting up the postal administration, and in securing one or more appropriate designs, it would seem logical that the first issue be very general in theme, and that all values would follow a single design.
Whatever the decision, collectors have an opportunity to get in at the start of a very popular specialty field. There are already some stamps issued by member-nations honoring the U.N. and some of its activities (including the United States), and it is assured that other nations will bring out stamps of their own for the harried but wonderfully conceived organization.
There is also the cacheted envelope with special cancellation marking the establishment of the United Nations, New York, post office, and, probably, the Pitney-Bowes postage meter marking.
On March 28, 1951 the United Nations made the following announcement:
The special United Nations-United States Postal Agreement, under which the United Nations will issue and use its own postage stamps, was signed today by UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie and Ambassador Warren R. Austin, Chief U.S. representative to the United Nations. Jesse Donaldson, U.S. Postmaster General, signed with Ambassador Austin on behalf of the United States.
The UN plans to issue regular stamps in 11 denominations ranging from one cent to one dollar and air mail stamps in four denominations from six cents to twenty-five cents.
Under the provisions of the Agreement, a United Nations Post Office Station operated by the U.S. Post Office Department, will be established at UN Headquarters to replace the present U.S. Post Office.
The United Nations considers that the issuing of its own stamps to be used on all mail matter sent from Headquarters is desirable in order to help make the United Nations, its aims, work and activities throughout the world better known to the people of the world. It is also felt that stamp collectors, by taking an interest in UN stamps, will contribute to a wider dissemination of information about the UN and a better understanding of the organization's work.
Ambassador Austin declared that the signing represented a further step in the growth of the United Nations. Employing this function of communication, he believed, would bring to peoples everywhere "a greater realization of the vitality of the United Nations and the efficacy of peoples from many lands working together on the formulae for peace." It was another evidence of the permanence of the United Nations and its ability to assume long range responsibilities, he said.
Mr. Donaldson, the U.S. Postmaster General, said that the signing of the Agreement was another link in the universal chain of postal establishments; "a part of the greatest communication system on earth, cementing the ties of good will, culture, education and democracy among peoples of the world." He assured the Secretary-General that the U.S. Post Office Department would continue to give unfaltering support and cooperation in the establishment and successful operation of the United Nations Post Office.