Peace: the highest value of mankind

Upon demand of Ukraine Postal administration (UkrPoshta), the original topic of this year’s Europa stamp (underwater world) was postponed to 2024 and replaced by an issue dedicated to “Peace: the highest value of mankind”. A contest was organized among all participating countries (28 countries did participate) and a common design was approved on the basis of the Post Luxembourg proposal created by artists Linda Bos and Runa Egilsdottir. It represents multicolored interwoven hearts inspired by a prehistoric Celtic knot ornament, completed by shaking hands. The motif shows a new peace symbol as a metaphor for a peaceful and cooperative society where people embrace each other’s cultures. The design was approved during the PostEurop General Assembly in Dublin on October 5, 2022. At this stage already more than 60 postal administrations have issued or will participate to this common issue.

As usual these stamps were issued on May 9, 2023. On that date, 33 countries issued their stamp(s): Aland – Andorra (Spanish) – Azores – Bosnia Herzegovina – Bosnia Herzegovina (Croatia) – Croatia – Cyprus – Czech Republic – Faroe – Finland – France – Greece – Hungary – Ireland – Italy – Jersey – Latvia – Liechtenstein – Lithuania – Madeira – Malta – Monaco – Montenegro – Netherlands – Norway – Portugal – Romania – San Marino – Serbia – Slovakia – Spain – Switzerland – Turkey

Before that date, another 10 countries had already issued their own stamps: Austria (May 5) – Bosnia Herzegovina (Serbia) (April 28) – Cyprus (Turkish) (May 3) – Denmark (May 4) – Germany (May 4) – Gibraltar (March 30) – Macedonia (North) (May 10) – Moldova (April 28) – Poland (April 25) – Sweden (April 27)

In the meantime, another group of 9 countries issued also their stamps while a few others have already announced a date for the release of their stamps within the next weeks: Belgium (June 12) – Bulgaria (May 26) – Estonia (May 25) – Greenland (May 30) – Guernsey (May 24) – Luxembourg (May 16) – Nagorno Karabakh (May 24) – Slovenia (May 26) – Ukraine (May 26) – Vatican (May 16)

Based on previous years issues, the following other countries may also participate, but no information is available so far: Albania – Armenia – Artsakh (Armenia)Azerbaijan – GeorgiaIsle of Man and Kazakhstan. Russia and Belarus have been suspended from the PostEurop Union and were not allowed to participate to this issue.

Kosovo is the only country that did not issue stamps with the same design, without real explanations (however, Kosovo’s stamps date of issue remaind May 9, 2023). Even the private Post Beepost issued stamps for Estonia, Finland and Lithuania using the common design, as early as February 24, 2023, but this special status and the non-belonging to the UPU excludes these stamps from being part of the joint issue.

A lot of countries (actually already 25) issued a second stamp in parallel, very often their design proposal that was not accepted during the contest. If not issued as stamp, those designs may appear as a cachet on the FDC cover. Here some examples:

Stamps are issued in miniature sheets of very often 8, 10 or 12 stamps, while some countries also created additional souvenir sheets. Bulgaria even issued a postal stationery (postal card). Here are some examples.

Special note: excluding private posts from the official list of participating countries on the basis of their belonging to the UPU cannot be strictly followed. All these borderline postal administrations (on an UPU belonging basis) remain reported in the catalogue abnd left to the collector to decide if they keep them or not in their collection. In fact, Turkish Cyprus, Nagorno Karabakh or Artsakh for examples do not belong to UPU either. This limitation rule is mainly applied in stamp exhibitions and some collectors may hit some critics if showing such stamps. The news here is that Russia and Belarus have been excluded from PostEurop. Should such rule also apply to these countries. I doubt. So let us continue collecting Russia and Belarus stamps as well.

A big thank to Euroswiss from which blog ( a lot of information allowed to complete the above data. The catalogue will be updated soon.

2002 Japan joint issue revisited

For few months now, there is a discussion going on if the stamps issued in 2002 by India Post and Japan Post with the title “50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between India and Japan” is really a joint issue or not. 

Our friend Souvik Ghatak (India) filed an application to India Post under the Right to information (RTI) act of 2005. He asked them, to confirm the joint issue status and to provide a copy of memorandum of understanding signed between both postal departments.

Indian Post provided the following information about the issue presently referenced in the catalogue under [P20020412a]: 1) This is not a joint issue and 2) since it was not a joint issue they could not provide a copy of memorandum of understanding between India Post and Japan Post (see copy of answer below). 

Thank Souvik for providing this information confirming this is not a joint issue. As a consequence, it will also apply to all other stamps issued on April 12, 2002 by Japan Post and involving Bangladesh [P20020411], Pakistan [P20020412a] and Sri Lanka [P20020412c].

Actually, in the catalogue, these issues appear already with the mention ‘controversial’ and the classification PX, which stands for doubtful. Accordingly, the wording in the catalogue will be modified and eventually these series will be switched from PX to N section. The stamps will remain described in the catalogue as numerous collector do own them already, but as for all the ‘N’ (non-accepted) joint issues, the collectors have to decide if they want to keep them within their Joint issue collection. The catalogue will just tell them the real status of these issues, which will now respectively be [N20020411] for Bangladesh-Japan, [N20020412a] for India – Japan, [N20020412b] for Japan – Pakistan and [N20020412c] for Japan – Sri Lanka.

Joint celebrations of diplomatic relationship does not necessarily mean that the stamps issued at this occasion are joint. The joint character comes from the will of both administrations to work together on a specific topic. Administrations define date of issue and design. However, even if discussions have started, administrations may finally decide that they will not issue the stamps jointly, resulting in absence of common stamps, no exchange of products, no common joint FDCs, etc. even if the topic remains the same.

There are several countries issuing regularly diplomatic relationship stamps without any connection with the other country. Brazil for example, is issuing several times a year, stamps related to other countries and very seldomly transforms them in a joint issue. These isolated stamps are not even to be considered as unilateral issue, as this vocabulary applies only in the case production of stamps eventually failed for any reason on one side.

China Spain 2023

Enzo Cafaro (Italy) provided information about the stamps involving China and Spain celebrating 50 years of relationship between both countries. This issue was announced for March 2023 in the Spanish philatelic program, but no stamps were released by this country since, except that the design of the stamps was shown. Now, we learned that the Chinese stamps will be released on May 10, 2023 and the announcement from Chinese post confirms the joint status of the issue which is made of identical stamps showing Flamingos in national park lakes (Fuente de Piedra Lake and Hengshui Lake). From the Spanish side, Enzo could provide the picture of the FDC which confirms the same date of issue. China will issue its stamps in miniature sheets of 12 [3×4].

Update April 2023

Don Birschel (USA) confirmed the existence of the Albania – Kosovo joint issue by providing the first picture of the Albania souvenir sheet. Unfortunately, so far no official information is available from the Albanian side. By exploring further, we found out that a cover looking like a first day and dated April 27, 2023 became also available on eBay. The Kosovo stamp was issued in miniature sheets of 4 on February 17, 2023. Even if this cover does not bear the words ‘First Day’, it could at least confirm that this issue must be considered as Concerted and not Twin [C20230217]. Any additional information is welcome.

Jaap Sarelse (The Netherlands) continues to create mixed FDCs and recently he was able to provide a mixed cover from the [C20221207] Georgia – Italy mixed first day cover and the one involving Armenia and Russia corresponding to the issue [T20220830].

We learned also that in 2024, at the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the UPU, a joint issue will be produced with an identical design (competition is open) and the date of this issue will probably be centered around October 9, 2024. Knowing the number of member countries of the UPU (192 so far), this could become the largest joint issue ever. Call to participant countries was launched.

Still waiting for news from the India – Vietnam joint issue supposed to be released on April 23, 2023 (local fighting sports. We just had access to the design of the Vietnamese stamps. Any additional information is welcome.

Israel – Cyprus with design mistake

About three weeks ago, information was provided from Israel (Dov Lask and Uri Barlev) about a planned joint issue involving Cyprus and Israel. Actually, it took some time to get detailed information and better quality images from the Cyprus side and we still not have complete data yet. Eventually, we gathered the following information. Both countries issued an identical stamp honoring the firefighters illustrated with a plane dropping water to put out a forest fire. Stamps were issued on April 4, 2023 and were produced in miniature sheets of 8 stamps [4×2] for Cyprus and 9 stamps [3×3] for Israel. In both cases the bottom margins are illustrated with flags of both countries, leading to the possibility to create out of a single miniature sheet, 4, respectively 3 stamps attached to tabs. Cyprus stamps were printed at 90,000 samples among which 4,000 were used to create FDCs.

Surprisingly, in the Cyprus miniature sheet, the top of the flag design from the tabs is overlapping the bottom of the stamps from the lower row of the miniature sheet. These parts of flags do not appear at the bottom of the upper row of stamps leading to the existence of two different stamps, the one of the top row (Type I – without parts of the flags) and the one of the bottom row (Type II – with parts of the flags), this one available of course with or without tab.

Unexpected Armenia – Romania issue

On April 3, 2023, Armenia and Romania honored Prof Ana Aslan (1897-1988) with a joint issue showing two portraits of the Romanian biologist and physician of Armenian descent, specialist of gerontology and founder of the first Geriatrics Institute. She is known for the invention of the drug Gerovital also called “The Elixir of Youth”, words appearing on the margins of the miniature sheets (Information first provided by Don Birschel, USA).

Both countries issued two identical stamps each. Armenia produced two miniature sheets of 10 stamps (2x[2×5]) and a miniature sheet containing two blocks of 4 of both designs. Printing run of the two stamps is 20,000 but it is not clear how this is distributed between the two miniature sheets. Romania produced panes of 32 stamps (2x[4×8]) at the level of 2×300 panes, together with miniature sheets of 5 stamps linked to a label representing the portrait used in the other design. The number of printed miniature sheets was limited to 2×865. Romania produced also official mixed first day covers bearing all four stamps, but only at 161 samples!

Update March 2023

Additional information provided during this month, not reported so far in other posts:

Eventually, both Don Birschel (USA) and Souvik Ghatak (India) found the Indian counterpart of the Luxembourg souvenir sheet of the joint issue between the two countries, already described in an earlier post. The Indian souvenir sheet was released at the same date, namely March 14, 2023.

From Adam Paish, UK: The discovery in March 2022 of the wreck of the Endurance, the barquentine that carried Ernest Shackleton and his crew on the ill-fated 1914-1917 Trans-Antarctic Expedition, is commemorated on a series of joint British Antarctic Territory – Falkland Islands – South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Territorial/Parallel [PD] stamp issued on March 27, 2023. The ship sank in October 1915, having been crushed by sea ice in the Weddell Sea before the expedition could begin. There are two stamps (issued in sheets of ten) and one souvenir sheet for each territory. 

Also from Adam Paish, UK: On March 13, 2023, the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands each released four stamps and a single-stamp souvenir sheet with images from the BBC’s Frozen Planet II television documentary series. The standard sheet stamps are issued only in pictorial single-denomination sheetlets of four. These stamps are also filed as a Territorial/Parallel [PD] issue. The BBC logo remains the only common item linking all stamps.

On March 29, 2023, Liechtenstein and Switzerland issued as scheduled the stamps related to the 100th anniversary of customs agreement binding both countries. Each country issued two stamps representing either the first lines of the contract text or the flags of both countries separated by a zip fastener. Liechtenstein issued also three postal stationeries (postal cards), but without common design. Mixed covers and mixed cards became available.

From Souvik Ghatak (India) and Kenneth Sequeira (Singapore): A surprise issue was announced involving India and Vietnam that were planning to release a joint stamp issue on traditional martial art, Kalaripayattu (India) and Vovinam (Vietnam). The original date of release was supposed to be February 28, 2023 but the issue was postponed to a later stage. In the meantime, a copy of the Vietnamese side of the joint issue became already available. A new release date was set at March 29, 2023, but no news is available from India and this date was postponed again to April 23, 2023. More details will come soon.

Eric Contesse (France) and Jaap Sarelse (The Netherlands) were wondering if the two stamps illustrated below have to be recognized as joint. They were issued at the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the declaration of independence of Kosovo and are identical. The Kosovo stamp was issued on February 17, 2023 in miniature sheets of 4 stamps [2×2]. Unfortunately, no information is available from Albania so far. Any help is welcome.

The following information has been added to or modified in the new version of Volume 15 (Vol 15 V4.04):

  • Update of the list of older issues i.e., Cuba – North Korea from August 29, 2020 [T20200829] (integrated in Volume 14 V4.02),
  • The above mentioned British Antarctic Territories – South Georgia [D20230313] and British Antarctic Territories – Falkland Islands – South Georgia [D20230327] stamps, as well as India – Luxembourg [T20230314] and Liechtenstein Switzerland [T20230329] have been integrated in the catalogue

The information related to complete descriptions (Table of topics, table of countries) of new sets of joint issues is also dispatched in Vol 1 V4.03. Note that the page “Philatelic resources” is constantly updated to maintain the most accurate level (which is not easy, corrections and additions are welcome) and changes will not be reported here.

Italian Air Force 100th anniversary

From Enzo Cafaro (Italy): On March 23, 2023, Italy, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) and the Vatican issued each the same souvenir sheet bearing a single stamp at the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Italian Air Force. The souvenir sheets are showing planes, three-engine Savoia-Marchetti SM82, flying over the town of Rome, more precisely above the Vatican city. The items show also the logo of the anniversary and dates 1923 – 2023. The picture was provided from the SMOM archives.

At the same date, Italy issued also an isolated stamp with the same symbol of the anniversary and a souvenir sheet bearing 6 different stamps showing air force planes. These stamps are different from the common stamps and have not been taken over by the other postal administrations. Therefore, they cannot be considered as part of this joint issue.

Cuba – North Korea 2020

Don Birschel (USA) made a major discovery with this Cuba – North Korea twin issue [T1] released on August 29, 2020!!! It took more than two and a half years to learn about the existence of these two identical souvenir sheets related to the 60th anniversary of the relationship between the two countries and illustrated through a handshake between the two presidents of the countries, Kim Jong Un and Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez. 20,000 samples of the North Korean souvenir sheet have been printed. Obviously, we have to increase our capabilities in accessing to information related to such countries. However, this newly discovered joint issue must be considered as a really nice twin issue that will be updated soon in the Volume 14 of the catalogue.

Update February 2023

On February 28, 2023, the joint issue between Armenia and Slovakia was released as scheduled. It celebrates the 30th anniversary of relationship and the stamps depict the Tatev Monastery, in Syunik region (Armenia) built during the ninth century, included now in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and the St George’s Church, in Nitrianska Blatnica (Slovakia) also from the ninth century. The particularityy of this issue comes from the way the stamps are produced. The stamps are printed in a pane size [5×9] containing both stamps, type A in the top half, type B in the bottom half, together with 5 central labels forming a central cross. The overall structure looks the following: 3 rows of 5 stamps A, a row containing 2 pairs of stamp A separated by a label, then a row with one stamp A, three labels and one stamp B, and a row containing 2 pairs of stamp B separated by a label, and at the bottom 3 rows of 5 stamps B. This structure leads to a sheet containing 20 stamps A, 20 stamps B and 5 labels. Each sheet can contain vertical pairs of se-tenant A-B stamps, but limited to two units per pane. Knowing that the total printing of stamps is 2×20,000 for Armenia and 2×100,000 for Slovakia, only respectively 1,000 and 5,000 panes have been printed containing a maximum of 2,000 and 10,000 vertical pairs respectively.

These miniature sheets could be cut a different way, by keeping in one piece the five central labels with the 2 stamps A and 2 stamps B in the four corners. Only a maximum of 1,000 units for Armenia and 5,000 for Slovakia of these cut outs of printed panels can theoretically exist. The central labels represent the flags of both countries, and the coat of arms of Armenia, respectively Slovakia. The two other labels contain the words ‘Armenia – Slovakia joint issue’ in English and Armenian for Armenia, in Slovak and Armenian for Slovakia.

Jaap Sarelse (The Netherlands) provided some information about the potential Cambodia-South Korea joint issue that was supposed to be released on February 10, 2023. The original source was the South Korean Philatelic Service. However, Jaap learned from two Cambodian sellers that no such an issue is mentioned in the 2023 list of Cambodian stamps. Also a seller from South Korea confirmed this is not a joint issue. The top margin of the souvenir sheet printed by South Korea is entitled “Protecting Endangered Species in Korea – Cambodia REDD+ Joint Project Area”, meaning the ‘joint’ character is refering to an area between both countries, and a common project, but not to this stamp issue. This entry is removed from the catalogue.

Don Birschel (USA) reports also about stamps released at the occasion of the Kuwait 62nd national day by both Kuwait (February 22, 2023) and the United Arab Emirates (February 25, 2023). Even if the Kuwait 62nd national day is celebrated by the UAE, there are no hints of collaboration between both countries and stamps are different. These cannot be considered as a joint issue.

A surprising joint issue between India and Luxembourg will be released on March 14, 2023. The information was first provided by Souvik Ghatak (India) and Kenneth Sequeira (Singapore). The Luxembourg post made the announcement as early as March 2, 2023, but it took some time for India to confirm, despite the fact that the designer of the miniature sheet is of Indian origin. The stamps relate to the 75th anniversary of the relationship between both countries and is illustrated by sculptures by Amar Nath Sehgal (1922-2007), an Indian sculptor, painter and poet who spent a large part of his life in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Up to now, there are no news from the Israel-India issue supposed to be released in the course of the month of February. In the meantime, however, the first image of the Israel stamp to be realeased on April 4, 2023 jointly with Cyprus was released. Topic is aerial firefighting. The Cyprus stamps has not been seen so far.

The following information has been added to or modified in the new version of Volume 15 (Vol 15 V4.03):

  • The above mentioned Armenia – Slovakia issue [T20230228] as well as the Poland – Slovenia [T20230306], the Poland – Vatican [T20230227] and the Ascension – British Antarctic Territories – Falkland Islands – South Georgia – Tristan da Cunha [D20230215] stamps have been integrated in the catalogue
  • Confirmation of the existence of mixed FDCs for the 2022 Argentina – Spain Juan Domingo Peron issue [C20220914]
  • Update of the list of new issues including Pakistan – Sri Lanka (2023), Japan – Peru (August 21, 2023), Japan – Vietnam (September 21, 2023)

The information related to complete descriptions of new sets of joint issues is also dispatched in Vol 1. Note that the page “Philatelic resources” is constantly updated to maintain the most accurate level (which is not easy, corrections and additions welcome) and changes will not be reported here.

Japan 2002 questionable Joint Issue

Upeka Indeewary from India did ask: “The joint issue catalogue describes a joint issue from the year 2002 involving Japan and four other countries, namely India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It appears that in Japan this issue is not considered as joint. Can you clarify? “

Indeed this joint issue could be considered as questionable. In the catalogue Vol 8, it is already described under four different entries [P20020411 and P20020412a-c]. While Japan issued all stamps the same day, April 12, 2002, the four other countries’ stamps from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan were released with 1 to 14 days interval..

None of these countries claim a joint character, and indeed we also had some questions regarding the true status of this issue. This is the reason why these issues are filed in a category called [PX] and the catalogue uses specifically the word ‘controversial’ to describe them (See also in Catalogue Vol I for the definition of [PX]).

It happens some time that even in case of same data and same design, stamps were issued by two countries with one denying the joint issue status. In fact, in almost all these cases, and this Japanese stamps probably included, a first contact between the authorities took place and topic as well as day of issue were agreed. But during the process, it came to a disagreement and finally each country decided to pursue on its own. For this reason, considering at least the situation of starting the collaboration, we report such stamps in the catalogue.

Obviously, it was not per chance that all four countries came together with Japan and launched almost at the same date each a stamp with the same topic (not the same design) also appearing on the Japanese stamps (relationship). We leave to the collector to decide if such items have to be include or not in their own collection. If these stamps are not described in the catalogue, other collectors would ask why such series are not reported. The [PX] status became the alternative. In any case, present or not in the catalogue, questions would arise. It is possible to definitely state about these Japanese stamps, if someone can bring the real story behind the creation of these stamps.

Can someone help here?

Poland – Slovenia 2023

Poland and Slovenia issued on March 6, 2023 identical stamps honoring Emil Korytko (1813-1839), a Polish ethnographer, exiled in Slovenia where he contributed to the translation of Slovene folk songs. Poland stamps became available in miniature sheets of 8 stamps [4×2] while Slovenia produced miniature sheets of 16 stamps [4×4]. The stamp represents a silhouette of Emil Korytko with handwriting in the background (information was first provided by Janko Stampfl, Slovenia).