Austria – Netherlands crypto stamp

On September 22, 2022, Austria and the Netherlands are issuing the first joint crypto stamps with digital twin in the blockchain as a twin issue [T1]. The stamp sheet is the size of a bank card and is made of extra strong reinforced paper. The physical stamp has been affixed to the front of the stamp sheet, in the center. The stamp can be detached along the perforated edges. The background of both the sheet and the stamp features the stripes of the Austrian or Dutch flag with an added crystal structure. Designs of stamps are similar, showing a head of a bull with small modification in the background. A pattern of edelweiss (Austria) or tulips (Netherlands) runs across the flag of each country and a ‘secret word list’ (QR code) for viewing, storing and selling the digital twin of the crypto stamp in the blockchain. The upper right-hand corner of the reverse features the unicorn logo, which has been used as a symbol for crypto stamps since the very first issue by Austria in 2019.

Now, it becomes a little more complicated when there is a need to describe the differences between the true physical stamp and stamp sheet compared to the virtual material.

Each physical postage stamp has a digital twin in the blockchain. Blockchain is a computer technology that uses distributed databases to secure the ownership of crypto money and other digital assets such as crypto art and crypto stamps. These digital items are also known as NFTs, non-fungible tokens. The digital twins can be viewed on a computer or smartphone at any time. It is also possible to store it in a digital collection or sell it using a digital wallet.

The digital twins are stored in the blockchain in five different colors. The likelihood of getting a particular color depends on the randomly generated color. For Austrian stamps, there are 1,000 red, 6,667 yellow, 13,333 blue, 26667 green and 52,333 black virtual stamps associated to the 100,000 printed physical stamps. For Dutch stamps, there are 1,400 red, 9,334 yellow, 18,666 blue, 37,334 green and 73,266 black virtual stamps for a total of 140,000 physical stamps. By scanning the QR code on the stamp with a smartphone, one will find out which color is linked to the crypto stamp.

In other words, and if we have understood the principle of this new collection, only one physical stamp per country became available, but each is linked to 5 possible different virtual stamps per country. As a consequence, the value of a physical stamp will differ depending upon the associated color of the virtual stamp. In theory, in your stamp binder, one physical stamp should be sufficient, but if you want to own the complete collection, you need to acquire the 5 color variations from each country. With a denomination above € 9.00 per stamp (more precisely € 9.90 for Austria and €9.05 for the Netherlands), this represents a minimum investment close to € 100, in the case you are very lucky. Of course, as you do not know what color you buy, the best way is to acquire the stamps from sellers who already know the associated color, but which have already adapted the sales price to the rarity. Older Austrian crypto stamps are commonly sold above € 200, and it should not be different with these stamps. In this case, a maximum of only 1,000 full combinations of 10 stamps will be possible, and said differently, it will almost be impossible, or very expensive, to reach the target of bringing together a full hand. It looks like a combination between philately and a lottery, and a new way to abuse collectors. Indeed, we cannot recommend trying to create the full combination, but up to you if you want to try. However, this pair of stamps, independently of the associated colors, will definitely be considered as a twin issue, in the form of a two physical stamp sheets.

The Dutch crypto stamp is the first crypto stamp to be issued by PostNL. This new Austrian crypto stamp is identified under the name ‘Crypto stamp 4.0’.

Romania – SMOM 2022

With one stamp representing firefighters in action, removing snow, and the other one showing Ukrainian refugees arriving in Romania and welcomed by local volunteers, Romania and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) celebrated on September 16, 2022, 90 years of relationship. SMOM conducts diplomatic relations with 112 countries, among which Romania, and the European Union and its stamps are recognized by 57 postal administrations. However, for example, SMOM does not have bilateral diplomatic relationship with China, or the United States.

Unfortunately, as SMOM is not recognized by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), even if these stamps look like a Twin issue and the words “Joint issues” appear on all stamps, this issue will be filed in the category Non-approved [NR].

This situation is quite difficult to handle and it is not our role to decide which country have to be collected by whom. It must be a personal decision to include SMOM in ones own collection or not. After having written that, it was interesting to explore both the UPU and SMOM web sites to get more details about recognition and consequences. Interestingly, in the list of non-recognized countries, one counts also, among others, Kosovo (which mail is routed through Serbia) and Taiwan (mail routed through Japan or the USA). Palestine has an observer status with mail routed through Jordan, while a series of other smaller countries are not members of the UPU, but issue stamps, and their post is routed through an UPU member state, e.g., Andorra (through France or Spain), Marschall, Micronesia, Palau (through USA), SMOM (through Italy), Northern Cyprus (through Turkey), … A full updated list is provided by Wikipedia under the link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_Universal_Postal_Union.

We will continue reporting about stamps from all these countries and leave each collector define if it should belong to his own collection, but we will also continue mentioning the official situation for each country. In our particular case, we will have to update some issues and to add some comments for some of the above mentionned countries in the catalogue pages (use of grey color instead of black and itamlics characters).

There is a last point that needs to be mentionned in this specific issue. We do not have yet details about the printing runs of SMOM stamps (they should however remain small), but we got the figures for Romania. This country issued 2 stamps in sheets of 32 stamps ([8×4]) and sheetlets of 5 stamps ([3×2] including one label). Only 2×5,120 stamps were issued in sheets, meaning only 160 sheets were printed for each stamp, while only 2×530 sheetlets were printed. On top of this, Romania issued a folder containing an imperforate souvenir sheet with both stamps at only 292 samples! This is not the way to help collectors completing there collection, another reason not to recognize this issue as a true joint issue.

Israel – Mexico 2022

On September 13, 2022, Israel and Mexico issued stamps at the occasion of the 70th anniversary of their relationship. The stamps are illustrated with symbols of both countries: the Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops), Israel’s national bird, the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica), the Mexican national bird, the golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and the columnar cactus (Stenocereus dumortieri or Isolatocereus dumortieri). Interestingly, Israel issued as usual its stamps in sheetlets of 15 stamps ([5×3]) together with 5 tabs at the bottom of the sheet. This tab becomes the design of the second stamp of Mexico. For the first time, this twin issue involving Israel must be considered as complete only if the pair of Mexican stamps is associated with the Israel stamp mandatorily linked with a tab, reducing by two third the possibility to create matching pairs. At the same time, this will give also a much higher value to the Israelian stamp with tab and e.g., mixed FDCs make sense only if the set is complete (with Israelian tab). Most of the information was provided by Dov Lask (Israel), thanks to him.

Catalogue update

The month of September 2022 saw a large number of joint issues appearing and more have to come in the following weeks. At the same time Jaap Sarelse (The Netherlands) was able to provide the material he collected over the year 2021 and the beginning of 2022. In particular, a high number of mixed FDCs could be obtained thanks to him and a lot of them were not described in the catalogue yet.

This led to a larger update of the catalogue in particular covering the years 2020 and 2021 for illustrations, leading to an additional full 4 pages, as well as supplementary material for the past months of 2022. Volume 14 and Volume 15 of the catalogue are now upgraded which information needed also to be distributed in the countries and topic tables of Volume 1. We leave you take a look, and if possible, don’t hesitate to provide the still missing information.

First 2022 se-tenant issue

On September 9, 2022, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland joint efforts to release together a se-tenant souvenir sheet with three stamps dedicated to the 150th anniversary (1872-2022) of the railway connection Feldkirch – Schaan – Buchs (earlier information provided by Cesar Ittmann, the Netherlands).

Each country issued the same souvenir sheet but with perforation limited to the country’s stamp and denomination only on this stamp. In parallel, a se-tenant souvenir sheet containing the three stamps, all perforated (see illustrations below) and with the three denominations, two in CHF, one in Euros, was issued. On September 9 and 10, 2022, the train made the connection between the three places with a possibility to obtain a special cancellation from a post office installed at each station, allowing creation of triple mixed FDC covers. Stamps feature three locomotives from different eras used in each of the nations: a 1927 steam engine for Austria, an electric ÖBB traction unit from 2004 for Liechtenstein and SBB’s legendary Re 4/4 II built between 1964 and 1985.

200 years of Brazil independency (2)

On June 29, 2022, Brazil issued unexpectedly a stamp at the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the independence of the country and claimed joint character with a to-be-issued Portugal stamp. The design of the Portuguese stamp was missing at the date of the first announcement, but Enzo Cafaro (Italy) was able to provide it, ahead of release on September 7, 2022. This issue is definitely a concerted [C] issue as designs are identical [C20220629].

World Post Day 2022

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) released a proposal to all their members to issue a stamp with common design at the occasion of the next World Post Day on October 9, 2022. The UPU is providing the design based on the theme ‘Post for Planet’ and all information regarding the possible associated products are provided in a full description post (stamp design in the 6 official languages – see below, templates for 6-, 8-, 9-, 10-, 12- and 20- stamps sheets, first day covers, cancellations, phone apps and even T-shirts, …).

More than 200 postal administrations could in theory participate, but with this quite short notice (earliest information is dated June 2, 2022), there are great chances that the number of participants will remain quite limited. In 2020, a similar attempt was made with the “Family Remittance” stamps [B20200716] which resulted in a single independent country participating in 2020 (Bulgaria) and another one in 2022 (Bosnia Herzegovina). A series of stamps were issued later by countries for which the philatelic program is not controled by the administration, but by a professional dealer (Stamperija). If this is again the case, this issue will also be considered as an omnibus non-approved joint issue (borrowed design). Let us wait until October 9, 2022 to see if some countries, and how many, are seriously interested.

Concordat anniversary

On September 1, 2022 (earlier than expected as issue date we had up to now in our files was September 9), Latvia and the Vatican State celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Concordat joining both states. Stamps are identical and show the figure “100” made of flags with the inscription “Concordia res parvae crescunt (in harmony small things grow)”. Thanks to Enzo Cafaro (Italy) and Don Birschel (USA) for having provided the information.

International tiger preservation forum (2)

The second international tiger preservation forum took place as scheduled on September 5, 2022 and, also as scheduled, most of the participating countries issued at this occasion a stamp related to this forum illustrated with tigers. A first list had been provided earlier. This is now a complementary information page with new details provided mainly by Enzo Cafaro (Italy).

Eventually, 10 countries are participating to this joint parallel issue [P20220905]. Among the 14 countries where tigers still live in the wild, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam, we already know that Thailand decided not to participate. No information is available from Bangladesh, Bhutan and Indonesia.

Myanmar, Russia and Vietnam have issued their stamps on September 5, 2022. India issued its stamp already on September 1, 2022, while Cambodia will issue it stamps only on September 22, 2022. Exact dates of issue for Laos, Malaysia, and North Korea are still to be confirmed, but seem to be September 5 as well. In parallel, Russia is preparing a mixed folder containing the mint stamps from (almost) all 10 countries.

Indian stamp pays tribute to ‘Collarwali’, a tigress from Pench Tiger reserve, Madhya Pradesh, who gave birth to 29 cubs in her life time, among which 25 survived to adulthood. She passed away in January 2022.

Below, additional pictures of stamps released or to be released by these countries are depicted.

On September 5, 2022, China PR issued a set of stamps entitled Tiger cultural relics. The 6 stamps represent a) the Shang-Fu double-tailed bronze tiger, b) a spring and autumn jade tiger-shaped pendant, c) the Han Baihu ’tiledang’ with tiger (grey pottery), d) the Bronze Tiger Festival object with Cuojin inscription of Han dynasty, e) a white glaze brown flower crouching tiger pillow and f) a puppet flying tiger. There is no hint about a relationship with the tiger preservation forum, but if no other stamp is issued by China PR, we will have to consider that the stamps released at this same date may be part of the joint issue (same date of issue, same topic). However, more information is needed here.

The site from Yonhap News refers also to another souvenir sheet issued by North Korea on September 5, 2022, next to the souvenir sheet with different 4 stamps. Here also, more details are needed.

Non-joint Germany Liechtenstein 2009

Don Birschel (USA) submitted an interesting item looking like a se-tenant souvenir sheet containing a pair of stamps from Germany and Liechtenstein. The design of these stamps are similar to stamps issued by Germany and Liechtenstein, respectively on March 12, 2009 and March 2, 2009. Germany issued two additional stamps with similar design on May 7, 2009.

However, this item exists only with oblique bars-canceled denominations. In the margins, there are references to the Federation of German Philatelists (Bund Deutscher Philatelisten e.V.) and it is specified that the illustrations correspond to competition designs (Konkurrenzentwürfe), i.e. not-issued designs to the above mentionned stamps dedicated to the Post of both countries. In fact, each year the Federation of German Philatelists is issuing a facsimile of stamps to be distributed to their members and in 2009, they represented exceptionally stamp designs from two countries. The stamps from this item cannot be used for mail and therefore this souvenir sheet is simply a cinderella, not to be considered as a joint issue. Nevertheless, an interesting item that can be found on the web for about 4 to 5 €uros.

Arab Postal Union unified issue

Our friend, Med Achour Ali Ahmed (Algeria), provided updated information about the new 2022 Arab Postal Union stamps. APU members have adopted the design proposed by Algeria for a unified issue. All countries have been given the freedom to issue their own stamp between August 3, 2022, corresponding to the annual Arab Post day and November 2, 2022, date of the closing of the Arab League Summit. We know that next to Egypt, stamp already issued on August 3, 2022, and Algeria, stamp issued on August 20, 2022, National Day of Moudjahid, Palestine and Tunisia have confirmed their participation. It is highly probable that most of the participating countries will issue their stamp during the Arab League Summit, scheduled November 1 and 2, 2022. At this stage, we need to wait probably until November before we can define the exact entry name in the catalogue of this issue. Any additional information from other Arab postal administrations is welcome.

Armenia Russia Churches

Armenia and Russia celebrated on August 30, 2022 both the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the 25th anniversary of the treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual assistance. This is a parallel issue scheduled from long date and dedicated to architecture, focusing on churches from both countries.

Stamps are different and represent for Armenia, the Church of St. Catherine in St. Petersburg, Russia and the Saint Michael the Archangel’s Church in Gyumri, Armenia. Russia issued stamps representing the Holy Cross Church in Samara, Russia and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Vanadzor, Armenia. Both countries have issued their stamps in miniature sheets of 4 pairs of stamps [2px2] in chess board order.