Professional Stamp Experts

United Nations Honors Universal Postal Union

Michael O. Nowlan - August 20, 1999

Beginning this week, many nations will pay tribute to the 125th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) which holds its 22nd Universal Postal Congress in Beijing August 21 - 30.

The UPU, formed in Berne, Switzerland in 1874 when 22 countries combined forces to simplify rates and movement of mail between member nations, is a modern institution with a proud history and tradition as well as an enviable record of accomplishment. What probably accents the work of the UPU has been its remarkable ability to cope with change in its 125 years as the world's largest physical distribution network.

Today, the UPU serves the world as a specialized agency of the United Nations which it has been since July 1, 1948. Since then, its relations and active cooperation with other international bodies have grown and intensified.

To honor 125 years of the UPU, the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) will issue a set of three distinctive s-tenant blocks of four commemorative stamps and a souvenir card August 23. The stamps will be in denominations of 33 cents for UN New York; F.s. 0,70, for UN Geneva; and S 6.50 for use UN Vienna.

Designer Mark Hess, who grew up in Michigan, created images that attempt to connect every citizen within each country as well as the global community. The 33-cent stamps focus on early days when mail was transported by foot messengers, camel or horseback riders, ships, and later innovations that used horse-drawn coaches and the first trains.

The F.s. 0,70 stamps reveal further progress as automobiles, high-speed trains, and airplanes moved the mail, but mail was still delivered on foot by national postal employees. The S 6.50 denominations complete the cycle by illustrating the forms of communication available today and in the future, accenting supersonic jets, satellites, and computers. The images also continue to emphasize foot delivery of mail.

The UNPA stamps are a vivid illustration of the development of mail delivery through the efforts of the UPU. The four-in-a-block format is a great concept to bring people and change into fine focus. UNPA stamps are available from dealers or from UNPA, P.O. Box 5900, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163-9992.

Michael O. Nowlan was born in Chatham, New Brunswick Canada. He grew up on a nearby farm, was educated, and became a teacher. In retirement, he follows his life-long avocation of writing. His credits include 16 books (four books of poems, two children's titles, and anthologies for schools). In recent years, he has written extensively about stamp collecting for CANADIAN STAMP NEWS, GIBBONS INTERNATIONAL STAMP NEWS, and other philatelic publications.

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