Mathieu Da Costa (Black History) (Canada 2017)

[press release] [This stamp’s issue date is February 1]
2017 Black History stamp commemorates Mathieu Da Costa
17th century interpreter believed to be the first person of African descent to arrive in Canada whose name is known today

OTTAWA – Canada Post’s annual Black History Month stamp for 2017 will commemorate a historical figure who continues to fascinate and confound scholars.

Admittedly little is known about Mathieu Da Costa. From the few records that remain, historians conclude he was a free man who earned a living as an interpreter for Europeans who were trading with Indigenous people in the New World. Believed to be of African or even Euro-African descent, his connection to Canada came in the year 1608 – the year Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Québec – when Da Costa signed a contract to work for French fur-trader, explorer and governor of Acadia, Pierre Dugua de Mons.

“While the full story of Mathieu Da Costa may never be known, interest in his life and in his unique connection with our country is a reminder of the values of respect, acceptance and diversity that Canadians cherish,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra.

With no portrait of Da Costa available, designer Andrew Perro and illustrator Ron Dollekamp worked closely with Canadian historical illustrator and storyboard artist Francis Back to ensure the period clothing and sailing ship reflect De Costa’s time and socio-economic milieu. As with all stamps issued in 2017, the Black History stamp will contain references to Canada’s sesquicentennial that are visible only via a special black light.

The domestic rate stamps, available in booklets of 10, are self-adhesive and measure 32 mm x 25 mm. The Official First Day Cover is cancelled in Tadoussac, Quebec, where historians believe Da Costa may have come ashore.

Brit Hayyale Ha’Etsel (Israel 2017)

from Israel Post; this stamp will be issued February 7, 2017:
The National Military Organization in Eretz Israel (Etsel) broke away from the Haganah paramilitary organization in the spring of 1931. In the years before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the organization operated clandestinely against Arab rioters during the revolt of 1936-1939 and took part in “Nonetheless” operations together with the Revisionist, Betar and HaTzohar groups to rescue European Jews before and during WWII. Members in Poland fought against the German enemy in the ghettos and took part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943 as part of the Jewish Military Union, led by Pawel Frankel. Members in Eretz Israel were recruited to fight against Germany as volunteers in the British military. Etsel commander David Raziel was killed in the line of duty in Iraq on May 20, 1941. In February 1944 the Etsel, led by Menachem Begin, waged a campaign against the British authorities and government policy in Eretz Israel. Members were suppressed from within by the Haganah, but obeyed their leader’s decree never to take up arms against their brethren. Together with the Haganah-Palmach and Lehi, Etsel fighters, and especially those sentenced to death by hanging by the British Mandate courts, contributed to the establishment of the State of Israel. On July 13, 1980, the anniversary of the death of Etsel military leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Prime Minister Menachem Begin spoke at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem of those who fought both overtly and clandestinely: “Ö with their blood they sprouted the tree of freedom for their People, with their bodies they paved the way to the mountaintop”.

The Brit Hayyale Ha’Etsel organization (est. 1983) is committed to commemorating the memory of the fighters throughout the generations and to preserving their legacy.

Goals: to organize former Etsel members within a non-partisan social framework, encourage historical research, literary works and documentation to endow the legacy of the Etsel and its fighters. From the start, the organization has worked to achieve government recognition of the Etsel’s contribution to national liberation, defense of the Jewish Yishuv in Eretz Israel against Arab rioters and the struggle against the British authorities and against the Arab armies during the War of Independence. The Alliance (“Brit”) works to have the Etsel’s fallen, injured and missing declared as fallen IDF soldiers.

The organization worked to erect a memorial monument dedicated to the Acre prison escapees, to those who fell during the Altalena Affair and to those hanged on the gallows by the British. It has also established the Etsel Museum and the Etsel Museum 1948 named after Amichai Paglin (Gidi) in Tel Aviv-Jaffa in collaboration with the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Etsel Museum in Jabotinsky Shuni Park in Binyamina and the monument commemorating the 51 Etsel members who fell in the battle for Ramlah in 1948. The organization also conducts memorial services and holds services commemorating the fighters in the Etsel plots in cemeteries around Israel. The operations of the Brit, including documentation, publishing and film production, expose the public to the heroism of the Etsel fighters at the dawn of our independence.

— Yosef Kister
Jabotinsky Institute historical consultant and researcher

Description of the Stamp and First Day Cover
The stamp design is based on a photograph of Etsel combat soldiers who fought in the Menashia Battle in Jaffa (April 25-May 1, 1948).

The stamp tab features a quote from the Betar Song, written by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and the Etsel Badge, which was presented by the Ministry of Defense to those who served in the Etsel.

The FDC features a photograph of the Etsel’s Jerusalem Regiment in formation, Jerusalem August 4, 1948.

From left to right: Mordechai Raanan and Menachem Begin.

The photographs and quote are courtesy of Jabotinsky Institute in Israel.

Zionist Organization of America (Israel 2017)

from Israel Post; this souvenir leaf will be issued February 7, 2017:
120 Years of the Zionist Organization of America
[Souvenir Leaf]

The ZOA, founded in 1897, is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. Its roster of distinguished presidents includes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver who led the fight in America to reestablish the Jewish State, and currently, Morton A. Klein who was named one of the top five influential Jewish leaders by the Forward newspaper.

With chapters throughout the United States, ZOA works to educate the U.S. Congress, the media and the public about the ongoing Arab/Islamist war against Israel, and to strengthen and enhance the U.S.-Israel relationship. We promote the legal, religious, political and historic right of Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, and emphasize the truth that an undivided Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and the Jewish people.

ZOA led the fight to ensure that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act was interpreted to protect Jewish students from discrimination and harassment in federally funded schools. Providing programs, materials and other resources and support to students on college campuses across the country, we are building informed, strong and effective Zionist leaders for the future.

ZOA also has an Israel office in Jerusalem, which works to educate local and visiting government officials, community leaders, journalists, academics and others about ZOAís views on the important issues facing Israel.

The officeís educational and advocacy initiatives have improved security in eastern Jerusalem, addressed anti-Semitic incitement and the plight of victims of Arab terrorism, and encouraged pride in Israelís national rights and Zionist ideals.

— The Zionist Organization of America

Description of the Stamp
The photograph of the Statue of Liberty is from Fotolia. The photograph of the Knesset Menorah and the images of the Israeli and American flags are from Shutterstock.

The four symbols on the stamp represent the main areas of ZOA activity: Congress, Justice system, Higher Education and Media.

Aromatic Plants (Israel 2017)

from Israel Post; these stamps will be issued February 7, 2017:
“Who is she that comes up from the desert like columns of smoke, in clouds of myrrh and frankincense, of all the powders of the merchant” (Song of Songs 3:6).

The Aromatic Plants stamp series features different types of myrrh and frankincense, aromatic plants which were very significant in the history of Eretz Israel.

Today, Aromatic Plants are mostly thought of as fragrant plants used for the production of volatile fragrant materials ñ “essential oils”, by the distillation process. However, in the distant past this process was unknown and perfumes were produced using methods of extraction or resin drainage from certain plants.

Thus, myrrh and frankincense, which grew mainly in the Red Sea area of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, became an important and precious source for perfumes.

Throughout history, these plants have been used for cosmetics, medicine and mainly for religious rituals in ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Christian and Far Eastern temples.

They are mentioned frequently in the Bible and are among the ingredients used in the incense offering made in the Temple.

The great demand for these plants led to the establishment of trade routes, where caravans of camels carried their wares from the key growing areas to Egypt, Eretz Israel and Europe. Over time, Eretz Israel became an important crossroads on the Incense Route, which was controlled by the Nabateans.

In addition, Eretz Israel was known for growing another well known aromatic plant ñ balsam, which grew mainly in the Dead Sea and Gilead area. Balsam was unique to Eretz Israel and was also used for cosmetics, medicine and incense, and was an important economic resource. Thus, the method for its production was kept confidential, as referenced in the mosaic floor in the ancient synagogue unearthed in Ein Gedi.

A genus (Boswellia) of the Burseraceae family that includes a number of tree and bush species from which the resin used for the incense called frankincense is derived. The resin is collected in containers after puncturing the bark of the young tree trunk.

A genus (Commiphora) that also belongs to the Burseraceae family which includes species of bushes from which the resin used for the incense called myrrh is derived by slicing the bark of young branches. The species most commonly used is Commiphora mirrha.

The balsam plant is mentioned in ancient writings and is consistent with the biblical Tzori plant which served as the source for producing high quality perfume. After some deliberation regarding the identification of the plant, there is now widespread agreement among researchers identifying it as one of the myrrh species of the Burseraceae family, Commiphora gileadensis, which still grows in the southern Arabian Peninsula. This plant was introduced to Israel and acclimatized in recent years and is now cultivated in the Ein Gedi and northern Dead Sea area.

— Prof. Nativ Dudai, Ph.D
The Unit of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants
Agricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya’ar Research Center

UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Israel 2017)

from Israel Post; these stamps will be issued February 7, 2017:
In 1972, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved an agreement to protect world heritage sites. The program included rules to assess natural and cultural sites and determine their significance to mankind’s common cultural heritage. Every country prepares a list of its sites and once a year the UNESCO World Heritage Center conducts a special meeting to choose which of the nominated sites shall be included in the list of United Nations World Heritage Sites.

In 1999, Israel joined the agreement and submitted sites for consideration, and since 2001 a number of Israeli sites have been added to the list: Old City of Acre (2001), Masada (2001), White City of Tel Aviv (2003), Biblical Tels ñ Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba (2005), Incense Route ñ Desert Cities in the Negev (Avdat, Mamshit, Haluza and Shivta) (2005), Baha’i Holy Places (2008), Nahal Me’arot Caves (2012), Maresha and Bet-Guvrin Caves (2014), Bet She’arim Necropolis (2015).

Nahal Me’arot Caves
Four caves are carved into the mountain on the southern slope of Mount Carmel, at the entrance to the Nahal Me’arot Caves. Archeological excavations conducted at the site from 1928 to the present have discovered evidence of human existence near and inside the caves over hundreds of thousands of years. Among the many findings were remnants of houses, various stone tools, jewelry, bones of animals used for food and graves.

Bet She’arim Necropolis
Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi, leader of the Jewish people in the late 2nd century CE, was buried at his behest in the cemetery in the town of Bet She’arim in the western Jezreel Valley. Many others subsequently asked to be buried near the final resting place of the admired leader. Dozens of burial caves were carved into the hillsides and on the outskirts of the town. Jews were brought from all over Eretz Israel and even from faraway lands to be buried there. The hundreds of epitaphs found in the caves provide information about the Jewish lifestyle in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE.

Maresha and Bet-Guvrin Caves
Residents of the city of Maresha, in the southern Judean plain, carved many spaces beneath their homes into the soft chalk bedrock upon which the city was built. These spaces served as water reservoirs, agricultural production facilities, storage rooms, pigeon raising, burial caves and more. After Maresha was destroyed in the 1st century BCE a new city called Bet-Guvrin was constructed nearby. In the Byzantine period, the townspeople carved bricks out of the chalk in deep, bell-shaped caves.

In June 2007, Acre, Tel Aviv and Masada stamps were issued as part of the World Heritage Site stamp series and in August 2007 the Biblical Tels and Incense Route stamps were added.

Description of the Stamps
Nahal Me’arot Caves The view from inside the cave toward the Nahal Me’arot Caves landscape (photo by Ronen Goldberg).

Carved flint hand axe from the Lower Paleolithic period found in the Tabun Cave. (photo: Midad Sokolovski; courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority).

Topographic map of Nahal Me’arot Caves (based on an Israel Antiquities Authority map).

Bet She’arim Necropolis
FaÁade of the Sarcophagi Cave, cave number 20 (courtesy of the Nature and Parks Authority, photo: Tsvika Tsuk).

Plaster relief in the shape of a menorah in the Sarcophagi Cave (photo: Shutterstock).

Partial diagram of the caves (based on a sketch in a Nature and Parks Authority pamphlet).

Maresha and Bet-Guvrin Caves
Bell cave in Bet-Guvrin (photo: Shutterstock).

Cave drawing of Cerberus, mythological hound that guards the gates of the underworld, from the Sidon Burial Cave (courtesy of the Nature and Parks Authority, photo: Jonny Limonik).

Partial diagram of the caves in the Maresha and Bet-Guvrin area (based on a sketch in a Nature and Parks Authority pamphlet).

Krav Maga (Martial Art) (Israel 2017)

from Israel Post; this stamp will be issued February 7, 2017:
Krav Maga is an Israeli martial art designed for self-defense, a method that allows anyone to defend him or herself against acts of violence. Krav Maga students learn how to protect themselves from arm and leg blows, strangulations, stabbing, bludgeoning and even how to deal with gun threats. Krav Maga is unique due to its simplicity and effectiveness in utilizing the attacker’s weak points. The technique was developed during the Yishuv period prior to the creation of the State of Israel, when the British Mandate government banned the bearing of arms following the 1936-39 Arab revolts. The Yishuv Council decreed that every Jewish boy and girl from the age of 13 and up must learn how to defend themselves in time of need. Krav Maga was also an inherent part of the training for members of the various underground defense organizations. The early Krav Maga was a combination of boxing and Japanese jujutsu. The jujutsu drills, however proved to be too difficult to master and therefore new, original drills, unique in their effectiveness and simplicity, were developed.

In the Yishuv, Krav Maga was initially called ìface-to-face combatî and included the use of a hoe handle as a defensive and offensive tool, providing a sense of security at a time when it was illegal to bear arms.

When the State of Israel and the IDF were established in 1948, Krav Maga became part of the standard training for combat soldiers. The head instructor was Imi Lichtenfeld, who founded the first civilian school for Krav Maga when he retired from the IDF in 1964. Lichtenfeld expanded the method to provide a solution to civilian threats, utilizing the military principles of simplicity and efficiency. In the 1980’s the method was exported outside of Israel. Today, Krav Maga is taught in every large Western city and is the chosen method of security forces in Israel and abroad.

— Aviad Segal
Israeli Fighting School for Krav Maga

Description of the Stamp and First Day Cover
The stamp presents the development of the method. The stamp features trainees practicing a side kick against a punch from the side (photo: Pini Hemo). The tab features a Krav Maga fight from the Yishuv period, when trainees used hoe handles. (courtesy of the Palmach photo curator, Palmach Museum). The First Day Cover design is based on a photo courtesy of Aviad Segal.

David Bowie (UK 2017)

[press release]

  • Royal Mail will issue a set of 10 Special Stamps as a tribute to one of the most influential music and cultural figures of all time
  • This is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire stamp issue to an individual music artist or cultural figure.
  • Six stamps will feature images of the album covers: Hunky Dory; Aladdin Sane; “Heroes”; Let’s Dance; Earthling and ★ (Black Star).
  • Completing the set, four additional stamps will show Bowie performing live on tours across four decades: The Ziggy Stardust Tour, 1972;  The Stage Tour, 1978;The Serious Moonlight Tour, 1983; and A Reality Tour, 2004.
  • Fans can pre-order the stamps from today by visiting
  • The stamps will be on sale from 14 March 2017 at and from 7,000 Post Office branches across the UK and by calling 03457 641 641

Royal Mail today [January 25, 2017] revealed it will issue a set of 10 Special Stamps to honour David Bowie – one of the most influential music and cultural figures of all time.

This is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire stamp issue to an individual music artist or cultural figure.

The stamps are issued in the year of what would have been his 70th birthday, and 50 years since his first album release.

Endlessly innovative and pioneering, he is widely regarded as having elevated his music to an art form.

Six of the stamps showcase Bowie’s changing musical styles and personas across the decades and feature images of some of his most admired and defining album covers: Hunky Dory; Aladdin Sane; “Heroes”; Let’s Dance; Earthling and ★. The arc of the vinyl album protrudes from the right hand side of each stamp.

Completing the set, four stamps show Bowie in action performing live on tours across four decades; The Ziggy Stardust Tour, 1972; The Stage Tour, 1978; The Serious Moonlight Tour, 1983; and A Reality Tour, 2004.

The stamps and a range of limited edition souvenirs are available to pre-order from today at and will be on sale from 14 March 2017.

Bowie’s 1972 album cover for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars was featured in the Classic Album Covers stamp set issued in January 2010.

The only other music artists to have been honoured with a dedicated stamp issue are groups; The Beatles (2010) and Pink Floyd (2015).

A year-long poll undertaken by New Musical Express magazine in 2000 canvassed opinion from musicians worldwide as to the most influential artist. The result of this poll placed Bowie at Number One.

Album cover stamps
Hunky Dory, Bowie’s fourth album and released in December 1971. Time magazine chose it as part of their “100 best albums of all time” list in January 2010.

Aladdin Sane, his sixth album and released in April 1973. The album features the iconic photograph by Brian Duffy.

Heroes, his twelfth studio album and released in October 1977. This was the second instalment of his “Berlin Trilogy” recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. The title track remains one of Bowie’s best known and acclaimed songs.

Let’s Dance, his fifteenth studio album and released in April 1983. Co-produced by Nile Rodgers, and featuring three of his most successful singles Let’s Dance, Modern Love and China Girl. Let’s Dance is Bowie’s best-selling album.

Earthling, his twentieth studio album and released in February 1997. The striking cover art features Bowie in an Alexander McQueen designed Union Flag coat.

Bowie’s 28th and final studio album, released on his 69th birthday – 8 January 2016 – and charting at No.1 in more than 20 countries. Bowie died two days after the release of ★, the album reaffirming his legacy as modern music’s most unrelenting innovator and topping critics’ ‘Best of 2016’ lists.

Live stamps
The Ziggy Stardust Tour, 1972. The tour promoted The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars studio album and took in the UK, North America, and Japan.

The Serious Moonlight Tour, 1983. The tour was designed to support the Let’s Dancealbum and was Bowie’s longest, largest and most successful concert tour.

The Stage Tour, 1978.  Also known as Isolar II – The 1978 World Tour and The Low / “Heroes” World Tour because it was staged to promote the Low and “Heroes” albums

A Reality Tour, 2004.  Staged to promote the Reality album this tour was to be Bowie’s last tour.

Philip Parker, Royal Mail stamp Strategy manager, said: “For five decades David Bowie was at the forefront of contemporary culture, and has influenced successive generations of musicians, artists, designers and writers. Royal Mail’s stamp issue celebrates this unique figure and some of his many celebrated personas.”

The stamps are available from 14 March 2017, at 7,000 Post Office branches across the UK and

APS Vacancy: Director of Shows

The American Philatelic Society reports its Show Manager, Megan Orient, will be leaving following AmeriStamp Stamp Expo (March 3-5, Reno, Nevada) “to be closer to her family.” We understand that that is in Pittsburgh.

Orient was hired by the APS less than two years ago. According to the APS press release in May 2015, “she and her husband are planning to make Centre County, Pennsylvania a long-term home.” APS Headquarters is located in Bellefonte, Pa., the county seat of Centre County.

However, that press release also said she and her husband have a young son. The job description just posted by the APS says the position “requires significant travel, weekend work, and work outside of standard hours.” Typically, the show manager not only goes out to the APS’ twice-annual show locations early and stays after the end of the shows, but also goes to potential venues for first-hand assessments of their suitability.

The Virtual Stamp Club interviewed Orient for a May 2015 radio feature, which you can hear here.

According to that press release, she had both training and experience in convention and event planning. She succeeded Dana Guyer, who left the APS to become executive director of the American Stamp Dealers Association.

Israel’s 2017 Stamp Program

From Israel Post; subject to change



  • Memorial Day 2017
  • 50 Years of the Reunification of Jerusalem
  • 50 Years of Settlement in Ramat Hagolan, Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria
  • Joint Issue with Portugal
  • The Passover Hagadah


  • The 20th Maccabiah Games
  • WW1 Centenary – Allenby in Jerusalem
  • Joint issue with Russia
  • Israeli Love Songs


  • Festivals 2017
  • 100 Years Since the Balfour Declaration
  • Shimon Peres
  • 100 Years of Habima Theater
  • Joint Issue Croatia


  • Philately Day – Snakes
  • Submarines in Israel
  • Ancient Roman Arenas
  • Social integration of people with disabilities

UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Canada 2017)

Issue date: January 16, 2017

  • Dinosaur Provincial Park
  • Mistaken Point
  • Historic District of Old Québec
  • L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site
  • Red Bay Basque Whaling Station

From Canada Post’s Details magazine:

Don’t miss your last chance to see Canada’s most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage sites – on our stamps, that is.

Crafted by Lara Minja, of Lime Design, these definitive stamps showcase five places in Canada that have special status because of their importance to the common heritage of humanity. Mistaken Point (N.L.), the Historic District of Old Québec (Que.) and L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (N.L.) make their debut in the series, while Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alta.) and Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (N.L.) enjoy an encore.

Cancelled in a fishing community near Mistaken Point – Canada’s latest UNESCO site – the Official First Day Cover boasts a souvenir sheet with some hidden features in celebration of Canada’s sesqui- centennial. Use black light to explore our tribute to these captivating sites and you’ll find the official Canada 150 logo and text waiting to be discovered. [January 16th press release]
Stamps showcase five UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Earth’s earliest complex large life forms, a Viking settlement and Old Québec’s well-preserved historic district are all celebrated

OTTAWA, Jan. 16, 2017 /CNW/ – Canadians are invited to discover the country’s early historic settlements and to envision the origins of complex organisms on this planet by new stamps depicting UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

“These sites are treasures for Canada and the world – and we hope that these stamps instill pride and arouse a sense of wonder in every Canadian,” says Canada Post President and CEO Deepak Chopra.

Three of the stamps feature sites that are new to the multi-year series, which has celebrated all 18 sites:

Mistaken Point (N.L.), at the southeastern tip of Newfoundland, gives us some sense of what life looked like when organisms began to get larger than microbes and complex. Embedded along this gorgeous coastline are groups of the oldest known fossils of ancient soft-bodied life forms, dating back 560 to 580 million years. These strange multi-celled organisms ranged in size from as small as a fingernail to as long as a metre and had no legs or eyes. They are believed to be the planet’s first large life forms.

The Historic District of Old Québec (Que.), founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, is still bustling with activity, yet has maintained the integrity of essential historical buildings and spaces over more than four centuries. Fortified with walls, gates and bastions, this is the only colonial city north of Mexico to have preserved its ramparts.

L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (N.L.), at the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, contains timber-framed turf dwellings built by a Norse expedition more than 1,000 years ago. The settlement is the earliest known European presence in North America.

The remaining two stamps bear images of locations that appeared on U.S.-rate stamps issued in 2015:

Dinosaur Provincial Park (Alta.), was declared a World Heritage site for its exceptional fossil specimens of Cretaceous dinosaurs, as well as undisturbed badlands and riverside habitat.

Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (N.L.), on the south coast of Labrador, is the most complete and extensive example of a 16th-century Basque whaling station in North America.

World Heritage Sites are chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which “seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.”

Designed by Lara Minja of Lime Design, the 24 mm x 20 mm self-adhesive stamps are sold in booklets of 10 and 30. A gummed souvenir sheet of the five stamps, an Official First Day Cover cancelled in Trepassey, NL, and postage-paid postcards of the three new stamp images are also available. Postage-paid postcards for Dinosaur Provincial Park and Red Bay Basque Whaling Station are also available.