Postage Stamps as Propaganda (Oct, 1938)
Postage Stamps as Propaganda
by MONTGOMERY MULFORD
THERE is no doubt that today postage stamps are being used for propaganda purposes. Because they serve governments in this way, new stamps are constantly being issued. Each year many new issues appear, and a vast majority of them suggest or preach, some political ideal.
Many nations have been accused of increasing the postal paper deluge; among the topnotchers of late, stands Italy. While the United States will issue one stamp to commemorate some purpose or incidentâ€”or infrequently produce a short seriesâ€”a country such as Italy will bring out a long suit of stamps. It will include both complete sets of postage and airmail stamps. Sometimes a special delivery airmail is added. Thus Italy deluges not only its own country, but foreign lands with its political conceptsâ€”because quantities of stamps are exported throughout the world for collectors. Soviet Russia and other nations have done the same thing in the past.
Symbols play a very forward part in the designs of stamps. Hence Italy will show the faces representative of modern Fascism and ancient Rome. Soviet Russia depicts on innumerable stamps, its communist emblem of scythe and hammer.
Portraits and likenesses of heroes and heroines play a large part in stamp illustrations. In 1932, when Italy celebrated the first decade of the Fas-ciest regime, under Benito Mussolini, a long series was produced. It bore such designs as that of Mussolini himself, as well as of a royal statue in Rome. Of greater importance than these likenesses are the inscriptions, or mottoes, found on each value of this stamp series. “If I advance, follow me,” appears upon one. These mottoes are written in Latin, and they have a particular and pointed meaning, tie up with the designs, and aim to spread the doctrine and the meaning of Fascism as advanced and preached by II Duce.
Thus we can plainly and readily observe the reason for the postage stamp deluge each yearâ€”1937 saw over two thousand new stamps added to the many thousands already in existence. And 1938 is not, to date, lagging behind in production of still further issues. Soviet airmen conquer the North Poleâ€”by flying over it, as well as establishing Arctic basesâ€”and the Moscow government issues special postage stamps commemorating their feat. Instances such as these can be multiplied ceaselessly, evidence that postage stamps are propaganda.