Anthony Trollope, 1815 – 1882

April 24, 1815 – Birthdate of Anthony Trollope, English novelist, essayist, and short story writer.

Trollope was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Among his best-loved works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, which revolves around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote perceptive novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters.

Trollope’s literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century.

Trollope also had an impact on the development of postal technology.

From the Royal Mail’s press release:

“A limited edition of stamps was released by Great Britan’s Royal Mail in 2015 to mark 200 years since the birth of Anthony Trollope, who first introduced post boxes to the UK in the 1850s.

“The sheet of stamps features images of Trollope and his life and times, including the first pillar box design.

“Royal Mail is also marking the bicentenary of Trollope’s birth in 1815 by launching an online “family tree” showing post boxes through the ages.

“Famous as a novelist, Trollope is also known as the person who introduced freestanding postboxes or pillar boxes to the UK during his time working at the Post Office, after seeing them first in France.

“The first pillar boxes in the British Isles were erected in Jersey in 1852 as a trial before appearing across mainland Britain from 1853.

“Many of the UK’s first post boxes were painted green, to blend in with the landscape, but that was later changed to red to make them more visible to the public.

“The new colour was introduced in 1874 and it took 10 years to repaint all post boxes. Red has remained the standard colour for UK boxes with only a few exceptions, one being blue post boxes for overseas mail.

“Royal Mail now has 115,300 post boxes of all shapes and sizes across the country.

“Sue Whalley, Royal Mail’s chief operating officer, said: “We are delighted to contribute to this year’s bicentenary celebrations of the birth of Anthony Trollope.

‘He is well known as a former Post Office employee and we have him to thank for introducing pillar boxes to the UK.

‘Whether in walls, on poles or freestanding, the network of post boxes has grown from Trollope’s time to reach around over 115,000 boxes which are now an iconic feature of communities across the UK.'”

anthony trollope - UK commemorative sheet


President Harding and Pesach

April 23, 1921 (15 Nisan 5681): For the first time during the Presidency of Warren G. Harding, Jews observe Pesach.

Displayed today are postage stamps from the U.S. and Israel:  a 1-1/2 cent stamp portraying President Harding and a 1.20 NIS stamp celebrating Passover.

Warren G Harding - U.S.

Israel Pesach stamp



Marcel Dassault, 1892 – 1986

April 17, 1986 (8th of Nisan, 5746): Ninety-four year old French aircraft builder Marcel Dassault who, as Marcel Bloch, was imprisoned in Buchenwald for his refusal to collaborate with the Nazis passed away.  Dassault became a Catholic after the war.

France issued a € 3,60 stamp honoring Dassault in 1988:

Marcel Dassault - France 1988

The fall of Masada

April 16, 73 C.E. – Masada, a Jewish fortress, falls to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the Great Jewish Revolt.

Masada is an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau, akin to a mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Arad.

Herod the Great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. According to Josephus, the Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire towards the end of the First Jewish-Roman War ended in the mass suicide of 960 Jews – the Sicarii rebels and their families hiding there.

Masada is one of Israel’s most popular tourist attractions.

Israel released a set of 3 stamps commemorating the fortress in it’s series entitled, “Masada Shall Not Fall Again”.  The set was first issued on February 3, 1965 and included a 25-agorot stamp depicting the western view of the structure, a 36-agorot stamp showing Herod’s palace on the lower terrace and a 1-lira stamp with the northern palace.

Masada - Israel 3 values


Jews at the White Russian border

April 15, 1923: Preparations have been made along the White Russian border to provide food and shelter for Jewish refugees from Poland who are being forced to return to their former homes in the Soviet Union. (As reported by JTA)

Very few genuine stamps from the area known as White Russia exist.  The 5 rouble example shown here has been forged in at least 4 different varieties.  It shows a peasant couple whose dress is attributed to those living in White Russia.

The stamp bears the initials ‘BHP’ [BNR] which is a semi-official production for the army of General Bulak-Balakhowitch. General Bulak-Balakhowitch changed sides several times during the Civil War.

Examples of any of these on envelopes would be rare, as they were never officially used. There may be some forged envelopes, but this is unlikely as forgers often try to replicate reality, and in this case there was no reality.

According to the Stanley Gibbons catalogue ‘Stamps in this type, values 5, 120, 15, 50k and 1r were prepared for use by a force (army) raised by Gen. Bulak-Balakhovitch in 1920. We have never seen genuinely used copies and have no evidence of their issue’ — for postal purposes, that is.

white russia

“The Grapes of Wrath”

April 14, 1939 – The Grapes of Wrath, by American author John Steinbeck is first published by the Viking Press.

The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.

Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future.

The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes due to its historical context and enduring legacy.  A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, was made in 1940.

The United States issued a 15-cent stamp in 1979 honoring Steinbeck as part of its Literary Arts series (Scott No. 1773):

John Steinbeck - USA

Thomas Jefferson

April 13, 1743: Birthdate of Thomas Jefferson.  “Thomas Jefferson is deservedly a hero to American Jewry. His was one of the few voices in the early republic fervently championing equal political rights for Jews. Jefferson’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia is a classic American statement of religious toleration. Significantly, while Jefferson championed the rights of Jews and other religious minorities, he did not do so out of respect for Judaism but because he respected the right of every individual to hold whichever faith they wished…. Despite his reservations about the perceived “defects” in Judaism, Jefferson never wavered in his commitment to civil and religious freedom for Jews. Jefferson’s most notable achievement in establishing religious and civic toleration for American Jewry was his 1779 Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in Virginia. Adopted in 1785, the Bill proclaimed: “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess. . . their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise . . . affect their civil capacities.”  Two years later, in 1787, the U. S. Constitution was adopted. Article VI contains the following, Jefferson-inspired phrase: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Despite his attitude toward Judaism as a religion, Jefferson’s advocacy of the rights of Jews –and those of other religious minorities – has become the law and custom of the land. Toleration of all religions, the absence of an official government religion, and the right to practice and express religious thought freely are the hallmarks of Jefferson’s legacy. Despite his private views of Judaism, he was indeed a most ‘righteous Gentile.’”

There are many stamps honoring the 3rd president of the United States – issued by both the U.S. and foreign countries.  This one from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition is my favorite:

Thomas Jefferson - US - 1904

Halley’s Comet – “Maybe Twice in a Lifetime”

April 10, 837 – Halley’s Comet makes its closest approach to Earth at a distance equal to 0.0342 AU (5.1 million kilometres/3.2 million miles).

Halley’s Comet is a short-period comet visible from Earth every 75–76 years.  Halley is the only known short-period comet that is clearly visible to the naked eye from Earth, and the only naked-eye comet that might appear twice in a human lifetime.  Halley last appeared in the inner parts of the Solar System in 1986 and will next appear in mid-2061.

Halley’s returns to the inner Solar System have been observed and recorded by astronomers since at least 240 BC. Clear records of the comet’s appearances were made by Chinese, Babylonian, and medieval European chroniclers, but were not recognized as reappearances of the same object at the time. The comet’s periodicity was first determined in 1705 by English astronomer Edmond Halley, after whom it is now named.

During its 1986 apparition, Halley’s Comet became the first comet to be observed in detail by spacecraft, providing the first observational data on the structure of a comet nucleus and the mechanism of coma and tail formation.  These observations supported a number of longstanding hypotheses about comet construction, particularly Fred Whipple’s “dirty snowball” model, which correctly predicted that Halley would be composed of a mixture of volatile ices – such as water, carbon dioxide, and ammonia – and dust. The missions also provided data that substantially reformed and reconfigured these ideas; for instance, now it is understood that the surface of Halley is largely composed of dusty, non-volatile materials, and that only a small portion of it is icy.

In 1986, Great Britain issued this 31-pence stamp portraying Halley’s Comet and the phrase “Maybe Twice in Lifetime.”  The use of the word ‘maybe’ on the 31p British stamp issued in 1986 to commemorate the comet’s appearance that year reflects the increased chance of one’s opportunity to see the comet more than once during their life.  The artist Ralph Steadman drew the four stamps issued by Royal Mail for this event and received a BBC Design Award for the set.

halley's comet - 31p - Great Britain


April 9, 2006: Concentration camp survivor Emil Alperin of the Ukraine is pictured in an Associated Press photo laying down flowers at Buchenwald near Weimar in eastern Germany as part of the commemoration ceremonies for the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the former Nazi concentration camp.

East Germany (Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR) issued a stamp – Scott No. 2702 – in 1988 commemorating the 30-year anniversary of the placement of a memorial monument at the Buchenwald concentration camp site.

buchenwald - ddr - 1988