The Kansas-Nebraska Act & Overprints

May 30, 1854 – The Kansas-Nebraska Act becomes law establishing the U.S. Territories of Kansas and Nebraska.

On May 1, 1929, the United States Postal Service issued stamps known as the Kansas-Nebraska Overprints.  These were Regular Issue stamps with an added black colored overprint that read ‘Kans.’ or ‘Nebr.’ The letters in the overprint resemble typewriter characters with serifs. Only the denominations of 1-cent to 10-cents were overprinted. The overprints were authorized and added to the 1926–27 printings to counter the rash of stamp thefts suffered by various mid-western rural Post offices. It is estimated that a one-year supply of the Regular Issues received the overprinting. Officials believed that stamps overprinted with the abbreviated names of the individual states would be difficult to sell, or ‘fence’, in other states. The original plan was to produce overprints for all states, and Kansas and Nebraska were selected to initiate the experiment. As events turned out Kansas and Nebraska were the only states to receive this type of overprint. Every Post Office in Kansas and Nebraska received overprinted stamps except for those in Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita, Omaha, and Lincoln: in these larger cities, security at post offices was considered adequate; accordingly, the use of overprinted stamps was deemed necessary only in small, usually rural, post offices. Unfortunately, the rules for selling these overprints resulted in general confusion among both customers and postal clerks: consequently, the overprinted stamps remained in use for less than a year, being discontinued on March 29, 1930. Printed with the Rotary Press, the overprints were issued with perforation size, 11 x 10½. The overprints were added before the stamps received their adhesive gum on their backs. Fakes and forgeries exist for some of the more valuable overprint issues which are usually detected by noting the impression the forged letters leave in the adhesive gum on the reverse of the stamp, as any fraudulent overprinting is always applied after the stamp has received its gum and has been issued.

Kansas Nebraska Overprints U.S.A. - 1929


Jewish Resistance in the Ukraine – 1942

May 29, 1942: At Radziwillow, Ukraine, the Germans rounded up three thousand Jews with the intention of slaughtering them. Asher Czerkaski led the resistance against the Germans. While 1500  were killed another  1,500 found temporary safety in the forests.

Radziwiłłów is a small city in the Rivne Oblast province of western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Radyvyliv Raion district, and is located south-west of the oblast capital, Rivne, near European route E40. The nearest larger cities are Dubno, and Brody. In Soviet times, from 1939 to 1992, the city was known as Chervonoarmiysk. The current estimated population is 10,311 (as of 2001).

In the 14th century, together with whole Volhynia, Radzillow was annexed by the Grand Ducy of Lithuania. Following the 1569 Union of Lublin, the town was transferred to the Kingdom of Poland, where it remained for over 200 years. As a result of the Partitions of Poland, Radziwllow, as it was called, became part of the Russian Empire.

Its residents were Jewish (50%), Ukrainian (31%), and Polish (17%). During the Volhynian Genocide, ethnic Poles from villages in the area fled to the town, to escape Ukrainian nationalists. Almost all those who survived the slaughter left Radzillow, and settled in the Peoples Republic of Poland’s Recovered Territories.

In the late 1800s, the Jewish population reached 4,000. Between World War I and the civil war between Ukrainian nationalists and Bolsheviks, the Jewish population declined.

Shown here is a postcard, estimated to be printed in the early 20th century, picturing the entry gate to the Castle of the Princes in Radzillow.

Radziwillow Ukraine Postcard

Thomas Moore, 1779-1852

May 28, 1779 – Birthdate of Thomas Moore.  Moore was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of “The Minstrel Boy” and “The Last Rose of Summer”. He was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron’s memoirs after his death. In his lifetime he was often referred to as Anacreon Moore.

Moore is often considered Ireland’s National Bard and is to Ireland what Robert Burns is to Scotland. Moore is commemorated in several places: by a plaque on the house where he was born, by busts at The Meetings and Central Park, New York, and by a bronze statue near Trinity College Dublin. There is a road in Walkinstown, Dublin, named Thomas Moore Road, in a series of roads named after famous composers, locally referred to as the Musical Roads.

Many composers have set the poems of Thomas Moore to music. They include Gaspare Spontini, Robert Schumann, Hector Berlioz, Charles Ives, William Bolcom, Lori Laitman, Benjamin Britten and Henri Duparc.

The song “Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms” is often used in a famous gag in a number of Warner Borthers cartoons, usually involving a piano or xylophone rigged to explode when a certain note is played. The hero, typically Bugs Bunny, tries to play the melody line of the song, but always misses the rigged note (C above middle C). The villain or rival, finally exasperated, pushes the hero aside and plays the song himself, striking the correct note and blowing himself up. In one instance, however, the protagonist plays the melody on a xylophone and, upon striking the rigged note, the antagonist explodes in an “old gag, new twist.”

Moore died being cared for by his wife at Sloperton on February 26, 1852. His remains are in a vault at St. Nicholas churchyard, Bromham, within view of his cottage-home, beside his daughter Anastasia.

Ireland issued a 2-1/2 penny stamp in 1945 honoring Thomas Moore:

thomas moore - ireland - 1945

Pope Francis’ visit to Israel – 2014

May 26, 2014: Pope Francis is scheduled to visit the Grand Mufti, the Dome of the rock, the Western Wall, Mount Herzl Cemetery, Yad Vashem, Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and several priests and Christian leaders before departing for Rome this evening.

The Vatican City postal administration issued this € 0,70 stamp in 2015 honoring the pope.

pope francis - vatican city - 2015

Henri Rousseau, 1844 – 1910

May 21, 1844 – Birthdate of Henri Rousseau, French painter.

Rousseau was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naïve or Primitive manner.  He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector.  Ridiculed during his lifetime by critics, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.  Rousseau’s work exerted an extensive influence on several generations of avant-garde artists.

His best-known paintings depict jungle scenes, even though he never left France or saw a jungle. Stories spread by admirers that his army service included the French Expeditionary force to Mexico are unfounded. His inspiration came from illustrations in children’s books and the botanical gardens in Paris, as well as tableaux of taxidermy wild animals. He had also met soldiers during his term of service who had survived the French expedition to Mexico, and he listened to their stories of the subtropical country they had encountered. To the critic Arsène Alexandre, he described his frequent visits to the Jardin des Plantes “When I go into the glass houses and I see the strange plants of exotic lands, it seems to me that I enter into a dream.”

Along with his exotic scenes there was a concurrent output of smaller topographical images of the city and its suburbs.

He claimed to have invented a new genre of portrait landscape, which he achieved by starting a painting with a specific view, such as a favourite part of the city, and then depicting a person in the foreground.

The Republic of Maldives issued a 10-rufiyaa stamp in 20o4 featuring Rousseau’s painting “Exotic Landscape”

Henri Rousseau - Maldives 2004

Sir Nicholas George Winton

May 19, 1909: Birthdate of Sir Nicholas George Winton, MBE a Briton who organized the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of the Second World War in an operation later known as the Czech Kindertransport. Winton found homes for them and arranged for their safe passage to Britain. The UK press has dubbed him the “British Schindler”.

The Czech Republic issued a stamp just last year, on February 9, 2015, honoring Winton:

Sir Nicholas George Winton - Czech Republic 2015

Claudio Monteverdi, 1567 – 1643

May 15, 1567 – Birthdate of Claudio Monteverdi, Italian priest and composer.

Monteverdi’s work, often regarded as revolutionary, marked the change from the Renaissance style of music to that of the Baroque period.  He developed two styles of composition – the heritage of Renaissance polyphony and the new basso continuo technique of the Baroque. Monteverdi wrote one of the earliest operas, L’Orfeo, a novel work that is the earliest surviving opera still regularly performed. He is widely recognized as an inventive composer who enjoyed considerable fame in his lifetime.

In 1993, Germany issued a 100-Mark stamp commemorating the 350th anniversary of Monteverdi’s death (Scott No. 1819).

Claudio Monteverdi - Germany 1993

Israel Independence Day, 1948

May 14, 1948 – Israel is declared to be an independent state and a provisional government is established. Immediately after the declaration, Israel is attacked by the neighboring Arab states, triggering the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

The UN declared a truce on May 29, which came into effect on June 11 and lasted 28 days.

On July 8, the day before the expiration of the truce, Egyptian forces under General Muhammad Naguib renewed the war by attacking Negba.  The following day, Israeli forces launched a simultaneous offensive on all three fronts. The fighting continued for ten days until the UN Security Council issued the Second Truce on July 18.

In 1949, Israel signed separate armistices with Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. The Armistice Demarcation Lines, as set by the agreements, saw the territory under Israeli control encompassing approximately three-quarters of the prior British administered Mandate as it stood after Transjordan’s independence in 1946.

The quest for true peace between Israel and the Arab countries that surround her, still continues today, although Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty in 1979, followed by a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel in 1994.

In 2008, Israel issued this 1.55 NIS stamp celebrating 60 years of Israeli Independence.

Israel Independence 60 years - 2008

Sholem Aleichem, 1859 – 1916

May 13, 1916 (10th of Iyar, 5676): Sholem Aleichem passed away.  Born Shalom Rabinowitz in the Ukraine, he grew up in the town of Vornokov which served as the model for the fictitious town of Kasrilevke that appears in his writings.  Shalom Aleichem began writing in Hebrew.  In 1883, he began writing in Yiddish which is when he adopted the pen name of Shalom Aleichem.  He used a pen name because he did not want to offend friends and family (including his father) who thought Jews should be writing in Hebrew.  Following the pogroms of 1905, the now famous author moved to the United States.  He died while living in the Bronx at the age of 59.  Shalom Aleichem employed humor and pathos to create a picture of the Shtetl.  He was called “the Jewish Mark Twain”.  His most famous character was Tevye the milkman, who became a worldwide favorite in the hit show and movie, “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Russia issued a stamp in 1959 honoring the 100th anniversary of this great author’s birthday.

Sholem Aleichem - Russia 1959


Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

May 7, 1824 – World premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria. The performance is conducted by Michael Umlauf under the composer’s supervision.

Mexico issued this 2-peso stamp in 1970 featuring an excerpt from the hand-written manuscript of this great symphonic work along with the composer’s signature:

Beethoven's Ninth Symphony - mexico 1970