Turkish Postal Language Restrictions

December 31, 1914: “The Provisional Executive Committee for general Zionist affairs…announced ‘today’ that the Turkish Post Office has prohibited the use of all languages except Turkish, Arabic, French and German” which will present a problem for Jews writing to Palestine because most of them write in Yiddish, Hebrew and/or Russian.  (Mitch Levin)

So, while they may exist, covers mailed to and from Palestine and addressed using Yiddish, Hebrew and Russian are rare.

In 1920, Transjordan was separated and distinctive overprints on postage stamps for the two territories came into use.  As Palestine came under the civil administration of the British Mandate of Palestine falling into line with League of Nations rules, the High Commissioner sanctioned stamps (as pictured below) and coins bearing the three official languages of British Mandate Palestine: English, Arab, and Hebrew.  Between 1920 and 1923 six such distinctive overprints were issued: four produced in Jerusalem, two in London.  (Wikipedia)

Shown here is a 2 milliemes postage stamp printed prior to 1920, while the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force (E.E.F.) occupied Palestine and then overprinted in 1920 in Arabic, English and Hebrew:



King Charles IV & Queen Zita

December 30, 1916 – The last coronation in Hungary is performed for King Charles IV and Queen Zita.

Charles I (Karl Franz Joseph Ludwig Hubert Georg Otto Marie; August 17, 1887 – April 1, 1922) was the last ruler of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary (as Charles IV), and the last monarch belonging to the House of Habsburg-Lorraine. After his uncle Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in 1914, Charles I reigned from 1916 until 1919 when he “renounced participation” in state affairs, but did not abdicate. He spent the remaining years of his life attempting to restore the monarchy until his death in 1922. Following his beatification by the Catholic Church in 2004, he has become commonly known as Blessed Charles of Austria.

Historians have been mixed in their evaluations of Charles and his reign. One of the most critical has been Helmut Rumpler, head of the Habsburg commission of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, who has described Charles as “a dilettante, far too weak for the challenges facing him, out of his depth, and not really a politician.” However, others have seen Charles as a brave and honorable figure who tried as Emperor-King to halt the First World War.  (Wikipedia)

In 1918, the Hungarian Post Office issued the last of its Monarch series – a set of with 6 values – with the following stamps portraying King Charles (Scott No. 127) and Queen Zita (Scott No. 132):


Jewish National Fund

December 29, 1901: The Jewish National Fund (JNF) was founded. “The Jewish National Fund is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners – Jewish People everywhere.”  After several false starts, the delegates to the Fifth Zionist Congress passed a motion that a fund to be called Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) should be established, and that “the fund shall be the property of the Jewish people as a whole”.  The purpose of the fund would be to be purchase land in the land of Palestine that would belong to the Jewish people.  The JNF’s first undertaking was the collection of £200,000.  One of the delegates immediately pledged £10 in memory of Zvi Hermann Schapira who had been one of the prime mover’s behind the creation of the JNF. Theodore Herzl made the second donation and his aide, the third. And with this, the dream of a national fund–and a Jewish Homeland–became a reality.  (Mitch Levin)

The Jewish National Fund printed many cinderella stamps which were not valid for postage, but nonetheless were often affixed to envelopes in combination with official postage stamps to show support for the Jewish State.

The example shown here was printed for celebration of the Jewish New Year in 5702 (Gregorian Date:  1941)


Maggie Smith

December 28, 1934 – Birthdate of Maggie Smith, English actress.

Dame Margaret Natalie Smith, has had an extensive, varied career in stage, film and television spanning over sixty years. Smith has appeared in over 50 films and is one of Britain’s most recognizable actresses. A prominent figure in British culture for six decades, she was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990 for services to the performing arts, and received the Companion of Honour from the Queen in 2014 for services to drama.

Smith was born in Ilford, Essex, but moved with her family to Oxford when she was four years old. She is the daughter of Nathaniel Smith, a Newcastle-born public health pathologist who worked at Oxford University, and Margaret (née Hutton), a Glasgow-born secretary.

As a child, her parents used to tell Smith the romantic story of how they had met on the train from Glasgow to London via Newcastle. She has older twin brothers, Alistair and Ian, who went to architecture school. She attended Oxford High School until age sixteen, when she left to study acting at the Oxford Playhouse.

Smith played Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film series (2001–11) and the U.S. Postal Service issued a booklet of stamps in 2013 with photos of the major characters in the film series.  The panel pictured here shows Smith (lower right-hand corner) in her witchy garb:


Carl Zuckmayer, 1896 – 1977

December 27, 1896: Birthdate of German writer and playwright Carl Zuckmayer who did not think of himself as being Jewish until the rise of Hitler.  His mother was the daughter of a Protestant church councilor who had converted from Judaism.  This made him Jewish in the eyes of the Nazis and no doubt accounted for his fleeing to the United States where he spent World War II.  (Mitchell Levin)

Born in Nackenheim in Rhenish Hesse, he was the son of Amalie (née Goldschmidt) and Carl Zuckmayer.  When he was four years old, his family moved to Mainz. With the outbreak of World War I, he (like many other high school students) finished school with a facilitated “emergency”-Abitur and volunteered for military service. During the war he served with the German Army’s Field Artillery on the Western Front. In 1917, he published first poems in the pacifist journal Die Aktion and he was one of the signatures of the Appeal published by the Antinational Socialist Party after the German Revolution of November 9, 1918.

His first ventures into literature and theatre were complete failures. His first drama Kreuzweg (1921) fell flat and was delisted after only three performances, and when he was chosen as dramatic adviser at the theatre of Kiel, he lost his new job after his first, controversial staging of Terence’s The Eunuch. In 1924 he became dramaturg at the Deutsches Theatre in Berlin, jointly with Bertolt Brecht. After another failure with his second drama Pankraz erwacht oder Die Hinterwäldler he finally had a great public success with the comedy Der fröhliche Weinberg (“The Merry Vineyard”) in 1925, which won him the Kleist Prize.

In 1931, his play Der Hauptmann von Köpenick premiered and became another success, but his plays were prohibited when the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 (Zuckmayer’s maternal grandfather had been born Jewish and converted to Protestantism).  Zuckmayer and his family moved to their house in Austria, where he published a few more works. After the Anschluss, he was expatriated by the Nazi government, and the Zuckmayers fled via Switzerland to the United States in 1939, where he first worked as a script writer in Hollywood before renting Backwoods Farm near Barnard, Vermont in 1941 and working there as a farmer until 1946. In 1943/44 he wrote “character portraits” of actors, writers and other artists in Germany for the Office of Strategic Services, evaluating their involvement with the Nazi regime. This became known only in 2002, when the approximately 150 reports where published in Germany under the title Geheimreport.

Zuckmayer had been granted numerous awards, such as the Goethe Prize of the city of Frankfurt in 1952, the Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern in 1955, the Austrian Staatspreis für Literatur in 1960, Pour le Mérite in 1967, and the Austrian Verdienstkreuz am Band in 1968.

Germany issued a stamp in 1996 (Scott No. 1950) commemorating Zuckmayer’s 100th birthday:



The Treaty of Ghent, 1814

December 24, 1814 – Representatives of Britain and the United States sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.

Signed in the city of Ghent, Belgium, this treaty restored relations between the two nations to status quo ante bellum, restoring the borders of the two countries to the lines before the war started in June 1812.  The Treaty was approved by the UK parliament and signed into law by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV) on December 30, 1814. It took a month for news of the peace treaty to reach the United States, and in the meantime American forces under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. The Treaty of Ghent was not fully in effect until it was ratified by the U.S. Senate unanimously on February 17, 1815. It began two centuries of peaceful relations between the U.S. and Britain, although there were a few tense moments such as the Trent Affair.

Belgium issued a semi-postal stamp on May 16, 1964 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the treaty’s signing.


Boris Schatz, 1867 – 1932

December 23, 1867: Birthdate of Boris Schatz, the native of Lithuania who “founded the Bezalel School in Jerusalem.”  (Mitch Levin, http://thisdayinjewishhistory.blogspot.com/)

Schatz became known as the “father of Israeli art”.  His father, a teacher in a cheder (a religious school), sent him to study in a yeshiva in Vilnius, Lithuania.  In 1883, while at the yeshiva, he enrolled at the Vilnius School of Drawing, where he was a student until June 1885. In 1887, he met the Jewish sculptor Mark Antokolsky, who was visiting his parents. He showed Antokolsky a small figurine of a Jew in a prayer shawl he had carved from black stone. Antokolsky secured a stipend for Schatz and encouraged him to apply for the St. Petersburg Academy of Art, but the plan to study there did not work out. Meanwhile, he began to teach drawing privately in Vilna. In 1888, he moved to Warsaw and taught art in Jewish schools. His first sculpture “Hendel,” created in Warsaw, is an ode to the Jewish peddler.  In the summer of 1889, Schatz married Eugenia (Genia) Zhirmunsky.  In 1889, Schatz moved to Paris with wife to study at the Académie Cormon. In 1890, they lived in a small French town of Banyuls-sur-Mer, for six months. At the end of 1895, they moved to Sofia, Bulgaria, where their daughter Angelika was born in 1897.

In 1895, Schatz accepted an invitation from Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria to become the official court sculptor and to establish that country’s Royal Academy of Art. In 1900, he received a gold medal for his statue, Bust of an Old Woman.

Three years later, in 1903, he met Theodor Herzl and became an ardent Zionist. At the Fifth Zionist Congress of 1905, he proposed creating a Jewish art school. In 1906 he founded an art center in Jerusalem, later named “Bezalel” after Bezalel ben Uri, the biblical artisan who designed the Tabernacle and its ritual objects. In the following years, Schatz organized exhibitions of his students’ work in Europe and the United States; they were the first international exhibitions of Jewish artists from Palestine.

Schatz, a fiery visionary, wrote in his will: “To my teachers and assistants at Bezalel I give my final thanks for their hard work in the name of the Bezalel ideal. Moreover, I beg forgiveness from you for the great precision that I sometimes demanded of you and that perhaps caused some resentment … The trouble was that Bezalel was founded before its time, and the Zionists were not yet capable of understanding it.” Schatz’s will was publicized for the first time in 2005.  (from Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Schatz)

On March 7, 1972 – the 140th anniversary of Schatz’s death – Israel issued a stamp showing one of his works – a copper relief called “The Scribe”.


Bucaramanga, Colombia

December 22, 1622 – Bucaramanga, Colombia is founded.

Bucaramanga is the capital city of the department of Santander, Colombia. Bucaramanga has the fifth largest economy by GDP in Colombia, has the lowest unemployment rate, the highest GINI index, and has the eighth largest population in the country, with 530,900 people. Bucaramanga has over 160 parks scattered throughout the city and has been given the nickname “La Ciudad de Los Parques” (“The City of Parks”) and “La Ciudad Bonita de Colombia” (“Colombia’s Beautiful City”).

Bucaramanga has grown rapidly since the 1960s, mostly into neighboring locations within the metropolitan area. Floridablanca, Girón and Piedecuesta are inextricably linked geographically and commercially with Bucaramanga, and now all form together the Bucaramanga Metropolitan Area in Colombia with 1,276,329 inhabitants.

Many important personalities from Colombia are from Bucaramanga such as Luis Carlos Galán, presidential candidate murdered in 1989, Carlos Ardila Lülle, one of the most important businessmen in Colombia, Claudia Florez and Ivan Garzón.

Colombian artist Oscar Rodríguez Naranjo came back from France during the Second World War and settled in Bucaramanga. Rodríguez Naranjo taught at the art school while he made a number of paintings that would build up his reputation in Colombia.  In 1941 he became the Director of the Academia de Bellas Artes in Bucaramanga. Famous artist Margarita Velandia known by her work in city museum.

Colombia issued the following airmail stamp in 1972 which commemorates the 150th anniversary of the founding of the city of Bucaramanga:


Edith Piaf, 1915 – 1963

December 19, 1915 – Birthdate of Edith Piaf, French singer-songwriter and actress.

Piaf became widely regarded as France’s national chanteuse, as well as being one of France’s greatest international stars.

Her music was often autobiographical with her singing reflecting her life, and her specialty being chanson and Torch ballads, particularly of love, loss and sorrow. Among her well known songs are “La Vie en rose” (1946), “Non, je ne regrette rien” (1960), “Hymne à l’amour” (1949), “Milord” (1959), “La Foule” (1957), “L’Accordéoniste” (1955), and “Padam … Padam …” (1951).

Since her premature death in 1963 and with the aid of several biographies and films including 2007’s Academy Award winning La Vie en rose, Piaf has acquired a legacy as one of the greatest performers of the 20th century, and her voice and music continue to be celebrated globally.  (Wikipedia)

A number of countries have issued postage stamps honoring Edith Piaf.  The first shown here is a se-tenant pair with a Miles Davis stamp from the United States in 2012:


Belgium issued a 0,42-euro stamp in 1999 commemorating Ms. Piaf and noting her specialization in chanson:


And, in  2013 the Central African Republic – a former French colony – issued a mini-sheet on the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death with 4 images of the singer in very animated poses: