In anticipation of the upcoming Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium (December 8 – 9, 2022) to be hosted by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM) in Washington, DC, we present the third in a series of four parts introducing this year's speakers and their presentations.
This year's symposium will be a hybrid event with the opportunity to attend either in person or via Zoom. However, due to restrictions at the NPM only a limited number of spaces will be available, on a first come first serve basis, for those wishing to attend in person. If you are interested in attending the event in person please contact NPM Research Chair Susan Smith ([email protected]). For those wishing to attend via Zoom, registration can be done through the following link: REGISTER HERE.
In either case, registration is required whether in person or via Zoom. The schedule for the presentations is still in the process of being finalized and will be available on the APS website and also on the NPM website later this autumn.
Here then, alphabetically by author, is the third instalment introducing this year's speakers and their presentations.
“From Three Months to Three Seconds:
The Evolution of Mail Delivery from the Renaissance to the Present Day”
Bio: Francesco A. Morriello holds a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge and a specialized MTS degree in Religion from Harvard University. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of English & Cultural Studies and the Department of History at McMaster University. His forthcoming book, Messengers of Empire: Print and Revolution in the Atlantic World will be published in May 2023 by Oxford University Press in their Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment series. He is currently working on a monograph on the history of social networking and information sharing from the Renaissance to the present day.
Abstract: This session will examine the tumultuous trajectory in developing a transoceanic postal system between Europe and the Caribbean in the modern period. The delivery of mail was integral to the operation of empire, even more so for areas far removed from the metropoles. Amid a period of immense socio-political, economic, and military pressure, there was a need on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean to develop faster, more frequent, and dependable means of dispatching mail. As such, the British Empire and French overseas empire made significant strides to develop and expand their postal systems. However, this process was marred by a number of problems both internal and external to the postal systems themselves.
This session explores many important questions that arise from these problems. For example, what did the 17th - 19th-century postal service look like? How did colonial postal networks function? How did revolution, war, and disease impact the operation of transatlantic postal services? In what ways did the British and French empires utilize technological advancements to improve and expand their respective postal services, particularly with regard to postal packets? How did internal corruption hamper attempts to regularize the colonial postal service? In looking at these different questions, this presentation uses correspondence dispatches among a large number of social groups including colonial and military officials, merchants, and members of the general public to posit the argument that the onset of military and revolutionary conflicts during this period spurred a need for information to be delivered faster and more frequent then before, especially as there was a surge in social networking that reached across oceans. Countries made efforts to fulfil this need by many means, though this task was difficult and beleaguered by many issues.
“Historical Figures on Franco’s Postage Stamps: The Catholic Monarchs”
Guillermo Navarro Oltra
Bio: Guillermo Navarro Oltra completed his Ph.D. of Arts at the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) and currently serves as an Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the College of Art of the UCLM in Cuenca and director of the Master in Printmaking and Graphic Design of the UCLM and the National Coin and Stamp Factory-Royal Mint House (FNMT-RCM) in Madrid. He has directed and participated in several research projects and has been editor (2015) of the three volumes of Autorretatos del Estado. El sello postal en España (Self-portraits of the State. The Spanish Postage Stamp) and curated (2016) the Exhibition at the Museo Casa de la Moneda: El sello postal en España (The Spanish Postage Stamp). His most recent publication is ‘La invención de Guinea Ecuatorial en la España de Franco: Una Visión Colonialista a Través de los Sellos de Correos’ (The Invention of Equatorial Guinea in Franco's Spain: A Colonialist Vision through Postage Stamps) (2022).
Abstract: Postage stamps are state products that certify the payment of postage for an item. But, at the same time, they are an iconographic tool that allows promoting and promoting the objectives and the vision of the world of the State that issues them. The images that appear on stamps are far from innocuous, since their intentionality is evident from the very moment that a State, and the government that governs it, establishes, and maintains tight control over all aspects of its production. As the works of Reid, Schwarzenbach, Scott, Stoetzer and Strauss show, postage stamps have been and are used as an instrument of propaganda and for the construction of national identity and the memory of a nation.
For Franco’s regime, postage stamps were a symbol of sovereignty, carriers of historical and spiritual values because they were an expression of autonomous national entity. Franco’s regime through its “National Iconographic Scheme” (5th of July of 1944) tried to shape the image of Spain that was shown on postage stamps. This scheme established a series of preferences about what should and therefore what should not be shown on stamps and how it should be shown.
This paper will review the representations on postage stamps of such important and emblematic characters for Franco's dictatorial regime as the Catholic Monarchs, which, due to their direct link with Spain's imperial past, made them candidates to commemorate and celebrate the most "glorious" period of Spain's history, according to the regime.
“The “Fascist Style” in Italian Philately, 1922-1941”
Daniel A. Piazza
Bio: Daniel A. Piazza became the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s Chief Curator of Philately on July 28, 2014. He is responsible for exhibitions, research, and acquisitions related to the museum’s six million postage stamps and postal artifacts. These objects form one of the largest philatelic and postal collections in the world and the second largest collection at the Smithsonian Institution.
Abstract: This year marks the centenary of the March on Rome, Benito Mussolini’s premiership, and the rise of Fascism in the Kingdom of Italy. Postage stamps were one of the earliest forms of Italian public art to embrace what Payne described as the “Fascist style" that later spread to murals, architecture, and expositions. Following on the work of David H.T. Scott and Jack Child, who pioneered the application of de Saussure's and Pierce's semiotic theories to stamp design, the proposed paper will examine Mussolini’s use of postage to establish his regime’s legitimacy; justify his territorial ambitions; and communicate his vision for the modern Italian state as a second Roman empire.
Attention will be given to how Mussolini's stamps drew inspiration from those issued by the earlier, proto-Fascist Regency of Carnaro at Fiume under Gabriele d'Annunzio; the differing messages communicated by stamps intended for domestic use versus those issued for the Italian Empire, especially in Africa; and how the regime manipulated the stamp collector market to raise funds for favored organizations and extravagant construction projects. This latter tendency provoked backlash from international philatelists, especially in Anglophone countries that would soon be at war with Italy.
“Camaguey 1994-1995 Mother’s Day Cards:
Structural Adaptions at the Cuban Ministry of Communications after the Dissolution of the USSR.”
Bio: Mark Piper has studied Cuban philately in the Revolution era since 1992. He received his BA (2006) and MA (2008) in History from San Francisco State University on full scholarship. He has published in numerous publications, including The American Philatelist, Congress Book, The Cuban Philatelist, Journal of Cuban Philately, South African Philatelist, and Postal Stationery. He has also researched and published on the Cuban military in Angola and Ethiopia, revenues and airport tax stamps, postal stationery, and Guantanamo. From 2008–2021, he served as an Adjunct Professor of History of Mexico at City College, San Francisco.
Abstract: Using 1994 and 1995 Camagüey Mother’s Day paid postal stationery cards, this session seeks to show how politics and economic systems determine governmental, quasi-governmental and privatized structures. In the case of Cuba, withdrawal of Soviet and COMECON economic, military and political support after 1990 brought about a severe economic decline. This was officially termed the ‘Special Period in Time of Peace’ by Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Basic supplies such as oil, paper and food products diminished. Anyone who lived through those years in Cuba recalls the rolling blackouts, severe reductions in transport and shortages in basic foods.
In the case of postal products, the severe downturn in the Cuban economy after 1990 was noticeable. Since 1975, Cuba has issued paid postal cards to celebrate Mother’s Day. This program has been part of a government and political call that no mother is left unrecognized on her special day. However, the severe shortages of the ‘Special Period’ made producing an estimated 5+ million cards a challenge. Cuban postal stationery was produced by the USSR at its GOZNAK print works, or locally using imported paper, inks and graphic supplies at the East German supplied William Soler printworks in Havana. The Cuban Ministry of Communications, MINCOM, adapted and made possible the provision of paid postal stationery in face of the withdrawal of Soviet and COMECOM economic and political support after 1990.
Finally, for more information about the 2022 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium visit either the NPM's Symposia & Lectures page or the APS Postal History Symposium page. To attend the 2022 symposium in person contact the NPM's Susan Smith ([email protected]). To attend remotely via Zoom REGISTER HERE.