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 final 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 fourth and final instalment introducing this year's speakers and their presentations.
“Postal Politics: Soviet Stamps of World War II”
K. Andrea Rusnock
Bio: K. Andrea Rusnock, a professor of art history at Indiana University South Bend, received her Ph.D. in art history at University of Southern California. Her area of expertise is Russian and Soviet art and material culture as well as Russian Imperial and global needlework. Dr. Rusnock’s first book was on art during the Stalinist era, and she currently is working on her second book, which analyzes images of Soviet women during WWII. In addition, she has published articles on Russian Imperial needlework in several national and international journals.
Abstract: Postage stamps during The Great Patriotic War, as World War Two was known in the Soviet Union, were tiny works of art conveying a host of the government’s philosophies relating to the front and home front. These little pieces of Soviet propaganda were a means to send socialist greetings to families and friends all while supporting the war effort. But what was the broader function of these works? How were they intended to function in Soviet society? How did the pictures represent and affect the war effort? Yet, not all of the postal illustrations from these years showed imagery relating to the war. A number of these special little spots of paper depicted representations similar to those of the prewar era.
All of these varied works of postal art intersected during the Great Patriotic War and understanding how they functioned as postal art and propaganda is key to comprehending Soviet postal history during this important epoch. This session will attempt to answer these questions, and more, in order to gain a better understanding of Soviet history during WWII and how these postal gems intersected with broader Soviet society and worldwide postal history.
“Lion or Eagle: Sovereignty, a Postal Authority, and the Mails, Finland 1890-1918”
Bio: A mostly retired physician, a stamp collector, and the grandson of three Finnish emigres, Roger is a life member of the American Philatelic Society and the Scandinavian Collectors Club and current president of the Military Postal History Society. He has an extensive collection of Finnish postal history for the Period of Oppression, WWI censorship, and the Civil War. He has collaborated with Jon Iversen to update the Postal Censorship in Finland 1914-1918, compiled and edited by Roger Quinby.
Abstract: A central postal authority was established in the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1811. It issued postage stamps first in 1856. Five subsequent issues denominated in penni and mark also featured the Finnish crest of arms, the rampant lion. This postal authority was an original signator to the General Postal Union (GPU) on July 1, 1875. Change first began in 1891, when the Czar required the Finnish Post to work under Russian rules. As an example, as of January 1, 1892 (circular 12/1891) required all postal items sent to the Russian Empire be franked only with kopeck valued stamps.
The big event however was the February Manifesto of 1899 which decreed an end to Finland’s “special status”. This had implications well beyond the postal system but its early impact was on the postal system, requiring the exclusive use of Russian design stamps by January 14, 1901.
The Manifesto opened the “Period of Oppression” which lasted until early 1918. There were both prompt and persistent efforts to passively resist. This session will attempt to demonstrate several forms of this passive resistance including the selection of postage stamps by the public, the mails reflecting the legal case for autonomy and of national identity, and the mails as a social media platform. This area of postal history might provide an opportunity to reflect on current international problems.
“Regime Change in Vietnam: Issues of the Provisional Revolutionary Government and Restoration of Postal Services in the Defeated South”
Bio: Earl Toops served in Vietnam at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon from 4 November 1972 to 28 March 1973, leaving on the next-to-last-day that all US military forces had to be out of the country under the terms of the Paris Peace Accords. He began collecting stamps and covers of the NLF and PRG in the late 1970's and exhibiting a preliminary version of his current exhibit "The Development and Use of the Provisional Issues of South Vietnam" in Germany in the 1980's. A trip to Vietnam in 2018 prompted him to renew his study of this topic as part of new efforts to understand the war from a Vietnamese perspective.
Abstract: This session presents a study of stamps issued by the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (NLF) and the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) of the Republic of South Vietnam from 1963-1976 and their period of use between 1975-1980 in the occupied South after the fall of the Saigon government on 30 April1975. This is not an exhibit of military mail during the Vietnam War; it is a study of how stamps originally issued for propaganda purposes and raising hard currency for prosecuting the war were used to restore civilian postal services in the defeated South.
This session will examine all issues of the NLF and PRG along with pre-production artwork; essay, color trial and progressive proofs; and production errors. Surcharges and fake overprints are also included. Postal use includes covers prepared immediately after "Liberation;" a wide variety of personal mail (including one from a POW "re-education" camp); and special commemorative/propaganda hand-stamps. No other exhibit of this kind is known in the US.
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. Registration for the symposium is required. To attend the 2022 symposium in person contact the NPM's Susan Smith ([email protected]). To attend remotely via Zoom REGISTER HERE.