Collection of Book-Themed Postage Stamps

A few months ago I’ve bought some Romanian stamps to use them to illustrate one of the videos I’ve been making at the moment. That brought my attention to the subject of book-themed stamps. Over the past months my collection was growing steadily and I want to share my progress with you today.

Most of the book-themed stamps may be divided into several categories:

  • Stamps on book history, history of paper and other materials and history of printing;
  • Stamps commemorating some special books or showing pages or elements of text;
  • Stamps dedicated to history of writing;
  • Stamps celebrating writers or some types of books – like books for children;
  • There’s also another category – stamps that have books as a symbol or even for no obvious reason. The latter may happen for reasons of propaganda, for example.

Austria

1979 – 175 Years of the Austrian State Printing House (Österreichische Staatsdruckerei)

The first stamp in this post appears to be not exactly a best fit to the subject. However, the Printing House does some things that are may be considered as books (like passports and stuff), and there is a printing press shown on this stamp.

Belarus

1997 – 480 Years of Book Printing in Belarus (set of 4 stamps)

This set of stamps is one of my favorites at the moment. That simple yet beautiful style resonates with me very much. They were issued 20 years ago, and now 500th anniversary of book printing is celebrated in Belarus. I’m waiting for my friend to buy a new set of stamps to be issued on the 1st of September. Check this Wikipedia article on Francysk Skaryna for more information.

Belguim

1988 – The Art of Book Printing (set of 3 stamps)

These stamps show different printing presses from collections of Belgian museums.

Bulgaria

1962 – 200 Years of “Slavonic-Bulgarian History” by Paìsiy Hilendàrski (set of 2 stamps)

Once again a stamp related not to books as a technology, but as element of culture. Paìsiy Hilendàrski was a Bulgarian clergyman and a key Bulgarian National Revival figure. One of his famous works is Istoriya Slavyanobolgarskaya (Slavonic-Bulgarian History) that was written in 1762.

Canada

1999 – Traditional Trades Definitives – Bookbinding

This one is part of series that included 19 stamps in total. Another of my favorites – just a simple 1 cent stamp =)

China

2003 – Book Printing (set of 2 stamps)

This set was produced in collaboration with Hungary. One of the stamps is dedicated to the Rites of Zhou – ancient Chinese work on bureaucracy and organizational theory. The second one shows Hungarian illuminated chronicle.

Denmark

1982 – 500 Year Anniversary of the Odense Printing Press

Finland

1988 – 500 Years of Bookprinting in Finland

France

1954 – Deluxe Productions Set

This stamp Edition et Reliure is part of a Deluxe Productions set. There are others like Tapestry, Haute couture, and Jewelry and Silverware.

1981 – La Reliure

There are more first day of circulation post cards and envelopes with this stamp. You can see another in this post by Peter Verheyen.

Germany

1954 – 500 Year Anniversary of Gutenberg Bible

Another one of my favorites =)

By the way, there’s a score of stamps issued by different countries dedicated to Johannes Gutenberg

1983 – Invention of the Printing Press

Part of the Great Achievements of the Human Mind set

Israel

1985 – Frontispiece of the Schocken Bible

This stamp was issued for the World Stamp Exhibition Tel Aviv Israphil’85, and includes Frontispiece of the Schocken Bible, S. Germany, ca. 1290.

1997 – 100 Years Since the Discovery of the Cairo Geniza

The Cairo Geniza is a collection of some 300,000 Jewish manuscript fragments that were found in the in Old Cairo, Egypt. This finding is important both from historical point of view and as an illustration of bookbinding tradition of the end of the 1st millennium CE.

2000 – The Aleppo Codex

The Aleppo Codex is a medieval bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible. The codex was written in the in the 10th century CE.

2015 – Cyrus Declaration

Here is a book history object that was created centuries before first books were bound. The Cyrus Cylinder is an ancient clay cylinder, on which is written a declaration in Akkadian cuneiform script in the name of Persia’s Achaemenid king Cyrus the Great.

Lithuania

1997 – Title page of the Catechism of Martynas Mažvydas

This stamp celebrates the first Lithuanian printed book – Catechism of Martynas Mažvydas. It was printed on 8th January 1547 by Hans Weinreich in Königsberg.

1999 – Angels Holding Title Page of the Catechism of Martynas Mažvydas

Luxembourg

1985 – National Library of Luxembourg

Stamps dedicated to different libraries are not a rarity. However, often if they even have books depicted, these are pretty faceless and uninteresting. This one here is something different. It shows a medieval binding from the Mansfeld collection kept at the National Library in Luxembourg.

Romania

2008 – 500 Years of the First Printed Book in Romania

These are the ones that started everything for me. By the way. First Romanian printed book was one of the first Cyrillic printed books (check Russian and Ukrainian stamps below and stamps from Belarus above).

2008 – 500 Years of the First Printed Book in Romania

2010 – Europa 2010 – Children’s Books

I’ve bought this set only because it was at the stamp shop. Still, there are books here. Book illustration and books for children is another large theme covered by stamps in lots of different countries.

Russia and USSR

1934 – First Russian Book Printer Ivan Fyodorov

These two stamps are dedicated to 350th death anniversary of Ivan Fyodorov.

1964 – 400 Year Anniversary of the First Russian Printed Book

1983 – Russian First Printer Ivan Fyodorov

2010 – 300 Year Anniversary of the 1st Russian Civil Alphabet

The new alphabet was introduced by Peter the Great. 8 letters were eliminated from the alphabet by 1750.

2010 – 500th Anniversary of Ivan Fyodorov’s Birthday

2014 – 450th Anniversary of Book Printing in Russia

2016 – 1000 Years of the First Code of Laws of Russia

Oldest surviving copy of Russkaya Pravda dates back to the 13th century CE. However, the foundation of this legal code was laid in the 11th century CE.

Sweden

1983 – 500 Years of Book Printing in Sweden

That’s a beautiful set of stamps!

Turkey

1979 – 250 Years of Turkish Printing

United Kingdom

1976 – 500th Anniversary of British Printing (set of 4 stamps)

This set includes:

  • Woodcut from The Canterbury Tales
  • Extract from The Treatise of Love
  • William Caxton
  • Early Printing Press

Ukraine

1994 – 500 Years of Book Printing in Ukraine

1998 – 1000 Years of Chronicle Writing in Ukraine