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History, Art, Politics, Culture


Taiwanese Postage Stamps, pre-1911 (Imperial Period)

I love stamps.  I appreciate the stories behind them and the craftsmanship involved in creating them.  When I visit the National Postal Museum, there is always a knowledgeable guide or volunteer philately expert to answer any questions I may have.  It seems the more I know about stamps, the more questions I have. 

I was sad to miss the curator-led tour of the newly opened Pacific Exchange: China & U.S. Mail exhibition on March 8th.  So when I recently visited the museum, I was just going to browse around. To my surprise, I met the perfect guide: A young elegant Taiwanese lady named Nana.   
A box of stamps at the interactive table.
Nana was sitting at one of the interactive displays in the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. This one allowed visitors to select six stamps from three large plastic containers and take them home.  FREE.  When I sat at the table, Nana had just finished searching through hundreds of stamps and she was arranging them in a certain order.  I was curious and asked her about her stamps.

Taiwanese Stamps with Sun Yat-sen, post 1911
Nana patiently translated the stamps to me, pointing out historical and cultural symbols. She explained why the monetary values on the bottom left of the "post 1911" stamps had so many zeros.  She said that the exorbitant currency amount on the stamps -- 50 million, 10 million, and 2 billion--  reflected the inflation of that time.

When I sat down to select my six stamps, I wondered what cultural, political and historical information my stamps would contain.

Later, I learned that Sun Yat-sen is on two American postage stamps.  One with Abraham Lincoln in 1942, and one by himself in 1961.


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