Sunday 8 October 2023

When is a stamp, not a stamp ....

.... when it's a Cinderella

Almost since the beginning of postage stamps, there have been 'stamps' produced that are not official Postage stamps. Often referred to as 'labels', these non-postage stamps became known as "Cinderella's". The term was introduced by early philatelists because, like the fairly tale character, these were downtrodden and inferior when compared to proper postage stamps.

Though Cinderella stamps have no intrinsic value, and are essentially worthless, they can still demand high prices by collectors if they are sufficiently rare. To many, like me, the interesting stories behind these 'labels', are what make them collectable. Here are just three examples from my own collection:-

1. Lundy:
Lundy is a small island that lies 10 nautical miles (19 km) off the coast of Devon, England. In 1928 the General post Office withdrew it's interest in Lundy so it's owner, Martin Coles Harman introduced his own service, carrying mail free of charge to the mainland. In 1929 he introduced the first Lundy stamps to offset his costs. At first the Lundy stamp charge, or Puffinage, only covered carriage to the mainland but since 1974 an additional charge has been incorporated and separate UK stamps are no longer needed. Lundy is the oldest private postal service operating in the world today.

2. Berlin Airlift:
 The Berlin Blockade (June 1948-May 1949) was one of the first major crises of the Cold War. The Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control. From 26 June 1948 to 30 September 1949, American and British air forces flew over Berlin 250,000 times, dropping essential food and fuel. The plan had been to drop 3,475 tons of supplies daily but by the spring of 1949, twice that was often being delivered. As an off-shoot, a concurrent Operation Little Vittles saw aircraft nicknamed "raisin bombers" dropping candy to generate goodwill among German children.

3. Republik Maluku Selatan: Labels inscribed 'Republik Maluku Selatan' are among the most well-known of all Cinderella stamps. Part of modern-day Indonesia, the 'Republic of the South Moluccas' was a self-proclaimed (and unrecognised) independent nation, established on 25 April 1950 from part of what had been the Dutch East Indies. Most South Moluccas stamps are known to be the work of New York stamp dealer Henry Stolow, and aimed squarely at collectors. Maluku Selatan stamps are therefore considered to be bogus or fantasy issues. I'm sure the very badly guillotined stamp in my collection would be worth good money if it were a genuine postal stamp rather than a worthless piece of paper.

Cinderella stamps .... of little value but far from boring.


  1. That is so interesting, John! Many people from the Moluccas ended up in the Netherlands after WW2 and the independence war after that. They were promised their own nation, but that has never happened.

    1. That's really interesting Judy, I had no idea. It's so wrong that the promises made were never carried through. Thank you for adding more to my stamp story.

  2. Fun to read the stories associated with these Ciderella stamps!


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