Erik Nitsche: China Postal Relics
Artist: Erik Nitsche
Today, it is a simple matter to send a letter abroad. However, in the mid 1800s it was somewhat more troublesome. In countries like Germany, there were numerous sovereign states and many different routes through rough, mountainous terrain. One of the most romantic and interesting postal histories in the world belongs to Australia. Isolated from other nations by thousands of miles of ocean, Australia's early postal system relied on whaling ships to bring mail from the rest of the world. During the mid-1800s these great sailing ships were replaced with the faster and more powerful steamships. One of the most interesting areas of postal history concerns the different signs and symbols used through the ages to urge the postal carrier to hurry the mail to its destination. Sweden had the interesting tradition of attaching two small feathers to the letter by a wax seal. This indicated the need for speed in transit. If black and white feathers were combined, this implied "Very urgent. Travel night and day!" Canada's Post Office was established under the British crown in 1763. However, it was not until 1851 that Canada issued her first postage stamp. This beautiful red stamp depicted a beaver - the world's first pictorial stamp. The beaver was an appropriate subject, for Canada's early prosperity was founded on the profitability of beaver pelts.
This artwork was originally published on the Fleetwood® First Day of Issue Proof Card for the U.S. 22¢ Stamp Collecting stamp issued January 23, 1986.
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