Stamped Holidays

Bonne Fête Nationale Belge

United States #914 (1943)
United States #914 (1943)

Today is Belgian National Day.  I couldn’t get a Flemish translation of that so I used French in this post’s title; it’s called Nationale feestdag van België in Dutch and Belgischer Nationalfeiertag in German.  It commemorates the anniversary of the date in 1831 that Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg swore allegiance to the new constitution of Belgium as the first King of the Belgians. The king’s vow marked the start of the independent state of Belgium under a constitutional monarchy and parliament.

I had originally planned to post about this holiday on my A Stamp A Day blog, but I didn’t have any Belgian stamps marking their national day or portraying anything I felt was usable.  So, I wrote an article about Allenstein instead.  Coming home on the bus this evening, I realized that I had the “perfect” stamp — Scott #914 of the United States, part of a series of stamps issued in 1943 and 1944 paying tribute to thirteen nations overrun, occupied, and/or annexed by the Axis Powers during or shortly before World War II.

This five-cent stamp portrays the Belgian national flag, to the left of which appears a phoenix, symbolizing the renewal of life, and to its right appears a kneeling female figure with arms raised, breaking the shackles of servitude.  While the frame was engraved, the center was offset letterpress and rotary press printed on unwatermarked sheets perforated 12.  Because of the elaborate process necessary for the full-color printing, the United States government’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC, contracted with a private firm, the American Bank Note Company in New York City, to produce the stamps.

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