Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Sweden-USA Joint Issue

In 1983 Sweden and the USA issued a joint stamp issue commemorating the bicentenary of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1783. Czeslaw Slania was given the task of engraving a stamp for both countries.  The stamps are basically identical aside from the country name and the stamp value. Depicted on the stamp is a man who hardly needs any introduction - Benjamin Franklin. In this blog I'll provide a brief rundown of the 1783 Treaty. Then I'll discuss what are perhaps some of Benjamin Franklin's lesser known achievements. And of course there'll be pics of the stamps in question!


On 3 April 1783 representatives from the United States and the Kingdom of Sweden met in Paris, France to discuss a treaty of amity between the two countries. It is important to note that the US was embroiled in a Revolutionary War at this time. Paris was chosen for this auspicious meeting since the representative for the United States was at that time based in Paris. That man was Benjamin Franklin. The Swedish representative was the ambassador to the court of France, Count Gustaf Philip Creutz. This was rather an important treaty historically,  in that it was the first treaty signed by the US with a country not involved in the Revolutionary War. Having signed this treaty Sweden was the first country to recognize the young republic of the US. For a rundown of the provisions of this treaty - if you happen to be interested in such things - click HERE

The stamps engraved by Slania for this occasion are truly brilliant. The detail in Franklin's coat and the treaty seal are fantastic...

And now to Benjamin Franklin. In order to write an in depth biography of Benjamin Franklin I'd need far more space than I usually allow for a blog - probably need a rather large book actually! So what I'll do here is try to concentrate on some of the things about Benjamin Franklin that aren't common knowledge. At least this is what I hope to do. I'm sure that to some people out there all the stuff I'm about to mention is known, if so perhaps you could indulge me in my ignorance :)

First off let's quickly get acquainted with Benjamin Franklin. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17 1706. He died on April 17 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the ripe old age of 84. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States.  He was also a renowned polymath - basically a person who has expertise in a number of different areas. Let's see... He was an author, politician, postmaster (which we'll come back to in a bit), scientist, inventor, civil activist and more! One wonders how the man had the time to scratch himself!

Now to some things about this great man that I personally didn't know.  Ben Franklin is rather famous for his inventions such as bifocal glasses and the lightning rod. But I did not know that he also invented the flexible urinary catheter. I also didn't know that he never chose to patent any of his inventions, believing that they should be freely accessible to all.

Franklin also revitalized the idea of Paying it Forward. This is the concept of doing a good deed of some kind to a person and instead of the person paying you back they in turn do a good deed for someone else. An excellent practice in my opinion. This idea was first introduced as a key plot in Menander's play Dyskolos (The Grouch) which was performed in Athens in 317 BC. In a letter to Benjamin Webb dated 25 February 1874 Ben Franklin suggests the use of such a concept.

I also didn't realize Ben Franklin was the first Postmaster General of the United States.  And interestingly, aside from George Washington,  Ben Franklin appears on US postage stamps more than any other famous person. He first appeared on a US postage stamp in 1847, and
he appeared on the famous long-running Washington-Franklin series from 1908 to 1923. And many more issues, but amazingly on only a few commemorative issues.

Below is a copy of the 1847 stamp of Benjamin Franklin.

"Franklin SC1 1847" by Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by User:Stefan4 using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Well, that's it for now. This blog turned out a bit longer than I'd first thought. I hope you found it of some interest. Let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you.

Until next time...

Stay Slania Crazy!

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