Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Unique Postage Stamp Dedicated to the Battle of Poltava and Its History

This postage stamp (face value 40 kopecks), dedicated to the “250th Anniversary of the Battle of Poltava of 1709,” was issued by the USSR in 1959 during the rule of Nikita Khrushchev. The stamp is considered to be one of the ten most rare and valuable stamps ever issued by the Soviet state. Although the entire run of the stamp was printed, it was never put into circulation due to the political situation at the time. After the renewal of the relationships between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which included a state visit to the Soviet Union by the Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander in 1956, Nikita Krushchev had planned a return visit to Sweden in 1959.
The postage stamp depicts Swedish prisoners of war, led by Prime Minister Carl Piper and top commanders, dipping the Swedish battle standards in front of Russian Tsar Peter I. The decision to destroy the entire circulation of the stamp was made in order to avoid focusing attention on Sweden’s defeat at the Battle of Poltava.  However, the  decision did not prevent the stamp’s appearance in the collections of private philatelists. In fact, the story of this stamp is not unique. Stamps issued by the Soviet postal service but never distributed, and therefore considered very rare today, have found their way into private collections on several occasions. 
According to an official version the stamp was on sale for only a few minutes and then was withdrawn. Only
one sheet (40 stamps) avoided destruction, which explains the magical appearance of some “living” copies of the stamp. The current value of one of these stamps is about $10,000 to 20,000. One stamp was sold by Cherrystone, a global leader in philatelic auctions, on June 28th 2012 for $15.000.
At the time the Battle of Poltava stamp was withdrawn, another stamp dedicated to the visit of Nikita Khrushchev to the Kingdom of Sweden was under design but was never completed because the state visit was cancelled. Instead of visiting the Scandinavian countries the Soviet leader set out to the USA after receiving an invitation from President Dwight D. Eisenhower
As a result another stamp  with the title “The Visit of Nikita Khrushchev to the USA on September 15th 1959” saw the light of the day.