Louis Braille Featured on Belarus Stamp
On January 4, 2009 the Ministry of Communications and Information of the Republic of Belarus issued a stamp in honor of Louis Braille. The stamp was designed by Yevgeni Simonenko and Ivan Lukin and marked the 200th birthday of the inventor of “braille,” the tactile reading and writing system used world-wide by blind and vision-impaired people.
Louis Braille was born in Coupvray, a small town near Paris, on January 4, 1809. When he was 3 years old he was playing in his father’s harness and leather goods workshop and injured his eye with an awl. The eye became infected, and the infection spread. Although he was treated by both a local doctor and specialist from Paris, they could not save his sight. He became blind in both eyes.
Braille was bright and diligent and learned to navigate around his neighborhood using canes his father made for him. He went to school with his friends, learning by listening carefully to his teachers. He did so well in the local school he was able to get a scholarship to the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, when he was 10 years old.
The man who founded the Royal Institute, Valentin Haüy, wanted blind students to have access to books. He developed a method of raised letters that could be touched in order to teach blind people to read, and compose sentences. His method proved that the sense of touch was a potentially good strategy, but the letters were hard to read and it was difficult and expensive to create books with them. The school had a total of 14 books with raised letters.
Official First Day Cover for the Belarus Loius Braille commemorative featuring a color cache
and special cancel showing the alphabet he invented to enable blind people to read.
A breakthrough came when Louis was 12 years old. Charles Barbier, an ex-soldier, visited the school and told them about the “night writing” he’d developed so that soldiers could get messages or share secret information without speaking or lighting a match. Barbier’s writing used a code of raised dots. The problem was that he was working with as many as 12 dots per letter and it was hard to read and learn. Braille simplified the code to use only 6 dot positions to form letters.
His classmates liked his adaptation, but the Institute did not accept it. Even after Braille became a teacher at the school, the school rejected the approach. It is said that Pierre-Armand Dufau, who became the director of the institute in 1840, did not like Louis' code because he was afraid that there would be no need for sighted teachers if all blind students could read using braille.
Nevertheless, Braille taught his method secretly and as he was also a talented musician, he adapted it to record musical notation as well.
Louis Braille died of tuberculosis at age 43. Six months later the school adopted his 6 dot system, and within a few years it was used world-wide.
Swiss Pro Juventute Stamps Raise Funds for Children and Families
For 100 years now the Swiss Post has issued semi-postal stamps and philatelic products to raise money for the Pro Juventute Foundation. The attractive topical stamps and good works of Pro Juventute combine to make these issues favorites with the Swiss public and stamp collectors around the world.
United States Dogs at Work Issue Features Service Animals
The United States Postal Service honored the faithful dogs that work with and for their human friends with a set of four 65-cent stamps featuring a seeing-eye guide dog, a therapy dog, a tracking dog, and a search and rescue dog.
Dmitri Mendeleyev: Dreaming Up the Periodic Table
Dmitri Mendeleyev is the Russian scientist who created the periodic table of the elements. In 2009, in honor of the 175th anniversary of his birthday, Russia issued a souvenir sheet featuring a single 15 ruble stamp.
French Art Stamp Features American Painter Edward Hopper
Famous Edward Hopper painting Morning Sun is part of La Poste’s long running Musee Imaginaire art stamp series.
Károly Ferenczy - The Father of Hungarian Impressionism
Known as the father of Hungarian impressionism, Károly Ferenczy was a leading member of the artist colony of Nagybánya in Transylvania. This 2012 stamp issue shows his painting Morning Sunshine.
Tarzan Stamp a Tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Legacy
Tarzan of the Apes is featured on this 2012 US commemorative stamp honoring author Edgar Rice Burroughs. For Burroughs fans, the stamp was a long time coming. The stamp, associated cancels, first day covers, and other philatelic products, join a great heritage of Tarzan collectibles.
Understanding Stamp Values
The subject of stamp valuation is a deceptively complex one. While at first glance, determining the value of a stamp might appear to be a simple matter of turning to one of the many available reference catalogues, in fact the stamp catalogue is just the beginning of the process. This overview presents some of the major topics in stamp valuation, setting you on course to making confident purchases and understanding the ultimate worth of your collection.