Norman Rockwell, the Boy Scouts, and Liberia

Norman Rockwell, the great American painter, painted some 51 annual illustrations for an annual Boy Scout calendar in his career.

I was a Boy Scout from the time of 7 or so (Cub Scouts) until I joined the Coast Guard at 19. Naturally, I was frequently exposed to the Norman Rockwell artwork. Eventually, this spilled over into stamp collecting.

My specialties and the things I collect tend to be personal to me. For example, I have an extensive collection of Coast Guard postal history, much of it quite personal.

Naturally, as an Eagle Scout, my first stamp collecting specialty turned out to be Scouts on Stamps. This occurred at around 15 or 16, and I pursued the specialty more seriously after I joined the Coast Guard, which gave me the income to really dig into my hobby.

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell Stamps

It was about that time I discovered the Norman Rockwell stamps, issued by the country of Liberia in 1979.

I eventually purchased a set of First Day Covers – covers with the stamp postmarked on the first day of issue.

Each cover contains the stamp and a cachet – illustration – of the Norman Rockwell painting. It’s a great set and one of my favorite pieces in my collection.

According to Scouts on Stamps Society, International (yes, there is an organization of collectors of Scouts on Stamps), only 20,000 sets of these covers were created.

They’re not terribly expensive. For $25 or $30, you can find the set on eBay. There’s also a set of the individual stamps, not on cover, which I also own and have in my collection.

They’re nice pieces.

But

In the world of stamp collecting, there is a phrase … wallpaper stamps. Wallpaper stamps are stamps issued by countries, often from Latin America or Africa, but sometimes Europe or Asia with the sole purpose fo being sold to collectors.

They are highly topical. Themes such as Disney, baseball, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings, have all graced lots of these stamps. And the prices can get, well, pricey.

They are “official” stamps, but they are never intended to be used for postage.

This set is generally considered wallpaper stamps.

Even looking at the pictures I’ve included, they have no addresses. The covers are postmarked and the stamps cancelled in Monrovia, Liberia. But they were never mailed.

I’ve never seen an envelope that was sent through the mail using one of these stamps. An actual postally used example. I’m not saying they aren’t out there, but I’ve looked unsuccessfully.

Doesn’t matter, though. They still make a very interesting, and quite frankly, beautiful, addition to my collection. Also, it is a reminder of the good points to an organization that has faced quite a number of challenges in recent years.

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