January 20, 2012


Can one build up a thematic collection with stamps only? I'm not sure, but it sure is my 2012 New Year's Resolution! My readers of old may remember that I used to have a thematic collection called 'Peacemaking'. It was quite an extensive thing, with not just stamps and covers included, but also postcards, cinderellas, and even press photographs and correspondence. It basically dealt with the aftermath of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, and was based on the book Peacemakers by Margaret MacMillan.

Peace Congress Postmark

I worked on it in two ways. First of all, I started at the beginning of the book and tried to find (philatelic) items to illustrate the actual text in the book. But me being someone who likes to take on too much, I also worked on the book from the Index point of view, so that I could be looking at different subjects in one go. Anyway, it became more of an historical document than a philatelic collection. And because I'm really a stamp collector at heart, I always felt a slight pang when I had to fork out money for non-stamp items. And so, at the end of last year, I gave up completely.

But I liked the subject very much and I'm very interested in the historic placement of stamps if you like. So I've decided to give it another go, but in a less extensive manner. I've let go of all non-stamp material, and I've given up working from word one on page one. What I'll try and do is just work from the book's index and see what I can achieve.

Which is why I started off with the Aland Islands. Not the most obvious of topics, you would think, but I still managed to make two pages. You see, one of the results of the Peace Conference was the foundation of the League of Nations. And one of the first cases brought before the League of Nations was that of the Aland Crisis.

The Aland Islands historically belonged to Sweden, but they ceded the islands, as part of a bigger deal, to Russia in 1809. When, later, Finland became independent, it took along with them the Aland Islands, which therefore became Finnish. But the population was still very much Swedish at heart and the large majority of islanders wanted to be part of Sweden again. But Finland wouldn't have that and was only prepared to grant them local autonomy. And Sweden couldn't be bothered either. So it was this predicament that the League had to deal with.

The end result was a decision that the islands would remain under Finnish rule but that a special treaty would guarantee their language and culture.

League of Nations meeting discussing the Aland Crisis

Now the actual League meeting is depicted on  an Aland stamp, so that's a good one.

50th Anniversary of Aland Autonomy

And seeing that the treaty reiterated the desired autonomous state for the islands, the two issues marking that autonomous state will also be finding a place in my collection.

75th Anniversary of Aland Autonomy

So it's not a bad start, I would say! I'll keep you informed on how I'm getting on when I move on to Abdullah!

See yous later!

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