At present this collection consist of 72 pages of stamps,
covers (envelopes), and commemorative postal cancellations.
It begins with a 1921 stamp, (the first with a Shevchenko
portrait?), printed in Vienna for the then Ukrainian National
Republic (UNR). Five pages are devoted to this period and
four pages to Reestablished Ukraine.
One of the most popular topics among Ukraine collectors, if not
the all-time favorite, is Taras Shevchenko. The beloved poet and
artist has been granted many laudatory titles over the years. He
was not a leader or a legislator, but nevertheless led the way in
forging the path to eventual Ukrainian nationhood. It would not
be a far-fetched statement to say that without Shevchenko we would
not have an independent Ukraine today.
The largest number of Shevchenko stamps was issued during the Soviet
times. Included are stamps and covers marking the 125th and 150th
anniversaries of his birth and the centenary of his death. A series
was devoted to Shevchenko monuments, including statues and buildings.
Other sets were devoted to his portraits and Shevchenko the poet
and the artist. And, except for a few of the earliest issues, all
in glorious colour.
One would expect Shevchenko to be depicted on modern Ukrainian
stamps and he has appeared on five issues so far. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia
and Austria have also honoured Shevchenko with stamp issues, but,
would you believe Paraguay?
The story behind Paraguay's Shevchenko issue is a bit bizarre.
The Ukrainian diaspora in Argentina raised the funds necessary
to erect a Shevchenko monument in Buenos Aires in 1971. It
was felt that a stamp commemorating the special event would
be appropriate and one was designed. However, try as they
might, Ukrainian representatives couldn't get the Argentine
postal authorities to agree to a stamp release. Incredibly,
postal officials in neighboring Paraguay were persuaded to
produce a lovely airmail souvenir sheet (a stamp surrounded
by a large commemorative margin) showing not only a Shevchenko
portrait, but part of the new monument in Argentina. By coincidence,
Ukraine's most recent Shevchenko stamp depicts the same monument.
Neither the U.S. nor Canada have ever printed a Shevchenko stamp.
Concerted write-in efforts in the early 1960s - coinciding with
the 150th anniversary of the poet's birth or the centennial of his
death - proved unsuccessful. However, many commemorative postal
cancellations have been produced over the years.
Collecting Shevchenko memorabilia is not limited to just stamps.
The Soviet Union issued dozens of commemorative envelopes showing
the poet or monuments or buildings named after him. They also issued
a commemorative coin featuring Shevchenko. Present-day Ukraine has
continued these practices. Other collectors try to obtain used envelopes
(called covers) showing cancellations from the dozens of towns in
Ukraine or former Soviet Union named Shevchenko, Shevchenkove, Shevchenkivka,
etc. So, you can see, there is much that can be added to a Shevchenko
Of course, it's always better to see the real thing. Philately
collectors, and all who are interested, are always welcome to view
the Shevchenko Museum collection at 1614 Bloor Street West, phone
416-534-8662 for further information.
How to reach us.