The Overrun Countries Commemorative Issue
June 22, 1943

By Hal Klein

The “National” flag of Poland was potrayed on this stamp, as it appeared in “Flags of the U.S. and Other Countries, ” published in 1938 by the Hydrographic Office, U.S. Navy Department, Washington, D.C. On March 31,1943, the die proof of this stamp was approved. When it was first announced that the Post Office Department would issue a stamp in honor of Poland, it was stated that first day sale would take place in Washington. Members of the “Polonus Philatelic Society” immediately besieged the Post Office to also have Chicago as a first day city. Their efforts were effective and on June 1st, the Department announced that both cities would share the first day honors.

On June 15, the Bureau made the first delivery of these stamps to post offices in Washington and Chicago and on June 22,1943; the stamps were placed on sale for the first time. An elaborate ceremony was held at the main post office in Chicago. All Polish Societies in the Chicago took part in the celebration . At Chicago 88,170 covers were cancelled on that day, and 415,062 stamps sold.

In Washington, the first sheets of stamps sold at a ceremony held at the Post Office Department. The first dale sale at Washington was 136,002 covers were cancelled on that day, and 637,949 stamps sold.

After the first day sale at Chicago it was reported in the Philatelic Press that petty politics among various groups in Chicago had almost ruined the first day celebration. It is believed this fact caused the Department to limit the first day sale of all covers of “flag” stamps to Washington.

After this stamp appeared there was considerable criticism, as most collectors believed that the Bureau would have done a more satisfactory job and that it was not up to standards to the work usually associated with products of the American Bank Note Company. These criticisms in no way affected the public’s enthusiasm for this stamp or the other in this series.

The Poland stamps filling all four panes on the plate of the first layout made available more position blocks than any other stamps. The later stamps had either one type of position blocks or the other, but not both. In this stamp, “country name” strips were obtainable with and without inverted “T” registration markings. Bottom strips were also available with or without such markings.

The Bureau ordered twenty-million of the Poland issue of which about one-eighth were sold at the Philatelic Agency and the remainder at post offices throughout the country. The Poland stamp was removed from sale at the Philatelic Agency on April 10,1944.