Philatelic Nationalism

  • Harcourt Fuller
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


African nationalists employed postal iconographies to legitimize their rule, something that they had learnt from the departing European imperial powers. British colonial stamps typically featured the head of the reigning monarch overlooking a scenery that represented the colonial territory and people. After the United Kingdom invented the world’s first modern postage stamp in 1840 (commonly referred to as the Penny Black), the Universal Postal Union had agreed that England and no other country could use the bust of the British monarch to represent the nation on postage stamps. It was the British who therefore pioneered the tradition of depicting the reigning monarch of a country on postage stamps. The Colonial Office extended this policy to include the colonies of the empire.1


Prime Minister National Unity Gold Coast Postage Stamp Personality Cult 
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  2. David Scott, European Stamp Design: A Semiotic Approach to Designing Messages (London: Academy Editions, 1995), 17Google Scholar
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    See Richard Rathbone, “Kwame Nkrumah and the Chiefs: The Fate of ‘Natural Rulers’ under Nationalist Governments,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Sixth Series 10 (2000): 45–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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© Harcourt Fuller 2014

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  • Harcourt Fuller

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