Tito on Stamps

In my world, May 4 will always be associated with two things. In 1970, four students were killed and nine others wounded when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on demonstrators at Kent State University not too far from where I grew up. And in 1980, Tito, the president of the country in which I was born, died at 88.

It was right around the time of the Kent State shootings that I first began to become aware of Tito. My parents were prolific letter writers, and we regularly received mail from Yugoslavia. More often than not, the stamps on the envelopes bore an image of Tito. My brother and I had the biggest collection of Tito stamps in the neighborhood.

His 35 year rule offered plenty of opportunities for Yugoslavia to issue stamps to commemorate its President-for-Life. Depending on how they’re counted, somewhere between 100 and 110 were issued between 1945 and 1990 to celebrate his cult of personality.

Probably my favorite design is from the series above, Michel catalog Nos 605-608, issued for May Day 1950. There’s an elegant Hollywood charm to it, no?

The first (above) were issued on 21 February 1945, with denominations in Occupied dinars (Michel 454-457). Below is the first airmail issue bearing his likeness, issued on 22 December 1951.

Here are a couple more, an early postal card and an early cover (Michel 477).

And this one was the last, issued on 25 may 1990, a day celebrated annually as the Day of Youth which coincided with Tito’s birthday. It’s seems appropriate that he’s looking very somber, and looking down.

I’ve managed to collect them all, either mint, used, or on cover. For those of you interested in this trip down memory lane, I posted most of them on a stamp collecting board here.

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  1. […] år sedan han dog och så två länkar på det. Dels till Pengovskys post om Tito och dels till Piranos som består av gamla frimärken med Tito […]

  2. pirano says

    If you’re interested in how his legacy is viewed these days, Sleeping With Pengovsky has nice summary:
    http://www.pengovsky.com/2010/05/04/the-old-man/

  3. pengovsky says

    Nice one! You can also follow how Yugoslavia evolved politically immediately after WWII, as is was first “Democratic Federal Yugoslavia”, then “Federal People’s Yugoslavia”, then “Socialist Federal” and then at the very end it was simply “Yugoslavia” 🙂

    iLike! 🙂

  4. pirano says

    So glad you enjoyed! 🙂 BTW, I’m always on the lookout for any cover (envelope) with a genuinely used stamp. The more the merrier. 🙂

  5. […] With Pengovsky, Balkan Insight (via Balkan Travellers) and Piran Café write about the 30th anniversary of the death of the Yugoslav leader Josip Broz […]

  6. Wendel McRaven says

    Nice! The May 4th reference sucked me in. One of the negatives of the e-mail world in which we now live is the fact that we no longer get as much “snail mail” as we once did. I have a box (somewhere!) of old stamps from all over the world. It was one of the plusses of all the international recruiting I did when coaching at the University of Nebraska. Opening up an e-mail is not quite as exciting as the anticipation of tearing open an envelope addressed to you from the various corners of the globe.

  7. […] Tito on Stamps The former Yugoslav leader’s cult of personality on postage stamps. Considering the time it took […]

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