Semipostals or “Charity Stamps” cost more than a regular First-class stamp and the difference in price is donated to a particular philanthropic cause. Semipostals have been around for a long time. Britain introduced a semipostal envelope in 1890 with the same idea of earning revenue for charity as our current semipostal stamps. The Australian province of New South Whales initiated a semipostal stamp in 1897 to aid victims of tuberculosis, which was a devastating disease on the continent at that time. Germany and France introduced semipostal stamps before the first Great War broke out in 1914 and Finland released a semipostal stamp to aid the Red Cross in the War’s aftermath.
The United States was comparatively slow to release its first semipostal stamp. The first American semipostal was introduced in 1998. This stamp was named the “Breast Research Stamp” and all of its proceeds went to fund Breast Cancer research. The Post Office was lukewarm to the idea of creating a charity stamp. Many people did not believe that Americans would want to pay the extra cost for postage in order to fund a charity project. They were wrong.
Thanks, in part, to the efforts of Senator Diane Feinstein- who campaigned relentlessly for the Breast Research Stamp – the effort was quite successful. 650 million copies of the stamp have been sold to date, grossing an estimated $44 million to fund Breast Cancer research. This result surprised everyone who was paying attention- including Senator Feinstein.
The next U.S. semipostal was released in the aftermath September 11th, 2001. It is called the “Heroes Stamp“. The stamp depicts firefighters raising an American Flag to commemorate the outstanding job that they relief authorities did after the Twin Towers came down. This stamp has also raised tens of millions of dollars for families affected by the terrorist attacks.
The latest semipostal release was the “Stop Family Violence” stamp inaugurated on October, 11th 2003. These stamps are not expected to gross as much as their predecessors but this by no means implies that Americans are cooling off to the idea of semipostal stamps. To the contrary, the government intends to launch more semipostal campaigns in the future. Until there is an end to social injustice and inequality in American it seems as though U.S. citizens will be behind charity stamps all the way.