The frequently cited ‘Spanish flu’ epidemic of 1918 has not been mentioned explicitly on European stamps, but I assume it was one reason (among others) for the numerous charity issues with surcharges for the benefit of the Red Cross and other welfare organisations. The most lethal disease affecting lungs until today is tuberculosis. The Global Tuberculosis Report of the WHO gives a number of 10 million cases per year and 1.4 million deaths in 2015 alone. This plague has frequently been a reason for charity issues round the world.
MICHEL’s online catalogue lists 473 hits for tuberculosis, in alphabetical order for Europe, starting with Austria’s ‘Youth and Tuberculosis Care’ of September 1924 (Mi 442/46), which is best rated on f.d.c. at €180; followed by ‘Anti-Tuberculosis-Fonds’ of May 1948 (Mi 868/77), with beautiful flowers, cheap mint and used, but rare on f.d.c. where it is valued at €400. The 1948 set (ANK 877/86) on three registered covers closed at €130 in April at Thomas Juranek in Vienna. The multi-coloured combination printing of intaglio and typography did not succeed perfectly in some cases, so rare errors with missing colours and proofs occurred, which are estimated at three to four figure values. The 1s.+50g. ‘White Gentian’ missing the blue (Mi 876 FI) recently fetched €420 at a Deider auction in Munich. Another mint example from the sheet margin, certified Soecknick, appeared at Merkurphila where a minimum of €580 was asked.
One of the oldest issues is the trio by the Dutch Post Office, dedicated to the Amsterdam Association to fight tuberculosis on 21 December 1906. The horizontal format in an Art Nouveau style include the Imperial coat of arms and four symbols for air, light and vitality. Most sets were cancelled sheetwise ‘AMSTERDAM 31 JAN 07 10-12 N.’, other cancellations and mint unhinged sets are rarer. Michael Rogers has an online offer with four mint never hinged plate flaws of this issue on a stockpage, which contains the following mast numbers: 84P, 84PM, 84PM1 and 84PM2 in nice quality (NVPH, €1200; estimate $300–€400).
The October 1921 bicoloured set of three from the Free City of Danzig (Mi 90/92), which represent St George fighting the dragon, are cheap mint and c.t.o. but rare with genuinely used postal cancellations. The lower-two values are perforated, the higher value, larger format was rouletted but not always perfectly separated from the sheets, so quality is a special matter here. Valued at €400 certified, auction offers started between €100–€140 for nicely used sets or covers in 2020.
Belgium has the longest tradition of charity stamps supporting the fight against tuberculosis. Four dozen issues, many with six or more values, a number of booklets and miniature sheets have been dedicated to this topic since 1910! One of the best sets is from 1933 (Mi 366/72) at €800 in mint unhinged condition, and estimated between €140 and €250 in recent auctions on a registered letter. An imperf. signed Tuberculosis proof set of 1934 (Mi 386U/392U), started at CHF460 in May at Helvetia; other issues from the 1950s and 1960s are priced below €100.
Article by Michael Burzan