Sunday, 15 May 2011

Iceland and New York

Iceland issued a special series of stamps to help finance their participation in the 1939-1940 New York World Fair. The cost of their exhibition was to be paid over 2 years, part of the cost was to be recovered by the sale of stamps and coins at the pavilion. Printed by the De La Rue Company in London delivery was made via the SS Manhattan sailing from Southampton in April 1939 bound for New York.

This 35 aurar stamp above shows a Viking ship on route for America. Leif Eriksson (c970-c1020) setting sail in 1003 with 35 crew, the first European to land there according to the Saga of the Greenlander. The first stop was a land of flat and shining rocks, Helluland (Land of the Flat Stones) possibly Baffin Island, then on to a place of woods and white sandy beaches, Markland (Woodland) possibly Labrador.  Lief Eriksson's nickname was Leif the Lucky.
 The 45 aurar stamp portraying the statue of Thorfinn Karlsefni in Reykjavik. The sculptor was Einar Jónsson who created a statue which was placed in Philadelphia and another casting was made for Reykjavik. The Philadelphia statue can be seen here. Karlsefni set sail about 1010 with 3 ships and 160 settlers to Vinland, the exact place is unknown but archaeological evidence seems to point to L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. After 3 years the colony was abandoned and Thorfinn sailed to Greenland, then Norway and eventually returning and settling back in Iceland.

Now are you thinking, yes but what about the New York World Fair? It was the second largest of all time only exceeded by the St Louis Louisianan Purchase Exposition of 1904, which features at the end of  Meet Me In St Louis? One of my all time favourite films, usually shown here at Christmas time.  Anyway the New York World Fair motto was "the world of tomorrow" and its Trylon and Perisphere
appeared on posters and stamps (I don't have the Iceland one). 44 million people visited in the two seasons it was open, to be enthralled at this world of tomorrow, but when it closed in 1940 war meant that many of the European staff were unable to return to their home countries. The future had descended into the past.

Sunday Stamps is hosted by Viridian Postcard


Bob Scotney said...

I understand the BBC is starting/has started a series based on the Viking Sagas. Shoud be worth watching; Leif Eriksson is sure to be featured.
I have a lot of stamps from Iceland but not the ones you've shown. To my surprise I only have a few from Norway, Denmark and Sweden showing Viking ships.

Postcardy said...

I like Worlds's Fairs. I never saw that spelling of Iceland before.

Lisa B said...

very cool design on the 3rd stamp, very stylish!

Sheila @ A Postcard a Day said...

This is a very interesting piece of history, two period of history in fact. It's hard to imagine that the sale of stamps and coins would make much of an impact on the costs of going to the World Fair.

Sreisaat said...

The Iceland stamp looks like it's embossed? Cool stamp designs.

Postcards Crossing

Postcard Perfect said...

Nice stamp design indeed, and iceland spell differently too.

My Sunday Stamp

Dorincard said...

Cool, historically-meaningful stamps!
In Romanian, the Icelandic currency AURAR means GOLDSMITH.

Some comments say that ISLAND is spelled differently; but we, the anglophones, spell it differently, as ICELAND...:)
WE are the modifiers...:)

viridian said...

A wonderful post with great hisotry. i did not know that the Word's fiar staffers could not get home but it makes sense.

Thanks for participating.

Joy said...

No Sreisaat they are not embossed but I think the depth of colour gives that effect.
I wonder how much they made Sheila, the 1939 first day covers are apparently classed as a rare item, the overprinted 1940 issue not so. They must have been selling well by then.