5 November 2012

1989 Cambodian Stamp Celebrates Cuban Revolution

In 1989 Cambodia issued a single 12r stamp to celebrate the 30th anniversary of 1959 Cuban Revolution victory.

The stamp features a young Fidel Castro holding up a sniper rifle.  On the red background there is the number "30" in white with black inscription in French at the leftmost: "30e Anniv. du Triomphe de la Revolution Cubaine".

The Castro image is inspired by a Miami Herald file photo dated 8th January 1959 which captured the fervent moment when Castro cheered to celebrate the victory of Cuban Revolutionary Movement over Fulgencio Batista's regime (shown below).

Major world stamp catalogues do not give the date of issue of this single stamp set, neither does the Cambodian stamp catalogue published by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia in 1997.

Serious collectors turn to official FDC to look for issue date information, yet the cover refuses to a shed light: strangely all first day commemorative postmarks on the FDC prepared by the Cuban printer are wrong, they are in fact the Laotian first day cancellation for the same commemoration on Laotian stamps:

The authentic Cambodian postmark is not seen anywhere.  In post 1979 Cambodian philatelic history this is the sole case which an official FDC has no corresponding first day postmark.

The last public material providing date of issue information is the philatelic advert.  However adverts are not postal stationery, stamp collectors and philatelists rarely include them in their collections, and so the issue date mystery has been left unsolved by stamp catalogues for more than two decades.

Here is a scan of the authentic advert:

As seen, the date of issue is 7th February 1989.

Notice the image of Castro illustrated on the stamp image, it is printed in chestnut brown.  The final design on stamp has it in grey.

Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba on 1st Janurary 1959.  The following day Castro's forces took over Havana which marked  the end of Cuban revolution, nevertheless most countries which put out stamps to commemorate the revolution anniversaries choose to issue in months earlier or later than January.