J is for Joint Issue

A Joint Issue is the issuance, by two or more countries, of similar stamps (i.e. similar in design, or at least in their commemoration of the same event) on the same date. The practice has become popular among postal authorities in recent years, and the stamps are becoming a popular collecting specialty. The earliest US Joint Issue was the 1959 US- Canada St. Lawrence Seaway commemorative. More recently, to celebrate the Statue of Liberty's 100th birthday in 1986, the US and France issued similar stamps depicting Lady Liberty. Probably the most elaborate example is the group of sets issued in 1992 by four countries - Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the US - in honor of the 500th Anniversary of Columbus' voyages. Other recent examples involving the US are the Cranes issue with China, in 1994, and the US- Israel Hanukkah issue of 1996. The British Commonwealth Omnibus Issues, and Common Design Types of other European country groups, while they satisfy the definition, are usually excluded from the category, and form separate collecting areas.

One popular way to collect these modern issues is on joint First Day Covers, i.e. with the stamps and FD cancels of all participating countries.

There is now a society for Joint Issues Collectors, with a rapidly-growing, informative website, at http://rzimmerm.club.fr/index.htm. Check it out.

The table below shows all the US Joint Issues through 1998, including their foreign counterparts.

Click on any image below to view a high-res version


United States joint issues thru 1998

Year

Subject, Participating Countries, Format

Scott # (U.S.)

U.S. Stamp

Foreign Stamp

1959

Opening of the
St. Lawrence Seaway
---
US & Canada
-- -
Single stamp each

1131

1960

Mexican Independence
---
US & Mexico
---
Single stamp each

1157

1965

Florida Settlement
---
US & Spain
---
Single stamp each

1271

1975

Apollo-Soyuz
---
US & USSR
---
setenant pair each

1569-70

1976

U.S. Independence
---
US & Canada
---
Single stamp each

1690

1977

Peace Bridge
---
US & Canada
---
Single stamp each

1721

1980

Philip Mazzei
---
US & Italy
---
Single stamp each

C98

1981

James Hoban
---
US & Ireland
---
Single stamp each
(US rate change
resulted in two denominations)

1935-36


1982

Diplomatic Recognition
---
US & Netherlands
---
Single stamp US,
Two stamps Netherlands

2003


1983

Amity and Commerce
---
US & Sweden
---
Single stamp each

2036

1983

German Immigration
---
US & Germany
---
Single stamp each

2040

1983

Treaty of Paris
---
US & France
---
Single stamp each

2052

1984

John McCormack
---
US & Ireland
---
Single stamp each

2090

1984

25th Anniversaary of the
St. Lawrence Seaway
---
US & Canada
---
Single stamp each

2091

1986

Stamp Collecting
---
US & Sweden
---
Booklet pane
of 4 stamps each

2198-201

1986

Francis Vigo
---
US & Italy
---
Postal Card each

UX111

1986

Statue of Liberty
---
US & France
---
Single stamp each

2224

1987

Friendship/Morocco
---
US & Morocco
---
Single stamp each

2349

1988

Australian Bicentennial
---
US & Australia
---
Single stamp each

2370

1988

New Sweden
---
US, Sweden, Finland
---
Single stamp each

C117


1989

French Revolution
---
US & France
---
Single stamp US,
Strip of three
plus label, France

C120

1990

Micronesia
---
US & Micronesia
---
Single stamp US,
Strip of three Micronesia

2506

1990

Marshall Islands
---
US & Marshall Islands
---
Single stamp each

2507

1990

Sea Creatures
---
US & USSR
---
Block of four each

2508-11

1991

Switzerland Anniversary
---
US & Switzerland
---
Single stamp each

2532

1991

William Saroyan
---
US & USSR
---
Single stamp each

2538

1992

Voyages of Columbus
---
US & Italy
---
Block of four each

2620-23

1992

Columbian reprints
---
US, Italy, Spain, Portugal
---
Six souv. sheets
per country -
only one each shown

2624-29



1992

Space Accomplishments
---
US & Russia
---
Block of four each

2631-34

1993

Grace Kelly
---
US & Monaco
---
Single stamp each

2749

1994

Cranes
---
US & PRC
---
Two stamps each

2867-68

1995

Republic of Palau
---
US & Palau
---
Single stamp each

2999

1996

Endangered Species
---
US & Mexico
---
Full pane each

3105

1996

Hanukkah
---
US & Israel
---
Single stamp each

3118

1998

Cinco de Mayo
---
US & Mexico
---
Single stamp each
(US rate change -
stamp reissued w/ new denom.)

3203

1998

Irish Immigration
---
US & Ireland
---
Single stamp each

3286


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Joint Issue First Day Covers



One popular way to collect Joint Issues is on First Day Covers with First Day cancels from both (or all) participating countries, which would be very difficult, were it not for the policy of most postal administrations, including the USPS, of providing First Day cancels up to a month after the actual issue date. The pair above are masterpieces of the genre, hand-painted in oils and properly cancelled in both countries. If you would like to see more Joint Issue FDCs, click here.

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Foreign Joint Issues


All the Joint Issues shown above include one by the US, but there are many other joint issues each year, that do not include US participation - here's one example, from 1997, a joint issue between Sweden and PRC.



And here's one of the most unusual - and beautiful - a souvenir sheet issued in 1994 by Italy and San Marino, to commemorate the 900th anniversary (!) of Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice, with the stamps of both countries printed setenant and tete-beche:



The two stamps were issued separately in each country as well, else who would have bought them, and be able to use only half their value as postage? The souvenir sheet was aimed at collectors. I bought my copy at Pacific 97, and gave it an entire page in my souvenir album of the show, with the cancels of both countries, even though it had been issued three years earlier. It was just too beautiful to pass up, with each stamp a mirror image of the other, as though reflected in the waters of the Gulf of Venice.

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The Original J Stamp

Here's a little bonus - the original version of our artist's image for the letter J was the one below, which I find too good to omit. Its creator, Steve Reoutt, couldn't spare the time to revise it to conform to the standards that had to be imposed when the images were leased to Dickson's for their book, so he withdrew his image. There's an amusing visual pun here - the bar pictured is a "joint", and the profanity "issuing" from its door is thus a "joint issue". Thanks to Steve for permission to display his image here.

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