Che Guevara: The Revolutionary Who Did Not Sell Out…Twice!

This is an odd story which will be a footnote to Irish Stamp Collecting.

On 5th October 2017, a stamp was issued to honour Che Guevara. You may read elsewhere that this is controversial but as I wrote last month, it is a sincere feeling of Cuban-Americans and a manufactured controversy dreamed up by right-wing Irish-Americans who think that “The Quiet Man” movie is a documentary.

Of all the good reasons to issue a stamp for Che Guevara, socialist revolutionary and icon of the counter-culture, I can think of no better reason than irritating right-wing Irish-Americans.

It was always the case that the single issue stamp at national rate would be popular. The print run was 122,000. At 9am on the day of issue, I was one of the three people who bought several copies of the stamp. I bought two mint stamps for myself, posted a further six to myself and posted around four self-produced postcards for the First Day Cancelation. Unusually I bought an unaddressed First Day Cover. And I bought other copies of the stamp to send to friends in USA.

The National Stamp Exhibition took place on the three days after the issue of the Guevara stamp and I attended on two days. There was the usual interest in a new stamp but nothing really beyond that. The next week visiting Dublin, I heard that the stamp was very popular, especially among young people. Seemingly people were buying the stamp and intending to use it on Christmas mail.

Later it emerged that the stamp had sold out. Hard to use the words Che Guevara and “sold out” in the same sentence. It also emerged that more would be printed.

Let me be clear…by any standards a print run of 122,000 will not make a stamp “rare”. And its very temporary unavailability will not make the stamp “rare” so I am amazed that the stamp has been so described and WAS fetching prices ten times above face value.

Thankfully the bubble has burst. The stamp went on sale again on Monday of this week. I bought some more in Dublin yesterday.


The three stamps on the first row in this scan were bought on or shortly after 5th October. The four on the second row were bought yesterday.

Two slightly disturbing aspects. The first is that the First Day Cover has sold out and will go on sale again in about ten days time. But this means that the re-issued FDC will not even have the pretence of being cancelled on its day of issue (5th October 2017). FDCs are sold by the Philatelic Service for the month after issue. The reality (I presume) is that they are not cancelled between 9am and 5pm on the date of issue. They are (I presume) cancelled as needed during the month.

I have long believed that Philately/Stamp Collecting depends on a healthy relationship between the Post Office, the Collector and the Dealer. I am disgusted that there is little sympathy for “bunnies” (to use a phrase from a message-board, of which I am an unwilling member……like Hotel California or the Mafia, you can sign out but never leave) who have paid crazy prices for the Che Guevara stamp, believing it is a rarity.

It is not a rarity. Thousands are available. Thousands will be on Christmas mail.






About John

Dia Duit! Hello. My name is John. I am retired. I live in Ireland. I am on a five year mission to visit every city, town, village and place of historic and scenic interest in Ireland.
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