Circa. 1953 - "Honor Your Teacher".
Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
The first KKL-JNF stamp
KKL-JNF stamps are among the oldest and most colorful chronicles of early Zionist history. The first stamp, the Zion Stamp, was issued in Vienna in 1902. Designed by artist Ephraim Lilien, it depicted a blue Star of David on a white background. At the heart of the Star of David, was the word "Zion". The stamp was distributed in seventeen countries, its face value being equivalent to the smallest currency unit in each. This, is order to lend body to the popular nature of the Fund and its saying that "a penny and a penny make a full pot."
Why KKL-JNF stamps?
KKL-JNF stamps were a means of explaining its goals and raising funds for land redemption. Over the years, the Fund issued some 500 different stamps. Some of these were issued several times, at various opportunities, for various occasions and in different countries. All in all, some five thousand KKL-JNF stamps have been produced until the year 2000, featuring distinguished figures, different landscapes in various regions of the Land of Israel, historical sites and important Fund projects. The most prominent design elemnts on the stamps were the Star of David, a tree, a rural house, a hill, and fields. The most frequentlky depicted city on the stamps was Tel Aviv, the first Hebrew city.
A Portal into Zionist History
The stamps, among them the Zion Stamp and the Herzl Stamp (issued in 1909) were used on mail sent locally among the first Jewish colonies in the Land of Israel. The Austrian postal service operating in Palestine at the time agreed to deliver mail posted with the Zion Stamp, if endorsed by an official frank. This arrangement came to an end, however, after a resident of Petah Tikva disclosed it to the Turkish authorities ruling the country. In Czarist Russia and in Ottoman Palestine for a few years, Jews risked imprisonment by affixing Fund stamps to their mail.
7 Species stamp set, ca. 1984. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Before the emergence of the Hebrew Postal Service's first stamp, which was the first official stamp of the State of Israel, KKL-JNF'S "State Stamp" was used on mail in besieged Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, and throughout the newly esablished state. Printed after the Partition Plan was ratified in the United Nations on November 29, 1947, it showed a map with the Plan's stipulated boundaries. It, and later Fund stamps, bore the Hebrew word for mail (Doar) and the stamp's face value. For three weeks, they were legal tender in the new State of Israel.
A ten-member public advisory committee, established in 1972, destermines the subject of each issue and the number and type of related philatelic items to be distributed. The stamps are issued 3-4 times a year, with about half a million stamps printed for distribution to schools alone. For decades, Fund stamps have been affixed to children's report cards.
KKL-JNF Stamps Today
Today, KKL-JNF stamps continue to fulfill an important educational and promotional role. They carry the messages of Zionism to the four corners of the earth, comemmorate important personalities and events in the history of the Jewish people, generate income for afforestation and other KKL-JNF activities, and offer philatelists around the world interesting and unusual topic material. An important consideration for the collector of KKL-JNF stamps is the fact that all revenues from their sale are devoted to land development projects in Israel.