Mums on Stamps
We hope you didn’t miss Mother’s Day! Assistant Curator Georgina takes us through some of her favourite stamps featuring mothers of all kinds.
To celebrate Mother’s Day which was on the 26th of March I delved into our stamp collection to find some interesting mums that have appeared on stamps.
Here are just a few of my favourites.
History of Mother’s Day
Mothering Sunday – or more commonly known as Mother’s Day – is held on the 4th Sunday of Lent in the Christian calendar. Mothering Sunday was a time for people to return to their ‘mother church’, for a special service. Traditionally those in domestic service were given time off to spend with their families. Many children would work away from their home, so this was a time for family reunion. Over time this holiday became more commercial and now we think of it as a time to treat our mothers to flowers and chocolates.
Mothers in the Animal Kingdom
When we think of Mother’s Day we probably only think of humans but we can’t forget the amazing animal mothers out there. The mother orangutan has a baby around every 9 years up until the age of 40. The babies rely entirely on their mums for the first 2 years and will stay with their mums for the next 6-7 years. It is in this time they learn to be self sufficient, a bit like we do, when we move out of our parents’ home. It has also been known for female orangutans to visit their mums up to the age of 15/16.
Polar Bears on the other hand tend to have twins, which means they’ve always got a mate to play with. The mums actually put on an extra 400 pounds whilst pregnant which helps during their maternity hibernation when they don’t eat or drink. The mothers build their own maternity dens where they give birth to the cubs and remain for the first couple of months of their lives for safety.
Mother of Christ
One of the most obvious mothers to have appeared on stamps is that of the Madonna. The Madonna is an intercessor between God and man and she is often depicted enthroned surrounded by angels and saints. Many of the Christmas stamps both above and below are historic images depicting the Virgin nurturing the Christ child. These paintings would have been used as devotional images.
Mother of a Movement
Emmeline Pankhurst was born in 1858 into a politically active family which must have impacted her beliefs and future actions. Emmeline founded the Women’s Social & Political Union, whose members were known as the Suffragettes. She was the mother of a movement which protested for equal rights for women. Her daughter Christabel followed her into the campaign and along with many other women were arrested for their protests. Emmeline was a mother to many women fighting for their rights to be heard. Unfortunately Emmeline died before she could see women given the right to vote.
Maybe one day we’ll have a stamp issue dedicated to mothers but until then I hope you’ve enjoyed looking into some of our stamp collection. In the images above we have mothers who dedicate years of their lives to the education of their children and others that encouraged young people to stand together. I hope everyone had a lovely Mother’s Day and don’t forget mums should be spoilt all year round.
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-Georgina Tomlinson, Assistant Curator (Philately)