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Charity Stamps and Famine Relief in China in the 1920s: The American Connection

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When famine overwhelmed ?ve North China provinces in 1920, one of the ways that funds were raised to combat the disaster was through the sale of "cinderella" stamps, stamps that could not be used as legal postage but rather could be pasted onto envelopes or packages as decorations. There were two such efforts during the 1920s and both mainly sold their stamps in the United States. The first fundraising drive was organized by the American Committee for the China Famine Relief Fund which sold a 3-cent stamp, the announced cost of feeding one Chinese person for one day. This effort raised nearly $4.4 million and ceased operations in early June 1921 after only about three months of activity. The second campaign, organized by the China International Famine Relief Commission (CIFRC), was considerably less successful in raising money. It issued a wider variety of stamps, probably between 1923 and 1929 and in 1924, the CIFRC even established a special department to coordinate the sale of stamps in China and the United States, mostly during the Christmas and New Year's season. Sales were uneven and always low; even in years where there were profits, they were trivial. The sale of these stamps ceased at the end of the decade.


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