Saturday, December 13, 2008

Poinsettias on Stamps

The American Philatelist on-line has an article from 2001 about poinsettias on stamps.

Written by Joan Klimchalk of Dearborn, Michagan, the article goes into the history of the plant and features quite a few stamps and other items that have the Christmas flower as part of their design.

Poinsettias were introduced into the United States by Joel Poinsett. The son of a French physician, Poinsett was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825 - 1829) by President Madison. Poinsett had attended medical school himself, but his real love in the scientific field was botany.

According to Wikipedia, "In 1828, he became enchanted by the brilliant red blooms he saw in Mexico. He immediately sent some of the plants back to South Carolina, where he began propagating the plants and sending them to friends and botanical gardens."

Originally, the plant was known by its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima (literally, "the most beautiful Euphorbia"). It is thought to have become known by its more popular name of poinsettia around 1836 as a tribute to Poinsett.

Poinsett when on to become Secretary of War in the Cabinet of President Van Buren 1837-1841 and presided over the removal of Indians west of the Mississippi.

According to Klimchalk, "Official recognition of Dr. Poinsett's many achievements came in 1991, when the United States Congress declared December 12 (the date of his death in 1851) National Poinsettia Day."

Shown above, a 1964 U.S. Christmas stamp featuring a poinsettia. The stamp was part of the first U.S. se-tenant set ever issued.

To read and print out a copy of the article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM