Rarely have we devoted an article either on the web, or in our publication, to a subject not related to variable value stamps - our field of study , but some ideas merit it ...
It is not necessary to emphasize the special significance of this initiative both at a philatelic level and for the postal history of Spain.
Current Spanish Postal Law states that the issue of stamps, in all their variations, will be proposed by the operator in charge of the universal postal service (currently Correos in Spain) and approved, jointly, by the Fomento and Economía y Hacienda Ministries. In addition, following a ministerial resolution, the stamps could only be manufactured by the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre.
Until the complete European postal liberalization, originally expected by 2009 and later delayed until 2011 by the pressures of some countries like Spain, Correos continues to have the monopoly of distribution, for national and international shipments below 50 g, the most common items, which is the reason why the Unisellos can only be used for local mail and, in general, those circulating exclusively inside the Unipost network. Correos already have announced they will ‘return to sender’ all items arriving at their distribution centres, which have been franked with non legal stamps ...
The first set of Unisellos is doubly special. Because they are semi-postal stamps, the face value includes a surcharge, (a charity donation), allocated to the projects of the 3 main NGOs (Non governmental organisations) in Spain: The Cruz Roja (Red Cross), Intermón Oxfam and Médicos Sin Fronteras. These are the ‘Unisellos Solidarios' (the ‘Caring Unisellos’). It’s a great idea to introduce this new product, with the launch date having been well chosen, with Christmas just around the corner.
The Unisellos Solidarios set is composed of 4 self-adhesive perforated stamps, sized 35 x 45 mm. 2 of the stamps each have a face value of 25 + 10 cent. for the postage of items up to 20 g., whilst the other 2 each have a face value of 35 + 14 cent., for shipments between 20 and 50 g.
They are devoted to different events and activities affecting the world-wide population, and inspire this caring project: Refugiados (Refugees), Migraciones (Migrations), Cooperación (Cooperation) and Solidaridad (Solidarity).
The designer is Diego Feijóo, who has already created different projects for Médicos Sin Fronteras, through manipulation of a world-wide planisphere.
Associated with the Unisellos Solidarios issue, Unipost prepared its 2 first commemorative postmarks; one a hand cancellation, for the first day of circulation, and the other a mechanical postmark in orange, (the Unipost corporate colour), with the text Unisello Solidario 2007.
The pictures show letters circulated with the Unisellos solidarios, with the Unipost postal sorting / zip code and details of the 2 commemorative postmarks.
This is a really interesting initiative that draws on the recent experiences of other private postal company issues -mainly in Germany-, and which have a great impact on modern postal history that already is being rolled out in Spain with the soon-to-be liberalization of the postal services.
And no, they are neither ATMs nor variable value stamps ... at least not at the moment !
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