Lee's Illustrated Stamp Listopedia 1999-2000 


A sampling of symbols that appear on stamps.
Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum.  Every Japanese stamp after the first and up until the end of World War II bore a 16-petalled chrysanthemum, crest of the imperial family.  Japan stamps bearing a different number of petals are forgeries.

Chrysanthemum Stamp

Finland Lion Finland Lion.  After Finland declared itself an independent republic in 1917, architect and artist Eliel Saarinen designed its first stamps, which featured the national coat of arms -- a lion rampant trampling a Russian sabre.

Finland Lion Stamp


Fleur-de-lis and Trefoil.  Two emblems familiar to topical collectors of scouts on stamps.  
   Long the symbol of French Royalty, the fleur-de-lis ( "flower of the lily") was incorporated by Baden-Powell into the Boy Scout emblem as pointing the "right way to go".
   The trefoil ("three leaf") is the symbol of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Images courtesy of 
Keith Larson

Marianne Marianne.  Marianne, allegorical symbol of the French Republic has appeared on the stamps of France in many forms since 1900.

Marianne Stamp

Posthorn Posthorn.  The coiled posthorn was sounded in Europe to announce the arrival and departure of mail coaches.  The Norway posthorn definitive set debuted in 1872 and has been in continuous use ever since -- a philatelic world record.

Posthorn Stamp

British Royal Cypher Royal Cypher.  The monogram of the reigning monarch, e.g. Elizabeth II Regina, is found on stamps of the British Commonwealth.

Royal Cypher Stamp

Tughra Tughra.  Until the Ottoman Empire ended in 1920, many stamps of Turkey included the tughra or calligraphic sign of the ruling Sultan.  This 1916 stamp is marked with the tughra of Sultan Mohammed V.

Tughra Stamp

Russia Two-headed Eagle Two-headed Eagle.  An emblem of Russia since the 15th century, the double eagle is common on early Russian stamps.  Its bizarre anatomy has prompted modern Russians to irreverently refer to the symbol as the "Chernobyl Chicken."

Eagle Stamp

Universal Postal Union Symbol Universal Postal Union Symbol.  International organizations are a popular subject  for commemorative issues, and the emblems of the Red Cross, Olympics, Girl Scouts and others can be found on the stamps of many nations.  This example commemorates the Universal Postal Union.

Universal Postal Union Stamp


See also
Link Bee Symbols on Stamps Article from Bees on Stamps site (Dutch).
Link Flags of the World Web site devoted to vexillology, the study of flags.
Link Heraldica Web site devoted to heraldry, the study of coats of arms.
Link Heritage Post Interactive -- Symbols National symbols of Canada on postage stamps.
Kloetzel, James E.  Scott 1999 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, Sidney, OH: Scott Publishing Co., 1998.
Mackay, James  A.  The Dictionary of Stamps in Color, New York: Macmillan, 1973.
Melville, Fred J.  Stamp Collecting for Fun & Profit, New York: Bell Publishing Co., 1961.