In 2018, the year in which Romania celebrated 100 years of independence and national unity, the Romanian Post issued in two batches a definitive series of stamps picturing famous Romanians. It’s been a while since a series of definitive stamps had been issued – the latest one being released in the 1990’s. The series is brought together by a common sketch-like portrait design and uses pastel colors. There are 18 values in total in the set.
Romanian Post has for some time gone in a quite risky game with its issues, diminishing the printruns to absurdly low quotas (there are stamps and minisheets issued in just a couple of hundreds of copies) and simultaneously raising the face value of stamps to similarly absurd values – values which do not correspond to franking needs. All of this points out to the fact that in an attempt to simplify their business model (sell less, earn more) they also make it kind of impossible for collectors to actually secure in their collections the latest releases.
The Famous Romanians definitive series of 2018 is no exception. Not only is it issued in quite a small printrun (some of the higher face value stamps are issued in something short of 20k copies), but also the face values are extreme, with the highest face value topping at 28.5 Romanian lei (6.85 EUR at the time of the issue). To just secure the entire set at face value, a collector would need to spend 111.5 Romanian lei (27.8 EUR at the time of the issue). That, of course, if they made it in time, many of the values of the series being as of 2020 already unavailable.
But let’s come back to the personalities pictured on the stamps. 17 of 18 have been active in their respective domains in the 20th century – which brings about the connection with the first century of Romanian independence and unity. Surprisingly, just one famous Romanian from the distant past is pictured in the series; Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723), a famous Romanian scientist and politician.
An interesting fact is presented by the choice of famous Romanian in terms of them being a mix of people already honored on Romanian stamps, but also personalities which are for the first time commemorated on a stamp. Sofia Ionescu-Ogrezeanu, Ion Cantacuzino, Cella Delavrancea, George Apostu, Elvira Popescu are for the first time recognized as influential Romanians.
Pictured above: Cella Delavrancea (1887-1991, writer and piano player); Dimitrie Paciurea (1873-1932, sculptor); Victor Brauner (1903-1966, French-Romanian surrealist painter and sculptor).
Pictured above: George Apostu (1934-1986, sculptor); Elvira Popescu (or Popesco, 1894-1983, French-Romanian stage actress); Marcel Iancu (or Janco, Israeli-Romanian painter and architect). Elvira Popescu is one of the rare Romanians to have been conferred the Legion d’honneur merit (English: Legion of Honor) and is, next to Elena Vărescu, Marthe Bibesco, and Anna de Noailles considered to have been the inspiration of Henri Matisse’s painting La Blouse Roumaine (English: The Romanian Blouse).
Pictured above: Dimitrie Cantemir (1673-1723, Romanian scholar and politician); Nicolae Iorga (1871-1940, scholar, historian and politician); and Nicolae Titulescu (1882-1941, politician and diplomat).
Pictured above: Sofia Ionescu-Ogrezeanu (1920-2008, neurosurgeon); Dimitrie Gusti (1880-1955, historian and social studies scholar); Ion Cantacuzino (1863-1934, microbiologist).
Pictured above: Nichita Stănescu (1933-1983, poet); Aurel Vlaicu (1882-1913, pioneer of flight); Lucian Blaga (1895-1961, poet and philosopher).
Pictured above: Traian Vuia (1872-1950, aeronautics inventor); Spiru Haret (1851-1912, mathematician and politician); Henri Coandă (1886-1972, aerodynamics inventor).
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Stamps featured in post: 18; Period: contemporary (2018); Pricing: moderate; Michel Catalog no’s and prices: Romania Mi7391-7399, Mi7413-7421, 80EUR Availability: not readily available, may surface in online auctions.