Theodor Herzl (in Hungarian: Herzl Tivadar, in Hebrew: בנימין זאב הרצל) was a Hungarian-Austrian playwright and journalist, but is best known for substantiating the Zionist movement, and is considered today the maker of the Jewish homeland in Israel. Born in Pest (today Budapest) in 1860, he is the author of the epoch-making book Der Judenstaat (Versuch einer modernen Lösung der Judenfrage) (in English: The Jewish State: Proposal of a Modern Solution for the Jewish Question), published in 1896 and considered the starting point of the modern movement of creating a Jewish state. Herzl strongly believed that the answer to the ever-growing anti-Semitism is the creation of a Jewish state, preferably in Palestine, but also envisaging different other options, among which Argentina. His writings gave a lot of impetus to the Zionist movement, which was aimed at the foundation of a Jewish homeland, but is now associated with pro-Israeli movements worldwide. Herzl died in 1904, not getting to see the day of Israeli independence in 1948; but is mentioned by name in the Israeli Declaration of Independence as the “spiritual father of the Jewish state”.
Given Herzl’s importance for the foundation of Israel, he is commemorated often on Israeli stamps. Some other countries as well, chose to honor the heritage of Theodor Herzl on their stamps.
Austria, together with Hungary and Israel issued in 2004 – the year of Herzl’s death centennial, issued stamps in a three-party joint issue. The stamps are identical in design and show an effigy of Theodor Herzl accompanied by the title of his best-known work, The Jewish State in German, Hungarian, Hebrew and English. Pictured above the Austrian stamp of the joint issue.
Pictured above, the Hungarian release of 2004 from the same joint issue as above.
Alongside issues of stamps devoted to Israeli independence, history of Zionism or local tourism related to Mount Herzl or the city of Herzliya – named so in honor of Theodor Herzl, Israel issued a lot of stamps devoted to the father of the modern Israeli state.
A first such issue was released in 1954, commemorating 50 years since the passing away of Theodor Herzl.
Next in 1960, a stamp is released to commemorate Theodor Herzl’s birth centennial. It features an engraving based on one of Herzl’s best known photos, taken in Basel in 1897, with the occasion of the First Zionist Congress, where the Zionist platform was clarified. On the same occasion, Hatikvah (in Hebrew: התקווה, in English: The Hope) was adopted as the movement’s anthem, years before it became the national anthem of Israel. Hatikvah had been penned by the Jewish poet Naftali Herz Imber in 1877 during his stay in Iași while visiting a local scholar.
Herzl was again immortalized on a stamp in 1978 on the occasion of 30 years of independence of the State of Israel.
To mark 100 years of Zionism, a definitive series was issued in 1996, featuring 8 definitive stamps with Theodor Herzl’s effigy.
Another commemorative stamp of the First Zionist Congress centennial was issued again in 1996, featuring a woven carpet taking over Israeli and Jewish symbols and the same iconic image of Herzl from Basel.
The release of the stamp was accompanied by a minisheet featuring Stadtcasino Basel, the location of the First Zionist Congress of 1896.
In 2004, together with Austria and Hungary, Israel issued a Theodor Herzl death centennial stamp, identical in design with the issues of Austria and Hungary. It additionally features a tab, just like the majority of Israeli stamps, on which a quote from Herzl is presented in his handwriting in German and translated in Hebrew, Hungarian, and English (in German: wann Ihr wollt, ist es kein Märchen; in Hebrew: אם תרצה אין זה אגדה, in Hungarian: Ha akarjátok, nem mese; in English: If you will, it is no fairytale).
To commemorate 150 years since the birth of Theodor Herzl, a new release was made by Israeli post in 2010. It features 3 stamps, accompanied by a quote from Herzl: החלום אינו שונה בהרבה מן המעשה (in English: Dream is no different than action).
To celebrate 100 years of the Zionist organisation, Uruguay issued in 1997 also a stamp, pictured above, featuring a sketch of Theodor Herzl.
Venezuela as well celebrates the foundation of the State of Israel with this sheet issued in 1998, at the state’s 50th anniversary. The 10 stamps in the sheet picture a menorah, Moses’ tablets of the covenant, Theodor Herzl, King David, a shofar, a Torah scroll, the Wall of Prayer, David Ben Gurion, the Knesset, and the Shrine of the Book, where the 7 Dead Sea Qumran scrolls are deposited.
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Stamps featured in post: 30; Period: modern and contemporary (1954-2010); Pricing: low and moderate; Michel Catalog no’s and prices: Austria Mi2489 – 1.2EUR; Hungary Mi4871 – 2EUR; Israel Mi100 – 1.2EUR; Mi220 – 0.6EUR; Mi762 – 1.4EUR; Mi1016-1023 – 23EUR; Mi1404 – 7.5EUR; Mi1786 – 1.6EUR; Mi2112-2114 – 7EUR; Uruguay Mi2272 – 2.2EUR; Venezuela Mi3291-3300 – 22EUR Availability: not readily available.