Blue Cross and the fight against alcohol on stamps:


Since I have been working in Blue Cross for some years, it was natural to collect stamps that somehow reflected this kind of work.  But I have not been collecting systematically, and I don't have too many of these stamps and labels.  Here is what I have so far, organised alphabetically according to country:



In the 1920s and 1930s, abstinence was not such a bad idea for quite many people in Scandinavia and some other European countries.  This sticker from Denmark - probably from the 1920s - wants "Denmark free from alcohol".  That would have been good...


This Danish label, saying "Help for alcohol patients", would be difficult to issue today.  It portrays alcoholics as shipwrecked people (which they of course often are) and down-trodden in poverty (which they of course also often are...). 

The right label also portrays alcohol patients before and after rehabilitation.  And even though we might not think exactly the same way today, the message is still very clear: Alcohol is a slave master that keeps you down in poverty and misery. (click on the picture to see a larger version of it)


(Single from the same block)




Abstinence movements issued stickers or labels to spread their message.  The one below is from "Afholdsselskabet Det blaa Baand" (Abstinence society The blue Ribbon) with the slogan "No anger towards anybody, but love for everybody".


The right label above is from the abstinence society "The White Cross", printed at Odense Litografiske Anstalt.

This label is from The Blue Cross Children's Society "Hope" with the message "Better prevent than cure".  This has been a driving force in Blue Cross: By preventing people to even starting to drink, the society saves huge amounts of money in addition to avoiding a lot of damage to health, family and the wider society.  To cure is a costly affair...

The anchor symbolises Hope.


France 1912

This label from France cancelled 1912 would not be accepted today!  But in the first part of the 1900's the war against alcohol was much more accepted than today.  The label consist of an ordinary stamp fixed on a frame, and reads:

Up: War against alcohol!

Left: Alcohol kills!

Right: Alcohol stupefies you!

Down: Absinth makes you a fool!

Although we might choose different words today, the message is still valid: Alcohol does kill, alcohol does stupefy and makes fools out of people....

France 1981

Drunk-driving campaign.   The message is clear: Don't drink and then drive!


French Polynesia 1972

"Lutte" means fight in French.  This stamp bears the message "Against Alcoholism" and depict one of the consequences; if you fight while drunk you might end up in jail...  Often the physical consequences of a fight while intoxicated leads to more serious injuries.  The symbolism is strong: The bottle controls the man, not opposit!


Germany, West 1982

"No Alcohol in Traffic" says this 1982 stamp.  Fact is, that without alcohol, the traffic accident statistic would look very different.  Quite a large number of accidents are due to the intake of alcohol.  Many countries have a policy of no or nearly no alcohol allowed in the blood while driving.  This is a good example of an alcohol free zone that is obvious!





Greenland is a society that has suffered enormously from the effects of alcohol.

These labels from Greenland are inscribed both in the local language and Danish.  They are meant to send a message that drinking is definitely not something to be desired.

Down right for example, we find the message "Drunk and foolish".




Different labels, but same series.  Upper right label has a strong question: "What about the children?"  We know that even small amounts of alcohol makes people change.  Children are the first to notice...  And many of them get scared!  The down right has the message "Today I want to be sober".  Not a bad idea...


Greenland 1991

Not many countries have honoured Blue Cross on stamps, but Greenland has!  In 1991 they commemorated 75 years of Blue Cross work at the island.


Tanzania 1986

This miniature sheet from Tanzania 1986 (SG MS488) has not directly to do with Blue Cross, but presents a text which has: "Child Survival and Development".  We know that even a small amount of alcohol during pregnancy can cause irreversible damage to the child.  Therefore, all pregnant women are strongly advised not to drink during this period.

For us who work in Africa, we see examples of just too many cases of the opposite.  Very many women DO drink during pregnancy, thus having children with various birth defects.  This is tragic as it so easily could be avoided.

Which brings us to my dream situation that will never come through due to the utterly egoistic nature of human beings: A society totally rid of alcohol and drugs.  In fact, nobody can argue with this fact: If there were no alcohol and drugs, no alcohol or drug related diseases, broken homes, traffic accidents, rapes, incest, death and so on would exist due to alcohol and drugs.  Some of these things would still exist, yes, but drastically reduced. 

So why are human beings not willing to ban the most damaging poison there is?  Well, I said it above: Due to the utterly egoistic nature of human beings.  Problem is, most people will not admit that this is the cause, but excuse themselves that they are not the ones bringing the problems...  Seems like we have to live the poison, but at least let us do our best so that the children will not be harmed in any way!


United States of America 1981

This is Mi 1499 from 1981.  The message is quite simple, although the actual execution of it is something of the most difficult you can ever do for many.  But the fact still remains; you can beat alcoholism with determination and good help.  In US alcoholism is defined as a decease. 

This is because insurance companies otherwise would not cover damages done while drunk or cover the medical bill for either damages or deceases caused by alcoholism...

Whatever view on alcoholism being a decease or not, I guess most people would agree that it leads to many unwanted conditions, as breaking up of families, violence towards spouse and children, traffic accidents, murders etc.  While Blue Cross recommends full abstinence from alcohol (at least then you will NOT have any problems caused by alcohol...), others recommend responsible drinking.  Problem is; who defines what is responsible?  If you ask children, very many of them will say the only responsible thing to do is not to drink!

That is why we also talk about 'alcohol free zones'.  The nightmare for many children is Christmas, because the parents then 'celebrate' full force.  Christmas should therefore be one of the most important alcohol free zones! 


Wallis et Futuna 1996

Campaign against Alcoholism.  While the man drinks himself silly, the family suffers.  Where we are working in the Soweto slums in Nairobi, Kenya, we see that these men often beat, demand their "rights" - even in front of the children, and even molest their own children.  Again: With no alcohol, these things would be radically reduced.  



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