Line, A Missing Line [142]

The common two penny stamp the Irish Free State of 1923 (Figure 1) caused a diplomatic uproar on its issue, since some folks felt it was missing a line. Where and what line?

As we know, in 1922, the formation of the Free State of Ireland created a separate government in the southern 22 counties. The remaining six counties in Ulster remained as part of Great Britain. Today known as Northern Ireland. The stamp has a geographic outline of the island known as Ireland. Some in Northern Ireland and Great Britain were offended by the portrayal since it seemed to say that the Free State covered the entire island, and had a claim to the northern counties. There were also those who saw it as support to continue the fight for all of Ireland. However, the Free State government said that this was merely a geographic design of the island, and, since there is no geographical feature dividing the two countries, the border was not shown on the stamp. At the time, the border was not firmly set, awaiting a joint survey – which never happened.

The bottom line? After the initial flare-up, people went on to bicker, complain, and sometimes fire shots over other issues – non-philatelic in nature!