Commemorative Sheets

Commemorative (Souvenir and Miniature) Sheets

My underlying philatelic sources (as used on the First First pages) are James Mackay's Guinness Book of Stamps and his later Philatelic Terms Illustrated and Kenneth A. Wood’s 3-volume encyclopaedia of stamps,This is Philately.

I am toying with the term Commemorative Sheets because there is disagreement between the US and UK over the definitions of souvenir sheets and miniature sheets. In the UK the terms are largely interchangeable but 'miniature sheet' tends to predominate. In the US, souvenir sheet means a small sheet with a commemorative component, while miniature sheet means one without a commemorative context.

My working definition is A small sheet of stamps with a commemorative purpose.

    Where small is one to 25 (defined by the US 1926 White Plains sheet). The stamps may be different or of a single type;
    Stamps means one or more postally valid stamps, not just facsimiles;
    Commemorative purpose may refers to the sheet, the stamps themselves, or both.

The jury is still out on whether there must be an inscription or decoration, but wide margins seem to be a prerequisite.

Turning now to identification of the first sheet, Mackay (having dismissed an 1894 Ethiopia sheet as it never went on sale, discussed here), says the first ‘were issued by Luxembourg (1921-3) and Belgium (1924)’. I think this is an error on Mackay’s part and Wood is correct in stating that, ‘The first souvenir sheet is claimed to be a sheet of 10 stamps issued by Luxembourg in 1906 to commemorate the accession of Grand Duke William IV to the throne.’

Afghanistan deserves a mention as many of its early (1920s) stamps were produced in small sheets, but this seems to be a production decision rather than a commemorative one.

Where there is uncertainty, I will explore the details elsewhere (Luxembourg here) and just show the conclusions in the table below.


Page 1 - to 1937

Details Image Notes
The First
1906 Luxembourg
10 x SG162, Sc82
Sc82a $350 / $1,000
not listed in Gibbons

To commemorate the accession of Grand Duke William IV to the throne.

Added October 2007

Issued 1906

See here for discussion of which was the first Luxembourg sheet.

image source 1

1921 Belgium
25 x SG312, Sc170
Sc170a $225 / $175
sheet not numbered in Gibbons

Philatelic exhibition, Brussels

Added October 2007

Issued 26th May 1921

See here for discussion of which was the first Belgian sheet.

image source 1

1925 France
4 x SG412, Sc226b
SG412a Sc226 £850 / £850

Philatelic exhibition, Paris

Added October 2007

Issued 2nd May 1925

sheet size 140x220 mm

Scott also notes an imperforate sheet Sc226a at 6x the price of the normal perforate and single stamps from it Sc226c at a similar premium.

1926 USA 'White Plains'
25 x SG644 Sc190
SG MS645, Sc190a £400 / £400

The stamp commemorates the 150th anniversary of the battle of White Plains.
The sheet was issued  to commemorate the International Philatelic Exhibition in New York 16th-23rd October 1926.

Added October 2007

Issued 18th October 1926

Sheet size 158-160 x 136-146mm

image source 1

1928 Poland
1 each SG272 and 273, Sc253, 254, colour change
SG MS270 Sc251 £325 / £250

Philatelic Exhibition, Warsaw

The stamps depict Marshal Pilsudski and President Moscicki

Added November 2007

Issued 3rd May 1928

image source 2


1928 Australia
4 x SG106 Sc95
SG MS106a Sc95a £110 / £200

4th National Stamp Exhibition, Melbourne


Added November 2007

Issued 29th October 1928

image source 2



1930 Germany
1 each SG461-464, Sc-B33a-d
SG MS464a, Sc-B33 £350 / £1,600

IPOSTA exhibition

The stamps depict German architecture

see also Occupied GermanyEast Germany, Berlin, West Germany and Unified Germany

Added October 2007

Issued 12th September 1930

sheet size 105x150 mm

see also Occupied Germany

image source 1

1931 Uruguay
Stamps only issued as sheets, blocks of four stamps in four types, 2c light blue, 5c green, 8c scarlet, 15c slate, illustrating Uruguay's first issue.
SG668  £50 / £50 (for four sheets)
Sc410a-413a - Scott numbers the sheets individually

Philatelic Exhibition, Montevideo

Added November 2007

Issued 11th April 1931

image source 1


1932 Rumania
Stamp only issued on sheet
SG MS1267a Sc-B40 £30 / £40

King Carol II

Philatelic Exhibition, Bucharest, EFIRO


Added November 2007

Issued 20th November 1932

image source 1


1933 Austria
4 x SG704, Sc-B110
SG MS705, ScB111 £3,500 / £3,7500

The International Philatelic exhibition in Vienna (WIPA)

Added October 2007

Issued 23rd June 1933

Sheet size 127 x 105mm




A non-postal sheet was reprinted  and distributed at the 1965 WIPA.

image source 1


1934 Japan
1 each of SG258-261 Sc-C4-C7
SG MS271 Sc-C8 £1,000 / £1,100

Airmail commemorating communications

Added October 2007

Issued 20th April 1934

image source 1

See here for discussion of which was the first Japanese sheet.

Japan also issued  lottery prize miniature sheets, the first in 1950 numbered SG-LMS1, £200 / £175. Scott notes the issue but does not number it.

1934 Liechtenstein
stamp only issued on sheet
SG MS144, Sc115 £1,000 / £1,800

see notes

added December 2007

issued 29th September 1934

sheet size 105x125 mm

image source 1

My Gibbons Part 8 describes this as commemorating Liechtenstein's first stamp show, while Scott states it is for an agricultural exhibition. I'm guessing from the inscription "Landesausstellung" that Scott is correct

1934 Hungary
1 x SG547 Sc474 (colour changed)
SG MS568 Sc486  £75 / £90

2nd Hungarian Philatelic exhibition in, Budapest
and Jubilee of first Hungarian Philatelic Society, LEHE.

The stamp depicts Franz Liszt and the original was one of a series of 1932 designs celebrating famous Hungarians.

Added November 2007

Issued 20th November 1932

image source 1


1934 Switzerland
1 each of SG351-354, Sc220-223
SG MS357, Sc226 £300 / £550

National Philatelic exhibition in Zürich (NABA)

Added October 2007

Issued 29th September 1934

sheet size 62x72 mm

image source 1

1934 Czechoslovakia
2 sheets containing 15 x SG333, Sc200b and 15 x SG334, Sc201b
SG MS334a £1,100 / £1,100 (pair)
Scott numbers them separately, Sc200a and Sc201a

Centenary of the Czech national anthem



1993 Czech Republic
stamp only issued as sheet
SG MS11, Sc? £3 / £3










Added November 2007

Issued 17th December 1934

sheet size

image source 1



The Czech Republic was created in 1992.

Issued 22nd June 1993

sheet size 76x90 mm

1935 Argentina
4 x SG519, Sc452a (1923)
SG MS654 Sc452 £55 / £27

Philatelic exhibition, Buenos Aires

Added November 2007

Issued 17th December 1934

Sheet size 83 x 100 mm


image source 1

1936 South Africa
6 x SG54, Sc45
SGMS69 Sc72 £4 / £10

6 x SG56, Sc48
SGMS70 Sc73 £3 / £7

booklet panes overprinted 'JIPEX 1936'

Johannesburg International Philatelic Exhibition


Added November 2007

Issued 17th December 1934

These are the first of the sheets I actually own.

While I intend to research all first sheets to date, I will only look for images up to around 1960 as that is when (as with most philatelic items) things started getting ill-designed, purely profit-motivated and largely uninteresting. I will make an exception for GB's first sheet (1980), although we have become silly in the last few years, issuing far too many sheets and diluting their attraction. First sheets of states formed after 1960 and particularly attractive first sheets from elsewhere may be included. Further notes here.

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page started October 2007