The Consequential Sequence

By Martin Hirschbühl With illustrations by Lou Guadagno



If youre collecting SOS, then you are in touch with the most philatelic topic of them all! As an additional pleasure, youre lucky enough to do it worldwide.

This enables you to have some close views into the postal history of many countries youve probably never heard of before. Nearly each country has already issued one or more SOS and the remaining ones will follow. And thats quite a lot! More than 200, I guess? Some countries disappeared, others changed their name once or twice, some separate, and others unite.


One fine day, I declared the happy shoebox-days of collecting to be over. It wasnt hard to find some albums and pages to mount my average SOS collection. But very soon, I was faced with the sequential question: who comes first and whos to follow?


My old stock list based on a German Michel Catalog, divided by continents: Europe, America, Africa and so on. In this way, all Latino-Hispanic countries with similar backgrounds would be located together. This wasnt very satisfying, because I wanted a mixture of countries in a more random manner, but with a logical sequence.

Why not according to the alphabet? Its so simple and easy to find. Yes, but its not universal. Our German friends seek their country under D, not G. In alphabetic order, Albania will be followed by Algeria. But what do they have in common? Its just the same Mediterranean sun shining down on them, nothing else. Thats not enough to become neighbors in my SOS album.




From top left:

Great Britain Sc#642, Switzerland #B607 S/S cut-out, Spain #778,

Germany #B309, Switzerland #492

Brazil #2413a S/S cut-out.


Once again: who comes first? Well, Great Britain of course; they invented the postage stamp. And whos to follow? Yeah, Ive got hometown Zurich (Switzerland) in March 1843. And whats next? Brazil, August 1843, followed by Trinidad, USA and Mauritius, all in 1847. Like a string of pearls, they made their appearance: Bermuda, France, Belgium, Bavaria (for Germany), Australia and Spain and so on up to Bophuthatswana in late 1977.


That was it, indeed! I accepted the fact that all those German colonies were stuck together. It was only natural, because they issued their first stamp accordingly in 1897.


My old list produced some 25 years ago, included all SOS-issuing countries of that time. In the meantime, some additional ones appeared. But, fortunately, I later decided to reduce my SOS collection to the Max (some of you might have read about it). Thats why my list was never brought up to date. In these beautiful new computer days, anyone should be able to continue it. You are hereby kindly invited to make your contribution to the cause. If youre finished, please think of me under







From top above:

Niue Sc #244a, Austria #572,

Bermuda #136,

Trinidad & Tobago #218,

Mauritius #849, Belgium #B883,

Marshall Islands #637 S/S cut-out.


You will find out that sometimes its a little tricky. Switzerland, for instance, was once divided into counties such as Zurich and Geneva (first stamp in 1843) or Basel with the famous dove of 1845. The Swiss Federation was founded in 1850; the so-called Rayon stamp was the first valid for the whole country. In such a case I listed the country under 1843, not 1850.


Ive never really made the decision for East Germany: should it be 1949, the year of its first own stamp or 1945, which saw stamps of the Russian occupation or 1850, the first stamp of Saxony? I made the choices based upon my minor knowledge of postal, territorial or political history. This became an interesting journey for me. Should I list Norfolk Island in 1948, when it issued its own stamp, or maybe 1853 when the former mainland called Van Diemens Land emitted their first stamp? Question after question; but thats exactly where the SOS fun started. Its a creative way of collecting.

What else can you ask?