Today, 24 October, is United Nations Day which marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations officially came into being. I wrote lengthy articles about UN Day for A Stamp A Day in 2016 and 2018 as well as a much shorter one today. Also today, I wrote about two unused postcards picturing the UN Headquarters in New York as well as a Flag Stamp Series maximum card for Postcards to Phuket. In philately a maximum card (also known as a maxi-card) is a postcard with a postage stamp placed on the picture side of the card where the stamp and card match or are in maximum concordance (similarity). The cancellation or postmark is usually related to the image on the front of the card and the stamp. Maximaphily is the branch of philately involving the study and creation of maximum cards.

For My Collections, I chose a maximum card that is nearly as old as I am, featuring a pair of stamps issued by the Vatican City on 4 October 1965 (I was born on 3 December of that year). Pope Paul VI became the first reigning pontiff to visit the Western hemisphere when he addressed the United Nations in New York City in October 1965. As the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War was escalating, Paul VI pleaded for peace before the UN. In fact, Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit six continents and travelled more widely than any of his predecessors, earning the nickname “the Pilgrim Pope”.

The stamps on this card depict the UN Headquarters complex and are part of a set of four issued on the same date (the other two depict the pope himself), listed in the Scott catalogue as #416-419. They were printed using the photogravure process by IPS Off. Carte Valori (Officina Governativa Carte Valori) on paper watermarked with crossed keys and comb perforated 14. Each stamp measures 30 x 40 mm and saw a press run of 5,348,600 stamps printed. The two on this card are denominated at 30 and 150 lira, printed in blue and dark green grey respectively.

The United Nations’ official headquarters in New York City was constructed in 1952 on more than fifteen acres of land in Manhattan. The complex is bordered by East 48th Street to the north, the East River to the east, First Avenue to the west and East 42nd Street to the south. It is comprised of several buildings and reside on what was originally part of a bustling industrial area in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1910’s and 1920’s. The property was purchased from real estate developer William Zeckendorf Sr. in 1946 with the initial goal of creating a separate city for the UN headquarters. The site in New York was chosen after an exhaustive search of potential properties across the United States and other countries.

Several designs were created and submitted by member governments of the United Nations. Construction began in September 1948 after financing for the project was approved through loans from the United States government and the Reconstruction France Corporation. UN employees started moving into the Secretariat Building in 1950 and 1951. Construction of the headquarters was officially completed in October 1952.

Secretariat Building at United Nations Headquarters, New York, photographed by Michael Mommert at dusk on 28 October 2017.

The Secretariat Building is a 39 story, 505-foot skyscraper. The structure was designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier and British architect Oscar Niemeyer and contains offices for the Secretary General, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs and Office of Disarmament Affairs and the Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs. The building was renovated in 2010 and its tenants started returning to the skyscraper in 2012.

UN Headquarters’ General Assembly Building in New York, photographed by Mike Peel on 28 May 2017.

The General Assembly Building is where the majority of all United Nations meetings are held. The General Meeting Hall has a capacity of 1,800 people. It is also the largest room in the building, measuring at 165 feet long by 115 feet wide. The meeting hall is known for the front platform and the green marble desk where the President for the General Assembly, the Secretary General and the Under-Secretary General for General Affairs and Conference Affairs sit. There’s also a lectern at the table for various speakers and presenters. The United Nations emblem is hung on a gold background behind the platform.

The hall’s ceilings are 75 feet high. Its entrance has an inscription from Iranian poet Saadi’s work the Gulistan. The General Assembly Hall has been renovated several times over the years. The last changes were made in 1980 to add extra seating to accommodate United Nations members. Each of the 192 delegations has 6 seats at their respective desk: three seats for delegates and another three seats behind the delegates for alternates.

Dag Hammarskjöld Library at UN Headquarters photographed in 2010.

The Dag Hammarskjold Library is one of the newer buildings in the United Nations’ headquarters complex. It was completed in 1961 as a gift from the Ford Foundation to provide a permanent home for the ever-expanding library collections that were originally housed in the Secretariat Building. The library is located on the southwest corner of the property right next to the Secretariat. It contains more than 400,000 books, 80,000 maps and almost 10,000 newspapers and periodicals. It’s also home to the Woodrow Wilson Collection that has over 8,000 volumes of various League of Nations documents and more than 6,000 associated pamphlets and books.

The Conference Building is located between the Secretariat Building and the General Assembly Building. The Security Council Chamber is located in this building. The chamber was designed by renowned architect Arnstein Arneberg and was a gift from Arneberg’s home country of Norway. In addition, there are several other office and storage buildings with temporary storage locations that have been added as needed. The grounds is also filled with several impressive works of art.

Pope Paul VI, official photograph by Fotografia Felici, early 1969, from the Catholic News Agency.

Pope Paul VI (Paulus V) was born Giovanni Battista Enrico Antonio Maria Montini on 26 September 1897 and was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death on 6 August 1978). Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council, which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms. Paul VI did away with much of the regal splendor of the papacy and was the last pope to date to be crowned on 30 June 1963. He fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements.

Paul VI was the first pope to leave Italy since 1809. His travels included the first ever papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the first papal visit to the Americas, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. He visited six continents, and was the most-travelled pope in history to that time, earning the nickname “the Pilgrim Pope”. With his travels he opened new avenues for the papacy, which were continued by his successors Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.

The first papal visit to the United States occurred on 4 October 1965, when Paul VI visited New York City to address the United Nations at the invitation of Secretary-General U Thant. During that visit, the Pope first stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral where some 55,000 people lined the streets to greet him, met with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Waldorf Astoria, addressed the United Nations General Assembly, celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium, and viewed Michelangelo’s Pieta at the New York World’s Fair in Queens.

The Pope’s last international trip took him to nine countries in late November and early December 1970. He met several heads of state including Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran, President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, the O le Ao o le Malo of Samoa Malietoa Tanumafili II, Governor-General Paul Hasluck of Australia, and President Suharto of Indonesia. On 27 November 27 1970, the Pope was the target of an assassination attempt by Benjamín Mendoza y Amor Flores at Manila International Airport in the Philippines.


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