All I Need to Know About Geography I Learned from 1920s Stamp Ads

This morning we were flicking through some 1923 issues of The Magnet, marvelling at their “Wireless Dictionary for Boys”, and all the ads for stopping blushing and stammering, curing baldness and growing two to five inches.

We were also rather perturbed to discover a ad for postage stamps offering example stamps from several countries we’d never heard of: notably Polish Silesia, Haute Volta, and Travancore, Schlezvig (along with a slight doubletake at Belgian Germany).

A little googling revealed that Silesia has been split both as Upper and Lower Silesia, and also as Polish and Czech Silesia, and has been reapportioned numerous time – notably after the two World Wars.

Haute Volta was another name for Upper Volta, which became independent in 1960, and changed its name to Burkina Faso in 1984.

Travancore (aka British India), was a princely state in southwest India, until Indian independence, when it was merged with Cochin and areas of the former Madras state to form a new state, Kerala.

Schlezvig, is a little more difficult to find information about. It may be something to do with Demark, but it’s hard to tell, as most of the information about it seems to be in German…

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