Women in Israeli and Topical Judaica Philately

(revised 6/01/07)


Levi Stewart and David R. Blumenthal




In April 2002, Mr. Sol Singer, a successful Atlanta businessman, generously donated to Emory University The Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaic which he had lovingly built over forty years. Housed in the Emory Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, this remarkable Collection comprises three parts: every stamp issued by the state of Israel through the mid-1990s, most of them in multiple formats (“series 1”); twenty volumes of stamps featuring Jewish themes on stamps around the world (“series 2”); and a complete set of stamps issued by the Jewish National Fund (“series 3)”.[1]

In the spring of 2007, we decided to examine the Collection systematically and bring it up to date. The first decision was to work only on the first part of the Collection, the Israel philatelic resources. We, therefore, examined Mr. Singer’s extensive Israeli Collection, expanded the Library’s resources on the subject, and then began to explore the SweetChild CD-rom[2] which depicts and explains all the stamps issued by the State of Israel through 1998.  That proved to be too general an effort, so we decided to focus our research on how women are depicted in Israeli philately. 

Having chosen our subject, we examined The Israel Philatelist, The Judaica Post and The Judaica Philatelic Journal and found only two articles on the subject: one by Oscar Stadtler, titled “Women On The Stamps Of Israel,[3] and the second by Bea Stadtler, also titled “Women On The Stamps Of Israel.”[4]  To the best of our knowledge, these two articles are the only ones written on this subject.  While both are well written and erudite in their content, they do not include all the women who appear on Israeli stamps.  Oscar Stadtler limits his article to “modern persons” on Israeli stamps, citing eight entries. Bea Stadtler references these same eight modern women and cites an additional seven women from biblical times.  These articles are also not up to date. A need certainly exists, therefore, for the topic to be researched again.

By researching the SweetChild CD, we were able to find most of the stamps related directly to Israeli women through 1998.[5]  This included stamps of individual women, women’s organizations, women in sports, other depictions of a woman or girl, and stamps related to women indirectly.  With the help of the Scott Catalogue of World Stamps CD-rom, which lists and updates all the stamps of the world, the list of women on Israeli stamps was updated through 2005.[6]  The Library has hardbound editions of the Scott’s Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue[7], the Bale Catalogue of Israel Postage Stamps[8], and the Israel Postage Stamps 1948-1992, Catalogue # 12[9]  and Catalogue # 13,[10] the official catalogues of Israeli stamps in print; these were also consulted. The Subject Index in Catalogue # 13 is very thorough and was particularly useful to us in filling in our database of women on Israeli stamps. Finally – and most helpful – was the website of Israeli stamps that is maintained by the Israel Philatelic Federation: http://israelphilately.org.il/catalog/. We carefully compared our results to this online catalogue and then extended our search beyond 1998 by simply looking at each stamp listed. We believe we now have a full catalogue of women who appear on Israeli stamps, whether mentioned directly or portrayed anonymously as “woman” or “girl” up to 2/20/2007.

Having completed our research on the Israeli part of the Singer Collection (“series 1”), we proceeded to examine the topical part of the Collection (“series 2”). Levi Stewart examined all twenty volumes of stamps featuring Jewish themes, there being no index or catalogue at all for topical Judaica collections. He found an additional twelve stamps from varying countries that depict Jewish women or themes relating thereto in our holdings. This is a complete catalogue of Emory University’s holdings on topical Judaica stamps on this topic.


The Stampcharts


To present our data, we created a chart in Microsoft Excel that allows one to view, and easily reference, all the gathered information.  This chart contains eleven columns.  The first five provide basic philatelic information:

title - This includes the series name where that is given in the Israel Postage Stamp Catalogue (IPS). When the series name is given, the name of the stamp itself follows in parentheses.

Scott and Israel Postage Stamp catalogue numbers – These are given, where available, in two columns. For stamps in the topical part of the Collection, Country was substituted for the IPS number.

date of issue – Where the date of issue differs between Scott and IPS, we have followed IPS. And,


The second six columns give basic topical information. 

category – These three columns allow for an easy search of the collection using three qualifiers. All the stamps in this table fall under “Women.” After that, there are sub-categories such as:  “anonymous,” “culture,” “sports,” “writers,” “dance,” “fighter,” “Bible,” “activist,” “politics,” etc.

stamp description This describes the actual stamp itself.

additional information - The person or organization is described and additional philatelic information is given where warranted. And,

link This provides an internet link for further research.

               This Excel chart, organized by category was, then reconfigured by date of issue, thus creating two Stampcharts. An additional Stampchart only for the twelve stamps from the topical collection was also composed; it is organized by category. All the Excel charts, together with this article, were, then, uploaded to Professor Blumenthal’s website http://davidblumenthal.org/stamparticle.htm. To make the Stampcharts more easily accessible, they were subsequently uploaded to Google Docs and Spreadsheets.[11] The reader can access them there by clicking on Stampchart by Category[12], Stampchart by Date[13], and Stampchart (Topical)[14]. (Go to "Sheet1".)

To the best of our knowledge, no such database exists for any theme in Israeli (or topical Judaica) stamps. We are proud to share this with the greater public.

While the attached Stamptcharts are limited to women in Israeli and topical Judaica stamps, a catalogue for the entire Sol Singer Collection of Philatelic Judaica that will be searchable using these eleven criteria is being developed.  We will continue to expand the list of topics within Israeli and topical Judaica philately using the same (or a similar) format. The Sol Singer Collection of  Philatelic Judaic website will always contain the necessary links.

We wish to thank profoundly the many people who have helped us in creating this database: Ms. Naomi Nelson and Ms. Ann Frellsen of the Emory University Library and their staff who provided access to the stamps and offered advice on the Stampcharts while continuing their own work in cataloguing the Singer Collection; Mr. Steve Ennis, head of MARBL, who agreed to updating the collection;[15] Mr. A. Cattier of the Academic Technology Group of the Emory University Computing Center who helped to upload the Stampcharts to Google Docs and Spreadsheets; and Dr. T. Yaniv of the Israeli Philatelic Federation who maintains the IPF website and provided us with Catalogue # 13 and other good advice. 


Preliminary Conclusions[16]


Any attempt to categorize stamps must, perforce, be subject to criticism since any category system is intentionally broad and the method of categorization necessarily subjective. Hence, a case can be made for nearly each stamp we have examined to appear in multiple categories. We hope that our effort will stimulate others to address this issue and we hope that our categorizations will find some agreement among our readers.

In all we have found 161 Israeli stamps dealing with women[17] -- more than we had expected -- each with a direct or indirect connection to women.[18]  In general, we have observed a clear rise in the number of stamps dedicated to modern women as time progresses.  Thus, portraits of women are rare in the early years of the Israeli stamps and it is not until after 1978 that one sees women on stamps more frequently.

116 stamps fall under the Women Anonymous category, making it the largest category in our analysis.  So in fact, only 45 stamps are dedicated to individual women.  Of all the categories, Women Anonymous (Festivals) is the largest, with 17 stamps.  This is probably because the State of  Israel has released a set of stamps dedicated to Israeli festivals every year since 1948 and women was an easy theme to reiterate.  Of the individual women, Women Bible is the largest category, with 11 stamps.  It is interesting to note that the two largest categories have religious themes.  This may be attributed to the fact that Israel is the world’s only Jewish state and indicates the influence of Jewish religion within Israeli culture. 

Considering Israel’s success in business and science, one would expect to see more stamps of women in those categories.  However there are none under Women Business, and only three Women Anonymous Science.

Interestingly, many Women Fighter stamps were found which indicates the importance of women in the military in Israel.   

Lastly, one can also see a significant emphasis placed on the arts in Israeli philately.  Women Writer is the second largest category of individual women with 7, and Women Anonymous Art is the third largest category under Women Anonymous, with 12. There are also stamps that appear under the listings Women Theater (4), Women Depicted in Art (2), Women Artist (2), and Women Anonymous Theater (4).

[1] For more general information on the Singer Collection and some samples, see the website: http://marbl.library.emory.edu/DigitalExhibits/stamps/.

[2] Stamps of Israel Encyclopedia & Catalogue 1998,  SweetChild Software (Jerusalem, Israel).

[3] Oscar Stadtler, “Women On The Stamps Of Israel, The Israel Philatelist, October 1988, Vol. XXXIX (La Canada, California), 5511-5513.

[4] Bea Stadtler, “Women On The Stamps Of Israel, The Israel Philatelist, June 1991, Vol. XLII (La Canada, California), 6226-6230.

[5] The SweetChild CD does not actually search stamps; it performs a word-search of articles written about Israeli stamps that are part of the CD-rom. Hence, the search for “women” turned out to be incomplete.

[6] Though dated 2007, the Scott Catalogue of World Stamps CD-rom only lists Israeli stamps through 2005.

[7] Scott’s Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue, 2 vols., 1966 (Scott Publications, New York).

[8] Bale Catalogue of Israel Postage Stamps, 19th ed., 2000 (Chariot Global Marketing, Israel).

[9] Israel Postage Stamps 1948-1992, Catalogue # 12, 1993 (Israeli Postal Authority, Israel).

[10] Israel Postage Stamps 1948-1998, Catalogue # 13, 1998 (Israeli Postal Authority, Israel).

[11] Google Docs and Spreadsheets does not allow searching. We hope that that will be remedied in the near future. Meanwhile, the original Excel spreadsheets are in the possession of Professor Blumenthal (reldrb@emory.edu) and we welcome inquiries.

[12] http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pVbj_RM2p82YH0QznBf5yeA

[13] http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pVbj_RM2p82YNMdYbJzgmHA

[14] http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pVbj_RM2p82ah5KQN7kBXXQ

[15] We decided to fill-in the Collection where Mr. Singer left off and, then, to continue to subscribe to the Israeli philatelic offerings only with the following items: year sets, first day covers, minisheets, and mint sheets.

[16] The conclusions apply only to the Israeli part of the Collection, the number of stamps in the topical Judaica being too small to allow any conclusions.

[17] In contrast to the most updated article on women in philately by Bea Stadtler which contains fifteen listings.

[18] There are 167 entries in the Stampcharts because, while we tried not to list stamps in more than one category, for some stamps this was unavoidable.