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canceled envelope with an Arthur Szyk designed stamp

Object | Accession Number: 2005.173.1

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    Brief Narrative
    “Save Human Lives” poster stamp used on an envelope sent in March 1944 to Edwin Howe Halsted, Jr. in Ohio, from his aunt, Mrs. Donald Budd Armstrong, in New York. It has an image of two distressed looking children: a young girl and a boy with side curls and yarmulke with Star of David armbands. These stamps were sold by the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, in order to raise money to stop the genocide of Jews in Europe and to raise awareness that those most at risk were children and the elderly. The stamp was created by Arthur Szyk, a Jewish emigre artist originally from Łódź, Poland, who used his art to promote religious tolerance and racial equality. The stamp was commissioned by the Emergency Committee, an organization that was formed to protest the plight of the Jews in Europe as they were being targeted as a race to be eliminated.
    Artwork Title
    Save Human Lives
    postmark:  1944 March 13
    issue: Scarborough (N.Y.)
    en route: Xenia (Ohio)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Margaret Permut
    red stamp, front of envelope, upper right corner : AIR 6 MAIL / CENTS / UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
    oval stamp, front of envelope, upper right corner of envelope : 1
    sender address, printed, blue ink, back flap of envelope : MRS. DONALD BUDD ARMSTRONG / SCARBOROUGH-ON-HUDSON / NEW YORK
    Szyk stamp, back of envelope, blue ink, back, center of stamp : SAVE HUMAN LIVES / EMERGENCY COMMITTEE TO SAVE / THE JEWISH PEOPLE OF EUROPE / 1 E. 44TH ST., NEW YORK 17, N.Y
    Szyk stamp, back of envelope, left side of image : Arthur Szyk / N.Y. 44.
    Artist: Arthur Szyk
    Subject: Arthur Szyk
    Distributor: Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, Inc.
    Arthur Szyk (1894-1951) was born to Jewish parents, Solomon and Eugenia Szyk in Łódź, Poland, which at the time was part of the Russian Empire. He had his first public art exhibition at age 15, and then went to Paris, France, for formal art training at the Academie Julian. He visited Palestine in 1914 with a group of Polish-Jewish artists and studied Muslim art. Upon his return, he was conscripted into the Russian Army and served in World War I. He married Julia Liekerman in 1916, and they had a son, George, in 1917. In 1918, Poland regained independence, but continued to fight a series of regional wars to secure its boundaries. Between 1919 and 1920, during Poland's war against the Soviet Bolsheviks, Syzk served as a cavalry officer and artistic director of the Department of Propaganda for the Polish Army in Łódź. In 1921, he and his family moved to Paris where his daughter, Alexandra was born the following year.

    Szyk was well known for his illuminations and book illustrations, in a style reminiscent of Persian miniatures. He worked on several significant projects in France, including illustrating the Statute of Kalisz, the Haggadah, and a series of watercolors on the American Revolutionary War. The themes of his most admired works, democracy and Judaism, were already well established, earning him both fame and significant commissions. In 1934, Szyk traveled to the United States for exhibitions of his work and to receive the George Washington Bicentennial Medal, awarded by the US Congress. He resided in England from 1937-1940 to supervise the publication of the Haggadah. In 1939, following Germany's invasion of Poland, he focused on producing anti-Nazi editorial cartoons published in many Western newspapers and magazines. During the German occupation of Poland, his 70 year old mother, Eugenia, and her Polish companion were forced to live in the Łódź ghetto. In 1943, they were transported to Majdanek concentration camp and killed.

    In late 1940, Szyk immigrated to the United States with his family. He became a leading anti-Fascist political caricaturist as well as an advocate for Jewish rescue. In addition to his widely published satirical art, Szyk devoted a great deal of time and energy to the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, and pushed for the establishment of an independent Jewish state in Palestine. Szyk received his US citizenship in 1948. In 1951, he was investigated by the United States House Un-American Activities Committee as a suspected Communist. His son, speaking on his behalf, declared his non-affiliation with any Communist organization. Later that year, on September 13, Szyk suffered a heart attack and died at age 57.
    The Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe was founded in 1943, by Peter Bergson and other young Jewish activists. The Committee formed in reaction to the first verified information of the Holocaust that reached the United States. On July 20, 1943, the group held the Emergency Conference in New York City, bringing together 1,500 delegates. The Committee was replaced by the American League for a Free Palestine in 1945.

    Physical Details

    Object Type
    Poster stamps (lcsh)
    Physical Description
    Rectangular stamp on white colored paper with a graphic design in blue ink. The stamp is affixed below the return address on the back of a rectangular, yellow colored, paper envelope. The image depicts 2 children, a boy and a girl, huddled close together; both wear armbands that display a Star of David. They appear disheveled, have sad eyes, and wear tattered clothes. The little boy wears a yarmulke and has peyote curls. Typed on the front of the envelope is a name, then a penciled line with an address written below. There is a purple air mail stamp above the address. On the front top center is a round postal service date stamp; in the upper right corner is a red airmail postage stamp with an airplane image and a black, oval, cancellation stamp on top of the plane. The sender’s address is printed on the back flap and there is a round postal service date stamp on the bottom back.
    overall: Height: 4.500 inches (11.43 cm) | Width: 5.750 inches (14.605 cm)
    overall : paper, ink, adhesive, graphite
    addressee, front of envelope, bottom center, pencil : 701 ½ S Detroit St / Xenia Ohio
    addressee, front of envelope, black ink, center : Mr. Edwin Howe Halsted, Jr. / 2069 Ravenswood Avenue / Dayton, Ohio
    front of envelope, stamped in purple ink : VIA AIR MAIL
    cancellation stamp, front of envelope, top, center, black ink : SCARBOROUGH / MAR 13 / 10 AM / 1944 / N.Y.
    cancellation stamp, back of envelope, black ink : DAYTON / MAR 14 / 2 530 PM / 1944 / OHIO

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    Restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Szyk, Arthur, 1894-1951.

    Administrative Notes

    The envelope with the stamp was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Margaret Permut, the daughter of the addressee, Edwin Howe Halsted, Jr.
    Record last modified:
    2023-08-24 15:15:30
    This page:

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