Postage stamps reflect many aspects of our lives. The death of a monarch, international congresses, philatelic exhibitions, wars, film stars, plant life, sporting events, political upheaval and revolutions, to name a few.

Of the many aspects of religion depicted on stamps, one of the most interesting is the encouragement of the observance of Sunday. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Belgium by the issuing of special Sunday Delivery Stamps Attached to the stamp was a small tablet, which could be torn off if necessary, with instruction in Flemish and French that a letter bearing this stamp and tablet was not to be delivered on a Sunday. These tabs are found on all Belgian stamps issued between 1893 and 1912.

Belgium 1896-1897 5c

Belgium 1912 5fr

Belgium 1905-1911 10c

The origin of this instruction is to be found in the Fourth of the Ten Commandments. “Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day…in it thou shalt do no manner of work…” With the introduction of Sunday postal deliveries in Belgium, objections were raised by many people who regarded Sunday as a holy day and strongly opposed this defiance of God’s law. However, there was also a group who did not mind at all, the mailman calling on Sunday. This awkward problem was successfully solved with a compromise, by issuing special Sunday Delivery stamps.

If a person posted a letter and did not mind it being delivered on a Sunday, he would detach the tablets bearing the instruction “Do not deliver on Sunday.” If, however, Sunday deliveries were against his religious beliefs, he would leave the tab on the stamp and his letter would be held over at the post office until the Monday.

Note: Stamps with tabs are catalogued at a premium.