This blogpost has been modified for reasons which will become obvious.
Most stamp issues related to the WWF require approval from the international organisation, and from the Swiss company Groth AG who have exclusive rights to approve the designs etc.
In an earlier version of this blogpost we quoted from the 15 February 2011 Newsletter of Groth AG, official philatelic agents for WWF International. The Royal Mail stamps for the 50th anniversary of WWF were not arranged with WWF International in Switzerland, but with WWF's UK branch. Apparently deprived of their commission on this stamp issue, Groth's criticism in their Newsletter was evidently an embarrassment to both WWF International and WWF UK – and also, now, to Groth AG.
Groth's Newsletter (downloaded as a pdf) has now been edited to remove all reference to the Royal Mail issue and the criticism, and we have been asked by WWF International via Hans Groth if we would also remove the reference from our blog.
I have no wish to prolong the embarrassment by continuing its publication so I have removed the Newsletter quote from this blog as well.This is what Groth say about their organisation:
Today, Hans is proud to say that the collection - the largest thematic collection in the world - is still selling well and that his company will soon be celebrating a quarter of a century of collaboration with WWF. It is projected that the Collection will continue to be produced at least until 2011 when WWF will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.
To date over one billion stamps and almost 400 issues have been printed and sold, generating more than 20 million Swiss francs in royalties - an important source of funding for WWF's conservation activities.
I am sure that there was a financial arrangement between Royal Mail and WWF UK for the use of the WWF logo: these things do not need the intervention of a philatelic agent. As I wrote in the original version of this post:
Royal Mail wanted to mark the 50th anniversary and should be able to do what they want for that both in numbers and animals. Thinking about it, if the only way that people in the UK and US (for example) can be aware of endangered animals in Yemen and Siberia is by buying stamps from Yemen and Russia then that is unproducitve. Far better I think for the big countries to highlight the work of the WWF by showing endangered animals worldwide?
But the United States will not mark the 50th Anniversary and have never issued a WWF stamp, and I'm told that Canada Post has not either. In fact, looking at the Groth AG site, it would seem that Spain, Norway, and even Switzerland have also managed to resist the impulse to deal with Groth.
What do you think? - let us know by leaving a comment (also see comments section)