Home Culture Art Stamp Errors Part 11 – Richard or Adolph Wagner?

Stamp Errors Part 11 – Richard or Adolph Wagner?


As the second highest value of a stamp series in honour of famous musicians/composers, this stamp from Paraguay appeared on July 1, 1980 with an edition of 35,000 copies. The stamp shows a reproduction of the painting ‘Dancers, Green and Pink’ by Edgar Degas in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Above right is the striking portrait of the composer Richard Wagner (1813–1883) as everyone knows him. But underneath is the inscription: ‘ADOLPH WAGNER (1835-1917)’.

Adolph Wagner

In South America the composer was mistaken for another German, the economist Adolph Wagner, thereby doing both men an injustice – because the brilliant composer was certainly anything but an ‘economist’. Adolph Wagner was born on March 25, 1835 in Erlangen and died on November 8, 1917 in Berlin. He was a professor in Vienna, Dorpat (now known as Tartu, Estonia) Freiburg and Berlin and a member of the Prussian House of Representatives. He drew up the ‘Law of Growing Government Expenditures’ named after him and wrote numerous specialist books. It is amusing to speculate how both men would have reacted to the mix-up – I am not sure if Richard Wagner would have been happy to have been mistaken for the economist.


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  1. I wonder if there might have been a Freudian slip on the part of the designer here. Adolf Hitler was said to be an admirer of Wagner’s music and certainly the Nazi regime promoted it heavily. In turn, Wagner wrote a notoriously Anti-Semitic pamphlet “Judaism in music” slating Jewish musicians and composers such as Mendelssohn. Because of the Nazi-Wagner association, Wagner’s music is virtually never performed in Israel today. I wonder if the designer might have unconsciously merged the two names and looked up the dates of birth and death without checking further.

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