Ethiopian Stamps & Postal History
The Pro Foundation Economia Fantasy Sheets
By now, any Ethiopian philatelist taking an interest in eBay has seen one or more offerings for the Pro Foundation Economia Ethiopia “charity” sheets. Moreover the astute eBay aficionado will have also recognized several offerings where stamps were knowingly or unknowingly cut out of these sheets and marketed as “proofs” or “unlisted imperfs.” According to EPS Librarian, Floyd Heiser, the only article written about them for Menelik’s Journal was prepared by Ken Doig. It appeared in Volume 5 in the fall of 1989. My interest in these sheets was rekindled after I found a letter from Dr. B. J. in den Bosch of Groesbeek, Holland, the founder of the Pro Foundation Economia, to a gentleman residing in Saginaw, Michigan.
I suggest that the so called “charity” sheets were nothing more than a fraudulent vehicle for raising money - hence I believe them to be fantasy creations. Now for a bit of background.
According to the records of the Central Bureau on Fundraising, the Dutch governmental organization that tracks such things, the Stichting Ethiopia Economia, also known as the Ethiopia Economia Foundation, was founded in The Hague on 26 August 1977 and was properly registered with the Chamber of Commerce. Its stated purpose was to offer educational aid or job placement assistance to Ethiopian graduate students, in Ethiopia or abroad, in economic and social science. On 12 April 1984 the foundation’s charter was changed to aid poor Ethiopian as well as students. On 30 April 1992 the foundation was dissolved. The Central Bureau on Fundraising does not have a requirement that mandates reporting of money raised or actually spent by charitable organizations. The Central Bureau will, however, keep records of such activities if the information is voluntarily provided. The Stichting Ethiopia Economia never reported any financial matters to the Central Bureau during its 15 year existence.
Ken Doig reported that the Foundation operated in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia from 1977 to 1980. In 1980, the Foundation moved its operations to the Netherlands. Dr. B. J. in den Bosch was the organization’s founder and director.
Here is the verbatim text of the opening paragraph of Dr. in den Bosch’s letter: “The Foundation Ethiopia Economia is an officially registered foundation, helping poor Ethiopian people with clothes and shoes since 15 years (no food). As soon as the political situation in that country is stabilized, help will be given to Ethiopian postgraduate students in conformity with the original aim of the Foundation. Having taken your name from one of the leading biographies, the Foundation is in the position to offer you one or more honours at a price that only covers the costs (as are documents, medals, eternal rubber stamps, fax, telephone, postage, registration, two sided plastification [sic] of documents). If you want to pay something extra, this will be a welcome donation to the Foundation.”
The letter then goes on to describe available honors and costs. Also, since the gentleman from Michigan was listed in a leading bibliography, “it stands to reason that we waive a Curriculum Vitae.” In summary, one could purchase the following honors, professorships and knighthoods from Dr. in den Bosch:
It appears that donations above the amounts paid for any of the above honors would be considered donations to the Pro Foundation Economia. Also, to be completely accurate, his letter states that all areas of study, with the exception of medicine, are available as professorships or doctoral degrees. His letter closes using honorifics from each of the above listed organizations as well as several that were not listed. In closing, he signs himself as Doctor also as Chancellor, Governor, Professor, Senator, Knight Captain and Baron! Photocopies of several degrees and knighthood certificates were enclosed – with a notation that “the real diplomas are 4-6 times larger.”
I found two other unusual organizations associated with Dr. in den Bosch. The first one was the Bureau for Degree Promotion, Ltd. with the address, c/o Prof. Dr. B.J. in den Bosch, 17 van Wassenaerlaan, CS 4797 Willemstad, Holland. The Bureau may no longer exist, but its list of honors and degrees greatly exceeded the ones listed in this article. The second unusual organization was the World Language Process, Br. B. J. in den Bosch Chancellor, Hermelijnstraat 4,6562 LM Groesbeek The Netherlands. The WLP has an active website.
Ken Doig reported that 1,000 of each sheet was issued. Sheets were priced at US$5 each. The first sheet was “issued” on 1 December 1977 at Debra Zeit. All sheets are 150 mm wide by 110 mm tall. Sheets were printed on thin white gummed paper stock. A total of eight different sheets were issued, one each year from 1977 through 1984.
This page is copyrighted by Daryl Reiber @ 2006: All Rights reserved