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Ireland 1938 Father Matthew Pair Of First Day Covers

Ireland 1938 Temperance Movement. Pair of First Day Covers on small size envelopes. Printed address.Condition: Excellent condition, lovely strikes. Date of Issue: Jul-1, 1938. Designer: R.J. King


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Ireland 1938 Temperance Movement

  • Pair of First Day Covers on small size envelopes
  • Printed address
  • Condition: Excellent condition, lovely strikes

Date of Issue


  • Jul-1, 1938



  • R.J. King

Numbers Issued

  • 2d: 46,973,640
  • 3d: 1,387,320

Catalog References

  • SC 101/2, SG 107/8, Mi 67/8, Yv73/40


Temperance Movements Around the World

'Sons of Temperance' Procession, Hill End, New South Wales, a gold mining town in Australia, 1872

A number of countries around the world have experienced temperance movements, a few examples of which are presented here.

In Australia, the temperance movement began in the mid-1830s promoting moderation rather than abstinence. By the late 1800s a more successful abstinence-oriented movement emerged under the influence of the U.S. temperance movement. However, it failed to bring about prohibition in spite of a long campaign for local option. The movement's major success was in prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages after 6:00 in the afternoon, laws which led to the notorious “six o'clock swill.?This refers to the practice whereby customers would rush to drinking establishments after work and consume alcohol heavily and rapidly in anticipation of the 6:00 closing.

In Canada, a temperance movement began in the 1800s. Temperance societies were established across the country except in Quebec. There, the Catholic Church promoted moderation rather than abstinence. However, over much opposition, the temperance movement managed to impose prohibition throughout the entire country early in the twentieth century. Except for Prince Edward Island, which was the first province to enact prohibition (1907) and the last to repeal it (1948), other provinces maintained prohibition for relatively short periods of time. This ranged from only one year in Quebec (1918-1919) to 13 years in Nova Scotia (1916-1929).

A temperance movement developed in Denmark in the 1860s and grew rapidly. Its base was largely labor unions and various religious groups, but the movement was never powerful enough to establish prohibition in this liberal country.

In England, the temperance movement was largely a middle class phenomenon that originally focused on controlling, not preventing, drinking among the working class. However, in 1832, a group emerged in the belief that 'teetotalism' or abstaining by everyone was necessary. At first the group advocated persuasion but in 1851, after the state of Maine in the U.S. passed a prohibition law, the group advocated mandatory abstinence by force of law. Lacking support from churches, labor or other groups, prohibition remained a dream in England.

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, Iceland’s Youth Organization and chapters of the International Order of Good Templars, both of which promoted prohibition, grew in power and influence. National prohibition existed between 1915 and 1922 However, a ban on the importation of spirits lasted until 1934 and on alcoholic beer until 1988.

A temperance movement in India came originally from the political leadership, most of whom had been educated in the United Kingdom at a time when prohibition was being promoted. This served to link prohibition with the independence movement and give it a broad base of popular support. This base included women and a major activity of women’s groups became picketing alcohol beverage retailers. Because temperance became so interwoven with independence, it was included in the Indian constitution.

A temperance movement existed in Italy for a few years in the late 1800s, but it made little headway. The greatest success temperance forces had in Italy was under Benito Mussolini and his fascist government, which closed thousands of pubs. Although Adolf Hitler was a teetotaler, he never imposed prohibition on Germany.

In the Netherlands, temperance activists were active as early as 1800 and even before that. By about 1880, the movement lost membership. However in the late 1800s until after World War I, the temperance movement became very strong. It received much support from the socialist movement and various Christian groups. With its increased power, the movement achieved a number of successes in reducing alcohol consumption but then it began a slow decline in membership and influence.

Beginning in the early 1890s until 1918, New Zealand had a growing temperance movement. However, for the next 30 years (1918-1948, there was a political stalemate between prohibition and liberalisation. Then for about 20 years, there was a gradual liberalisation and normalisation of alcohol use.

The first temperance society in Norway was established in 1836 and by 1844 there were at least 118 such societies. They promoted moderation rather than abstinence. However, in 1859 a movement for the formation of societies whose members would pledge “total abstinence from the use of alcoholic drinks?was started by Asbjorn Kloster. The Norwegian Storthing provided the societies with financial support.

A faction of the movement led by Sven Arrestad promoted a gradual movement toward prohibition. However, the majority preferred going more quickly to national prohibition, which existed from 1916 to 1927. Prohibition parties are still active in Norway.

In Poland, a temperance movement emerged in the mid-1800’s that was both religious and nationalistic. Temperance rhetoric equated freedom from alcohol with freedom from political bondage and the achievement of national independence. After Poland regained political independence in 1918, prohibitionist sentiment grew with the demand for prohibition, but it subsided in the 1930’s.

A Case Study: The United States

In colonial America, informal social controls in the home and community helped maintain the expectation that the abuse of alcohol was unacceptable. There was a clear consensus that while alcohol was a gift from God its abuse was from the Devil. 'Drunkenness was condemned and punished, but only as an abuse of a God-given gift. Drink itself was not looked upon as culpable, any more than food deserved blame for the sin of gluttony. Excess was a personal indiscretion.' When informal controls failed, there were always legal ones. Alcohol abuse was treated with rapid and sometimes severe punishment.

While infractions did occur, the general sobriety of the colonists suggests the effectiveness of their system of informal and formal controls in a population that averaged about three and a half gallons of absolute alcohol per year per person. That rate was dramatically higher than the present rate of consumption.

As the colonies grew from a rural society into a more urban one, drinking patterns began to change. As the American Revolution approached, economic change and urbanization were accompanied by increasing poverty, unemployment, and crime. These emerging social problems were often blamed on drunkenness. Following the Revolutionary War, the new nation experienced cataclysmic social, political, and economic changes that affected every segment of the new society. Social control over alcohol abuse declined, anti-drunkenness ordinances were relaxed and alcohol problems increased dramatically.

It was in this environment that people began seeking an explanation and a solution for drinking problems. One suggestion had come from one of the foremost physicians of the period, Dr. Benjamin Rush. In 1784, Dr. Rush argued that the excessive use of alcohol was injurious to physical and psychological health. Apparently influenced by Rush's widely discussed belief, about 200 farmers in a Connecticut community formed a temperance association in 1789. Similar associations were formed in Virginia in 1800 and New York State in 1808. Within the next decade other temperance organizations were formed in eight states, some being statewide organizations.

The future looked bright for the young movement, which advocated temperance or moderation rather than abstinence. But many of the leaders overestimated their strength; they expanded their activities and took positions on gambling, profanation of the Sabbath, and other moral issues. They became involved in political bickering and by the early 1820s their movement stalled.

But some stalwart leaders persevered in pressing their cause forward. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and benefited from a renewed interest in religion and morality. Within 10 years it claimed more than 8,000 local groups and over 1,500,000 members. By 1839, 15 temperance journals were being published. Simultaneously, many Protestant churches were beginning to promote temperance.

Between 1830 and 1840, most temperance organizations began to argue that the only way to prevent drunkenness was to eliminate the consumption of alcohol. The Temperance Society became the Abstinence Society. The Independent Order of Good Templars, the Sons of Temperance, the Templars of Honor and Temperance, the Anti-Saloon League, the National Prohibition Party and other groups were formed and grew rapidly. With the passage of time, 'The temperance societies became more and more extreme in the measures they championed.'

While it began by advocating the temperate or moderate use of alcohol, the movement now insisted that no one should be permitted to drink any alcohol in any quantity. And it did so with religious fervor and increasing stridency.

The prohibition of alcohol by law became a major issue in every political campaign from the national and state level down to those for school board members. In promoting what many prohibitionists saw as their religious duty, they perfected the techniques of pressure politics. Women in the movement even used their children to march, sing, and otherwise exert pressure at polling places. Dressed in white and clutching tiny American flags, the children would await their instruction to appeal to 'wets' as they approached the voting booth.

The Anti-Saloon League, under the de facto leadership of Wayne Wheeler, stressed its religious character and since it acted as an agent of the churches and therefore was working for God, anything it did was seen as moral and justified because it was working to bring about the Lord's will. One league leader would later write that the lies he told in promoting prohibition 'would fill a big book.'

The league was so powerful that even national politicians feared its strength. The Eighteenth Amendment establishing National Prohibition might well not have passed if a secret ballot had made it impossible for the league to have punished the 'disobedient' at the next election.

The Civil War (1861-1865)had interrupted the temperance movement while Americans were preoccupied with that struggle. Then, after the war, the Women's Christian Temperance Union was founded. The organization did not promote moderation or temperance but rather prohibition. One of its methods to achieve that goal was education. It was believed that if it could 'get to the children' it could create a dry sentiment leading to prohibition.

In 1880 the Women’s Christian Temperance Union established a Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction in Schools and Colleges, with Mary Hunt as National Superintendent. She believed that voters 'must first be convinced that alcohol and kindred narcotics are by nature outlaws, before they will outlaw them.' She decided to use legislation to coerce the moral suasion of students, who would be the next generation of voters. This gave birth to the idea of the compulsory Scientific Temperance Instruction Movement.

By the turn of the century, Mary Hunt’s efforts proved to be highly successful. Virtually every state, the District of Columbia, and all United States possessions had strong legislation mandating that all students receive anti-alcohol education. Furthermore, the implementation of this legislation was closely monitored down to the classroom level by legions of determined and vigilant WCTU members throughout the nation.

Temperance writers viewed the WCTU's program of compulsory temperance education as a major factor leading to the establishment of National Prohibition with passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Other knowledgeable observers, including the U.S. Commissioner of Education, agreed.

The temperance movement existed alongside various women's rights and other movements including the Progressive movement, and often the same activists were involved in all of the above. Many notable voices of the time, ranging from Lucy Webb Hayes to Susan B. Anthony, were active in the movement. In Canada, Nellie McClung was a longstanding advocate of temperance. As with most social movements, there was a gamut of activists running from violent (Carrie Nation) to mild (Neal S. Dow).

Many former abolitionists joined the temperance movement and it was also strongly supported by the second Ku Klux Klan. Often called the KKK of the 1920s, it had been established (or revived) in Georgia in 1915 to defend that state's prohibition laws. Promoting and even enforcing temperance became a cornerstone of the Klan's agenda as it spread throughout the country.

For decades prohibition had been touted as the almost magical solution to the nation's poverty, crime, violence, and other ills. On the eve of prohibition the invitation to