While he was alive, Stalin’s appearance on postage stamps was limited to bas-reliefs featuring Stalin’s profile superimposed over Lenin’s image with a red flag as the background. Stalin’s iron-fisted rule was made legitimate through his connection to the popular leader of the revolution. On the souvenir sheet issued for Stalin’s 70th birthday in 1949 (not shown here), Stalin is portrayed at Lenin’s side during crucial moments in Soviet history—the October Revolution and the final period of Lenin’s life.

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