It’s New Issue Day down under and this time around, Australia Post is giving me the absolute ships.
Let’s be frank, ships are a cliché on stamps. Any country with a coastline probably has good historical reasons to bung sailing ships on their stamps. Ships are also a popular thematic collecting area, because Old Men, so even countries with no open water access put ships on their stamps and collect Grandpa’s sweet pension money. This is not to deny the devastation that the loss of the Titanic wreaked upon the Republic of Burundi.
But cynicism can walk the plank. Truth is, I love big old ships on stamps. Depicted from the side (I suppose that’s ‘starboard’ or something), a clipper ship in full sail fills out a landscape frame marvellously. And viewed more from the bow, a ship can look magnificently regal in portrait orientation, as demonstrated by this 1984 Australian Thermopylae stamp as she makes her way down the catwalk nearby.
And isn’t it nice, in this era when stamps are dominated by photography and text, to just see some good old-fashioned paintings on stamps? Good to know people can still paint. Or at least photograph paintings that someone did in the 1800s.
The ship names written in inky longhand on the new issue are a a nice touch too, evoking the era of sail. It’s these little things that make a difference.
My one reservation on this issue is that those colours look a little washed out, at least in the pre-publicity pics. We lose some of these magnificent beasts against the similar-coloured background. This may be partly because the stamps are based on historical paintings. But you can fix those things these days, AP! Buy Illustrator. I shall withhold judgement until I see them in person. Other than that, AP earns my official Respect for this issue.
If there’s a sailing enthusiast in your life, they’re probably old and rich. Consider writing a letter to them, and sending it in the blank cover of this issue (30c at your local post office if you’re lucky) with these stamps on it. You will so totally cement your spot in the old codger’s will.
This is why I am not AP’s social media people.
© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities