Thanks mainly to the recent postal rate hike, Australia Post has been churning out new issues faster than I can keep up with them, albeit still faster than is necessary given that no one sends letters these days. Recently we saw a new set of what are known as Greetings or Special Occasions stamps, these ones titled ‘Love to Celebrate.’ Six of the ten are up the top there.
You’re meant to stick these on your mail when you’re celebrating something. Cue birthday cakes, wedding rings, baby toys, lovehearts, and the like. There’s also a strong line in flags and maps and national icons that scream “Look! I’m in/from AUSTRALIA!” which must come in handy when writing to people too stupid to work out why the word AUSTRALIA appears on any other stamp you could have stuck on your mail.
I was a cynic at first. I’m old school. I like stamps to say something about the country they represent, and what annoys me to this day about these stamps (and their equivalents from any country) is that they tell you nothing about the nation except that someone is having a birthday/wedding/baby/party/jingoism in it.
But I’ve softened over time. Most of the designs manage to capture some of the joy of whatever is going on. I even swallowed my pride and stuck champagne stamps on my own wedding invitations. (Yes, sorry boys and girls, I’m taken. At least until my beloved finds out how much I spend on stamps.)
What’s more, their appearance on the mail usually means someone’s gone to a bit of thought with their postage, which is a rarity in this age of dreary peel’n’stick definitives and boring cash register receipts where stamps used to go on parcels.
Australia Post’s latest lot really caught my eye, which is saying something, because I tend to sniff at minimalist designs. The roses, champagne and rings are all a bit same-old, though I appreciate that they have to look a certain way to appeal to the lucrative wedding market. (And I wouldn’t reject such items so quickly in the flesh. Send them to me c/o WordPress). And to be honest, I’m still trying to work out what the hell that disjointed map is trying to say.
But the balloon stamp is fun and joyous, and the eucalyptus flower makes a refreshing change from the usual cricket-bat-to-the-face jingoism of the Australia themes.
Took me a little while to work out what was going on in the yellow-and-green stamp, and then I realised it was golden wattle, and then I realised it did a great job of capturing the downy texture of the round, beady flower and its feathery leaf, and then I decided I really liked it, and then I felt like a complete idiot for not seeing it in the first place.
But my favourite is the stamp with the handprints. I guess it means ‘kids’, though one could read some Aboriginal culture into it. But mainly, it just looks like the kind of fun you’re not meant to have as an adult.
There’s one stamp missing from the illustrations on this page. If you want birthday cake, check out this post.
Respect to Australia Post. Congratulations to design agency Sierra Delta for making me like these stamps, and also for having a name like a classy exotic dancer.
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