A long-running philatelic society in my hometown recently voted itself out of existence due to declining membership. It wouldn’t be the only stamp club to have done so over the last few years.
So-called ‘organised philately’ no longer has the numbers it once had, but this doesn’t mean the end of the communal collecting experience.
Blogs, Instagram feeds, YouTube channels, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and old-school bulletin boards are no substitute for the personal contact you can enjoy at a club, nor for Merle’s homemade fruit scones during tea time. But they can still be an entertaining and informative way to share this hobby of legends.
Lately, I’ve experienced some severe work-life imbalance, so my collection and the coolest blog on the internet have both suffered. (I hope you noticed.) But amid the chaos, I enjoy stealing a moment with the vibrant online collecting family when I can.
Reddit’s r/philately page is both a friendly philatelic board, and a friendly subreddit, which is why I like to lurk there. Well, a few months back, I caught sight of a post headed ‘A slightly different way to keep and display stamps 🙂‘ with a link to a video.
You never know what lies ahead with that sort of subject line. Has some genius just life-hacked a whole-of-country collection into a matchbox? Or has some idiot just licked a bunch of Inverted Jennies onto their cat?
Neither, as it turns out. Header checks out.
That’s the UK’s 2019 Marvel stamp set, actual size… in jigsaw. You can also spot the 2015 Star Wars set, and a recent Swedish lighthouse set on a miniature sheet that I didn’t recognise.
I was intrigued, so I went poking through the Reddit user’s history. It turns out ‘robroy865’ had form, and I’d missed an earlier appearance…
Another post revealed that the lighthouse ‘miniature sheet’ I’d spotted was in fact a custom-made, lasercut frame in which the lighthouse stamp jigsaws snugly sat:
Some traditionalists would spit out mouthfuls of Merle’s fruit scones at the thought of such wanton destruction. But I love it. This is a new level of Stamp Art, a flourishing movement that has yet to be properly explored on this blog. It’s not quite collecting… it’s more about taking these tiny works of art, and transforming them into more works of art.
It didn’t take long for me to track down robroy865 in real life. His name is Ronnie, and his blog at Induku Design showcases his rapidly developing love of woodwork, and the way in which he integrates it with his other hobbies.
I only wanted to ask Ronnie’s permission to use his photos and videos on this blog, but he had something else in mind. He suggested that I choose a favourite stamp of my own for him to turn into a jigsaw!
This was a high-pressure decision. Which stamp would make a great tiny jigsaw? After a few days leafing through my collections and catalogues, I chose Australia’s 1999 Olympic Torch issue. This was a precursor issue to the Sydney 2000 Olympics; the torch relay had begun, and this stamp-on-stamp issue reworked an earlier issue from the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. I liked its colours and its design, and I thought the intricacy of the ye-olde engraving style would really suit a tiny jigsaw puzzle.
I threw four of them into a glassine (Ronnie had wisely requested a few copies in case of disaster), and with a greeting card for support, off they flew to Sweden. In a nice Olympic tie-in, the relevant Australian Zone 5 air mail stamp depicted one of my favourite views of my beloved Melbourne (home of the 1956 Olympics, don’t you know?).
In what seemed like no time at all (but I just checked and it was about two months), a small package landed in my letterbox with a couple of plastic baggies inside. Ronnie had done his stuff! One of my stamps had travelled all the way around the world and returned to me, just… not quite as I sent it.
There was only one thing to do: return it to its perfect state! I set about solving the tiniest jigsaw puzzle I’d ever attempted, shooting a video on my phone as I went so that I could show you.
…But then I stopped. Due to the tiny scale of Ronnie’s intricate work, all you could see on that video were my fat fingers crowding out any sight of a postage stamp jigsaw puzzle. That’s when I found a whole new use for stamp tweezers! (Nerd note: angled spade-tips rule and I won’t hear a word said otherwise.)
Take another look at the final frames. The tweezers should remind you that I’m dealing with an actual stamp, of average stamp size. Now contemplate how Ronnie has carved that stamp into 20 jigsaw puzzle pieces, and you may start to appreciate just how tiny each of those pieces are!
For good measure, Ronnie very kindly threw in an extra nine-piece stamp puzzle. Enjoy the bit where I put the middle piece in all wrong. After I finished this puzzle, I placed my finger beside it as another indication of the tiny scale of these beautiful puzzles. Assume, for this exercise, that I have average-sized fingers.
I’d like to thank Ronnie for being so generous with his time and talents. Far from philatelic vandalism, his miniature jigsaw puzzles instead call attention to the tiny details hidden in every stamp – the work of countless hours of labour and creativity on the part of the artist. I highly recommend a visit to Ronnie’s site, Induku Design. These stamp puzzles are a sideline for him – have a look at the range of stunning hand-crafted mechanical devices that he has built. You can buy them at his Etsy store – and if you’re quick, you can pick up some of the stamp puzzles featured in this piece! They’d make wonderful gifts for the stamp collector in your family. Especially if that’s you.
If you need any more convincing, here are two more minutes of wonder as Ronnie destroys and recreates his Marvel masterpiece. Seems I’m not the only one to opt for tongs over fingers:
I’ll certainly be keeping my tiny stamp puzzles to treasure. After all, they’ll give me something to do on those long, lonely evenings when I used to go to stamp club… 😦
© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities