Stamp of the day: sunnie side up!

Australia 2011 Living Australian Little Man's Business and This Is So Relaxing 60c se-tenant pairSometimes you can see a stamp dozens of times without fully appreciating its majesty. I suppose you could say the same of any artwork, or building, or person. And then, for some reason, you happen to notice it in a certain light, or at a certain magnification, or across a cosy bar eight vodka and tonics into a Friday night, and your breath can be taken away.

This happy little issue came out in 2011. They called it ‘Living Australian’. Look at those Australians, just going about their lives all Australian-y and shit.

Australia 2011 Living Australian Best Friends and Embrace Friendship 60c se-tenant pair

I wasn’t paying a great deal of attention at the time, and I’ve only vaguely clocked them since. But when I saw this one cross my desk on the weekend – and I mean I really saw it – it filled me with joy.

Australia 2011 Living Australian Cricket at the Gabba 60c stamp

At first glance, it’s entirely possible to miss what’s going on. Maybe that’s why I hadn’t fully taken it in until now. We’re looking at the backs of a row of cricket fans at Brisbane’s Gabba stadium. It’s summer, evidenced by the sombreros. This colourful national headwear serves the triple purpose of supporting one’s team, protecting the head and face from the ferocious Australian sun, and making it really easy to spot oneself in the crowd when they show slow-motion replays on the big screen. You just have to find your sombrero among all the other sombreros.

It’s an eye-pleasing dance of engaging colours, all those greens and blues and yellows, with the skewed perspective drawing the eye into the centre of the scene.

Wait – skewed perspective? It can take a moment to register that this vibrant scene is being reflected at us in the mirrored lens of a fellow punter’s aviator sunglasses. (Or “sunnies”, as Australians call them, because who has the energy to finish entire words?)

I love this particular stamp because it’s so unexpected. The others in this set do a fine and proper job of bringing us exactly what we’d expect of the brief, and good on them. But giving a photo like this the immortal honour of placement on an actual, official stamp represents a fun and insouciance that speaks to the good cheer and irreverence commonly found during a big day out at the cricket. The sunnie-wearer’s face frames the scene in a muted grey, offsetting the riotous colour of the reflected sporting enthusiasm.

But it gets better. On looking into this stamp, I learned that every image was selected in a competition that was open to the public, and this fantastic photo was shot by amateur photographer Katelyn Wall of Nambour. She tells the Sunshine Coast Daily a little more about how the snap came about:

Ms Wall snapped the winning shot in 2008, during the third day of a Test match between Australia and India. The model was her younger brother, Matthew.

She purchased the aviator sunglasses used in the shot just before the game from a nearby pharmacy after leaving her pair at home.

“It was during a drinks break and I was just playing around with the camera until I finally caught that moment,” she said.

“It’s appropriate that the photo was in the family and mates category because that’s what cricket means to me,” she said.

“It was just us going out and enjoying being Australian with beer and having a good life.”

Living Australian? Nailed it.


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© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities.

Cold War propaganda stamp of the day

Poland 1973 30th Anniversary of Polish People's Army 1zl T-55 tank stampPolitics and human rights abuses aside, I love propaganda stamps. When I was very young, almost everything I knew of life behind the Iron Curtain came from my kiddie stamp collection. Countries like Poland, Romania and Hungary must have earned some sweet forex coin getting their stamps into the Western collector market. Eastern Europeans, I knew, were mad for Lenin, space, the Winter Olympics and military hardware.

This stamp isn’t the most propaganda-y of my propaganda collection, but it was always a fave (despite the damage at the bottom, marking this as a genuine Punk Philatelist artefact of the era).

I looked into it this week, and found that it was one of a 1973 set marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Polish People’s Army. That’s the kind of thing they called armies when the Soviets ruled the roost.

Look at that stamp again: it’s so action. It says more than “We have tanks.” It says “We have tanks and they are coming for YOU!”

Poland 1973 30th Anniversary of Polish People's Army 1zl MiG-21 D fighter stampThe issue also featured a plane, a ship, and a missile, all of which are also coming for YOU.

What makes them so dynamic? Sure, there are streaks of color representing the dust being kicked up, and the turbulence caused by the various aircraft, and there are the foamy breakers against the battleship’s hull.

The answer lies in one simple design feature: Continue reading

Souvenirs, novelties, party tricks…

India 2017 100R scented coffee stamp(And yay to you if you know which film lent me that headline.)

I’m excited today, and not because I’ve been snorting lines of this coffee-scented stamp from India. It’s a big day. I’m launching a new tag on this blog.

I get very easily excited.

As the use of snail mail for letter post continues to fall off a cliff, postal authorities around the world look more and more to stamp collectors to fluff up their bottom line.  Thus opens a new and technologically marvellous chapter in an old book: that of the novelty stamp. Continue reading

Lost in the System

Well, look who’s come crawling back to her sorry blog! Sorry, punksters, I’ve had a ridiculously busy year in both my top-secret work life and my even more mysterious private life. But it’s time to down tools and return to what I love. I’ve informed Mr Trump that the militia uniform designs would simply have to wait. He still hasn’t paid me for the preliminary design work, anyway, but he assures me the cheque is in the mail.

Given that it feels like I’ve been lost in outer space lately, it seems appropriate to return with one of the many doozies of new issues from 2016 that I missed while I was gone. Regular readers would know I’m mad for a pretty space stamp, and didn’t the USPS fire my rockets in May with its gorgeous Views of our Planets release?

usa-2016-views-of-our-planets-minisheet

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A glimpse into the future…

I made a more concise version of my last post. It’s Instagram-friendly!

All I’m saying is, if you’re a US voter, spare a thought for the ramifications of your vote upon future stamp issues by the US Postal Service.

usps-presidents

Thank you.

© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities

Stamp of the Day: Sorrow

ZiggyI’m composing an official-first-blog-post-of-2016, but sadly it has been gazumped by the loss of a personal musical icon. Many words are being written today in tribute to David Bowie. Let me add a few of my own.

Today’s Stamp of the Day depicts the iconic cover of David Bowie’s album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.

It was part of Royal Mail’s 2010 Classic Album Covers issue, which combined two of my great loves, music and design, as well as philately, which I shall classify as a great like. If I called it a great love, I would sound like one of the dotty old men one bumps into at philatelic society meetings.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Being a stamp collector with a creative and intellectual streak made me odd among my peers in my teenage years. I persisted, quietly, because screw them.

David Bowie’s musical output speaks for itself. I speak for the many people who were once teenagers who felt like they came from another planet. Bowie showed us it was just fine to be a bit weird.

Incidentally, the building in the background of the Ziggy Stardust cover is a post office. First class indeed.

 

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© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities

An apology to rich people

Embarrassed punk

In my last post, I had a laugh at well-heeled collectors of Australia’s King George V stamps who were eyeing off a rare one-penny red rusted cliché block that was up for auction at the Arthur Gray KGV sale held at Mossgreen Auctions in Melbourne last Friday (it’s all explained at the link).

The error on the item is believed to have been caused when a rat urinated on the printing plate while it was in storage. That didn’t stop the block having an estimated hammer price of $85,000.

Embarrassed punkWell, there were red faces at Punk HQ this week Continue reading

Watch a rich person pay $85,000 for something a rat peed on

Australia KGV rusted cliché

Take my moneyI love a good auction. Whether it’s watching my dream home being fought over by people who can actually afford to buy it, or watching Beryl make five pounds for her Edwardian comb on Bargain Hunt, it’s supply and demand at their purest. It’s especially fun when you’re the vendor. Which eBay seller doesn’t love it when a surprise bidding war breaks out over a stash of old Nancy Drew novels?

There’s a doozie of an auction at Mossgreen Auctions in Melbourne this Friday, and while I’m not the vendor, at least no one has to pretend to be excited about Beryl’s comb.

Australia lost one of its greatest philatelists this year when Arthur Gray passed away in May. From the accounts of those who knew him, it seems that when Arthur decided to collect something, he had both the foresight to choose the best pieces – often before their rarity was recognised – and pockets deep enough to make sure he got them.

Arthur’s magnificent collection of ‘Kangaroo and Map’ stamps (the first issued under the new ‘Australia’ brand after Federation) was auctioned in New York in 2007. It made $5,584,000 US (over 7 million AUD). But don’t let me stop you pasting cloth samples into your scrapbook, I’m sure YOUR hobby will pay off someday too.

In recent years, Kangaroo prices bounded out of range for many collectors (downturn? What downturn?), so Australia’s second stamp issue, the ‘King George V’ (KGV) series, already a collector favourite, became even more popular. But Arthur had been quietly forming an amazing collection of KGVs long before they came into fashion. His KGV collection goes under the hammer on Friday, and lots of people will be very excited.
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