It’s getting steamy in here

Lots of collectors like trains on stamps. But there are trains on stamps, and then, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson’s character Neville Flynn from Snakes on a Plane: there are motherfucking trains on motherfucking stamps.

Have a look at these beauties marking the 150th anniversary of the completion of the first transcontinental railroad across the USA:

USA 2019 150th Anniversary of the Intercontinental Railroad stamp strip

There’s some cute design work going on. The Transcontinental Railroad was built across the United States from each direction, with the ceremonial meeting of the tracks taking place at Promontory Summit in Utah in May, 1869. The two engines depicted each hauled a trainload of dignitaries to the ceremony – Jupiter from the west, and No. 119 from the east. The so-called golden spike was then driven into the ground between them to ‘finish’ the railroad. This significant engineering feat cut the time it took to cross the nation from months down to about a week.

American pop culture gives us a certain depiction of an old steam engine: the bulbous chimney, the cattle-grid cowcatcher, a giant headlight, a colorful paint scheme and brass trim all over. It’s only when I see old American locomotives that I’m reminded that they actually looked like that! If the framing was a bit wider, you’d see a moustachio’d villain tying a damsel to the rails. It’s a shame they went for the golden spike in the middle stamp, instead of two runaway convicts pumping one of those see-saw handcars.

The stamps feature a beautiful gold foil layer that doesn’t come across in the image above. Luckily, here’s my friend Stacy with a demonstration! Thanks Stacy!

American heroes finally acknowledged

This anniversary has differed from the 100th anniversary in 1969 by overtly acknowledging the immigrant labor that was involved. From the USPS website:

A large immigrant labor force — including a majority of Chinese and Irish laborers — carried out most of the backbreaking and often dangerous work that made the achievement possible. The workforce, totaling more than 20,000 at its peak, also included immigrants from many nations — Germany, Italy, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and others — as well as African-Americans and former Civil War soldiers from both the Union and Confederate armies.

The public commemorations of the anniversary and the stamp issue have honored this immigrant workforce (and also noted the costs of the railroad borne by Native Americans). I kinda wish these workers could have been recognized in the stamps themselves. Americans could do with a reminder of how much their prosperity is due to the back-breaking efforts (and, too often, deaths) of immigrants. Especially the Chinese of the time, who were virtually labeled as sub-human by some of those in power. Not that it should remind you of anyone.

Fans of trains on stamps should keep watching the blog. There’s something exciting for you coming down the tracks.

Post office murals are off the wall

USA 2019 Post Office Murals Rockville MD stamp

While we’re in the States, a belated shoutout to USPS for the stamps released in April celebrating the tradition of post office murals.

Beginning with the Great Depression, the US Government commissioned artists to enliven public buildings with morale-boosting works depicting the “American Scene”. A bunch of those works graced the walls of post offices, and are still in situ today. I realize now that I must have seen a few when I was there a few years ago, without knowing the back-story.

Depicting five of these works, this attractive issue is a testament both to the times, and to the aesthetic benefits of getting your stamp proportions just right when depicting artwork.

USA 2019 Post Office Murals Piggott AR and Anadarko OK stampsThese things aren’t a competition, but for the record, my favorite, predictably, is the mural entitled Air Mail, painted by Daniel Rhodes at the Piggott Post Office in Arkansas. It’s got a plane, a postman, a pilot… but there’s something about that foreboding grey sky that I just love. It speaks to the historical determination on the part of postal staff to get the mail to where it needs to go, long before the days of overworked, underpaid sub-contractors leaving a card in your letterbox saying you weren’t home, instead of walking five extra steps to ring your bell and find out that you were.

USA 2019 Post Office Murals Florence CO and Deming NM stamps

Runner-up: Kenneth Miller Adams’ cubist–ish Mountains and Yucca, from Deming Post Office in New Mexico, just ahead of Kiowas Moving Camp from the Anadarko Post Office in Oklahoma.

Kiowas Moving Camp is one of 16 murals painted by Kiowa artists at Anadarko. If you’re passing through Oklahoma later this month, I read in the latest Linn’s Stamp News that these murals will be a feature of the program at the Oklahoma Philatelic Society‘s OKPEX 2019 stamp show, June 28-29. (Update your website, guys!)

I’m not done covering recent US issues. I look away for one moment (well, OK, I’ve struggled two watch for a few years now) and the USPS puts out a whole spate of goodies. But the next issue will get a whole entry to itself. Stay tuned…

Got an opinion on these issues? Drop a comment below! Share Punk’s posts on your socials! And meet me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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

That ’70s Showstopper

Last year I went trippy over Jersey’s psychedelic issue celebrating 1960s Popular Culture.  Well, times change. To be precise, they change to the 1970s. That’s how time works. Welcome to Jersey’s 1970s Popular Culture issue!

One of these stamps featured in my recent post about the strange preponderance of fondue on stamps lately. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s the one with the people eating fondue on it.) The stamps follow the same six themes: fashion, food, language, events, music and leisure.

I was too young to take in the 1970s as the tail end of them happened around me, and I’ve gotta be honest, it’s never been a decade that held much retro appeal to me (outside their contribution to the ongoing development of David Bowie, of course). I mean, look at those flares! And that green. Ugh!

But I do love the riotous colours on the rollerskating stamp. (Not so sold on rollerskating itself, I have the X-rays of my shattered radius to prove it.)

Jersey 2019 1970s Popular Culture £1.12 Leisure (roller skating) stamp

And I’m sure there were probably bigger ‘events’ in the 1970s than the arrival of home video recording, but I reckon I can see what happened here: Jersey Post got to the 1970s and realised they really should have had a ‘technology’ stamp. Either that, or they took a look at the 1970s as a whole and concluded, as I did before them, that the 1970s were a bit shit. Still, those curved stripes… I can’t find an exact correlation, but they take me back to the kinds of animations I was watching as a kid during the era. Sesame Street’s Pinball Number Count, anyone? And again, those colours! I think my dad’s shirts of the era were made out of this video tape.

Jersey 2019 1970s Popular Culture 82p Events (home video recording) stamp

As with the previous sets in this series, the 1970s Popular Culture issue includes a scene depicting Street Life of the 1970s. Do not adjust your screen. It seems that life in Jersey in the seventies was very, er, pink.

Jersey 2019 1970s Popular Culture £2 Street Life miniature sheet

But of this set, how could this not be my favourite stamp? It doesn’t really say an awful lot about the Punk movement (I admit, another worthwhile contribution from the 1970s). It could symbolise angry seamstresses. Which leaves only one other possible option. It is clearly a tribute to the one other great moment of the 1970s: the birth of the Punk Philatelist. They even used the same queen that I use in my imagery! Thanks guys. And if you think this doozie isn’t going to show up on a regular basis in my social media, you’d be very wrong.

Jersey 2019 1970s Popular Culture 65p Music (punk) stamp

I’ve only just learned that this is merely the third of a 5-part series. (I totally missed the 1950s series.) Needless to say, as a child who became fully aware of the world on the cusp of the 80s and 90s, I am already VERY excited for the next two installments.

Can you dig this issue, or is it too heavy for you? Drop a comment below! Share this post on your socials! And meet me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram! x

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

 

 

Fondue is big this year

Switzerland 2018 Fondue CHF1 fondue caquelonSo I look away for one moment and suddenly everyone is putting fondue on their stamps. And by ‘everyone’ I mean mostly Switzerland, but also Jersey.

Switzerland can be forgiven. Fondue as a mainstream dish is a surprisingly recent development in cuisine, but it’s theirs, and it’s a thing of national pride. Back in the 1930s, sitting around dipping stale bread into a pot of melted cheese must have been a fun way to pass a cold Alpine evening while discussing in four languages how the nearby rise of fascism left you feeling completely neutral. Continue reading

The 12 Stamps of Christmas

UPDATE! I’ve added a couple of reader’s nominations to the bottom of the list! Read on…

It’s the 12th day of Christmas. The Christmas tree withers in the corner, unwatered for days. The batteries on the toys have expired. The gurgling remnants of Christmas lunch are in a fight to the death with New Year’s resolutions. So it’s the perfect time for me to give you my 12 Stamps of Christmas! After all, I am your true love.

As mail revenues continue to plummet, for the postal administrations of Christendom, Christmas offers one last chance to hear the bells jingling on their cash registers. (Do you know how many Christmas cards I got in the mail this year? None. That’s a first. It might be that I’ve been crossed off multiple lists. But I choose to blame The Pace of Change.)

So which countries brought their festive philatelic A-game in 2018? These are my favourites of the stamps that crossed my radar. Continue reading

Shoutout to StampShow 2018

USA 2018 Dragons Orange Forever stampA big hello to any US (or visiting) readers attending this weekend’s Stampshow in Columbus, Ohio!

USA 2018 Dragons Green Forever stampI read in a news report that organizers (jointly the American Philatelic Society and the American Topical Society) are seeking to tap into more of the pop culture appeal of stamps at this exhibition. Sounds like a good idea to me. I appreciate the effort that old-school philatelists put into their exhibits on obscure paquebot markings or the plate proofs of Upper Biddlonia, but the hobby is evolving with the times. If that means that more fun begins to sneak into philatelic exhibitions in the form of stamp art or dragon mascots, then I’m all for it. Continue reading

A big, BIG issue

Australia 2018 Silo Art $1 Brim Guido van Helten stamp
Brim, Victoria
Artist: Guido van Helten

One of my favourite Aussie issues of recent times was 2017’s Street Art – vibrant, modern, urban and startlingly different from the usual stamp fodder. Not surprisingly, those stunning works were a big hit on my Instagram page. They’re very like-able.

I’m a month late with this update but I still wanted to say how much I loved seeing Australia Post continue the theme with May’s Silo Art issue. Silo art is the rural equivalent of street art, except that it’s painted on grain silos, and it is, as a rule, fucking ENORMOUS. Continue reading

Jammin’ and jammin’ and jammin’, jam on

Clearly the ‘vintage commercial design’ thing must be making big bucks for Australia Post, because AP have gone back to the well, or in this case, the jam tin, once more. I’m not judging. I’ve made my love of the retro vein pretty clear in the past.

About a month ago (when I was a tad too busy to blog about it), Aussie Post released this lovely set featuring jam labels from ye olden days, depicting a diversity in development, location and the companies involved.

What arrests my attention in this set is the bold use of perspective. Those jam tins sit right fat in the viewer’s face, threatening to burst off the stamp and cover us in their delicious, fruity goodness. It’s a fantastic way to pay tribute to the colour and vibrancy of the original designers’ work.

Australia 2018 Vintage Jam Labels $1 Peacock's stampWhat’s your favourite? For mine, it’d a close-run thing between the Melray and the Peacock’s. I’d probably have to go with the Peacock’s, partly because I love apricot jam, but mainly because “Peacock’s”. For more details on the specifics of each label, you can hit up the Australia Post Collectables website.

Given recent form,  I can only assume Aussie Post is going to keep churning out vintage shit on its stamps. What do you reckon will be next? My money is on biscuit tins.

Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to the kitchen. For some reason I have a massive craving for toast.

Help me spread my sweet, sweet love… share this post on your socials! Meet me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram! Follow this blog! And I always love to read your thoughts in the comments. x

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

Love this retro Jersey

Jersey 2017 Popular Culture: The 1960s - moon landing, language, leisure stamps Jersey is one of those funny little islands in the English Channel that are closer to France, and part of the UK, but get to put out their own stamps.

Jersey 2017 Popular Culture: The 1960s 63p music stampInterestingly, this practice began during the Nazi occupation of those islands, when they were cut off from the mother country. This is just one of the reasons why nerds who are into postal history find them so delectable. (If you think you might be one of those nerds, you should check out the Channel Islands Specialists’ Society.)

I’m not one of those nerds, but I do like how these islands churn out pretty stamps, because, let’s face it, what else have they got going on? I mean apart from tax avoidance schemes.

Jersey 2017 Popular Culture: The 1960s 73p fashion stampRecently Jersey jumped on the retro stamp bandwagon with a 1960s Popular Culture issue.

I love the Hendrix-inspired psychedelic guitar player with his groovy vibes and his remarkable fused fingers on his strumming hand.

The models (or are they just ’60s housewives?) on the fashion stamp take me back to a childhood spent rifling through Grandma’s sewing pattern magazines.

And it eludes me why more stamp administrations don’t honour the cheese and pineapple stick on their postal stamps. Continue reading

Printer is gumming: UK issues Game of Thrones stamps

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Iron Throne stampHappy New Year, readers! Hoping your year is as bloody awesome as the pun in my headline.

2018 has kicked off with the news that on January 23, the UK’s Royal Mail is releasing no less than 15 stamps commemorating “the significant British contribution” to the production of the TV series Game of Thrones.

Here’s the Royal Mail’s justification for jumping on the GoT band-dragon:

The Game of Thrones production involves a very significant British contribution. Principal filming of the series is at Titanic Studios in Belfast, at the Linen Hill Film Studio in Banbridge and on location elsewhere in Northern Ireland, with additional filming in Scotland and European locations including Malta, Croatia, Iceland, Morocco and Spain.
Additionally, the acclaimed cast is predominantly British and Irish, and British expertise is to the fore in many areas of the production, including award-winning costume design and prosthetic special effects.

And here’s what they might as well have written:

Game of Thrones is huge and we are out to make a shipload of coin.

UK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Daenerys Targaryen stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Cersei Lannister stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Tyrion Lannister stampUK 2018 Game of Thrones 1st Jon Snow stamp

Continue reading