[This post has been updated.]
I’m sorry that I never met Dr Frank Sheeran, a retired university professor of English who passed away in Kansas City last November, aged 79. From the tributes paid, I have learned that he was a stamp collector with a deep passion for philately. He inspired those around him by assembling a primo world collection, and making time to encourage younger collectors. I send my sympathies to his friends and family and I raise a magnifying glass to him.
Frank Sheeran’s stamp collection will be auctioned in a few weeks as part of Kelleher Auctions’ Sale 732. When it went online, the auction site showed a cover page for Frank’s portion of the auction. (The resolution ain’t great.)
It would seem that either Frank had a nickname that wasn’t mentioned in any of his obituaries, or someone got their Sheerans mixed up…
Whatever the case, Kelleher Auction 732 might set a new benchmark for interest from the females-under-30 demographic. Frank’s collection stands to make a whole lot more money than anyone expects.
Unless… it IS Ed Sheeran’s collection! After all, Twitter user Swee thought he was onto something all the way back in 2014. (And, er…. language warning.)
I object to Swee’s inference that stamp collectors are boring, and I will put him in his place as soon as I finish rearranging my collection of British Machin stamps according to the positions of their ultraviolet phosphor bands.
I’ve sent an enquiry off to the auction house. I’ll let you know the outcome. In the meantime, don’t let the fact that it might not be Ed Sheeran’s collection put you off looking. It’s full of some very pretty classic philately, especially for US collectors. You just have to be on Ed Sheeran’s income to afford a bunch of it.
UPDATE: No official word back from the auction house, but a hasty correction would seem to confirm that this IS the collection of Francis J. Sheeran, to be sold under the name ‘The Francis J. Sheeran Collection’. Oh well. We had some fun, didn’t we?
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We’ve seen rock legends on stamps.
We’ve seen classic rock album covers.
You might have spotted some Classic Rock Posters at this very website.
Ireland’s Great Irish Songs issue from earlier this year had its share of rockers.
Canada wants you to know that it rocks.
Sweden doesn’t rock. It Roxette.
And then… there’s New Zealand.
Here’s New Zealand bringing us its Rock Legends.
A few months ago I received a new book: Howard Plitz’s Mainline Railway Stamps. As I’ve made clear on the blog, I am bang up for receiving free stuff, so I’m delighted to return the favour with this site’s first ever book review!
Howard is a lifelong philatelist and railway aficionado, and this book is the sequel to his Narrow Gauge Railway Stamps of 2018 (which I haven’t seen). He has chosen a dangerous path in life. What if he made a minor error? The consequences of incurring the combined wrath of philatelists AND trainspotters are too gruesome to contemplate.
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:
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. Continue reading
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! Continue reading
So 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
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
Sometimes 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.
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.
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. Continue reading
A big hello to any US (or visiting) readers attending this weekend’s Stampshow in Columbus, Ohio!
I 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