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.

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

Rhodonites are a girl’s new best friend

Australia 2017 Rare Beauties $1 Rhodonite and $1 Golden Sapphire stamps

Smacking my lips at this issue from Australia Post. Rare Beauties, they’re calling them. They’re all gemstones from the collection of the Australian Museum in Sydney, and what a stunning tribute to the lapidary’s art they are.

The golden sapphire and pink diamond are used in jewellery. The fluorite and rhodonite aren’t, but that’s OK, you can still buy them for me. I simply adore that rich red in the rhodonite.

Australia 2017 Rare Beauties $2 Fluorite stampThe photography of the stones is stunning to start with, but the ‘shadow’ across the geometric background adds a 3-D feel that really makes them pop right out of the stamp.

Y’know what I like about this set the most? The simplicity. When stamp issuers start eyeing off gemstones, for some reason there’s a compulsion to show them in the context of the geological environment in which they are found, or in fugly uncut form (everything is fugly when uncut, amiright ladies), or in the context of an end product like jewellery or industrial product. But there’s no fucking about with this issue. You want gemstones? Fine. Here are some fat fucking gemstones. Straya!

Continue reading

Bowie’s latest release

UK 2017 David Bowie album stamps

UK 2017 David Bowie 1ST Aladdin Sane stamp

Well this is the most exciting thing to happen this year since I accidentally swiped right on Tinder and he turned out to be a match, a babe, and leaving for overseas two days later.

The UK is releasing a set of David Bowie stamps today!

David has been on a UK stamp before, as part of a Classic Album Covers release in 2010. (You can also spot a wild Bowie issue hiding in this post about tortoise stamps from Namibia. Yes, you read right.)

Now Royal Mail is releasing this fabulous set of six iconic Bowie album covers, plus four photos from live tours combined in a stamp sheet.

Continue reading

London’s burning

UK 2016 Great Fire of London stamp setHere’s a stamp issue I just have to share with you before 2016 becomes too tiny in the rear view mirror. It was undoubtedly my favourite release out of any that caught my eye last year. And you don’t have to be a stamp nerd to love it, though it’ll help if you are a history buff, comic book geek, or pyromaniac. Continue reading

Australia’s best (and worst) of 2016

Australia 2016 Jewel Beetles $1 Stigmodera gratiosa stamp

…In which I attempt to cover a year of review and bitching in one fell swoop.

Each year, Australia Post holds its annual survey in which stamp collectors can vote for their favourite – and least favourite – issue. This used to be an exercise on paper, with a few variations on a simple ‘What was your favourite?’ ‘What was your least favourite?’ type arrangement, with prize giveaways for random winners. Now it’s gone all high-tech, with a detailed SurveyMonkey page, in which all issues must be ranked in order from 1 to 32.

Australia Posts's Survey Monkey Stamp Poll 2016

On the upside, I enjoyed the OCD-triggering task of putting every single issue in its rightful place. On the downside, no prize giveaways. I guess AP has to pay for its CEO’s $4.8 million pay packet somehow.

I could swear I saw the final results somewhere, but I can’t seem to Google it anywhere, and the survey I’ve linked to above still seems to be open. Surely I’m not so lame that I dreamed it? I saw it in such detail! Maybe I was shown the running tallies when I finished the survey? Anyway, this isn’t your problem. The important thing is that I am going to tell you which were the best stamps and which were the worst, as judged by my own brain, so survey results don’t matter.

In no particular order (and with each issue’s title linking to the extremely commendable Australia Post Collectables blog site for more info), Australia’s unquestionably best issues were: Continue reading

Retrogasm!

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels stamp set

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels stamp setHelloooo! Sorry it’s been a while since my last post. I’m going to make up for my stony silence with loads of pretty pictures, inspired by Australia’s Nostalgic Fruit Label stamps, over which I’ve been soiling myself since their release in June.

They celebrate the paper labels that used to be slapped onto the wooden fruit crates in the olden days before Styrofoam boxes.

What I love about these stamps is that they retain the microscopic details of the original labels. I wonder how many of the three people still using stamps will take a moment to appreciate the artist’s work seen, for example, on this River’s Pride label, and take in the fenceposts, the orchard and the veining on the half-peeled orange.

Australia 2016 Nostalgic Fruit Labels $1 River's Pride stamp

If you, like me, are a little fascinated by oldey-timey culture, it’s not out of the question that something would appeal to you about both these designs and also ye olde schoole world of stamp collecting. You may have been given the impression that it involves a lot of old stamps with kings and queens and presidents on them that cost a lot of money. Well, I have good news. There are no rules. We collect whatever the fuck we want. And one could do worse than start with collecting vintage graphic designs on stamps, because it’s so hot right now. Continue reading

It’s a gas gas gas!

Australia 2015 70c Signs Of The Times Skipping Girl Vinegar

Hello readers! No, I’m not dead. As my laborious day-job contract draws to a close, I’ll pick up where I left off and get back to slagging off stamps and stamp collectors. Only, I can’t right now, because some of Australia Post’s current and soon-to-come issues have me absolutely purring…

Take this Signs of the Times issue that lit me right up on September 1.

Australia 2015 Signs of the Times set

Aussie Post has touched me in the special spot with this tribute to the art of commercial neon. Not only do I love neon art – especially retro-style – but when I was a child, the long drive home from my grandparents’ house was often briefly illuminated by a swing past Melbourne’s Skipping Girl Vinegar sign. I still love catching sight of her jumping her rope, this much-loved icon adored by all despite the fact that she’s a monstrous zombie child with glowing alien eyes and vinegar for blood. Continue reading