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.

Australia 2018 Silo Art $1 Weethalle Heesco Khosnaran stamp
Weethalle, New South Wales
Artist: Heesco Khosnaran

Painted silos have sprung up all over Australia in recent years, often depicting local characters, flora and fauna, or scenes of rural life. In some places, you can follow a Silo Art Trail through the countryside, bringing some small relief to many of the drought-depressed local communities. It perhaps says something of the impact of  these works that this issue has been released at all, when the first silo was painted only in 2015.

It’s actually ludicrous to see silo art crammed into the tiny square centimetrage of an ordinary-sized postage stamp. These works are so gigantic, their size can only truly be appreciated up close. For a sense of scale, look for the person standing in the foreground of the Ravensthorpe stamp:

Australia 2018 Silo Art $1 Ravensthorpe Amok Island stamp
Ravensthorpe, Western Australia
Artist: Amok Island

The accompanying miniature sheet does a pretty good job of communicating the sheer size of these works. Bit of a shame that Aussie Post didn’t feature these works on the larger-size stamps that they use occasionally to commemorate giant sharks and more traditional artworks.

Australia 2018 Silo Art $1 Patchewollock Fintan Magee miniature sheet
Feature work: Patchewollock, Victoria
Artist: Fintan Magee

If you’re an aficionado of public art, and these issues have you booking your ticket to Australia, you can at least be assured that the silo art has one advantage over its street cousins: at least one, if not more, of the works featured in the Street Art stamp issue have now been painted over, in keeping with the street art ethos. Good luck painting over any of these in a hurry. They’ll wait for you.

Australia 2018 Silo Art $1 Thallon Drapl and The Zookeeper stamp
Thallon, Queensland
Artists: Drapl and The Zookeeper

Australia Post’s Collectables page gives an excellent background to each of the works depicted in these stamps. If you want to see more silo artwork, a Google image search for for ‘silo art’ won’t disappoint. (Yep, I’m here to offer highly specialised advice like that. Hope I don’t lose you with my technical computery talk.) There are a few Facebook fan pages out there to be found too, with regular updates.

Side note: one of my favourite bits of this issue is the sight of the dark grey storm clouds brewing over the silos at Brim. Those rains’ll be good for the crops.

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Queen: 1. Punk: 0.

Australia 2016 Queen's Birthday $2.75 Golden Wattle Diamond Brooch

Australia 2016 $1 Queen's Birthday stampHer Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, turned 90 on April 21st, but she’s stretching celebrations out all the way from April until June, because She’s The Queen So Suck It Plebs.

Last year I wrote about Australia’s tradition of marking Her Majesty’s birthday with a stamp issue. In that post, I may have inadvertently given readers the impression that I’m not a fan, with ambiguous phrases such as “pointless allegiance to Empire”, “another country’s monarch is irrelevant to a nation half a planet away in the 21st century”, and “reliably some of the dullest Australian stamp issues each year”.

Well, didn’t I have to swallow my republican tongue with this year’s issue. I didn’t mention it here when it was released, but I keep seeing it at the Post Office, and it is no less stunning for the delay.

Australia 2016 Queen's Birthday $2.75 Golden Wattle Diamond BroochIt’s all about this Australian Golden Wattle diamond brooch. Continue reading

Aussie Post touches my Special spot

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate handprints stamp

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate partial stamp set

Thanks mainly to the recent postal rate hike, Australia Post has been churning out new issues faster than I can keep up with them, albeit still faster than is necessary given that no fucker sends letters these days. Recently we saw a new set of what are known as Greetings or Special Occasions stamps, these ones titled ‘Love to Celebrate.’ Six of the ten are up the top there.

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate heart stamp

You’re meant to stick these on your mail when you’re celebrating something. Cue birthday cakes, wedding rings, baby toys, lovehearts, and the like. There’s also a strong line in flags and maps and national icons that scream “Look! I’m in/from AUSTRALIA!” which must come in handy when writing to people too stupid to work out why the word AUSTRALIA appears on any other stamp you could have stuck on your mail.

I was a cynic at first. I’m old school. I like stamps to say something about the country they represent, and what shits me to this day about these stamps (and their equivalents from any country) is that they tell you nothing about the nation except that someone is having a birthday/wedding/baby/party/patriotic orgasm in it.

But I’ve softened over time. Most of the designs manage to capture some of the joy of whatever is going on. I even swallowed my pride and stuck champagne stamps on my own wedding invitations. (Yes, sorry boys and girls, I’m taken. For now.)

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate golden wattle stamp

What’s more, their appearance on the mail usually means someone’s gone to a bit of thought with their postage, which is a rarity in this age of dreary peel’n’stick definitives and boring cash register receipts where stamps used to go on parcels.

Australia Post’s latest lot really caught my eye, which is saying something, because I tend to sniff at minimalist designs. The roses, champagne and rings are all a bit same-old, though I appreciate that they have to look a certain way to appeal to the lucrative wedding market. (And I wouldn’t reject such items so quickly in the flesh. Send them to me c/o WordPress). And to be honest, I’m still trying to work out what the hell that disjointed map is trying to say.

But the balloon stamp is fun and joyous, and the eucalyptus flower makes a refreshing change from the usual cricket-bat-to-the-face jingoism of the Australia themes.

Australia 2016 Love To Celebrate handprints stamp

Took me a little while to work out what was going on in the yellow-and-green stamp, and then I realised it was golden wattle, and then I realised it did a great job of capturing the downy texture of the round, beady flower and its feathery leaf, and then I decided I really liked it, and then I felt like a complete idiot for not seeing it in the first place.

But my favourite is the stamp with the handprints. I guess it means ‘kids’, though one could read some indigenous culture into it without too much trouble. But mainly, it just looks like the kind of fun you’re not meant to have as an adult.

There’s one stamp missing from the illustrations on this page. If you want birthday cake, check out this post.

Respect to Australia Post. Congratulations to design agency Sierra Delta for making me like these stamps, and also for having a name like a classy porn star.

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Another day, another dollar (and fifty cents)

Australia 2015 $2 Golden Rainbow wildflower stamp

Happy 22 days into the New Year, readers!

Sorry I buggered off there at the end of 2015. I was caught up in one of those day-jobs that subsidise my decadent lifestyle choices. Then I just surfed on through the festive season and enjoyed the break. Hope you enjoyed yours, if you’re in any of the countries that had one.

Australia 2015 $1 Love To Celebrate Birthday stampThis site just turned one year old! Thank you for your readership and contributions during 2015. I wasn’t sure if there would be an audience for this odd combination of geekdom and mildly foul-mouthed opinion, but WordPress’s stats wrap-up of 2015 tells me that if this blog were a show at the Sydney Opera House, I would have sold out three nights. Watch out for Punk Philatelist Live In Concert, coming soon to a venue near you! It will be riveting stuff.

Speaking of WordPress, I was chuffed to return from the break to find that I’d scored a mention in The Daily Post, WordPress’s in-house inspiration-meisters, as one of the editors’ favourite blogs of 2015. Aw shucks, thanks Michelle and thanks WordPress! You guys are too kind.

So on into 2016, and there are exciting times here in Australia. Let me explain Australia Post’s recent hi-jinks to international readers and see if you still believe me at the end.

Faced with falling revenue, like all postal administrations, AP just jacked up the domestic letter base rate from 70 cents to a dollar – by far the biggest domestic stamp price rise in our history. But get this: in a stroke of marketing genius, that price hike came with a promise of slower delivery!

Australia 2015 Wildflowers $1 stamps

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A very Punky Christmas

Australia 2015 Christmas stamps (religious)

Australia’s Christmas stamps have been out for a few weeks, so let’s see what Auntie Jan is getting on her Christmas card this year.

The first question is: religious or secular? Australia issues both, befitting a country full of people like Auntie Jan, who will defend our Christian heritage until the cask wine gets the better of her and she keels over, but who couldn’t find the nearest church if a magical star hovered above it.

Australia2015ChristmasReligiousStamps

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Pedal to the metal

Australia 2015 Bicycles 70c 1910 Ladies' safety bike

Australia 2015 Bicycle $1.85 1930s men's sprung-frame bike stampI’ve become a bit of a new issues service for Australia Post lately. I didn’t mean to. It’s just that AP has been in great form. Also, I’ve only written about the stuff I love, not the issues that have left me feeling meh. This is the opposite of what writing on the internet is meant to be. You’re meant to ignore good things, while ensuring that anyone in public life who has done wrong knows all about how personally you have taken offence and how much you hate them. (See: many other entries on this site.)

Australia 2015 Bicycles 70c 1888 penny farthing stampI really like this week’s Bicycles issue. It’s unusual for me to be moved by such stark designs, but that’s just the contradictory kind of gal I am and if you don’t like it, you’re going to have to deal. 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