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

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

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

You crazy diamonds

UK 2016 1st Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973) Album Cover Stamp

UK 2016 Pink Floyd album cover stampsAs the header of my site attests, I love it when music, design and philately collide. And it’s happening again, thanks to the Royal Mail. Attention cool uncles and that boring guy who used to corner me at university house parties: Pink Floyd is being immortalised!

UK 2016 1st Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973) Album Cover StampLast year marked the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s founding, though it feels like they’ve been around for a lot longer, since every David Gilmour guitar solo goes for 50 years in its own right. Royal Mail’s tribute issue clocks in at no less than 10 stamps, which, much like a prog rock album, is more than anyone asked for and a lot more than was probably necessary to get the job done. Continue reading

A small serving of win

Japan 2015 Traditional Dietary Culture 82y Kenchinjiru stamp

Was this the most adorable stamp issue of 2015?

Apparently on November 24, Traditional Japanese Food Day is a thing, and this issue depicted a variety of family favourites served up at the kitchen table. You have to  love it. YOU HAVE TO.

Because, as if these morsels of tempura and egg custard aren’t delicious enough already, the design features an added twist that makes this particular Japanese issue the Japanesiest of them all. Can you spot it?

Japan 2015 Traditional Dietary Culture sheetlet

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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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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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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