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

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

Cold War propaganda stamp of the day

Poland 1973 30th Anniversary of Polish People's Army 1zl T-55 tank stampPolitics and human rights abuses aside, I love propaganda stamps. When I was very young, almost everything I knew of life behind the Iron Curtain came from my kiddie stamp collection. Countries like Poland, Romania and Hungary must have earned some sweet forex coin getting their stamps into the Western collector market. Eastern Europeans, I knew, were mad for Lenin, space, the Winter Olympics and military hardware.

This stamp isn’t the most propaganda-y of my propaganda collection, but it was always a fave (despite the damage at the bottom, marking this as a genuine Punk Philatelist artefact of the era).

I looked into it this week, and found that it was one of a 1973 set marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Polish People’s Army. That’s the kind of thing they called armies when the Soviets ruled the roost.

Look at that stamp again: it’s so action. It says more than “We have tanks.” It says “We have tanks and they are coming for YOU!”

Poland 1973 30th Anniversary of Polish People's Army 1zl MiG-21 D fighter stampThe issue also featured a plane, a ship, and a missile, all of which are also coming for YOU.

What makes them so dynamic? Sure, there are streaks of color representing the dust being kicked up, and the turbulence caused by the various aircraft, and there are the foamy breakers against the battleship’s hull.

The answer lies in one simple design feature: Continue reading

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

Australia Day: an awkward first date

Australia 1979 Australia Day 20c Union Jack stamp

This Friday, January 26, is Australia Day, and that means it’s argument week down under. Crack open a tinny and celebrate with a very rare Punk Philatelist Longread!

Australia Day is Australia’s national day. It’s called Australia Day because obviously the names of all the other countries were already taken. Australia Day has been celebrated on many different dates in different regions in different eras, but it’s only since 1994 that it’s been uniformly observed on January 26.

We maybe should’ve thought that one through. 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