Politics 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!”
The 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
…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.
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
January 26 is Australia Day. (For foreign readers, Australia has no Independence or Revolution or Treaty in its history, so we just named our national day after ourselves.)
Australia Post began marking Australia Day in 1978, usually with a theme of settlement, Aboriginal culture, art, or patriotic symbols. They were generally attractive designs, even if some of the early ones reek of imperialism. A superb run of supersized stamps in 1994-7 depicted modern Australian art, and 1982 must surely feature the first appearance of the hijab on an Australian stamp.
The Australia Day stamps will make an interesting blog one day, but for now, let us simply love how much these ‘flag’ designs reflect their era.
1978: For we are young and free
1981: Woooooo, it’s the 80s! Check it out! 3D!
1987: Stand back everyone, here comes THE FUTURE
1991: Oh. The future’s a bit dull. Quick, someone invent grunge
The Legends are born
The final official ‘Australia Day’ release in 1997 coincided with the first annual Australian Legends issue, in which AP honours Australians who have achieved things. It broke a long-standing rule that the British royals were the only identifiable living persons depicted on Australian stamps. It’s a risk putting a living person on a stamp, because one never knows how they might yet disgrace themselves. Luckily, notable Australians never turn out to be pedophiles.