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