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:
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. Continue reading
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
Whoa, where have I been? One moment I’m slapping stamp posts up on the internet like a ’60s actor slapping arses on a bus full of French nurses, and the next, I’ve gone AWOL.
The truth, dear readers, is that I work in a freelance world, and sometimes, a punk’s just gotta drop everything to hit a deadline. It’ll be rough for the next few months, but I’ll still be loitering around, even if I’m not always posting.
Despite that, I’ve been so excited to see people still find and enjoy this site, and a big welcome to those who have followed my Facebook page!
One of them was Stampboards (the Facebook arm of the chat board), who kindly said they enjoyed my post on China’s revolutionary ballet, and supplied a stamp of the full company. Not to be messed with! Not only are they armed, but they’re ballerinas, so they’re probably hungry.
As for me, I’m cooking up a few new posts, so stay tuned. They’ll cross your feed soon enough.
Love, Punk x
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© Philatelic product images remain the copyright of issuing postal administrations and successor authorities
Last week I posted a thank you stamp featuring an art by Degas of a ballet dancer. It reminded me of this 1973 Chinese issue that I saw recently in a club book. (That’s philatelist talk. Best not to ask.) Continue reading